When attendees steal away from meetings held in other parts of the city, this is where they steal away to: the Magnificent Mile, the stretch of North Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Lakeshore Drive. This area holds the most fabulous hotels and shopping the city can muster, and it's an intoxicating experience. Names like Barneys, Harry Winston, Armani, and Nordstrom hang out their shingles here. Hotel venues in the Magnificent Mile are among the highest concentration in Chicago, and the posh restaurants and bars that accompany them are as plentiful.
The Magnificent Mile is a relatively narrow slice of downtown, just north of the Loop and south of the Gold Coast, but it has a lakefront event venue that any city would envy: Navy Pier, a state-of-the-art exposition and special-event facility with 170,000 square feet of exhibit space in two halls, 44,000 square feet of meeting space divisible into as many as 36 rooms, and the striking 18,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom with 80-foot ceilings that overlooks Lake Michigan. Navy Pier is known for its free Saturday-night fireworks show and is a major boarding spot for lakefront cruise outfitters.
The Magnificent Mile meeting venues list several unique spaces that are suitable for mid-size meetings or events, among them the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center, a 41-room mixed-use facility with space for up to 350 reception-style. On the northern end of the Mile, the Museum of Contemporary Art and 360 Chicago, formerly the John Hancock Observatory, offer high-impact spaces for rent for up to 650 (360 Chicago) or 1,200 (Museum of Contemporary Art).
Hotel meeting venues in the Magnificent Mile are arguably ideal. There are dozens of options, and a few have more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space. The Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, in particular, is notable for its 125,000 square feet of space. Planners of upscale meetings will find a rare choice of three 5 Star hotels, the Peninsula, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton.
Beyond the energy and obvious curb appeal of the Magnificent Mile as a meetings destination, its beauty lies in its connectedness. Anything you might lack as a guest on the avenue is never too far away. When meetings adjourn for the day, the rides and carnival-like atmosphere of Navy Pier await on the southeastern edge of the Magnificent Mile neighborhood. The capital of Chicago's nightlife, Rush Street, is one block west of Michigan Avenue. Boat cruises along the Chicago River make for a welcome change of pace from indoor meetings. And all along the lakefront lies an urban rarity, the Lakefront Trail, an 18-mile-long cycling and fitness trail.
Looking for more places in Chicago for events and meetings? Click the following link to see all Chicago area venues.