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"The Bean," the fountains, the Disney-esque music pavilion—all the pieces of this new park quickly stole the hearts of Chicagoans and visitors alike. The showstopper here is Frank Gehry's stunning Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Dramatic ribbons of stainless steel stretching 40 feet into the sky look like petals wrapping the music stage. The sound system, suspended by a trellis that spans the great lawn, provides concert-hall sound outside. So what can you see on this beautiful stage? Take your pick. There's the Grant Park Music Festival—a free classical-music series—as well as the city's popular free summer concerts, including the jam-packed Chicago Blues and Chicago Jazz festivals.
Hot town? Summer in the city? Cool off by letting a local resident spit on you. Okay, it's just a giant image of a Chicagoan's face—actually, dozens of Chicagoans' faces rotating through on two 50-foot-high glass block–tower fountains. The genius behind the Crown Fountain, Spanish sculptor
Jaume Plensa, lined up the mouths on the digital photos with an opening in the fountain. When a face purses its lips, water shoots out its "mouth." Kids love it, and adults feel like kids watching it. It's at the southwest corner of the park.
The Cloud Gate sculpture, otherwise known as "the Bean," awaits your delighted ooohs and aaahs as you stand beneath its gleaming seamless polished steel. Located between Washington and Madison streets, its curved reflective surface provides a fun-house mirror view of Chicago's storied skyline. The 2006 work is by the noted British artist Anish Kapoor.
In summer the carefully manicured plantings in the Lurie Garden bloom; in winter the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is open for public skating. If you're feeling artsy, you can find out if there's a show playing at the indoor, underground Harris Theater for Music and Dance, behind the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Dr., Randolph and Monroe Sts., Chicago, Illinois, 60602, United States