Special Report | May 2011 | By Mary Avant
Making the Most of NRA 2011
Where to Go, What to Do
Distance from NRA Show: 2.89 miles
At 1,450 feet and 110 stories high, Willis Tower—formerly known as the Sears Tower—is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Home to more than 100 prominent insurance, law, and financial companies, the tower attracts more than 1 million visitors each year. At sunset, check out The Ledge on the 103rd floor, with glass boxes extending out 4.3 feet from the building and offering an unparalleled view of the Windy City. Address: 233 S. Wacker Dr.
Loop Retail Historic District
Distance from NRA Show: 3.01 miles
This shopping district is nestled in the Chicago Loop of Lake Street, Congress Parkway, State Street, and Wabash Avenue and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Spend an evening touring the area, which features famous buildings such as the Sullivan Center—formerly the Carson Pirie Scott building—the Chicago Theatre, the luxurious Palmer House Hotel, and major department stores like Macy’s, where Rick Bayless has his famed Frontera Fresco quick serve. Lake Street, Congress Parkway, State Street, Wabash Avenue
Distance from NRA Show: 3.1 miles
This 24.5-acre park, which didn’t open until four years after the millennial celebration, plays host to more than 500 events—from concerts and art exhibitions to ice skating—every year. After the show closes at 5 p.m., rent a bike to ride around the McDonald’s Cycle Center, catch a dance performance at Harris Theater, or take a stroll through the enchanting Lurie Garden. 201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan and Columbus Avenues
Distance from NRA Show: 3.41 miles
Since 1995, Chicagoans and tourists have visited Navy Pier, which borders the beautiful Lake Michigan. You can take a ride on the 15-story-tall Ferris Wheel or enjoy dinner and live music at the Beer Garden. On Saturday, hit the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at 8 p.m. to see The Madness of George III. 600 E. Grand Ave.
The 900 Shops
Distance from NRA Show: 4.03 miles
If retail is your forte, spend some time in this Magnificent Mile shopping destination, which features seven levels of more than 70 luxury lifestyle shops. With everything from Bloomingdale’s to Gucci, you can find just what you need to look sharp and fashion-savvy at the next day’s breakout panels. 900 N. Michigan Ave.
Distance from NRA Show: 4.68 miles
Treat yourself after a long day of education sessions and booth browsing by taking a pick from this trio of authentic Italian restaurants. The Village is designed to mirror a small Italian town, while La Cantina, a steak and seafood house, features narrow isles and tucked away booths patterned after a wine cellar. Vivere highlights regional Italian cuisine and sits on the Best New Restaurant list for both Esquire and Wine Spectator magazines. 71 W. Monroe St.
Billy Goat Tavern
Distance from NRA Show: 5.29 miles
This sports-fan favorite, made famous by the Saturday Night Live skit, is considered a Chicago Tourist Landmark and has been frequented by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bill Clinton. A Chicago legend since 1934, the Billy Goat Tavern is said to be haunted by the “Cubs Curse”—aka the “Curse of the Billy Goat”—which has plagued Cubs fans since 1945. Visit this original location (located under Michigan Avenue) and sit in the “Wall of Fame section” or stop by any of its other five locations in the area, and make sure you taste one of the legendary “Cheezborgers.” 430 N. Michigan Ave.
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