Chicago, USA travel guide and things to do: Nine must-do highlights

THE ONE WALK

Ambling around with your neck cricked upwards, admiring skyscrapers, is a perfectly acceptable way to enjoy Chicago. But to put all the buildings into some sort of logical context, the Chicago Architecture Foundation's walking tours are worth taking. There are several options available, but the 90-minute Evolution of the Skyscraper tour is a perfect introduction to the different architectural styles. See architecture.org

THE ONE VIEW

The Willis Tower may not be Chicago's most beautiful building, but it sure is the tallest. The observation deck is 412 metres up, and offers predictably excellent views over the city's high-rise skyline. The rigorous test of nerve, however, comes in the form of the Ledge – a see-through glass box dangling over the side. See theskydeck.com

THE ONE PARK

Millennium Park is worth a visit for a number of show stopping structures, but three stand out. Frank Gehry's wild, flailing, dipping and curving Pritzker Pavilion, which hosts live music, Anish Kapoor's ultra-shiny, reflective Cloud Gate – which shows off a weirdly distorted city skyline – and Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain. The last has video walls made of glass bricks, showing close-ups of faces which periodically spit out jets of water.

THE ONE MUSEUM

The Field Museum is famous for its humungous dinosaur skeletons, but it does a fantastic job of making its exhibits part of a wider story. The triceratops and stegosaurus, for example, come in the middle of a much larger exhibition that traces the evolutionary history of life on Earth. The tech-heavy section on native American civilisations is also excellent. See fieldmuseum.org

THE ONE COMEDY CLUB

The Second City comedy club has been doing revues and improv shows for decades, and has generated an outrageously talented alumni list that includes Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert. For those who think they have funny bones themselves, the club runs drop-in improv classes. See secondcity.com

THE ONE STADIUM

Wrigley Field is a defiantly old-school baseball stadium, as opposed to the modern ballgame arenas found in most cities,  and home to the Chicago Cubs. There are dozens of home games to catch, although availability is usually better midweek. See mlb.com/cubs

THE ONE BLUES JOINT

Chicago is the birthplace of the electric blues, and still has several clubs run by the old legends. Rosa's Lounge isn't quite as steeped in the gravitas as many, but it has the advantage of being really welcoming and close to the bars and restaurants of Logan Square. Expect harmonicas and chugging bass five nights a week. See rosaslounge.com

THE ONE PIZZA

Opinion is very much divided on the Chicago-style deep dish pizza, but those who are prepared to entertain the thick, golden crusts and sloppy cheesy mess have several options from which to choose. Of the classic haunts – and there are four or five that Chicagoans will argue over vociferously – Gino's East wins on gimmick factor. Everyone's given a white pen, and encouraged to scrawl graffiti over the walls and furniture. See ginoseast.com

THE ONE HOTEL

Taking on an arts meets science theme, the EMC2 comes with a Leonardo da Vinci quote in massive letters by the entrance, and all manner of gadgetry. These include Amazon Alexa concierges, trumpet-like tubes you can put your phone in to amplify music and adorably cute room service robots that will bring a bottle of water or toothbrush to your door. Doubles cost from $US200. See hotelemc2.com

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ONE MORE THING

Chicago's public transport is an adventure in its own right. The L elevated trains rattle around the city like some sort of comicbook rollercoaster. Most of the city's fun neighbourhoods are along the blue line.

David Whitley was a guest of Choose Chicago. See choosechicago.com

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