City Without Limits

Chicago

Chicago skyline at sunset     Photo: Robert Glusic/PhotoDisc

21. CHECK IN AND CHECK OUT one of the most talked-about new buildings in town, the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower hotel (doubles from $179; 312-324-4000, www.sofitel.com). This angular, 32-story glass edifice slices the skyline above the Magnificent Mile of shopping and the nightlife of Rush and Division streets. Drag yourself from the lush modernity of your room to Le Passage, on Rush, for a bass-thumping club scene.

22. DAY-SAIL LAKE MICHIGAN in a J/22 racer or a Catalina 39. The Chicago Sailing Club, at the north end of Belmont Harbor, will refresh your jib-and-jibe skills before you shove off; four nights a week, walk-ins can crew for free. (773-871-7245, www.chicagosailingclub.com)

23. SCUBA THE CAISSONS and explore relics from the Great Chicago Fire. The city dumped much of what remained after the 1871 disaster—from milk bottles to Civil War daggers—at this 39-foot-deep Lake Michigan dive site, five and a half miles offshore. (312-922-5090, www.divechicago.com)

24. DICE IT UP at the Chopping Block, a Lincoln Park cooking school whose popular "Eat 'n Run with Fleet Feet" classes teach athletes to prepare healthy training meals. SIgn up for the Knife Skills class and learn to cut veggies in half the usual time—without slicing your digits. (773-472-6700, www.thechoppingblock.net)

25. FLOAT LIKE A CORK in ten inches of saline solution in your own eight-by-four-foot capsule—devoid of light and sound—at the SpaceTime Tanks flotation center. Sensory deprivation never felt so decadent. (773-472-2700, www.spacetimetanks.com)

26. BLOW OFF STEAM at North Avenue Beach— Chicago's liveliest stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline, with 50 volleyball courts, an inline hockey rink, an outdoor Crunch gym, and a beach-house cantina with live music on weekends. (Crunch Fitness: 773-871-0638, www.crunch.com; beach house: 312-742-7529)

27. WINE AND DINE at the très chic Avec, featuring tapas, rustic Mediterranean dishes cooked in a wood-burning oven, and cozy communal seating, along with more than 100 red and white wines from Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal. With its cedar ceilings and walls, Avec resembles the inside of a sauna and—appropriately—is always filled with hotties. (312-377-2002, www.avecrestaurant.com)

28. FREESTYLE at the original Uptown Poetry Slam, held every Sunday evening at the Green Mill Tavern. Once frequented by high-profile Windy City mobsters, the Green Mill is now one of Chicago's premier jazz clubs. Sip Scotch on the rocks and be prepared for a rowdy verse-off that would make even Allen Ginsberg blush. (773-878-5552, www.slampapi.com)

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