Megan McNearMegan McNear is the AAPS senior public outreach specialist and a Chicago native.

As a transplant to the D.C. metro area, it is hard not to constantly be in awe of everything around me: the national monuments, the U.S. Capitol, and the White House. Despite the beautiful surroundings in my new home, I still believe that Chicago has it all: beauty (the city on the water), culture, food, and great people.

Most people don’t take the opportunity to experience all of what their city has to offer. While attending college in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to give architectural/cultural tours of the city. I was able to learn and appreciate the history and the beauty of this windy Midwestern gem. From the French Renaissance details of the Wrigley Building, to the modern polished Cloud Gate Sculpture better known as “The Bean,” one cannot go a city block without seeing something magnificent.

I have put together a must visit list to help guide you, for those who have free time to tour this great city while attending the 2012 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition.

  • Navy Pier: A little known fact is that right outside the main entrance of the pier one can take an architectural boat tour on the Chicago river. Absolutely the best tour in Chicago!
  • Willis Tower (previously known as the Sears Tower): The new attraction at Willis Tower Sky Deck is the glass ledges on all four sides where you can see the street 103 floors directly below you.
  • Signature Room, John Hancock Tower: The 95-floor restaurant and lounge is a great place to enjoy a cocktail or dinner with 360 views of the city.
  • Wrigley Field: The season is now over for the Cubs; however, visiting the ball park is a must. This Chicago landmark offers tours of the park given by Wrigley Field historians. Note: You must purchase tickets online.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo: This Chicago zoo’s claim to fame is that it is free!! Just blocks from the lakefront and public transportation, this is a great family outing.
  • Peggy Norbert Nature Museum: This museum is directly across from Lincoln Park Zoo and has a greenhouse full of butterflies that you can enter!
  • Museum Campus: If you are looking for something near McCormick Place, this has it all: Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum of Natural History, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field.
  • Magnificent Mile: Perfect for a stroll, with Chicago’s best architecture in view and shopping!
  • Buckingham Fountain: You can find this most recognizable Chicago landmark at the center of Grant Park. It was built to represent Lake Michigan.
  • Art Institute of Chicago: This museum is the second largest art museum in the U.S., second only to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

I hope you get the chance to take time and enjoy the Windy City. Whether at the Signature Lounge for drinks or a stroll down Michigan Avenue, I promise you will not be disappointed.