Get ready for Optometry’s Meeting® in our kind of town: Chicago!

December 29, 2011

Where's the bean? Chicago, of course! Host to the 2012 Optometry’s Meeting®. “The Bean” is actually a sculpture named Cloud Gate by world-renowned artist Anish Kapoor. Join the AOA and American Optometric Student Association at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, Ill., June 26-July 1 as we celebrate the profession. Visit http://www.optometrysmeeting.org for more information. Photo credit: © City of Chicago/GRC

The famous Chicago skyline will be the backdrop for Optometry’s Meeting® in June 2012. Always a prime destination for world travelers, Chicago is called America’s hippest and hottest city for its exciting mix of art, fashion, food and fun.

While at McCormick Place Convention Center, optometric professionals can expect to see the latest technologies… new pharmaceutical research, paperless practice innovations, trends in contact lenses and frames, office equipment solutions and more. The AOA will also provide updates on government initiatives that can affect the way you practice.

Educational programming will include breakfast and lunch symposiums. The World Council of Optometry and Illinois Optometric Association will also be joining us in Chicago.

Information on the World Council of Optometry’s meeting, “Advancing Optometry Worldwide,” can be found at www.worldoptometry.org/en/events/wco-events/chicago-2012/index.cfm.

Attendees should be sure to maximize their Chicago experience. Here are some things to do and see.

Architecture and art

The urban skyscraper was born in Chicago, and today it’s a living showplace of works by Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and other masters.

On foot, or by double-decker bus, river cruise, bicycle or Segway, you’ll marvel at such famous landmarks as:

  • Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), the tallest building in the Western hemisphere
  • The Merchandise Mart
  • John Hancock Center
  • Marina City
  • Millennium Park

The Art Institute of Chicago is renowned for its Impressionist collections and recently opened its stunning new Modern Wing. The Museum of Contemporary Art in nearby River North complements its older sibling with its acclaimed collection. Plus you’ll enjoy walking through Chicago’s vast River North Gallery District.

Shopping and dining

From high-fashion boutiques to vertical shopping malls anchored by leading department stores, Chicago offers everything a serious shopper could possibly want. And the center of it all is the Magnificent Mile — hundreds of stores stretching along North Michigan Avenue.

Nearby, Oak Street is the mecca for international fashion, home to chic shops offering the newest items from the world’s top designers. Plus Chicago’s trendy neighborhoods like Wicker Park and Bucktown offer amazing finds.

Chicago is also a food-lover’s paradise, with recent accolades like “America’s new culinary star” and “best restaurant city in America.”

Well-known celebrity chefs from Rick Bayless and Grant Achatz to Charlie Trotter and Graham Elliot hold court in their signature restaurants. At the same time, Chicago’s legendary steakhouses reign supreme among aficionados of aged prime steaks and enormous lobster tails.

Yet much of the city’s flavor comes from its ethnic heritage. You can easily find restaurants with every cuisine imaginable, plus the born-in-Chicago specialties such as deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs (no ketchup!) and hot-dipped Italian beef sandwiches.

Along with Optometry’s Meeting® comes Taste Of Chicago, the world’s largest outdoor food fest. What a great reason to stick around and celebrate the 4th Chicago-style!

Entertainment and nightlife

After hours, Chicago rocks, swings and applauds. As the Blues Capital of the World, you can hear live blues, jazz and soul every night of the week — along with pop, country, classical or whatever is your pleasure.

Improv is an art form created in Chicago, and you’ll see comedians on stage today who will be tomorrow’s network TV stars. Second City is the world’s premier sketch comedy venue, and the top names in stand-up regularly perform at Chicago comedy clubs.

Chicago’s theatre scene also beckons with Broadway megahits and performances at the city’s famed theatre companies including Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare and Goodman. And if you’re into sports, join loyal Cubs, Sox, and Bulls fans for major league excitement.

Kids and family

Chicago is filled with cool activities that please both young and old alike. Fascinating adventures await you at:

  • The Museum of Science and Industry — the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere — boasts hundreds of exhibits including a coal mine, U-505 submarine, and the Apollo 8 spacecraft.
  • Shedd Aquarium is home to 22,000 aquatic species, and a magnificent oceanarium showcasing whales, sea otters, dolphins and sea lions.
  • Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum presents high-tech sky shows in two state-of-the-art theaters.
  • The Field Museum houses more than 21 million natural history specimens including the famous Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur ever found. (It’s also the site for the Saturday evening “Celebration of Optometry” event.)
  • Lincoln Park Zoo is just steps north of downtown, open every day and always free.
  • Navy Pier, the Midwest’s top tourist destination, is known for its 150-foot Ferris wheel and scores of attractions, shops and restaurants. It’s home to the Chicago Children’s Museum with its dozens of lively interactive exhibits.

Where to stay

Optometry’s Meeting® attendees are encouraged to choose one of the highlighted hotels for their convenience and to ensure our room blocks are filled. Attendees and their guests will enjoy lavish rooms and incomparable amenities.

The AOA and AOSA appreciate your support of your associations by using one of these selected properties.  Shuttle service will be provided between these hotels and the convention center.

  • The Chicago Hilton and Towers is an iconic hotel located on Michigan Avenue overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan.  The hotel has 1,544 recently renovated guest rooms featuring enhanced technology including a touch-screen computer and 32” HD television. 
  • Hilton Palmer House is a historic grand hotel, built in 1873 and magnificently restored to luxurious elegance. It’s close to Millennium Park, Macy’s, and the Art Institute and is less than a mile from Lake Michigan and the Magnificent Mile shopping area.
  • Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is connected to McCormick Place Convention Center.  Enjoy incredible views of downtown Chicago from one of 800 newly renovated rooms. 

To keep informed about the latest news on exhibits, educational opportunities and special Chicago events just for attendees, make sure you bookmark and regularly visit www.optometrysmeeting.org.

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