Chess in the park

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)

It's no secret that Chicago is one of the most diverse cities in America. But what's especially interesting is that many neighborhoods are true reflections of the immigrants who established them. Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Irish, Polish, Korean and other cultures add their own nuances to the city's unique cultural flavor.

The skyline of Chicago is situated just off shore Lake Michigan, and the city offers truly spectacular views that have landed it some memorable roles over the years. Anyone that has seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off (which is pretty much everyone) has witnessed a love letter to Chicago with cameos of The Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley Field, the Sears Tower and more. Chicago has also morphed into the literary landscape for books like The Jungle, The House on Mango Street and The Lazarus Project. Not to mention its prime real estate on Broadway as the subject of one of the best-known musicals of all time.

All That Jazz

One of the most celebrated parts of Chicago's culture is the jazz. Sink into one of the local haunts like Andy's Jazz Club or Kingston Mines to take in the blasting sounds of trumpets roaring or the salty quakes of the saxophone. If you want to hear it all in one place, visit the city during The Chicago Jazz Festival, which takes place over Labor Day weekend. (If you're an alternative music lover, you're probably already planning a trip to the Pitchfork Music Festival in July or Lollapalooza in August.)

Chicago's a museum city. Visit the Shedd Aquarium to experience one of the most well-tended oceanic museums in the country. An Oceanarium and multiple Wild Reef exhibits are on hand for an underwater experience that's as educational as it is entertaining. Tackle as many of the Art Institute of Chicago's four buildings as you can, then prepare for your jaw to drop — and stay dropped — at The Museum of Science and Industry. Highlights include a simulated coal mine tour and giant Fairy Castle complete with tiny chandeliers made out of real diamonds.

It won't take you long to see that Chicago is a foodie town. Aside from mastering deep-dish pizza at places like Pizzeria UNO or Lou Malnati's, there isn’t a cuisine in Chicago that's not represented…and represented well. Its Chinatown is legit. The Indian food on Devon Avenue and the Persian food on Kedzie Avenue are worshipped. There's a Little Italy, a Greektown, a Polish Village and the list goes on and on. A good brew is never far out of hand, either. Behind San Francisco, Chicago has the second highest rate of bars per capita.