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Top Jewish Travel Sights of Chicago


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Although Chicago is known by some as the “Second City” it is a destination of choice for travelers drawn to its world-class cultural attractions, diverse neighborhoods and architectural wonders. Chicago is known for its world-famous museums, fantastic shopping, lively nightlife, world-class sporting events and a thriving theater scene that is now spoken of in the same breath as New York’s Great White Way.  The Chicago Theatre, Goodman, Bank of America Theatre, Cadillac Palace, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University and the Ford Center have made Chicago a must visit for theater lovers everywhere.

Visitors from around the world who come to Chicago leave in awe of its architectural marvels. From historic landmark buildings to contemporary masterpieces, Chicago is the home to some of the most unique and innovative designs that have ever shaped American architecture. The city is a living museum of architecture featuring the work of such greats as Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn and others.

With more than 270,000 Jewish residents, Chicago has a wide variety of resources for the Jewish traveler.  Located across from Grant Park, the Spertus Museum and the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is the center of Jewish learning and enrichment in Chicago, where more than 200,000 people each year take part in creative, multi-dimensional programming.  The KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation (originally Orthodox and now Reform) was originally established in 1847 and claims to be the first synagogue in the midwest – its Neo-Byzantine architecture and stunning interior sanctuary is a designated Chicago landmark.

Nearby suburbs to the north of the city, such as Skokie, have attracted thousands of observant Jewish residents and boast restaurants, synagogues, bakeries and bookstores, as well as the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, which opened in April 2009.

Our 10 Favorite Things to See and Do in Chicago

1. Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry – the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere – offers over 800 captivating interactive exhibits including the U-505 submarine, a working coal mine, a Boeing 727 airplane, and much, much more.
2. Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium offers one of the world’s largest array of more than 8,000 aquatic mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish. After exploring the oceans, attendees can gaze up at the heavens in the nearby Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.
3. Field Museum

The Field Museum offers exciting displays of mummies, Egyptian tombs, Native American artifacts, and dinosaur skeletons are on display. Impossible to miss among the Field Museum’s 20 million biological and anthropological specimens, is the world’s largest, most complete and most famous Tyrannosaurus Rex, affectionately named “Sue”.
4. Navy Pier

Navy Pier is the city’s lakefront playground and the state’s most popular attraction, offering visitors a unique blend of family-oriented attractions. The Navy Pier has a 150-foot high Ferris wheel, a musical carousel, the Chicago Children’s Museum, Wave Swinger ride in Pier Park, a 3-D Time Escape ride, and the famed Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
5. Art Institute of Chicago

Among Chicago’s world-class institutions showcasing art is the Art Institute of Chicago, whose permanent collection of paintings, drawings, photography and textiles includes the largest compilation of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works outside the Louvre. Find outstanding and thought-provoking visual art created since 1945 at The Museum of Contemporary Art.
6. Millennium Park

Chicago’s Millennium Park offers 24.5 acres of green space. It contains an outdoor performing arts pavilion, indoor year-round theatre, restaurant, ice-skating rink, contemporary garden, public art, fountains, a landscaped walkway and green spaces.
7. The Magnificent Mile

A shoppers paradise, the famed “Magnificent Mile” runs along Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to the Chicago River. Next to department store giants such as Marshall Field’s, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, are hundreds of specialty shops and boutiques offering unique products from all around the world. Oak Street, just west of Michigan Avenue, is a boutique shopper’s dream.
8. Wrigley Field

If you or someone in your family loves baseball, or just the taste of peanuts and crackerjacks, no trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to Wrigley Field. Even if the hapless Cubs are never able to win a World Series, their adoring and long-suffering fans can still lay claim to one of baseball’s finest historic landmarks – Wrigley Field was built in 1914. The green ivy along the outfield, a scoreboard that is changed by hand and the best bleacher seats in baseball all make for an amazing day (or night) at the old ballgame.
9. The Willis Tower and Skydeck

Standing at 1,450 feet and 110 stories high, Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is the tallest building in the western hemisphere. On a clear day, you can see Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, just by walking around the Skydeck. Extending beyond the skyscraper’s Skydeck on the 103rd floor, on the glass Ledge you will literally be on top of the world with the city of Chicago directly below. The Willis Tower also offers interactive and educational attractions that highlight this iconic landmark, and celebrate Chicago’s sports, architecture, pop-culture, history, food, music and people.
10. The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio served as Wright’s private residence and workplace from 1889 to 1909, the first 20 years of his career, where he and his associates developed a new American architecture, the Prairie style, and designed 125 structures, including such famous buildings as the Robie House (located nearby), the Larkin Building and Unity Temple. There are guided and independent tours offered year round and a wealth of educational programs dedicated to preserving the legacy of this remarkable genius of architecture.

Favorite Restaurants? Been There? Done That? Better Ideas? Tell Us in the Comments Below!

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About Tamar Genger MA, RD


Tamar lives in New York and is the mother of three amazing children, a Registered Dietitian, professor of Nutrition, and as you can probably guess, a foodie! Tamar loves to travel with her family and visits kosher restaurants wherever she goes. Although she loves the sights, she spends more time talking about the restaurants and food she ate! As a mom and a nutritionist, Tamar tries to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate!

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