In 2008, Chicago attracted 32.4 million domestic leisure travelers, 11.7 million domestic business travelers and 1.3 million overseas visitors.These visitors contributed more than US$11.8 billion to Chicago's economy. Upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile and State Street, thousands of restaurants, as well as Chicago's eminent architecture, continue to draw tourists. The city is the United States' third-largest convention destination. Most conventions are held at McCormick Place, just south of Soldier Field. The historic Chicago Cultural Center (1897), originally serving as the Chicago Public Library, now houses the city's Visitor Information Center, galleries and exhibit halls. The ceiling of its Preston Bradley Hall includes a 38 ft (12 m) Tiffany glass dome. Grant Park holds Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain (1927), and the Art Institute of Chicago. The park also hosts the annual Taste of Chicago festival. In Millennium Park, there is the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture. Also, an outdoor restaurant transforms into an ice rink in the winter season. Two tall glass sculptures make up the Crown Fountain. The fountain's two towers display visual effects from LED images of Chicagoans' faces, along with water spouting from their lips. Frank Gehry's detailed, stainless steel band shell, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, hosts the classical Grant Park Music Festival concert series. Behind the pavilion's stage is the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, an indoor venue for mid-sized performing arts companies, including the Chicago Opera Theaterand Music of the Baroque.
Navy Pier, located just east of Streeterville, is 3,000 ft (910 m) long and houses retail stores, restaurants, museums, exhibition halls and auditoriums. Its 150-foot (46 m) tall Ferris wheel is one of the most visited landmarks in the Midwest, attracting about 8 million people annually.
In 1998, the city officially opened the Museum Campus, a 10-acre (4.0 ha) lakefront park, surrounding three of the city's main museums, each of which is of national importance: the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium. The Museum Campus joins the southern section of Grant Park, which includes the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Buckingham Fountain anchors the downtown park along the lakefront. The University of Chicago Oriental Institute has an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeological artifacts. Other museums and galleries in Chicago include the Chicago History Museum, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Polish Museum of America, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Museum of Science and Industry.
The top activity while visitors tour Chicago for leisure is entertainment, approximately 33% of all leisure travelers. Facilities such as McCormick Place and the Chicago Theatre contribute to this percentage.
When Chicago was incorporated in 1837, it chose the motto Urbs in Horto, a Latin phrase which translates into English as "City in a Garden". Today, the Chicago Park District consists of 552 parks with over 7,300 acres (3,000 ha) of municipal parkland. There are 33 sand Chicago beaches, a plethora of museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, and 10 bird and wildlife gardens. Lincoln Park, the largest of the city's parks, covers 1,200 acres (490 ha) and has over 20 million visitors each year, making it second only to Central Park in New York City in number of visitors. With berths for more than 5,000 boats, the Chicago Park District operates the nation's largest municipal harbor system; even larger than systems in cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami. In addition to ongoing beautification and renewal projects for the existing parks, a number of new parks have been added in recent years, such as the Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown, DuSable Park on the Near North Side, and most notably, Millennium Parkin a section of one of Chicago's oldest parks, Grant Park in the Chicago Loop.
The wealth of greenspace afforded by Chicago's parks is further augmented by the Cook County Forest Preserves, a network of open spaces containing forest, prairie, wetland, streams, and lakes that are set aside as natural areas which lie along the city's periphery, home to both the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe and the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield.