Welcome to the Windy City! You’re about to discover why Chicago is a must-visit destination. With its vibrant arts scene, rich history, and stunning architecture, it’s a city that’s sure to leave you captivated.
Whether you’re a foodie, a sports fan, or an art enthusiast, there’s something for everyone in Chicago. From the irresistible deep-dish pizzas to the iconic Wrigley Field, and the renowned Art Institute of Chicago, you’ll never run out of things to do.
So, strap yourself in for an adventure as we dive into the top things to do in Chicago. Prepare to be amazed by the city’s charm and endless possibilities. Let’s get started, shall we?
Explore Millennium Park
As you navigate your way through Chicago’s pulsating heart, get ready to delve into an oasis of artistic charm Millennium Park. This mesmerizing open air space isn’t just one of the parks in Chicago – it’s a unique, vibrant, living exhibition.
Upon stepping into this one-of-a-kind public plaza, you’ll instantly notice the breathtaking centerpiece, Cloud Gate. Known by locals as The Bean due to its kidney bean-like shape, this marvel is a striking blend of art and architecture. The reflective stainless steel exterior mirrors the city’s stunning skyline, presenting an outstanding photo opportunity to capture your Chicago adventure.
Millennium Park isn’t only about The Bean. Another indomitable fixture – the Jay Pritzker Pavilion – sets the stage for some of the city’s most beloved free concerts and music festivals. Designed by star architect Frank Gehry, its swirling metallic design masterly encapsulates art-meets-architecture, portraying an aesthetic allure that’ll leave you in awe.
Unleash your inner green thumb while strolling through the five-acre Lurie Garden, brimming with perennials. It’s the perfect escape within the park, offering tranquility amid the city’s clamor. This semi-wild urban sanctuary subtly changes with each season and provides the ideal setting for leisurely picnics or quiet reflection.
For art lovers, the Crown Fountain needs to be on your list. This interactive work of public art, equipped with two massive glass towers displaying digital faces, brings joy to children and adults alike.
Although it’s not possible to encapsulate the full experience of Millennium Park in words, these attractions offer a teaser as to what awaits. Rest assured, irrespective of your interests, this park has elements to inspire and enthrall every visitor. Your venture into this dynamic park promises a feast for the senses and an encounter with the extraordinary. As you immerse yourselves in this journey, remember to marvel at the details and adventurous spirit this city yields.
Take a stroll along the Magnificent Mile
Once you’ve immersed yourself in the artistic splendor of Millennium Park, it’s time to venture forth to the Magnificent Mile. This expanse is Chicago’s premier commercial district. Teeming with high-end stores, quirky boutiques, vibrant eateries, and captivating historical buildings, you’ll find this bustling stretch an experience in itself!
Stepping onto the Magnificent Mile, you’re instantly engulfed by a sensation of grandeur. The skyscraper-speckled landscape is reminiscent of Chicago’s hard-fought past, an ode to its iconic architectural prowess. Landmarks like the Tribune Tower and John Hancock Center command your attention above the bustling city streets.
Shopping lovers are guaranteed a delightful time. From upscale favorites like Gucci and Bloomingdales to local gems waiting to be discovered, your retail therapy options are plentiful. Be on the lookout for seasonal events and pop-up stores adding spontaneity to your shopping spree!
Feeling famished after your shop-a-thon? Dive into Chicago’s dynamic food scene right here on the Mile. Foodies will revel in the wide range of culinary styles available, from the classic Chicago deep-dish pizza to innovative gastronomical delights.
Make your visit memorable. Capture the essence of Chicago by taking a moment to enjoy the sights. The Magnificent Mile is also home to spectacular gardens, chic rooftop bars, and museums, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Kindle your love for theatre at Broadway In Chicago’s many theatre venues located throughout the district. The Broadway Playhouse and The Chicago Theatre are two of the many stages where you can experience heart-stirring performances.
Despite the exhaustion of a day well spent, the Magnificent Mile has a magnetic allure that keeps pulling you back. After a day at Millennium Park, the excitement doesn’t end – be it day or night, there’s always something to do in the magical mile of Chicago.
Visit the Skydeck Chicago
After you’ve roamed the Magnificent Mile, your next stop should be Skydeck Chicago. It’s nestled on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower, touted as the second-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
Skydeck Chicago offers awe-inspiring views of the cityscape. On a clear day, you can see as far as four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Not just a viewing deck, it’s an experience that allows you to feel the pulse of the city beneath your feet by stepping onto The Ledge.
The Ledge is a series of glass-bottomed boxes extending 4.3 feet from the facade of the tower. It’s a thrilling, if not heart-stopping, sensation for many visitors, offering a vertigo-inducing view of the city from 1,353 feet above. Discussions of fear aside, the Skydeck provides a unique and spectacular sightseeing experience that ignites your sense of adventure.
Admission to Skydeck Chicago comes with the interactive museum tour that displays high-quality exhibits on Chicago’s history and culture. Learn about key moments in the city’s history, prominent architectural feats, and the evolution of the Willis Tower.
Exploring this skyscraping marvel is more than just ticking off a tourist attraction on your Chicago wishlist. When you’re standing on The Ledge, you’re setting yourself apart, conquering a fear, and seeing the city from a unique perspective that few ever experience.
Secure your tickets early, either online or on-site. Keep in mind that weekends and holidays are usually the busiest times to visit, and irrespective of weather conditions, the Skydeck remains open 365 days a year.
Being above Chicago and seeing it spread out beneath you underscores its magnificence. Take some time to explore and capture incredible panoramic photos while you’re there; these are sights and experiences that come only with a visit to Skydeck Chicago.
Discover the Art Institute of Chicago
After soaking in the city’s magnificence from the Skydeck Chicago, your next destination is the illustrious Art Institute of Chicago. An unmatched treasure trove of art, it’s your chance to immerse yourself in the realm of creativity and innovation.
Not just any old museum, this is the third-largest art museum in the United States! Just think of the masterpieces waiting for your appreciation. With over 300,000 works of arts that span centuries, you’ll bear witness to creations from the world’s most talented artists.
|Art Institute Statistics
|Total Art Pieces
|3rd largest art museum in the US
Find solace among the collections from African, American, Armor, Medieval weaponry, European decorative and modern art. Don’t forget to swing by the Thorne Miniature Rooms that encapsulates 68 miniature models of European interiors from the late 13th century into the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century into the 1930s, it’s sure to leave you mesmerized.
Your trip to the Art Institute of Chicago holds the promise of enthralling exhibits and insightful interpretations. You’ll discover the stories behind inspirational works of art, from war-torn portraits to idyllic landscapes. It’s like stepping through time, experiencing different periods, styles, and methods of making art.
Your journey of discovery doesn’t stop in the galleries. Explore vast libraries filled with rare books you won’t find elsewhere. Then, delve even deeper with lectures, symposiums, and gallery talks offering you a deeper understanding of the artistry that surrounds you.
The Art Institute plays a pivotal role in Chicago’s rich tapestry of culture and history, reflected in its expansive exhibits and collection. This is not just a place to see art – it’s where you’re part of art. You become a player in a grand, unfolding narrative that spills from the artwork and wraps around you. Ultimately, it’s an experience as deep and enriching as the city of Chicago itself.
In the midst of artistry and creativity, make sure to secure your tickets well in advance. After all, you’re about to enter a world steeped in culture and brimming with inspiration.
Enjoy a cruise on the Chicago River
After taking in the city’s incredible views from the sky, it’s time to hit the water. Few things capture the essence of Chicago like a leisurely cruise on the historic Chicago River. Not only do you get to see the city from a different perspective, but you also learn about Chicago’s architectural history and development.
One of the most popular choices for sightseeing adventures is the Chicago Architecture River Cruise. It’s a must-do experience, hosting docent-led tours that cover over a century of architectural innovation. This 90-minute journey offers an engaging narrative about the city’s celebrated buildings such as the Wrigley Building, Willis Tower, and Tribune Tower, among others. So ready your camera and make sure you’ve got plenty of space for photos, as you’ll be treated to picture-perfect views at every turn.
Apart from architecture-themed cruises, romantic moonlit rides and exciting speedboat tours are also available, catering to different preferences and moods. To help you select your ideal tour, the Chicago River Cruise providers offer:
- Daytime sightseeing tours
- Architecture tours
- Evening dinner cruises
- High-speed thrills on a jet boat
Regardless of the tour chosen, cruises generally operate between April and November, depending on the weather conditions. Booking in advance is recommended due to the high demand, particularly in summer. And don’t forget to dress comfortably; a light jacket might come in handy as it can get a little breezy on the river.
There’s something magical about seeing Chicago from water level, truly a unique perspective on an already magnificent city. After savoring Chicago riverfront splendor, you won’t want to miss Chicago’s world-renowned cuisine. The city’s food scene is as diverse as it’s engaging, offering everything from deep-dish pizza to haute cuisine. Stay with us as we dive into the culinary delights of the Windy City.
Attend a game at Wrigley Field
As the evening sets in, it’s time to immerse yourself in the heart-thumping environment of Wrigley Field. Nestled in North Side Chicago, Wrigley Field is an iconic baseball park known worldwide. Home turf of the Chicago Cubs since 1916, it’s one of the last remaining classic ballparks in Major League Baseball.
Catch a game at ‘The Friendly Confines’, an endearing nickname given by player Ernie Banks. The electrifying vibe of the fans is infectious. Feel the blend of thrill and suspense sweep over you as the ball arcs across the field. Experience the classic excitement of baseball – you’ll find there’s more to the game, it’s a celebration of sportsmanship, persistence, and community spirit.
The seventh-inning stretch tradition at Wrigley where everyone stands and sings ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ never fails to bring a broad smile on fan’s faces. Embrace the tradition, join in the singing.
To make your visit memorable, take time to admire the historical charm of the park. Note the ivy-covered outfield walls, distinctive hand-operated scoreboard, rooftop seating across the street, and unique wind patterns due to the lack of high outfield walls common in modern ballparks.
Planning the trip in advance is key. Get the schedule for the Cubs and plan your visit to coincide with a game you’d like to watch. Keep in mind that weekend games are quite popular and tickets are likely to sell out quicker for these dates.
Wrigley Field beckons baseball enthusiasts and the nostalgic. It’s not just any ballpark, it’s a piece of baseball history etched in the heart of Chicago, bound to mesmerize you with its timeless appeal. After the game, celebrating each home run and out, why not indulge in some local Chicago-style hot dogs and other delectable treats nearby to round off a perfect day. Adorning the night sky with a vibrant hue of victory and camaraderie, Wrigley Field gifts you an experience to cherish.
Indulge in deep-dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno
After the buzz of the game at Wrigley Field and relishing those iconic Chicago-style hot dogs, your journey through Chicago’s culinary landscape isn’t complete until you’ve sunk your teeth into a bona fide deep-dish pizza. No place does it better than Pizzeria Uno! Now, you may think you’ve dabbled in deep-dish before, but the chances are nothing will prepare you for the real deal.
Opening its doors in 1943, Pizzeria Uno has the claim to fame as the birthplace of this beloved carpenter-meets-pizza concept. While the pizza versus casserole debate may rage on elsewhere, in Chicago, it’s deep-dish all the way. And where else then, to experience it first-hand than Pizzeria Uno.
You’ll find generous layers of delicious cheese, a tangy tomato sauce, and a variety of toppings nestled within a buttery crust. It’s less like a pizza and more like an exquisite pie jammed with flavorful goodness. Forget the thin-crust vogue, at Pizzeria Uno, they embrace the philosophy that more is definitely better.
But it’s not all about the food. With an incredibly heart-warming, cozy vibe, Pizzeria Uno offers that nostalgic link back to 1940s Chicago you won’t find many places these days. Imagine the warmth of old wooden tables, vintage Chicago memorabilia lining the walls, and the amiable hum of fellow pie-lovers engrossed in gustatory delight. You’ll sense a tradition of pizza-making that has been meticulously kept alive for generations.
Here’s a friendly warning. These pizzas can take at least 45 minutes to cook, but they’re certainly worth the wait. Use that time to soak in the atmosphere, let the anticipation build, and maybe try a couple of their famed mozzarella sticks or a refreshing house salad.
Take in the breathtaking views from Willis Tower Skydeck
Gazing over the city from the Willis Tower Skydeck is an experience that you wouldn’t want to miss when you’re in Chicago. Located 1,353 feet up, the Skydeck provides breathtaking panoramic views that span up to four states. It’s the highest observation deck in the United States and offers a unique perspective of the city.
What makes it exciting is The Ledge — a set of retractable, transparent boxes that extend from the building. You’ll feel like you’re floating in the air as you look down at the bustling city beneath your feet! It’s truly a bucket-list-worthy experience for thrill-seekers and sightseers alike.
|Willis Tower Skydeck
|Up to four states
The Skydeck also showcases interactive exhibits that delve into the history of Chicago and its significant architectural marvels. So not only do you get a 360-degree view of the city, but you also gain deeper insights into Chicago’s rich history and urban landscape.
Tickets for the Skydeck can be bought online and they range from $25 to $45 per person, depending on the package you choose. Busy during the summer months, it’s recommended to plan and book your visit in advance and aim for off-peak times if you want to avoid the crowd.
|Willis Tower Skydeck
|$25 to $45
After your visit to the Skydeck, prepare to set sail on a Chicago Architecture River Cruise. Providing you a different perspective of the city, the cruise is a great way to unwind. You’ll learn more about Chicago’s celebrated buildings from docents while you sip on your favorite beverage. This architecturally enlightening cruise is sure to leave you awe-inspired.
Explore the Navy Pier
Navy Pier, a vibrant and lively attraction awaits you next. Renowned as one of the most visited venues in the Midwest, you are bound to find something that piques your interest here. With its eclectic mix of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, Navy Pier is a must-see when you’re in Chicago.
Perhaps you’re inclined towards cultural experiences? If so, Navy Pier’s Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Children’s Museum should be on your list. The theater regularly stages gripping Shakespeare adaptations, contemporary plays, and children’s productions. The museum, meanwhile, invites your imagination to run free with interactive exhibits, hands-on learning opportunities, and playful spaces.
If you’d rather be outdoors, Navy Pier doesn’t disappoint. Offering unmatched views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, it’s the perfect spot to soak in panoramic vistas. Walk along the promenade, ride the iconic Centennial Wheel, glide through the lake on a sightseeing boat tour, or even participate in high-flying swings and a carousel at the Pier Park. All these activities are sure to take your Chicago experience a notch higher.
For those drawn to the culinary scene, a variety of dining options beckon at the pier. Offering a sampling of Chicago’s diverse gastronomy, the food court houses several local favorites serving specialties like cheese-steaks, Chicago-style hot dogs, and deep-dish pizza. To top it all, there’s no dearth of sweet indulgences from ice cream parlors and candy shops.
Don’t forget to sample the beer garden, where local and seasonal breweries showcase their finest wares, or take a dinner cruise for a memorable end to your Navy Pier day. For leisurely snacking or taking a break, head towards the serene Crystal Gardens, a lush six-story indoor botanical garden.
It’s worth noting that admission to Navy Pier is free, though individual attractions may have their own charges. While it’s open year-round, check the official website for current hours and any special events that might be taking place during your visit. Navy Pier is not just a place but an experience – a Chicago experience you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Visit the Museum of Science and Industry
Rolling on from your journey at the Navy Pier, you’ll want to make your next stop at the Museum of Science and Industry. This place isn’t just a museum, it’s a mind-blowing exhibition space, making science fun and engaging for all ages.
Ranked as one of the largest science museums in the world, it’s home to more than 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits. Here you can explore a plethora of wonders from a 40-foot tornado to controlling a 10-foot wave. The museum sports an impressive array of exhibits such as a replica coal mine, World War II submarine, and a full-size Boeing 727 airplane, dangling mid-air.
Moreover, the museum boasts the world-renowned “Science Storms” exhibit – a two-story marvel that allows visitors to delve into the physics and chemistry of the earth’s most elemental phenomena. It’s an exhibit where you can actually control a avalanche, trigger a tsunami or even create your virtual tornado.
|Replica coal mine, World War II submarine, Boeing 727 airplane
|Science Storms exhibit
The Museum of Science and Industry also offers enriching experiences such as curated tours and live science experiments where you can witness chemistry and physics in action. Opportunities to engage further include participating in a flight simulator, touring the famous German submarine U-505, or perhaps even taking a journey through time with the astonishing “You! The Experience” exhibit.
The Museum of Science and Industry is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Admission charges vary based on age with general entry starting from $21.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. As always, it’s best to plan and book in advance and check the official website for detailed ticket pricing and the schedule of special events, experiences, and exhibits.
After enjoying the exceptional experience at the Museum of Science and Industry, consider fueling up with some good food. The Chicago-style hot dogs at nearby local joints make a sensational treat. After satiating your appetite, be ready to take your journey forward with a new adventure awaiting.
Check out the Shedd Aquarium
Your Chicago adventure isn’t complete without exploring the wonders of aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium. This iconic aquatic museum has served as a gateway to the aquatic world for over 8 decades, housing an astonishing 32,000 aquatic creatures from around the globe. Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, it offers you a front-row seat to the world beneath the waves.
Moving from one ecosystem to another, you’ll encounter a colorful array of marine life. Be awestruck by the lively Caribbean Reef, populated with stingrays, sharks, and vibrant coral. Savor the sight of birds, snakes, frogs, and insects as you delve deeper into the Amazon Rainforest section. Marvel at the mesmerizing grace of Beluga Whales at the Abbott Oceanarium, one of the key attractions of the Shedd.
The Shedd Aquarium leaves no stone unturned to engage its visitors. Participate in interactive exhibits, enjoy animal presentations, or have a personal encounter with a penguin – the options here are plenty.
|Number of Aquatic Creatures
|Types of Exhibits
|Several (including Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rainforest, Abbott Oceanarium)
|Penguins, Beluga Whales, Stingrays
Make your visit to Shedd Aquarium even more memorable by dining at Soundings Café. With its stunning views of Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline, your lunch becomes a sightseeing experience.
Tickets for the Shedd Aquarium can be purchased online, ranging from $19.95 to $39.95 per person based on age and residency. It’s recommended to check the official website for the most current prices and to plan your visit. Keep in mind, Shedd is a popular attraction and it’s wise to book your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines, especially during peak season.
Explore the Chicago Cultural Center
After marveling at the aquatic wonders at the Shedd Aquarium, it’s time for a cultural immersion at the Chicago Cultural Center. Once serving as the city’s public library, this cultural behemoth is an architectural gem and houses an extensive collection of mesmerizing artwork. It’s a must-stop destination for art lovers, historians, and anyone with an appreciation for urban aesthetic.
This is one place where you can indulge in a rich tapestry of cultural experiences for free. Showcasing rotating exhibitions of contemporary art throughout its ornate rooms, the Cultural Center gives you an extensive perspective of Chicago’s artistic side. There’s always something new, so every visit promises fresh delights. You’ll find everything from photography and visual art to interactive installations and performances.
If you’re an architecture buff, the Chicago Cultural Center is a veritable paradise. The building itself is a visual feast, boasting intricate mosaic work, marble staircases, and gilded archways. But the piece de résistance is surely the stunning Tiffany dome– reputed to be the largest of its kind in the world.
For a deeper dive into the Center’s offerings, consider joining one of their free guided tours. These tours are led by trained docents who can provide enlightening details about the Center’s architecture and current exhibits. But remember- these tours are first come, first served and are quite popular so make sure to arrive early.
Got peckish during your explorations? The center has a café on its premises. Grab a quick bite or a refreshing drink before you carry on with admiring the magnificent surroundings. Remember, the Chicago Cultural Center is more than a museum – it’s a vibrant, living celebration of the Windy City’s rich cultural heritage. After soaking up the ambiance at the Cultural Center, why not consider venturing out to see even more of what this fantastic city has to offer?
You’ve explored the heights of Willis Tower Skydeck, cruised the Chicago River, and indulged in the city’s diverse food scene. You’ve cheered at a game at Wrigley Field and savored the deep-dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno. You’ve experienced the vibrant Navy Pier, dived into scientific discovery at the Museum of Science and Industry, and marveled at the aquatic wonders of Shedd Aquarium. And lastly, you’ve immersed yourself in the rich cultural tapestry at the Chicago Cultural Center. Now, you’re ready to venture out and explore more of what this fantastic city has to offer. Remember, whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, there’s always something new to discover in Chicago. So, keep exploring, keep enjoying, and make the most of your time in the Windy City. You’re sure to create memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Armed with a Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) degree, Lucas Noah stands at the intersection of technology and creativity. As a seasoned writer for Creative Outrank LLC and Oceana Express LLC, Lucas brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to the dig... Read more