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When most people think of Chicago, the first thing that comes to mind is Windy City's world-famous architecture. From the Sears Tower to the John Hancock Center, Chicago is home to some of the most iconic buildings on earth. But there's more to Chicago than just its skyline. The city is also packed with world-class museums, great restaurants, and beautiful parks.
Whether you're in town for a weekend or a week, here are the best things to do in Chicago below.
Top 10 Attractions in Chicago
You're going to love Chicago. From the world-famous architecture to the world-class museums, great restaurants, and beautiful parks, there's something for everyone in this bustling metropolis. There are so many things to do that it can be hard deciding where to start – but we've narrowed down our top 10 favorites here. If you want a truly unforgettable experience, make sure to check them all out!
1. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a breathtaking oasis in the heart of downtown Chicago. The lush green landscape and tranquil fountains make it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The centerpiece of Millennium Park is Cloud Gate, a 110-ton sculpture that has a polished, mirror-like stainless steel surface. The sculpture is inspired by liquid mercury and reflects the surrounding buildings, the sky, and the tourists who walk through its central arch.
Crown Fountain is another must-see attraction in Millennium Park. The fountain gives the illusion of water flowing from the mouths of projected images of Chicago citizens. It's a fascinating modern interpretation of the ancient gargoyle. Other popular things to do in Millennium Park include seeing a performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue, and visiting Lurie Garden, which is open to the public year-round.
This area is perfect for visitors who want to be close to all the action. With plenty of shopping and attractions nearby, you'll never find yourself bored or without something to do. Plus, the hotels in this area are some of the best in the city. You'll be able to relax and enjoy your stay in style.
2. The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned museum that houses some of the most exquisite artwork in the world. The collection is extraordinarily diverse, spanning thousands of years and including pieces from a variety of media, including painting, prints, photography, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural drawings. This art is a true testament to the human experience, providing visitors with a glimpse into the past, present, and future. The Institute is well-known for housing an impressive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, including Georges Seurat's 1884 A Sunday Afternoon, Renoir's 1879 Acrobats, and numerous pieces by Claude Monet. These beautiful works of art are sure to leave visitors in wonder and amazement.
3. Navy Pier
The Navy Pier is a popular tourist attraction in Chicago. It's made up of 50 acres of gardens, attractions, shops, restaurants, concert venues and parks. There's a 150 ft Ferris wheel and a historic carousel in Navy Pier Park. It originally opened in 1916 as an amusement area and shipping facility.
The Chicago Pier is a magnificent place to spend an afternoon. Stroll along the pier and admire the beautiful view of the city skyline. If you're feeling adventurous, take a cruise ship out on the lake for a unique perspective of Chicago. Or, visit one of the world-class theatres on the pier for a memorable evening. No matter what you choose to do, the Chicago Pier is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
4. Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile
Michigan Avenue is one of America's most alluring streets. The Magnificent Mile, a section north of the Chicago River, is home to countless art galleries, trendy boutiques, and high-end shops. It's a bustling place to be, especially during the holiday season when the streets are decked out in festive lights.
A stroll down this iconic street will take you to some of Chicago's most famous landmarks, including the John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building, and the Tribune Tower. The avenue is split into two parts at Madison Street - North Michigan and South Michigan - and the area is renowned for its theatres, which often host touring Broadway shows, musicals, and comedy performances. It's easy to see why this street is such a beloved part of the city.
5. The Field Museum
The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the most renowned museums in the world, and for good reason. It was founded in 1893 with the intention of showcasing the incredibly vast collections of biological and anthropological specimens from the World Columbian Exposition. The museum's name was changed in 1905 to honor Marshall Field, the generous department store owner, art patron, and benefactor of the museum. The Field Museum holds some of the most incredible and invaluable specimens in the world, making it a veritable treasure trove for anyone interested in the natural world.
The Field Museum's permanent collection features a wide variety of specimens and artifacts, including impressive displays on Ancient Egyptian culture and the cultures of North, Central and South America. "Sue," the world's largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, is a popular main attraction. Special rotating exhibits take place on a regular basis, providing visitors with a constantly changing experience.
6. Wrigley Field
The Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, is an iconic ballpark that was built in 1914. It is the second-oldest Major League Baseball park in the US, second only to Fenway Park in Boston. Some of the most legendary moments in baseball history have taken place at Wrigley Field, including the 1917 no-hitter pitching duel. During game three of the 1932 World Series, Babe Ruth hit a "called shot" that clinched the championship.
In-season, you can take a tour of the ballpark and visit the press box and field, as well as the dugouts if there is no game that day. This is a great opportunity to see the ballpark up close and learn about its rich history.
7. Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the most impressive museums in Chicago. It was founded in 1933 and is devoted to the application of natural laws in technological and industrial development. The museum is a powerhouse of interactive exhibits, interesting artifacts, and educational opportunities. It's the perfect place to spend an afternoon with your family.
It was the first museum in the United States to incorporate hands-on exhibits, which encourages visitors to interact with hundreds of different displays. There are permanent and changing exhibitions on display, as well as an OMNIMAX theatre.
8. Willis Tower SkyDeck
The Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, was once the tallest building in the world. It's hard to believe that there was a time when this massive structure wasn't even the tallest in Chicago!
Standing at a proud 110 stories, this building offers visitors on a clear day breathtaking views of four states stretching out for up to 50 miles. If you're lucky enough to visit on such a day, you'll get to see the city's incredible architecture from a unique perspective.
When it was completed in 1974, it was the tallest building in the world at 1,453 feet. The SkyDeck on the 103rd floor offers visitors a breathtaking view of the city below, and for those feeling adventurous, there's also the Ledge - a glass box that extends out from the building with a glass floor that lets you look straight down. It's an experience, unlike any other, and one that will surely leave you with lasting memories.
9. Buckingham Fountain
The Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain is a large fountain in the Art Deco style. It is surrounded by four seahorses and shoots 15,000 gallons of water per minute from nearly 200 nozzles. It is an impressive sight at any time of day, but especially at night when it is lit up. It is located in Grant Park, which is a large public space in Chicago that contains several tourist attractions, including the Museum Campus, gardens, and recreational facilities. It also hosts events, such as music and food festivals.
10. 360 Chicago
The John Hancock Center in Chicago has a 360 Chicago observation deck on the 94th floor that offers tourists stunning views of the city's skyline. The deck recently added a new feature, "Tilt," which gives visitors a unique view from more than 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile.
The building is an architectural wonder that contains a variety of different shops, office spaces, and apartments. Located on the first floor is a multimedia exhibit that provides visitors with information about the city of Chicago and the construction of the building itself.
Top Day Trips from Chicago
There are so many amazing things to see and do in Chicago, it can be hard to know where to start. With so much to offer, it's no wonder that the city is a popular tourist destination. But even if you've lived in Chicago your whole life, there's always something new to explore. If you're looking for some ideas on how to spend your day, here are some of the best day trips from Chicago.
1. Chicago in a Day
This comprehensive tour is perfect for first-time visitors. You'll get a taste of the city's classic attractions, as well as some of its lesser-known sites. Beginning at the Chicago Theatre, make your way to the Pedway - an elaborate network of underground tunnels that locals use to get around town. From there, stroll along the Riverwalk and the Magnificent Mile.
Then, embark on a food tour to sample some of the city's famous dishes. Along the way, you'll discover the amazing architecture and historic buildings that make Chicago so special. And of course, no visit to the Windy City would be complete without trying some of its iconic foods - think hot dogs, pizza, and Italian beef. So come hungry!
The Field Museum's Early Access VIP ticket is a great way to make the most of your time in Chicago. With the pass, you can skip the line and explore all of the general admission exhibits at your leisure. Plus, you get one ticketed special exhibition or a 3D movie. This gives you plenty of time to wander through the Hall of Gems or marvel at the titanosaur. Free tours are available throughout the day, so be sure to take advantage of them. With the VIP ticket, you can truly make the most of your visit to the Field Museum.
Chicago is a city with a rich history and culture, and on this tour, you'll explore some of the highlights specifically related to African American heritage. You get to visit two museums, the Pullman Porter Museum and the DuSable Museum of African American History, each for 45 minutes. You will also pass by some important landmarks related to African American history in Chicago, including the homes of former US president Barrack Obama, Elijah Muhammad, and Muhammad Ali. And of course, no tour would be complete without a delicious soul food buffet! This is an experience that will enlighten you about Chicago's African American community and its contributions to the city.
Chicago is a city that is known for its amazing architecture and delicious food. On this half-day cycling and tasting tour, you will get to experience both! You will start off by biking through some of Chicago's coolest neighborhoods, stopping along the way to taste some Polish pierogis, locally made chocolates, and Mexican tacos. By the end of the tour, you will have not only worked up an appetite but also gained a new appreciation for this incredible city.
If you're looking for a fun day out that the whole family can enjoy, look no further than LEGOLAND ® Discovery Center in Schaumburg. This incredible attraction has something for everyone: from an interactive pirate-themed playland to a factory tour where you can see how LEGO bricks are made, it's a guaranteed good time for all. Plus, there's even a mini replica of famous Chicago landmarks made entirely out of LEGO bricks – it's an impressive sight to behold!
So why not treat the kids (and yourself) to a day of brick-building fun at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago? With 30,000 square feet of space, it's an attraction that you won't want to miss. Trust us, it'll be a day that everyone will remember fondly for years to come.
Cooking with Giulietta and Carlos is an amazing experience - you'll get to learn from two professional chefs with years of cooking experience. They'll show you how to make delicious and authentic dishes from all over the world, including recipes from the Pacific Rim, Hawaii, Cuba, and Japan. Whether you're a vegetarian or a meat-eater, you'll find something to love in this private cooking class. 100% private and authentic, this is a truly unique way to enjoy an amazing meal in Chicago.
This tour is the perfect way to see Chicago's incredible architecture without having to worry about driving or parking. You'll be picked up in a comfortable car and driven to all of the city's best architectural sites. You'll have plenty of time to take photos and explore each stop. This tour is flexible, so you can customize it to your interests and schedule. You can book it any time that works for you and even combine it with other city tours for a complete Chicago experience.
Chicago is a city that is known for its amazing food. From deep-dish pizza to Chicago-style hot dogs, there are plenty of delicious dishes to choose from. But with so many restaurants to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. That's why we've put together a list of the best places to eat in Chicago, so you can make the most of your time in the city.
1. Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio
Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio transports guests to an altar of pasta. There, they are blessed by the culinary talents of Sarah Grueneberg (former Top Chef contestant and Tony Mantuano's protege at Spiaggia), who crafts every dish with affordability and seasonally-driven delight. The boisterous, airy dining room is abuzz with excitement and laughter as guests share the tastes of their pasta dishes. At the center of the room, a slightly raised bar—or stage, depending on how you're looking at it—features Grueneberg and her team of pasta makers hard at work on that night's eight or nine offerings. The experience is one of both information and pleasure, as each guest leaves satiated and eager to return.
2. Virtue Restaurant
Erick Williams has finally opened the restaurant of his dreams in Chicago - a space where he can showcase his innovative and boundary-breaking take on Southern cuisine. This is a restaurant with a difference, offering lighter and richer fare that will excite and surprise diners. The Hyde Park eatery was named one of Eater's Best New Restaurants in America in 2019, and Williams is intent on continuing to push the boundaries of what Black cuisine can be.
If you're looking for a truly unique dining experience, head to Erick Williams' restaurant in Hyde Park. You'll find traditional Southern dishes with a twist, like the cauliflower with cashew dukkah and root cellar vegetables. Or go for something richer, like the beef short ribs with creamed spinach and crushed potatoes. Either way, you're in for a treat. And don't forget to check out Williams' other boundary-pushing dishes – this is a chef who's always innovating and experimenting, so you're guaranteed a dining experience like no other.
3. Au Cheval
Au Cheval is one of the most popular burger joints in the country, and for good reason. The burgers are made with two prime beef patties, cheese, dijonnaise, and a housemade dill pickle, and they're grilled to perfection. But that's not all - the menu also includes crispy bacon, foie gras scrambled eggs and a fried bologna sandwich that are all absolutely delicious. If you're looking for a burger joint that will satisfy your cravings, Au Cheval is the place to go.
Oriole is a restaurant that should be celebrated. After closing for a few months in 2020, the Michelin-star recipient came back with a bang. Chef Noah Sandoval has created a fantastic tasting menu with dishes like foie gras with pink peppercorn and anise hyssop. This is definitely a place to celebrate in style. The wonderful thing about Oriole is that it's fine dining without the pretension. So whether you're celebrating a special occasion or just want to treat yourself, Oriole is the perfect spot.
The cuisine at Alinea is an amazing lesson in culinary mastery. It's a blend of modern science and practical magic, with air-filled balloons that are edible, senses of taste, touch, smell that are tested, and mental and emotional boundaries that are pushed. The menu is always changing and evolving, as a reflection of the wizards in the kitchen, led by chef Grant Achatz himself. No two meals are ever alike, which makes dining here a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
6. Smoque BBQ
At Smoque BBQ, they are devoted to the meatier things in life. They believe in taking no shortcuts, and each rub, smoke, sauce and cut of meat has been vetted through a lengthy process. The results are lip-smacking ribs, smoky brisket and juicy pulled pork that can all be savoured via delivery, takeout and patio dining. The house-made sides and desserts are also not to be missed – the BBQ beans and peach cobbler are particularly dreamy.
7. Superdawg Drive-In
Maurie and Flaurie Berman, the founders of Superdawg, have their likenesses carved into two giant hot dog statues that stand guard over this venerable Chicago drive-in. Customers can spot those statues from blocks away, and they serve as a beacon for those looking for a throwback dining experience. At Superdawg, customers park their cars and talk to staff through crackling drive-in speakers. Carhops bring out trays of food, including the restaurant's signature all-beef sausage, which comes with mustard, pickled green tomato, and chopped Spanish onions.
Chicago is a city with something for everyone. In this blog post, we've highlighted some of our favourite spots in the city – but there are plenty more to explore. So get out there and start exploring! Who knows, you might just find your new favorite spot.