Hotel at a Glance: The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center
When it was opened in 1893, The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center was intended to be the elite spot for travelers who passed through Chicago. The hotel first welcomed guests during the World’s Columbian Exposition. Over the next 50 years, it was furnished with glamorous ballrooms and stylish supper clubs. Now the hotel’s chief advantage is its superb location in downtown Chicago, where it stands along Michigan Avenue. It’s just minutes from Grant Park, several world-class museums, and a host of luxury retail stores.
- Onsite dining: Rafael’s Restaurant serves gourmet burgers, pan-roasted rainbow trout, and other specialties. In the morning, you can enjoy a hearty American breakfast at the Gazebo Restaurant.
- Past presidential guests: Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon
- Work up a sweat in the 24-hour fitness room.
- Get some culture across the street at the Auditorium Theatre, which offers musical performances, plays, and ballet.
Chicago’s Loop: Historic Commercial Center with World-Class Museums and Parks
Named after the shape formed by the elevated train tracks that form its perimeter, The Loop is Chicago’s downtown and the country’s second-largest business district. Skyscrapers such as the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the art-deco Chicago Board of Trade Building loom large here. They overlook waterfront parks, a glitzy theater district, and some of the world’s finest art collections.
The Art Institute of Chicago’s gargantuan collection covers everything from marble busts to Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Just north of the Art Institute, Millennium Park is known for both the Frank Gehry–designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion and for the sculpture Cloud Gate, known to Chicagoans as “The Bean” for its legume-like shape. Nearby Grant Park is dotted with several impressive attractions, including Buckingham Fountain, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium. The city’s public transportation system is among the country’s best. Check out our guide to Chicago public transportation for helpful tips on navigating the city like a local