When making travel plans to head to a thriving metropolis, most folks I talk to want to visit either New York, Miami or Los Angeles. For those that already know and love Chicago, they appreciate how much the city has to offer. But no matter how well you think you know the Windy City, we have a hunch you don't know these interesting facts!

1. Mine Is Bigger Than Yours

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When it comes to art collections, only the Louvre in Paris has more impressionist paintings than the Art Institute of Chicago. So if you're an art aficionado or aspiring artist, bring your sketch pad and pencils when you visit to see if you can replicate the masters.

2. Top of the World

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The John Hancock Observatory is home to the world's highest ice skating rink and America's highest indoor swimming pool. So if you decide to leap into a triple axel while skating here, you may want to wear a parachute.

3. They've Got It Together

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With the recent release of Jurassic Park 3D, kids are once again fascinated with dinosaurs. That's why you might consider taking the family to the Field Museum which has the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever assembled. Oh, and did we mention her name is Sue?

4. River Runs Through It

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When you watch the movement of the Chicago River, you may notice something is amiss. It runs backward! It was reversed to run into the Mississippi instead of into Lake Michigan due to pollution problems. Now isn't that a neat trick?

5. The Wild Kingdom

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Although you may know that Lincoln Park Zoo is free and open to the public 365 days a year, you probably didn't realize that Lincoln Park is the largest park in Chicago and the second most visited in the nation. The most visited park would be New York's Central Park.

6. Booked & Printed

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Chicagoans must love to read, because they have the world's largest public library, the Harold Washington Library. The Chicago Public Library System has nearly 11 million books! If you can't find the title you are looking for here, my guess is that you're out of luck.

7. You May Get Wet

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Living on the Great Lakes has its advantages. This coastal town not only sports great beaches, but also the Shedd Aquarium, the second largest aquarium in the world! There are more than 32,500 aquatic animals living there. More than once, children have left the Shedd wanting to be marine biologists.

8. For The Boys


Although NBC's prime time soap, The Playboy Clubdidn't last long, the empire the show was based on is going strong and has roots that run deep into the heart of Chicago. Hugh Hefner founded 'Playboy' in the Windy City in 1953 at 6052 South Harper Street.

9. Pieces of Dreams

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Chicago gets its news from the Chicago Tribune. When you visit the city, it is easy to pick out Tribune Tower amid the other skyscrapers in the skyline. But did you know that one of the things that makes this iconic building so special is that its exterior walls are embedded with pieces from other famous structures? The Arc de Triomphe, Taj Mahal, the Alamo, Westminster Abbey and the Great Pyramid are all here, laying claim to their own piece of Chicago.

10. Explosive Discoveries


Deep beneath the football field at the University of Chicago, Enrico Fermi led the team of scientists who conducted the first sustained atomic fission reaction. Fermi worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938 and built the Chicago Pile-1 in 1942.

See why you need to visit Chicago?

With all the history, architecture, culture and activities that there are to do in Chicago, why are you still here? Call Amtrak to buy your tickets, pack your bags, and then climb aboard the Texas Eagle for a vacation that will entertain, inspire, educate and relax  you. You know you want to.

And if you need a little more incentive, for a limited time, you can enter to win our Escape to Chicago Aboard The Texas Eagle contest! It's the trip you've waited a lifetime to take. Enter now in our VIP club!