Chicago has a rich and varied art scene. Colorful street murals and local artist galleries populate Wicker Park, while formal museums such as the Art Institute, featuring over 300,000 pieces of art from primitive to modern, and the Museum of Contemporary Art are found on the shore of Lake Michigan. The Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Lincoln Park Zoo are wonderful places to check out. To fully appreciate Chicago’s architecture, take an architecture cruise up the Chicago River.

The world’s biggest free blues festival happens in Chicago over three days in June, followed immediately by the Gay Pride Parade. July brings Taste of Chicago, an event that draws more than 3.5 million people to sample from 70-plus food vendors. September’s festivals include Chicago Gourmet, hosted by Bon Appetit; Oktoberfest; the International Film Festival; and the Chicago Marathon. The year ends with Christkindlmarket, a Christmas shopping and German food market that’s part of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Celebrate the rest of the year with a myriad of local ethnic festivals, neighborhood parties, and holiday events.