Wednesday, June 20, 2018

9 New Hotels Including The Four Seasons In The Comcast Technology Center Coming In Philly, Plus Several Properties Rebranding And Renovating

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The 60-story Comcast Technology Center—the tallest building in Philadelphia—will open in late fall 2018 with a luxury occupant: the Four Seasons. The hotel lobby occupies the top floor, while the spa, fitness facility and infinity pool are on the 57th floor. The 219-room property will also feature restaurants helmed by chefs Jean-George Vongerichten and Greg Vernick.



Big-name hotels are opening new properties in PhiladelphiaCambria, W, Element—while just-in-Philly properties are strengthening the city’s boutique cred. Altogether, the nine new hotels are unlocking 1,902 new rooms to meet visitor demand, which has increased at a rate of 86% over the past 20 years.
So, what’s coming? A sky-high Four Seasons, a dual-hotel complex housing a W and an Element, an extended-stay property (ROOST Apartment Hotel) and an “invisible service” model (Lokal Fishtown), plus several major renovations.
Here’s a look at Philadelphia’s new, soon-to-come and revamped hotels:
Just Opened:
  • Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown Center City – Along the Avenue of the Arts, this 15-story addition to the hotel scene features a ground-floor restaurant, rooftop lounge, fitness center and pool. cambriaphiladelphia.com
  • Completed: March 2018
  • Developer: Pearlstein Properties
  • Rooms: 223
  • Location: Center City, 219 S. Broad Street
Coming In 2018 & Beyond:
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Philadelphia Downtown/Center City – Housed in what was the iconic Parker Hotel, the Fairfield Inn & Suites offers fitness facilities and free hot breakfast, along with a super-convenient location. marriott.com/phlcc
  • Completed: June 2018
  • Developer: Mihir Wankawala
  • Rooms: 119
  • Location: Midtown Village/Gayborhood, 261 S. 13th Street
  • ROOST Apartment Hotel  The third Philadelphia location of this extended-stay brand will house studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse units on five floors of a new, 23-story building. myroost.com
    • Expected Completion: Fall 2018
    • Developer: National Real Estate Development
    • Units: 60
    • Location: Market East, 1199 Ludlow Street

  • Lokal Fishtown  Following the formula it established in the Old City neighborhood, the Fishtown outpost of this boutique hotel promises an “invisible service” model. Guests can count on highly customized concierge guidance without a front desk and other typical hotel amenities. The apartment-style one- and two-bedroom units invite visitors to live like locals. staylokal.com
  • Expected Completion: Fall 2018
  • Developer: Stay Lokal
  • Units: 6
  • Location: Fishtown, 1421 N. Front Street
  • Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia  The 60-story Comcast Technology Center—the tallest building in Philadelphia —will open in late fall with a luxury occupant: the Four Seasons. Guests arrive to the hotel’s sky lobby on the top floor, and then they can ease into their stay with a trip to the spa, fitness facility and infinity pool on the 57th floor. Restaurants helmed by award-winning chefs Jean-George Vongerichten and Greg Vernick will draw both local and visiting food lovers. fourseasons.com
  • Expected Completion: Late fall 2018
  • Developer: Comcast/Liberty Property Trust
  • Rooms: 219
  • Location: Center City, 1 N. 19th Street
  • MainStay Suites/Ascend Hotel Collection  Locally inspired artwork will bring the city inside the hotel, and guests who still want a workout after traversing the walkable downtown can pop into the fitness center. choicehotels.com/mainstay 
  • Expected Completion: Early 2019
  • Developer: Landmark Property Group
  • Rooms: 118
  • Location: Chinatown, 917 Arch Street
  • W Philadelphia and Element Philadelphia – It took a full 24 hours to pour the concrete for each floor of this 52-story, dual-hotel complex. Each floor looks a little different than any of the others. hotel-development.marriott.com
  • Expected Completion: Summer 2019
  • Developer: Chestlen Development
  • Rooms: 295 in the W Philadelphia; 460 in the Element Philadelphia (750 total)
  • Location: Center City, 15th & Chestnut Streets
  •  
  • Pod Philly – The micro-hotel pioneer arrives in town via this efficient, modern, 11-story building just two blocks from Rittenhouse Square. There will be a coffee bar by Greg Root and Nick Kennedy of Root and a rooftop greenhouse bar with a retractable roof of its own. thepodhotel.com
    •  
  • Expected Completion: September 2019
  • Developer: Modus Hotels & Parkway Corporation
  • Rooms: 252
  • Location: Rittenhouse Square, 31 S. 19th Street
  • Hyatt Place Philadelphia Airport – Hyatt is expanding the footprint of its popular select-service brand with the opening of a Hyatt Place near Philadelphia International Airport. hyattplace.com
  • Expected Completion: Late 2019
  • Owner: Elpizo HP, LLC
  • Operator: Crescent Hotels & Resorts
  • Rooms: 150
  • Location: Airport, 4521 Island Avenue
Recently Revamped:

  • Le Méridien Philadelphia – A $5.8 million renovation brought major upgrades to every aspect of this modern, French-inspired hotel housed in a 1907 building. The lobby, restaurant and guest rooms feature new furniture, flooring and artwork. lemeridienphiladelphia.com
    • Completed: March 2018
    • Designer: Blackdog Studio
    • Location: Center City, 1421 Arch Street
  • Renaissance Philadelphia Downtown Hotel – Once The Franklin Hotel, this 13-floor property underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation and a rebranding. The common spaces and 152 guestrooms now sport a contemporary, urban design—think black-white-and-wood spaces with gold accents and local art—and the new bar and restaurant add a lively, welcoming vibe to the ground level. marriott.com/phlpr
    • Completed: April 2018
    • Developer: The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc.
    • Location: Old City, 401 Chestnut Street
Under Renovation:
  • The Rittenhouse  When completed, the current upgrades will mark the last phase in a complete renovation that has transformed the 118-room hotel over the last five years. This piece of the overhaul, which accounts for $10 million of the $20 million total, will take guestrooms from elegant to divine. rittenhousehotel.com
    • Expected Completion: Late spring 2018
    • Developer: Hersha Hospitality Trust
    • Location: Rittenhouse Square, 210 W Rittenhouse Square
  • Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown/Autograph  A $23 million revamp will transform the 499-room Courtyard into The Notary, an Autograph Collection hotel. Guests of the property will enjoy an upscale experience. marriott.com/phldc
    • Expected Completion: June 2019
    • Developer: Braemar Hotels & Resorts
    • Location: Center City, 21 N. Juniper Street
  • Sheraton Society Hill  With new owners at the helm, this hotel will get a new, to-be-announced name and a reimagined environment. The public and guest spaces—lobby, restaurant, rooms, indoor pool and event spaces—will welcome visitors to Historic Philadelphia.sheratonphiladelphiasocietyhill.com
    • Expected Completion: To be announced
    • Developer: The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc.
    • Location: Old City, 1 Dock Street
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VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Grand Velas Riviera Maya Launches First Spa Atelier Workshop




Riviera Maya, Mexico  – Se Spa at the AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Maya has launched its Spa Atelier, workshops inspired by local Mexican culture and based upon the principles of ancient Ayurvedic medicine that center around self-discovery. The first offering at the resort is a workshop to make energy bites full of superfoods. Recipes will vary from Cacao and Matcha-Pistachio to Cranberry-Orange and Carrot. Superfoods are foods that increase energy and improve retention, as well as provide antioxidants, minerals and vitamins and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

The Spa Atelier concept initially launched last year at its sister property Grand Velas Los Cabos. It features Mandala meditation, tea discovery, DIY body scrubs based on one’s Dosha and a Natura Bissé Facial Masterclass.

The Energy Bites Workshop at Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an hour long, held every Thursday, July through September, for small groups of 3 – 6 people. The class costs $65 USD per person. For those who can’t make it to the resort to try out the class, Grand Velas Riviera Maya shares a recipe to make some of the energy bites at home.

Cacao Energy Bites
1/3 cup            powdered cocoa
16                    dried dates
7 tbsp               honey
1 tsp                 coconut oil
1 tsp                 Maca root powder
1 tsp                 acai
½ cup               rolled oats
4 cups              cashews

For toppings: amaranth, chia, hemp seeds and grated coconut

Process:
Chop the dates in a food processor before adding the cocoa, Maca, honey, coconut oil, oats, acai and cashews. Pour the mixture into a bowl and mix until well combined. Roll into balls a little under an inch and finish with topping of choice.

Nightly rates start at $393 USD. Rates are per person based on double occupancy and include all tour arrangements and transportation, luxury suite accommodations, à la carte gourmet meals at a variety of specialty restaurants, premium branded beverages, 24-hour in-suite service, fitness center, taxes, gratuity and more. For reservations or additional information, call 1-888-407-4869, or visit https://www.rivieramaya.grandvelas.com.

About Grand Velas Riviera Maya:
The AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Maya is an ultra-luxury all-inclusive resort set on 206 acres of pristine jungle and mangroves and with the finest white sand beach in the Riviera Maya. Guests can choose among three separate ambiances, including adults-only oceanfront, family-friendly ocean view and a Zen-like tropical setting, embraced by the flora and fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula’s jungle. All 539 designer-like suites are exceptionally spacious, more than 1,100 square feet each, all with balconies, and some with private plunge pools. All feature fully stocked mini bars, L’Occitane amenities, artisanal tequila, and Nespresso coffee machines. Bathrooms deserve special mention with walk in glass shower, deep soaking Jacuzzi tubs and marble interior. Eight restaurants, including five gourmet offerings, present a tour through Mexico, Europe and Asia. Cocina de Autor, at the hands ofworld renowned celebrity chefs Bruno Oteiza, Mikel Alonso and Xavier Pérez Stone, holds the AAA Five Diamond Award, the first all-inclusive restaurant in the world to win this prestigious distinction. Se Spa is the region's largest spa sanctuary at more than 90,000 square feet, known for its authentic Mexican treatments, offerings from around world and signature seven-step water journey. Other features include 24-hour Personal Concierge; 24/7 in-suite service; three swimming pools; two fitness centers; water sports; innovative Kids’ Clubs and Teens’ Club; baby concierge; Karaoke Bar; Koi Bar; Piano Bar, and business center. The resort offers more than 91,000 square feet of meeting space and outdoor areas for events inclusive of a 31,000-square-foot Convention Center, able to accommodate up to 2,700 guests. The resort has won numerous awards from Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, USA Today and several other magazines and major companies worldwide, including Virtuoso’s Best Spa and TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame. A member of the Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts Program, Grand Velas Riviera Maya was built and is operated by Eduardo Vela Ruiz, founder and president of Velas Resorts, with brother Juan Vela, vice president of Velas Resorts, by his side. For reservations or additional information, call 1-888-407-4869, or visithttps://www.rivieramaya.grandvelas.com.

Milestone Hotel Offers Wimbledon Experience Including Centre Court Tickets To Men's Quarterfinal



There's no better time to visit London than during Wimbledon. The Championship runs from July 2-15, 2018, and the atmosphere in London is electric. The Milestone Hotel & Residences in Kensington is marking the occasion in style, with access to tickets to watch the men's quarterfinal play in the famous Centre Court, as well as plenty of surprises and themed treats.
The Milestone's Wimbledon Quarterfinal Experience includes the following:
  • Two-night stay in a beautifully appointed Studio or Suite
  • Lanson Champagne (official sponsors of Wimbledon) Sabrage demonstration toast at the hotel
  • Private transfers to and from Wimbledon
  • Centre Court Debenture tickets
  • Access to the exclusive Centre Court Debenture Lounge and its restaurants and bars
  • Three-course fine dining experience at The Milestone's Cheneston's restaurant, including a bottle of Bouchard Finlayson wine and still mineral water
  • Wimbledon-themed turndown gift and treat
  • Full English breakfast daily
The experience starts at £2,499 (approx. US$3,345) per night, based on two people sharing a suite. Note: alternative dates are available upon request and tickets are subject to availability. Find more details here: https://www.milestonehotel.com/offers/wimbledon-package.
The Milestone will also be serving a special Wimbledon-themed cocktail and a Wimbledon-inspired Afternoon Tea, including menu items such as: a lemon drizzle served with a lemon "tennis ball," blueberry and mint macarons (the Wimbledon Championship colors), and a strawberry and cream tart. Guests and visitors having tea in The Milestone's Park Lounge, have a perfect view of Margery Violet Watherston's painting of 'Wimbledon - The Ladies Singles Final 1923.'

For more information, please visit www.milestonehotel.com
ABOUT THE MILESTONE HOTEL:
The award-winning Milestone Hotel is the London flagship of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. Also a proud member of the Leading Hotels of The World, the five-star Milestone Hotel is a quintessentially English property in the heart of London boasting luxurious suites and spacious long-stay residences, fine British dining in Cheneston's Restaurant, charming public areas and an award-winning Afternoon Tea menu. This property occupies a prime position with beautiful views over Kensington Palace and Gardens and located just minutes from London's museum district and glamorous shopping area of Knightsbridge.
ABOUT RED CARNATION HOTELS:
Red Carnation Hotels is a collection of 17 family-run, award-winning boutique hotels in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA. Each hotel is a landmark of history and tradition, with an exceptional reputation for exquisite fine dining, leading spas and sumptuous surroundings. Great pride is taken in delivering warm, thoughtful and highly personalized service.

Discovery Cove Introduces Exclusive New Spa Cabana

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It’s One More Way to Truly Relax at Orlando’s All-Inclusive Day Resort

Orlando, Florida  – Discovery Cove, Orlando’s all-inclusive day resort, has a reputation for providing the antidote for a busy vacation to one of America’s favorite destinations. Instead of the hustle and bustle you experience at other parks, Discovery Cove dials it back several notches, providing a serene, tropical environment in which to relax and enjoy nature. And things just got even more mellow, thanks to the introduction of the park’s new Relaxation Massages.
Guests of the new Oasis Spa enter a special spa cabana that overlooks the peaceful waters of the park’s Freshwater Oasis and indulge in a 25-minute massage performed by a licensed therapist.* The tranquil sounds of nature only add to the experience, and solo and couple’s massages are available to guests ages 18 and older. Spa sessions are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis as guests arrive at the park each morning. A 25-minute session starts at $59, but guests can reserve-back-to-back slots and upgrade to a 50-minute session if they prefer.
Massages here are done with a special jojoba oil that has a similar pH to human skin and which is non-allergenic. Best of all, though, jojoba oil is animal-friendly, which is essential at a park where the animal inhabitants greatly outnumber their human guests.
Those animals are the real draw at Discovery Cove, where guests can interact with more than 250 exotic birds in the Explorer’s Aviary, learn about small mammals like sloths and armadillos, feed rays, swim with sharks, or even hug a dolphin. The park limits its admission to just 1,300 guests each day, so there are no crowds and long lines.
Discovery Cove is a paradise of rocky lagoons, tropical reefs, winding rivers, and pristine white-sand beaches in a lushly landscaped park that feels more like a secluded island than an easily accessible attraction in America’s vacation capital. A day’s admission includes breakfast and lunch, unlimited beverages and snacks, lockers, animal-safe sunscreen, snorkel gear, and parking. In addition, guests get unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 14 consecutive days around their Discovery Cove reservation. Spa treatments and other exclusive opportunities can be booked at a separate cost.
For additional program and booking details, please visit www.discoverycove.com.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: TRAVELORE DESTINATION REPORT: The Difference Is I...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: TRAVELORE DESTINATION REPORT: The Difference Is I...: Photo of Bahia Akumal beach by Allen Barkus Typical accommodations at resort. Photo by Allen Barkus  The real The difference betw...

Lincoln Center Announces 2018 White Light Festival, October 16th-November 18th.


 

Festival Features Cross-Cultural Performances Embracing 
Individual Contemplation and Communal Artistic Experiences

October 16–November 18, 2018
Highlights include:
 
  • A fresh and insightfully comic interpretation of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godotfrom Ireland’s Druid theater company and Tony Award–winning director Garry Hynes
  • The White Light Festival return of Sutra, following its sold-out run in 2010, by Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and featuring ancient martial arts by China’s Shaolin monks
  • The New York premiere of Borderline by Company Wang Ramirez, combining hip-hop and contemporary dance forms with aerial movement 
  • XENOSAkram Khan’s solo work evoking the shell-shock of a First World War soldier through a combination of classical Indian kathak and contemporary dance, in its U.S. premiere and Khan’s final performances in a full-length piece
  • The world premiere of Framing Time with pianist Pedja Muzijevic and choreographer/dancer
    Cesc Gelabert, a meditation on music, light, and movement featuring Morton Feldman’s Triadic Memories 
  • William Christie and Les Arts Florissants revisit Haydn’s monumental oratorio The Creation; violinist Hilary Hahn plays solo Bach; Takács Quartet celebrates Schubert, and more
  • The U.S. premiere of Blak Whyte Gray from East London’s Boy Blue, the group’s first full-length abstract work fusing hip-hop dance with African-inspired grooves and an electronic score
  • The U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s chamber opera Only the Sound Remains, based on two Noh plays as translated by Ezra Pound and directed by Peter Sellars, featuring Philippe Jaroussky and Davóne Tines
 
 Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts today announced its 2018 White Light Festival, which will run October 16 through November 18. The multidisciplinary festival will feature events presented in six venues across the city, including world, U.S., and New York premieres. The ninth annual international festival will explore transcendence, interior illumination, and the communal impulse as exhibited through artistic expression across continents and centuries.

“Today we are both more connected and less connected than ever before,” said Jane Moss, Ehrenkranz Artistic Director of Lincoln Center. “This year’s White Light Festival offers an array of exemplary cross-cultural performances that explore inner contemplation as well as outward creative expression, offering new, profound communal experiences.”

The festival takes its name from a quotation by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt: “I could compare my music to white light, which contains all colors. Only a prism can divide the colors and make them appear; this prism could be the spirit of the listener.”


The 2018 White Light Festival opens on Tuesday, October 16 with the return of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra, which had its U.S. premiere in a sold-out run at the inaugural White Light Festival in 2010. The Belgian choreographer mixes contemporary dance with martial arts in this singular piece featuring warrior monks from China’s Shaolin Temple, a Zen Buddhist enclave devoted to kung fu.

In another bold fusion of East and West, British choreographer Akram Khan presents the U.S. premiere of XENOS, which marks his final performances as a dancer in a full-length piece. Combining classical Indian kathak and contemporary dance, Khan conjures up the shell-shocked dreams of a colonial soldier in this exploration of identity, personal mythology, and the universal horrors of war.

Two more groundbreaking works bring contemporary dance to the stages of White Light. Cutting-edge Company Wang Ramirez based in the South of France, presents the New York premiere of Borderline in which dancers, attached to cables, bring to light and transpose the desire of freedom inherent in all forms of dance to create a visual poetry of gravity and weightlessness. East London’s Boy Blue, founded by Michael “Mikey J” Asante and Kenrick “H2O” Sandy, epitomizes physical virtuosity with a fierce political bite in the U.S. premiere of the dance-theater work Blak Whyte Gray.

Ireland’s inestimable Druid theater company and Tony Award–winning director Garry Hynes present Samuel Beckett’s irreverent existentialist masterpiece, Waiting for Godot. In this refreshing reimagining infused with slapstick comedy, Druid’s award-winning production joins the festival for a 14-performance run.

Framing Time combines music, movement, and light in a performance of Morton Feldman’s piano work Triadic Memories. For this world premiere production, co-presented with Baryshnikov Arts Center, pianist Pedja Muzijevic performs Feldman’s spare, poetic piece alongside captivating movement from Spanish choreographer and dancer Cesc Gelabert.

The human voice steps into the light in a concert version of The Creation, Haydn’s triumphal oratorio depicting the birth of the universe, presented by Les Arts Florissants under William Christie with a trio of archangel soloists. In a more intimate a cappella offering, the Latvian Radio Choir pairs transcendent Mahler with contemporary Latvian composers at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

Violinist Hilary Hahn revisits Bach’s captivating sonatas and partitas in a solo recital at Alice Tully Hall, and the Takács Quartet appears with new violinist Harumi Rhodes in a sublime exploration of Schubert, joined by cellist David Requiro.

The festival closes with the U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s chamber opera Only the Sound Remains, directed by Peter Sellars. Based on two Noh plays, the hypnotic work creates a shimmering world of supernatural encounters, given voice by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and bass-baritone Davóne Tines, and embodied by dancer Nora Kimball-Mentzos.

As in prior years, the 2018 White Light Festival will offer opportunities for audiences to delve further into the themes of the festival with pre- and post-performance artist talks, film screenings, and a special panel discussion moderated by John Schaefer. White Light Lounges follow many performances: these receptions are exclusive to White Light Festival ticketholders and provide opportunities to mingle with artists and fellow concertgoers while enjoying a complimentary glass of wine or sparkling water.

The White Light Festival is one of many programs offered by Lincoln Center that annually activates the campus’s indoor and outdoor spaces across a wide range of the performing arts. Additional presentations include the Mostly Mozart Festival, American Songbook, Midsummer Night Swing, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, ongoing free performances at the David Rubenstein Atrium, and Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts that reach beyond the iconic campus. Lincoln Center also presents a myriad of education programs and presentations for families throughout the year. LincolnCenter.org.

Tickets for the 2018 White Light Festival are available online at WhiteLightFestival.org, by calling CenterCharge at 212.721.6500, or at the David Geffen or Alice Tully Hall Box Office (Broadway and 65th Street). Single tickets will be available to purchase beginning June 25, 2018.

American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets to Waiting for Godot before the general public beginning Wednesday, June 20 at 10:00 am (EST) through Friday, June 22 at 9:59 am (EST). Tickets at WhiteLightFestival.org/Godot and 212.721.6500.

Presale tickets for Waiting for Godot are available to Audience Rewards® members from June 22 at 10AM through June 24 at 11:59PM EST. It’s free and fast to join at www.AudienceRewards.com. *

First Timer’s Guide To Chicago

Many first time visitors to this seriously impressive city can't help but fall in love with it. Here's our guide on what to see and do on your first visit to Chicago.
Cloud Gate, The Bean, Chicago
Chicago. The name conjures up thoughts of Al Capone, the Irish, the band (they are the second highest selling American band of all time behind the Eagles), the Cubs, and of course, the musical – cue All That Jazz. Chicago sits on the southeastern corner of the ridiculously large Lake Michigan, which has a shoreline of 42 kilometres and a swag of white sand beaches, all caressed by striking blue water that wouldn’t be out of place on a tropical island.
Chicago Theatre, Chicago
The city was completely redesigned by an inspired gent named Daniel Burnham after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and now is a showpiece with vast parklands, innovative architecture and magnificent galleries and museums. Chicago was home to the first skyscraper (the Home Insurance Building in 1885), had the tallest building in the world for decades, yet hasn’t thrown out tradition in favour of innovation; the scoreboard at the 101-year-old Wrigley Field is operated manually, one of two in major league baseball to do so.
Chicago
Add to that the city’s 77 neighbourhoods, the historic elevated train lines, the hotter than Hades dining scene and the many famous jazz clubs, and you have one incredible vacation destination.
Architecture Foundation River Cruise
Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, Chicago
While the name might not sound like the hottest tour in town, be assured that it is. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises operates the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise on a fleet of five classic vessels reminiscent of the graceful wooden cruising yachts of the 1920s. We settle in on the open-air top deck for the 90-minute cruise, with a highly qualified guide delivering a fascinating commentary on the city’s history, along with descriptions of about 50 buildings, including the Wrigley Building (yes that Wrigley), the Boeing Building, Trump Tower, Chicago Tribune, Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, Merchandise Mart and the Mercantile Exchange. It is a great way to look at the skyline, with the vessel cruising on three arms of the River and passing under 13 of the city’s movable bridges. The tour slogan is ‘90 minutes of amazing’ and we’d have to agree. Make sure your camera is fully charged.
The Ledge on Willis Tower
Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower, Chicago
Standing on what feels like air, 412 metres above the bustling streets of Chicago is a little daunting, but it is a box that must be ticked. Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower, rises 108-storeys above the city and the 99th floor is home to the Skydeck, giving heart-palpitating views over the lake, beaches and city. To really get the heart rate up go out on The Ledge – glass boxes that extend out from the building for more than a metre. It’s all glass but believe me, taking that first hesitant step out into what feels like nothing is slightly scary. Once there, record the experience for posterity and look down, way down, at the people going about their business like ants doing the Queen’s bidding. We go back again that night which is just as exciting. For more eye-popping views, head to the 94th floor of 360 Chicago (formerly the John Hancock Observatory) and enjoy brilliant views, particularly over the beaches to the north, then strap in to Tilt, a horrifying glass contraption that tips you out from the side of the building, giving you a face-first view.
Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium is a pleasant walk through Grant Park from Michigan Avenue on the lake foreshore. It’s home to 32,000 aquatic animals from over 1,500 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from around the world. We sign up for something special, a Beluga Encounter, and watch trainers interact with these unusual looking small whales. The trainers don’t want the beautiful belugas to jump through hoops or leap out of the water; all the techniques allow the staff to do health checks on the whales and make sure they are healthy everywhere from teeth to tail. These creatures really are beautiful and seem to smile at us. While there, check out the other incredible exhibitions and visit the cutest inhabitant at Shedd – a rescued sea otter pup called Luna.
Catch a game at Wrigley Field

This is hallowed ground; Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs. We seep into the ground in a wash of people wearing blue and red and are lucky to be invited into a corporate box which has a perfect line of sight onto the pitch. We meet Fergie Jenkins, a famous Cub who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, we have a proper Chicago hot dog and we go and sit in the stands in the shadows of the manual scoreboard and cheer every run and every catch as the Cubs flog the Phillies. We also do a tour of Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears in
the NFL. It’s a beautiful field with a Colosseum vibe, built as a memorial to fallen soldiers – not just of the USA but also of her allies.
Ride the L
Chicago, L line
The city’s famous “L” which stands for ‘elevated’ train line, has been immortalised in many movies and TV shows including The Fugitive, ER, While You Were Sleeping, The Hunter and The Sting. We ride the Brown Line out to Armitage, boarding at Quincy station, which has been beautifully restored to its original condition circa 1897. It’s a bit strange looking through the sleepers and seeing the traffic buzzing down below. We watch the city rattle by, getting off at Armitage which has some quirky boutiques and galleries and a café called the Blue Door Farm Stand which Oprah once owned. Surprisingly, they serve flat white coffee! We stroll to Lincoln Park, stopping to look at the striking statue of Ulysses S. Grant, former civil war hero and US President. The Park is vast, and includes a historic cemetery, zoo and the Conservatory. It is great for people watching, with the lakeside path a scenic distraction.
Get to Grant Park
Grant Park, Chicago
Grant Park, named after the aforementioned Ulysses S. Grant and designed by Daniel Burnham to be over 100 hectares of landscaped green space that ‘belonged to the people’, was separates the downtown area of the town from Lake Michigan. The park’s highlights include the Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain and in the southern corner, Millennium Park. Millennium Park features a magic blend of architecture, gardens and eye-catching public art, with the most visited being what is officially known as Cloud Gate, which was British artist Anish Kapoor’s first installation in the USA. It was inspired by liquid mercury, but looks like a coffee bean; hence its nickname, ‘The Bean’.  It is the place to take selfies, as the city is reflected in the silvery mirror-like surface of the intriguing sculpture. Also visit Lurie Garden, the Crown Fountain and the Frank Gehry-designed Deconstructivism-styled performance stage known as the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. In the southwest corner of the Park, we are struck by the poignant Agora art installation, which has over 100 three-metre tall headless cast iron torsos, walking in different directions.
Magnificent Mile
Magnificent Mile, Chicago
While Grant Park is the playground of the city, the Magnificent Mile is the epicentre of shopping, dining, history and accommodation. Located along a 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street, the Mile is indeed magnificent with over 460 shops, 275 restaurants, 60 hotels including the five-star Peninsula Chicago and attractions sewn like gems along a billowing cloak. Perhaps the most famous building is the historic Water Tower, which was built between 1867 and 1869 for Chicago’s municipal water system to house a huge iron standpipe used to regulate water pressure. It is one of few buildings to survive the Great Fire, as was the Pumping Station to the east – with both buildings designed by William W. Bovington. Admire the beauty of these buildings before shopping at luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Burberry, then pop into the Peninsula Hotel for afternoon tea.
Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
One of the largest science museums in the world, the Museum of Science and Industry has over 35,000 artefacts in 37,161 square metres of hands-on exhibits designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity. Highlights for us include a German U-505 submarine that was captured by the Americans in 1944, a 999 steam locomotive, an old United Airlines Boeing 727 and a Pioneer Zephyr Train that you swear is about to pull out from the station with a honk. We are mesmerised by ‘Science Storms’, a huge exhibit that reveals the extraordinary science behind some of nature’s most powerful and compelling phenomena, and ‘YOU! The Experience’, which explores the human mind, body and spirit.

Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Lovers of all things art will know that the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s leading art museums. Just down from Millennium Park and the Crown Fountains, two giant carved lions stand guard on the museum, and rightly so. Inside these halls you’ll find everything from the latest work by contemporary artists to ancient Chinese bronzes, as well as an internationally-acclaimed collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, van Gogh and other painters of the period. The Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing is devoted to a stunning collection of 20th- and 21st-century art.

Lake Michigan
Navy Pier, Chicago
The lake is an unsung star of the city and is never far out of view. Stroll along the Lakefront Trail, along the lakeside promenade, or hire one of the Divvy bikes – a sensational bike sharing program with thousands of bikes at hundreds of stations across the city available 24 hours a day. Each station has a touchscreen kiosk, station map, and a docking system that releases bikes using a member key or ride code easily purchased using your credit or debit card. Chill out on one of the beaches along the lakefront with Oak Street one of the best with fabulous views of the city skyline. It has an interesting history – Johnny Weismuller – he of Tarzan fame, worked as a lifeguard here in his youth. The biggest attraction along the lakefront is Navy Pier, a veritable treasure trove of entertainment, museums, activities, restaurants and shops. The view from the Ferris wheel is worthy of Instagramming. •
Photography by Choose Chicago and various establishments.


TRAVEL FACTS
Getting thereUnited Airlines flies to Los Angeles with numerous flights to Chicago daily. Qantas flies to Los Angeles connecting with American Airlines to Chicago. Delta Airlines flies into Los Angeles connecting to Chicago.
• 
United: united.com
•  Qantas: qantas.com.au
•  Delta Airlines: delta.com
Getting around•  Cabs are cheaper than in Australia and are easy to find.
•  To ride the L (Elevated) train, purchase tickets at the stations: transitchicago.com
Things to do•  Architecture Foundation River Cruise: cruisechicago.com
•  Skydeck: theskydeck.com
•  360 Chicago: 360chicago.com
•  Shedd Aquarium: sheddaquarium.org
•  Wrigley Field: chicago.cubs.mlb.com
•  Magnificent Mile: themagnificentmile.com
•  Museum of Science and Industry: msichicago.org
•  Art Institute of Chicago: artic.edu
•  Grant Park: chicagoparkdistrict.com
Outlet shoppingVisit Chicago Premium Outlets for name brands or head to Woodfield Mall, the largest shopping centre in the Chicagoland.
•  premiumoutlets.com
•  simon.com/woodfield-mall
Further information•  Choose Chicago: choosechicago.com
•  Discover America: discoveramerica.com