CHICAGO (Money Magazine) -
"Hot time, summer in the city," goes the song. Yes, there are many who prefer the city to the country, even in summer, and for them, Chicago tops the list.
Start with the Chicago Architecture Foundation's boat tours, which feature spectacular riverfront and lakefront views of one of America's most beautiful skylines. For kids, there are the rides and corn-dog stands at Navy Pier (rent a surrey-style bike for four and pedal along Lake Michigan). Then go to the Field Museum of Natural History, where Sue, the world's largest T-Rex, resides, and to the nearby Shedd Aquarium -- its new shark tank opens this spring.
Considering the harsh winters, it's no wonder the Chicago area is host to so many summer festivals, from open-air Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts at Ravinia, a turn-of-the-century park and performing arts center 30 miles north of downtown, to the Viva Chicago Latin Music Festival (Aug. 24-25). Or hit the legendary Steppenwolf and Second City theaters, or one of the city's noted blues clubs.
Summer deals can be hard to find in Chicago (it's a year-round convention center), but we found two four-star hotels with great specials: the Swissotel ($169 to $209; 312-565-0565) and Le Meridien ($129 to $425 for a standard room; 312-645-1500).
A 90-minute drive from Albuquerque, Santa Fe is a center of Native American arts and culture as well as an area of stunning natural beauty. (When you see the sky burst with starlight at night, you'll know what we're talking about.) Art fans can browse the 200-plus galleries in the historic Canyon Road area or visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, near the centrally located Plaza, where Native Americans sell their crafts. (The Native American Art Fair takes up residence there in August.) Hard-core shoppers might consider a day trip to one of the nearby Pueblo reservations, where goods sell for less than in town.
There are numerous resorts and hotels, but your best bet is a bed and breakfast. Our favorite: Casa Del Toro Bed and Breakfast ($98 to $188, depending on the night and the room; 888-340-2883), a mere three blocks from the Plaza.