The densely packed downtown streets hold block after block of lofty buildings and soaring skyscrapers, including the Sears Tower and the Chicago Board of Trade. Both structures are acclaimed for their distinctive designs and have been the backdrop of many movies throughout the years, including the new generation of Batman films which depict the Board of Trade as “Wayne Tower.” The observation floor of the Sears offers the best bird’s-eye view of the city and they say that on a clear day you can actually see four different states: Illinois, India, Wisconsin and Michigan!
Much of the Loop’s real estate is devoted to Chicago’s financial sector, with countless commercial office buildings thrown into the mix. However, in recent years there has been a shift in development that has created a solid residential market in the Loop. Condominiums and loft spaces blend seamlessly with the stomping grounds of big business and the commuter class, producing a balanced community of downtown dwellers and the working populace. Across Michigan Avenue from this haven of high-rises is the largest contiguous stretch of open green and public parkland in the city. The combination of Millennium Park and Grant Park are a picture-perfect, landscaped force to be reckoned with! Spanning from Randolph Drive down into the South Loop, this massive section of gardens, walkways, sculptures, fountains, sports facilities, performance venues, festival grounds and more is often referred to as Chicago’s “Front Yard,” because it serves as a gigantic outdoor play space for the city’s millions of residents and visitors.
With Lake Michigan beyond and the skyline behind, these parks offer a truly striking setting to enjoy the city without having to fight the crowded sidewalks or endure the incessant honking of impatient drivers. Of course, Grant Park is the main site for the city’s major outdoor events, such as the Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza and the Chicago Blues Festival (to name a few), so it does get pretty congested at times (to say the least). But when the annual celebrations aren’t in town, Millennium and Grant parks are excellent spots to spend an afternoon, strolling the professionally manicured terrain, picnicking in the shade of a tree grove, checking out the interesting art installations (Cloud Gate – better known as “the Bean” – is a must-see!), and watching Buckingham Fountain perform its beloved water show choreographed to music and lights.
Everything about the Loop epitomizes Chicago, so no matter where you go or what you do, you’re sure to get an authentic Windy City experience in this first-rate Chicago neighborhood!