I admit – the only reason I ever thought of visiting Chicago was because of a film that had the same name. Set in the 1920s, Chicago –the movie, not the city – embodied the best and the worst of the Jazz age. It was a time of risk taking, the birth of legends and trailblazing change. It was also, I had to remind myself, just a movie. But imagine my surprise when on my first visit to the city – I realized that Chicago is all about these values and so much more.

It was only supposed to be a one day road trip when I extended it to a week because I felt like there was so much more that I wasn’t able to explore. One of the things that quickly took my breath away was Chicago’s proud history. The city is home to trailblazers like Jane Addams; a pioneer of social work whose passion to help female immigrants helped institutionalize change;  there’s also celebrated designer Frank Lloyd Write who spearheaded organic architecture; and of course, who could ever forget the legendary  Chicago Bulls.

One of the other best ways to learn more about Chicago’s rich culture is by visiting the Lakefront trail – an 18-mile-long stretch of road that connects the city’s four parks. Popular among hikers, the trail is an absolutely beautiful way to get acquainted with the windy city.  It is also home to the museum campus that features different kinds of artifacts and collections that best represent Chicago.  Apart from this, the

trail gives you a chance to view some of its breathtaking sites including the Buckingham Fountain, the Rose garden and many more.  Whether explored by foot, Segway or bike – it’s an amazing experience that anyone who is new to Chicago should try.

Another testament to the city’s respect for the past is how it conserves and takes care of old historical sites such as the legendary Graceland cemetery which is an example of remarkable Victorian architecture. Meanwhile, a favorite among kids is the spooky Couch Crypt which was built in 1857. Not a lot is known about the crypt which adds to its eery mystery. For those looking for something less adventurous, there’s also the famous Union Station. Built in 1925, it’s the largest terminal for commuter trains and a common location choice for Hollywood movies because of its breathtaking architecture.  But perhaps my absolute favorite would be the Chicago Water Tower because it looks like it was ripped right off the page of a fairy tale.

With such a vibrant history and remarkable culture, my love affair with Chicago may have been inspired by a movie but it was the city’s immeasurable wonder that made that love real for me.