Your Mag Mile checklist
The Magnificent Mile (or Mag Mile as it’s known to locals) is a tempting stretch of shops, hotels, restaurants and other landmarks along Michigan Avenue starting at the Chicago River and ending at Oak Street.
You can shop ’til you drop at designer and chain stores from Gucci to Zara, but here’s what you shouldn’t miss if you’re headed out for a spot of retail therapy from the Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago.
Explore the landmarks
Don’t miss taking a snap of the Wrigley Building (a Chicago landmark that opened in 1922) as you pass through. There was once an observatory on the 26th floor and with every 5 cent admission fee, customers got a stick of free Wrigley’s gum.
Tip: Get close to the Tribune Tower (home of the Chicago Tribune) and you’ll see what others might miss. The buttresses are said to be copies of those from Rouen Cathedral in France and feature stones from famous places around the world, including some from every one of America’s 50 states.
John Belushi's ‘Cheezborger, Cheezborger’ act on TV’s Saturday Night Live made Billy Goat Tavern the rather touristic hub it is today. Look for it over the street when you get to the Tribune Tower – the hint is the staircase that will take you down to Lower Michigan Avenue. The place was a hit with journalists in the ’70s, but of course the patrons are all mainly researching on their phones these days.
Eat Chicago pizza
In a city known as the ‘Pizza Capital of the World’, you can’t come to Chicago without munching on a slice or eight. There are some great pizza restaurants on the Magnificent Mile, but you could start with a slice at Connie’s Pizza or Gino’s East.
Go Gothic with a fire survivor
The Great Fire of 1871 destroyed most of the public buildings on Chicago Avenue, but the Water Tower and Pumping Station stand strong. You can sit for a moment or enjoy an ice cream in the park that loops around the Water Tower and marvel at the Gothic architecture.
See where a river reversed
Ever heard of reversing a river? Well that’s exactly what happened in 1900 when Chicago grew sick of sewage winding its nasty way from the Chicago River into Lake Michigan. You can see where this took place at Michigan Avenue Bridge and can even take a boat tour during cruising season, from late April to mid-October.
Get a panoramic city view
Don’t miss the impressive 100-storey John Hancock Center. You’ll get some amazing views year-round, from office blocks in the snow to green parks full of tulips in summer, when on the 94th floor observatory.
Tip: For almost the same panoramic city views as you get from the observatory in John Hancock Center, but for a lower price, head to the 96th floor and buy a cocktail in The Signature Lounge. Your drink is your key.
Stay at a historic hotel
The Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago sits right at the gateway to the Magnificent Mile, putting you in a great spot for exploring all it has to offer. Having opened in 1927 as the Davis Hotel, it became the Playboy Hotel in the ’70s, and during prohibition it was rumoured to have a speakeasy on the 14th floor. With 306 luxurious rooms, you can’t beat it for a place to relax at the end of a long day.
Looking for other hidden gems in Chicago? See our list.