Jump-start your final day with a cup of Stumptown java and a mess (and wonder) of a bagel sandwich from Bagel on Damen. Or gear up for dim sum at Phoenix, a second-floor Chinatown staple serving solid barbecue pork buns, spring rolls and congee.
Next, check out Millennium Park. Bordering Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the north and Monroe Street to the south, this art and architecture extravaganza is located in the heart of the city. It's also home to Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture, the visually impressive Jay Pritzker Pavilion (designed by Frank Gehry and home to the grant Park Music Festival) and Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain with lit, glass-block towers and a reflecting pool with cascading water and video projections. Not far from here is Buckingham Fountain, a Lake Michigan-backed, lit-up sight to behold on summer nights.
No trip to Chicago is complete without a shopping spree along the Magnificent Mile, the famed stretch along Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street. Take in the sights as you wander at will, stopping at landmarks that interest you. In this area, close to the river, are the Wrigley Building, the Equitable Building, the Tribune Tower and NBC Tower. Nearer to Oak Street are the Gothic-style limestone Water Tower and the water works building across the street — both predating the 1871 Great Fire that destroyed most of the city. Among the upscale shopping you should enjoy Chicago Place and the shops of 900 North Michigan Ave.
If you're looking to unearth independent labels, however, a better bet is to visit the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods. Many boutiques are concentrated at the intersection of Milwaukee, North and Damen Avenues. On the other hand, if vintage finds are your thing, pop into vintage district stores along Chicago Avenue or Lincoln Avenue. For salvaged and vintage furnishings, though, the Grand Avenue Design District is a best bet.
Since it's impossible to visit the Windy City without tackling a pizza, we suggest lunching at Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, if for no other reason than that the crust is crispy, the sauce tangy-sweet and the fillings (go for Italian pork sausage laid over a bed of mozzarella) as bountiful as can be.
Because a vacation is supposed to be just that, make time for a massage at Spa Space. This tranquil West Loop day spa offers a range of massages (sports, couples, Swedish, runners, golfers, hot stone, prenatal, prenatal and reflexology) in peacefully hip surroundings. Not far from there is Urban Oasis, a tranquil Gold Coast pad known for its stress-relieving massages.
Afterward, enjoy a leisurely stroll at the Navy Pier covering 50 acres on the lakefront. You can't miss it — look for the tall Ferris wheel. In season, an upward ride in a hot air balloon is an option, too. The bustling building is loaded with shops, restaurants and an IMAX theater. It's also where you'll find the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, a permanent exhibition of 150 panels spanning an 800-foot-long gallery space along the lower level terraces of Festival Hall. Cruises and Pier Walk, a collection of world-class outdoor sculptures, may then lure you back outdoors. And if you're with tots? Consider visiting the on-site Chicago Children's Museum, a play-haven featuring tree house trails, waterways and a dinosaur expedition.
Once you've had enough of the hustle and bustle, savor and swirl to your heart's content at ENO, a low-key wine bar . Or take a trip across the pond at Owen & Engine, where the curated beer list is long and strong. Finish your Chicago sojourn by dining at Sixteen, the 16th-floor stunner situated in the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Can't get a table? Another hotspot, though much more low key, is The Bristol, a welcoming Bucktown joint focusing on local, seasonal eats. Either sets the stage for cocktails at The Violet Hour, a swanky, pre-Prohibition-era lounge with a French salon feel.
For more information, visit the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau at www.choosechicago.com