This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of So Scottsdale!

Chicago might be known as the “Windy City” with long, cold winters, but its summers are delightful, with pleasant weather (maximum temperatures are in the 80s) ad festivals and fun aplenty. Situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago is no ordinary concrete jungle, with a whopping 552 parks and 33 beaches. It is also filled with classic architecture and luxury hotels and is home to 26 Michelin-starred restaurants. That being said, it's an ideal escape from the Arizona heat.

Art and Architecture

Chicago grew in popularity during the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893—which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival int heNew World in 1492—when an estimated 150,000 people visited the city every single day for six months.

Upon arrival, they discovered a city filled with grand buildings. Experience some of this grandeur yourself by booking an architectural tour. One of the most popular tours is a 90-minute river cruise with Chicago's First Lady Cruises. You can also take a walking tour to get inside of some of these architectural gems. For example, the Historic Treasures fo Culture and Commerce tour, available through the Chicago Architecture Foundation, goes inside the famous 19th-century Palmer House, and you can stand under the breathtaking dome of the original Chicago Public Library.

Of course, no visit to Chicago is complete without checking out The Art Institute of Chicago. The second largest art museum in the country, it houses one of the best collections of impressionist paintings, including works by Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir.

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

The modern wing of The Art Institute is a peaceful place to wander. Be sure to check out Marc Chagall's America Windows, which commemorates the American Bicentennial. They once marked the entryway to the museum, but now hang in a dedicated hallway.

Chicago by Night

After you've had a chance to take in the architectural glories of Chicago by day, head to the 360 Chicago Observation Deck high atop the John Hancock Building to get unbelievable city views at night. Located on the 94th floor (and 1,000 feet high!) you get a bird's-eye view of the city and Lake Michigan.

Chicago at Night

Chicago at Night from 360 Chicago Observation Deck. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

Truly, this is a picture-perfect spot to grab a cocktail or glass of Champagne and toast the sunset. If you're looking for a bit of a thrill, check out the venue's latest attraction, TILT. Billed as Chicago's highest thrill ride (and the first of its kind worldwide), you step into a glass cube and tilt out over the city above The Magnificent Mile and the Chicago skyline.

Stay in Style

One of the places you see on a walking tour of Chicago is the Reliance Building at Washington and State streets. This National Historic Landmark was the city's first skyscraper, built in 1895 by Daniel Burnham, John Root and Charles Atwood. The building, with its unique white terra cotta and glass facade, now houses a newly opened luxury boutique hotel, The Alise Chicago (formerly Hotel Burnham) which oozes Old World charm.


Reliance Building is home to The Alise Chicago. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

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