Getting some culture around town for FREE!

CCCSlideshow3

Not everything you do in the big city is expensive.  The locals have their own ways to get around and find things to do that are low cost and some really neat things to do for free.  One such place is the Cultural Center which has a visitor”s center that will provide you free access to attractions around down, get a visitor’s transit pass to save some money.  At the Cultural Center, there is also an art gallery on the first floor that has rotating exhibits from local artists.  The architecture in the cultural center itself is also amazing and you can just soak up the history while taking a coffee or snack break in the common area offering free WiFi Internet access.  the various ball rooms also plays host to various city functions and public meetings.
visitorscenter

The Chicago  Cultural Center was originally constructed in 1897 as the Central Library of Chicago.  As the city’s population increased over the last century, the central library was relocated to Van Buren.  The country’s top architects and craftsmen used the most sumptuous materials, such as rare imported marbles, polished brass, fine hardwoods, and mosaics of Favrile glass, mother-of-pearl and colored stone, to create an architectural showplace. Located on the south side of the building, the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome ― 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass ― was restored to its original splendor in 2008. On the north side of the building is a 40-foot-diameter dome with some 50,000 pieces of glass in an intricate Renaissance pattern, designed by Healy & Millet.

PBHallCulturalCenter

Driving Directions


From The North:

If traveling from the North on the Kennedy Expressway or Edens Expressway (Interstate 90/94), exit at Monroe Street and drive East to Michigan Avenue.

If driving on the Outer Drive (North Lake Shore Drive/Highway 41), exit at Randolph Street and drive West to Michigan Avenue.

From The South:

If traveling from the South on the Dan Ryan Expressway (Interstates 90/94), exit at Congress Parkway and drive East to Michigan Avenue and then North to Washington Street. If driving on Lake Shore Drive (Highway 41), exit at Randolph Street and drive West to Michigan Avenue.

From The East:
If traveling from the East on the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 90), take the Chicago Skyway to the Stony Island exit, follow Highway 41 (Lake Shore Drive) to downtown Chicago, exit at Randolph Street and drive West to Michigan Avenue.

If coming in from the East on Interstate 90/94, continue on the Dan Ryan Expressway, exit at Congress Parkway, drive East to Michigan Avenue and then North to Washington Street.

From The West:
If traveling from the West on the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290), which becomes Congress Parkway, drive East to Michigan Avenue, and then turn North (left) to Washington Street.

cccfirstfloor

 Parking

Convenient parking is located in the Millennium Park Garage, Grant Park North, Grant Park South and East Monroe Garages. For more information or directions for any of these parking garages, visit www.millenniumgarages.com or call 312.616.0600.

 Public Transportation

Both Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains, and Metra’s commuter rail lines stop conveniently near the Cultural Center. For detailed travel information visit www.transitchicago.com or call the Travel Information Center at 1-888-YOUR-CTA or 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (TTY).

 

Holiday Spirit in Chicago

One of the neat things about living in a large urban city like Chicago is that the city and businesses helps put people in the holiday spirit with holiday decorations. While the trees may be missing it’s foliage in the colder winter months, they are often draped with holiday lights. Many businesses will also put up their own version of the Christmas tree adorned with different lights. The city has its own official Christmas tree that is usually chosen from a suburban family, chopped and trucked in for installation at Daley Plaza where the Picasso Statue resides and the Christkindle Market happens during the holiday.

Street Scape along the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) with the infamous Water Tower in the background.

Street Scape along the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) with the infamous Water Tower in the background.


Christmas tree at the Cultural Center which is used for city offices, art gallery and visitor's center.

Christmas tree at the Cultural Center which is used for city offices, art gallery and visitor’s center.

Holiday tree outside of the legondary Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team

Holiday tree outside of the legondary Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team

Colorful trees at the base of the Skydesk for Willis Tower.  Chicagoans still call it the Sear's Tower.

Colorful trees at the base of the Skydesk for Willis Tower. Chicagoans still call it the Sear’s Tower.

The official City Christmas Tree at Daley Plaza with Chriskindle Market

The official City Christmas Tree at Daley Plaza with Chriskindle Market

Trumpets and Holiday Story Windows outsides of Macy's on State.  Chicagoans still call it Marshall Fields

Trumpets and Holiday Story Windows outsides of Macy’s on State. Chicagoans still call it Marshall Fields

Trees at the ice skating rink at Millenium Park.

Trees at the ice skating rink at Millenium Park.

The holiday tree on the plaza shared by The Tribune Company and NBC Tower

The holiday tree on the plaza shared by The Tribune Company and NBC Tower

Christkindl Market in Chicago Loop Downtown

December 12, 2013

One of the most cool things around the holidays in Chicago is the Christkindl Market downtown.  It’s located at the Daley Plaza in front of the court house where during the summer months, they have various cultural festivals and fresh farmer’s market weekly.

Christkindl Market is a Santa’s Village of sorts replicating the Christkindl Markets in Germany, but on a small scale and more local to Chicago.  It was started by the Germany immigrants into the City and has been a yearly tradition for me to stop there. I used to visit more often when my office was located in the central loop across for it’s location so it was easy to go across the street for lunch to get a quick German bratwurst or schnitzel fix, to grab some hot apple cider or to meet friends for a beer, pretzels an/or potato pancakes after work.

chriskindl_market

Besides the food and drinks, it’s a nice place to shop for lots of holiday gifts from vendors and artisans and there are ample selection of Christmas Ornaments or Germany Chocolates to give out for business associates and clients during the holidays.

If you have little ones (or for the kid in you), You can visit Santa’s House and get a phone with Santa.
 

GETTING THERE:
There are many options to get to Daley Plaza where the Chriskindl Market is located: You can take public transit and there is an El Station underneath Daley Plaza for both the Blue and Red Lines. The #20 Madison Bus goes right by Daley Plaza and it’s only a short 2 block walk from Michigan Avenue. A taxi is always nearby and there are plenty of parking lots in the surrounding blocks, but be prepared to pay hefty during peak hours for the parking downtown. There are a few metered spots in the blocks around the area if you are willing to wait and not planning on staying for more than an hours or two, otherwise, the paid parking is usually a better option both financially and for flexibility on time.

Hours:
It’s open daily from November 26th through December 23rd! I hope you will make it a yearly tradition like I have in Chicago.

Website: http://www.christkindlmarket.com/en/

OTHER NEARBY WINTER ATTRACTIONS — There are some other Winter Attraction Nearby if you are making a day of it:
1) Outdoor ice skating in Millennium Park at Michigan and Washington Streets.
2) Visit Cloud Gate at Millennium Park.
3) Shopping along Michigan Avenue’s Mag Mile.
4) View the annual holiday Window Displays at Macy’s — it’s only a block away on State Street and there is usually a cute story to be told.
5) Take in a Theater or show in the Theater District close by

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.