Photo Courtesy of the Pat Murray Collection The highly polished Cloud Gate is know affectionately to locals as "The Bean."

Family Vacations: Millennium Park

What was once an eyesore of decaying railroad tracks and parking lots along Chicago's lakefront is now a stunning 24.5-acre urban jewel called Millennium Park. Among its major attractions are two extraordinary pieces of public art that have captivated visitors. One is a highly reflective 110-ton polished steel sculpture officially named Cloud Gate but affectionately called "The Bean." Visitors can wander under and around it to see the park and cityscape reflected in its curves.

The other, the Crown Fountain, is a reflecting pool flanked by two 50-foot towers onto which close-up images of Chicagoans are projected. The lips on the faces purse, and water sprays from them, making the ever-changing faces look like giant gargoyles. On warm days, children splash in the shallow water between the two towers and delight in the spray from the fountains.

There are plenty of lawns for picnicking, walkways among hedges and gardens, a performing arts venue, and a bicycle rental center so visitors can tour the park on wheels. A large outdoor ice-skating rink is open throughout the winter months.

Millennium Park

Address: S. Michigan Ave and E. Monroe Dr

Chicago, IL

Phone: 312/742-1168

Hours of Operation: 6 a.m. - 11 p.m., daily

Admission: Free

Check out the next page for information on the boardwalk shopping and rides available to vacationers at Chicago's Navy Pier.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Chicago City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit the Windy City.
  • Illinois State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Illinois, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.