The Windy City
Chicago is home to a collection of museums, galleries

The Windy City? Some would say so. More than that, Chicago is the home to a thriving arts scene. In the heart of the city, the streets are lined with galleries and museums, innovative architecture and scenic green spaces.

We surfed the Web to find our favorite stops in the home of all things Cubs and hot dogs.

City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower

When Chicago's visitors center relocated from the Historic Water Tower, one of the city's favorite buildings was left empty. Rather than waste the space, commissioner Lois Weisberg decided to make use of the building, and directed the Public Art Program to curate exhibitions of Chicago-themed photography.

And thus, the City Gallery was born. The gallery houses four exhibitions annually, and all the photography displayed in the water tower comes from Chicago photographers. Both solo and group shows are held in the space, and more than 150,000 patrons visit the gallery each year.

City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower is open seven days a week and admission is free. Call 312-742-0808.

Museum Campus Chicago

Located on a sprawling 57 acres, Museum Campus Chicago connects three of the city's most prestigious institutions: the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, The Field Museum and the John G. Shedd Aquarium.

The three museums are joined together by scenic walkways lined with lush gardens and green spaces. This use of outdoor walkways allows the museums to extend teaching beyond the walls of the museum, working with the Chicago Park District and the city of Chicago to provide educational and recreational programming that combine learning and fun.

For visitors not up to walking the grounds, a free trolley service provides transportation between the three museums. The campus is also accessible by bike, roller blades, taxi, water taxi, car and public transportation. Take your pick.

Open seven days a week, the museums average a combined attendance of 4 million people each year. For more information, visit www.museumcampus.org.

Clarke House Museum

When Henry and Caroline Clarke came to Chicago, they were hoping to gain riches and prosperity in the then-prairie town. The couple built their home on 20 acres of land in 1836, one year before the city of Chicago was incorporated. They found their wealth, but quickly lost all but their home in 1837 during an economic panic.

The house is still intact - although it has been moved - and is the oldest home in Chicago. Through extensive research, restoration efforts were completed and the home is open for tours that offer a glimpse of life in the early years of the city.

Tours are offered at noon and 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students and $5 for children under 12 years old. Admission is free on Wednesdays. Call 312-326-1480.

Millennium Park

Showcasing Chicago's finest, Millennium Park offers a little bit of everything. Located in the heart of downtown, the park opened its gates in July 2004 and is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design.

The 24.5-acre park, the result of a partnership between the city of Chicago and its philanthropic community, features the work of world-renowned architects, planners, artists and designers.

Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue, the interactive Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa and the contemporary Lurie Garden are among the park's most prominent attractions.

When visiting the park, make your first stop the Millennium Park Welcome Center, where you can find maps, programming information and brochures about the park. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, and admission is free. Visit www.millenniumpark.org.

Byron's Hot Dog Stand

No visit to Chicago would be complete without a sampling of the city's signature dish: the Chicago-style hot dog. Depending on who you ask, there are several top spots to indulge in the meat-and-bun concoction.

The editors of the CitySearch, a national tourism Web site, have designated Byron's Hot Dog Haus as the top dog. Byron's dog is smothered with a combination of lettuce, tomatoes and salads items. It's been debated all those vegetables make the hot dog healthy, but the verdict's still out.

Byron's is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 773-281-7474.