A GROUP of American business people were in Limerick this week promoting the Great Lakes Region of the US, following the announcement of a new route by United Airlines serving Chicago from Shannon.
The new route will take effect from June with demand already said to be high. The sales team from the Great Lakes Region - the size of continental Europe - hope Irish people will use Chicago as a portal to a whole range of possible adventures in the region.
For those keen on shopping, Chicago may be about to replace New York as the go to destination for Christmas shopping. Opening this August - just five minutes from Oâ€™Hare International Airport and serviced by 10,000 hotel rooms - is a 550,000 square-foot upscale outlet centre with 120 stores.
Jan Kemmerling of Discover Illinois, said of Chicago: â€A great urban city with great shopping opportunities which we know are of interest to a lot of travellers. Fabulous architecture and museums and what most people are surprised by - the city is on a lake (Michigan) - which looks like an ocean. People are also surprised there is a beach and a great walk way along the lake Michigan. But one of our highlights thatâ€™s very popular is Route 66. You start that in Chicago and you can travel throughout Illinois - if you want to go all the way to California you can - but for just a taste, Illinois is perfect,â€ she laughed.
Michigan is the homeplace of motoring in the US as well as the world famous Motown record label and Vickie Evans of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan hopes potential tourists will put the museum on their travel itinerary. â€œThe museum is a collection of all Americana, we have an indoor museum, the premier automotive exhibit which has just debuted called, Driving America and next door is Greenfield Village where you can actually ride an authentic Model T, itâ€™s very iconic,â€ said Ms Evans.
Another great holiday activity in the region is the, Circle Lake Michigan Tour, which can be started at any point before circumnavigating the lake, which is equivalent in size to Switzerland.
Also within reach - well a five hour drive - of touching down in Chicago is the Rock and Roll, Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. For NFL fans, the Great Lakes Region is home to seven separate franchises with the storied Green Bay Packers and their home ground Lambeau Field located on the shores of Lake Michigan.