The talk was around blue men and dinosaur teeth at a special event for Choose Chicago yesterday, where guests heard from nine tourism partners about why Canadians should choose the Windy City this year.
“Toronto is our largest Canadian market,” said Kristi Schuda, tourism sales manager, Choose Chicago. “We’re not that far from Toronto and we are sister cities so a lot of people can relate to each city. And Canada is the largest international market to Chicago. We’re very happy to be here.”
This event was the second for Choose Chicago, with a preceding event in Montreal.
As to why Canadians are drawn to Chicago, Schuda said shopping is a major attraction. “We have fantastic shopping for any interests," she explained. Chicago’s shopping region includes The Magnificent Mile, which is a grand boulevard of 460 retails stores, 275 restaurants, hotels, galleries and more. The city also offers designer shopping, neighborhood boutique shopping and outlet shopping, with more than 120 outlet stores.
For sports fans, Schuda said Chicago boasts six professional sports teams, with an event for every sports fan offered throughout the year. Teams include the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Fire.
As for hotels, a diverse hotel inventory offers 36,000 rooms in the Central Business district alone.
There is also a wide selection of annual events, from Chicago Restaurant Week to Chicago Theatre Week, the Chicago Auto Show to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show and many more, including the Chicago Blues Festival, Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, Chicago Jazz Festival and the Great Chicago Fire Festival.
The sales manager also spoke about the “Ultimate Chicago Checklist,” which includes visiting the “Bean” Millenium Park, Buckingham Fountain, Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, Skydeck Willis Tower, the Magnificent Mile, Sue, the T.Rex at the Field Museum and seeing a world premiere of a theatrical production.
“We’ve got lots of theatre,” said Schuda. Productions in 2015 include Blue Man Group, ComedySportz, Second City Comedy, Million Dollar Quartet, Tosca, The First Wives Club (pre-Broadway world premier) and Pippin.
New museum attractions and exhibits include TILT! at 360 Chicago, Destination Solar System (Adler Planetarium), Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti (Field Museum), We Call Them Vikings (Field Museum), Robot Revolution (Museum of Science and Industry), Cyrus Tang Hall of China (Field Museum) and Van Gogh’s Bedrooms (Art Institute of Chicago).
“Chicago is like a friend to all,” Schuda said. “We have pretty much anything for anybody - young travellers, the more mature adults, those into the dining scene. Each season offers something new - festivals, events, whatever you’re looking for.”
Partners then gave short presentations, with representatives from Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours, 360 Chicago, Art Institute Chicago, Blue Man Group Chicago, Fairmont Chicago, Hilton Lisle/Naperville, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, Park Hyatt Chicago and the Field Museum.
For travellers wanting to visit several attractions, a City Pass is available, which saves 50 per cent compared to regular box office prices. Choose Chicago Toronto concluded with prize giveaways.
For more information, visit choosechicago.com.
Back row: Michelle Zwirek, Fairmont Chicago; Amy Tometich, Museum of Science and Industry; Gina Fitzpatrick, 360 CHICAGO; Joel Friend, Lyric Opera; Timmie Cortina, Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours; Kristen Doss, Blue Man Group
Front row: Michelle Graff, Hilton Lisle/Naperville; Meg Hellmuth, Park Hyatt; Aimee Willetts, Field Museum; Kristi Schuda, Choose Chicago; April Beauchamp, Choose Chicago.