When in Chicago…

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Get a 50-mile view of Chicago and it's surroundings from a 1,353-ft.-high at The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago.
Get a 50-mile view of Chicago and it's surroundings from 1,353-ft.-high at The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago.

With tons to see—and much for free—America’s Windy City is an excellent destination for a summer vacation.

The best vantage point by far from which to see the city would have to be Skydeck Chicago, an experience offering views spanning four states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin—and 50 miles. Found on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower in downtown, visitors to Skydeck Chicago will not only learn the city’s history through museum installations and a 9-minute video at Skydeck Theater, but they can also take a step out onto The Ledge, a retractable platform made completely of glass, allowing you to look straight down at the city from a viewpoint 1,353-ft. high.

Skydeck Chicago is open year-round, with ticket prices of $11 for youths and $17.50 for adults. For more information, visit theskydeck.com.

One of the best things about Chicago is that so many of its cultural activities are available at no cost. From the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture come the Chicago Greeter and InstaGreeter tourism services, providing free tours covering 26 neighborhoods and 40 interest areas, all guided by local residents.

Tourists interested in a specific part of town or interest area, such as architecture, history, culinary or ethnic Chicago, can pre-register for a 2- to 4-hour Chicago Greeter tour. Alternatively, six InstaGreeter tours will be available during the weekends this summer in Downtown, Millennium Park, Old Town, Hyde Park, Pilsen and Boystown neighborhoods, which typically last about one hour and are first-come, first-served.

All Chicago Greeter and InstaGreeter tours accommodate up to six participants. For more information about locations, dates and times, visit chicagogreeter.com.

Then, after a day of tourism, kick-back in the evenings at Millennium Park, where musical events are free and open to the public, with dates scheduled throughout the summer. Some highlights of the concert calendar, presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, include:

Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays—every Monday at 6:30 p.m. from May 28-July 30, concerts will include genres such as indie rock, pop, and rock.

Loops and Variations—Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. from June 7-July 12 (not including June 21), enjoy electronica mixed with new music.

Grant Park Music Festival—Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. from June 13-Aug. 18, this will be the festival’s 78th season, featuring the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.

Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz—Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. from July 19-Aug. 30, not including Aug. 9, featuring a variety of jazz genres including blues, boogie, Latin, bop and more.

All events will be held at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. For more information, visit millenniumpark.org.

With a central location downtown, W Chicago–City Center will make it easy for your clients to get to and from all of the excellent gastronomic, retail and cultural activities the city has on offer. With 368 guestrooms in room categories such as Spectacular Room and Marvelous Suite, the property takes a modern approach to hospitality, featuring Internet access, iPod docking stations, flat-panel TVs and even chaise longues in select rooms.