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What to Do in Chicago?

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If stars align I will have 10am-2pm free at Union Station Chicago on 6 September, and another similar eastbound Amtrak layover after Columbus Day. 

In the past I've visited the Field museum to see Nighthawks and American Gothic, and ogled the toddlin' town's river and impressive architecture. Can anyone suggest Fair-related remnants or historical locations within walking distance of the Willis Tower?

My last visit I called the Fire Dept to extinguish a burning creosote laden piling beneath the Adams St bridge, no doubt preventing what would have been known as the Great Chicago Fire of 2009, so I figure, they owe me!


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Jackson Park is the site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and it's a pleasant place to stroll around.  You'll have to use your imagination (and maybe the assistance of an 1893 site map) since there isn't a whole lot left.  There is a scaled-down version of the statue "The Republic", the original of which once presided over the Court of Honor.  Even the smaller version is impressive.  The area of the park known as "Wooded Island" still exists as a garden.  Attached are views of "The Republic" and the Museum of Science and History (originally the Palace of Fine Arts) as seen from Wooded Island.

Chicago - 1.jpg

Chicago - 1 (1).jpg

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Regarding art, you must have meant the Art Institute.

The Field Museum is a natural history museum originally established to purchase and preserve artifacts from the World's Columbian Exposition. It is on the museum campus, which is walkable from Willis Tower, although if you do walk rather than taking a taxi, it won't leave a much time for exploring the museum. Also on the museum campus are the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. If you go by taxi, you could explore any one of these in the time you have available.

Jackson park is too far to walk and would take you through some questionable neighborhoods beside; you would have to take a taxi. The Museum of Science and Industry, formerly the Fine Arts building of the Columbian Exposition, is impressive on the outside as one of the finest examples of neoclassic architecture. Like the other major museums, you would only be able to get a brief flavor of the exhibits in the time you have.

Another activity I would recommend, although not directly connected to the fairs, is to take an architectural river cruise. Look for one associated with the Chicago Architectural Foundation:


Here's a link to photos of "One Fine Day in Downtown Chicago" (August 2010)


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Thanks for the suggestions and Welcome to PTU!

The stars have indeed aligned and I am making the trip to Albuquerque, hopefully avoiding Bugs Bunny's wrong turn.

Previous AmTrak layovers in Chicago between the Capitol Limited and Empire Builder or Zephyr allowed more time. But this trip aboard the Southwest Chief departs too early for major exploration.

Great thing about trains is instead of being stuck in some horrendous airport beyond nowheresville, they drop you smack in the middle of civilization.

I have my fingers crossed for connection-missing delays requiring Amtrak to overnight me in a hotel.


Thanks for correcting me. I'm embarrassed to have confused the museums. My intimate knowledge of Illinoise and Chicago sites like Kominsky Park being otherwise beyond reproach.

I viewed your One Fine Day link. Liked the post apocalyptic absence of people. Scale model of the city? Color me there!

I remember signs for that boat tour and will note your distinction.

Thanks for the advice!

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