The Best Things To Do In Chicago

Written By: Kristen Cook

A thriving and amazing city in the Midwest, Chicago has it all – delicious food, great sightseeing and plenty of cultural activities to enjoy during any length of stay. It’s location on majestic Lake Michigan means that the city, also nicknamed the Windy City, even has coastal recreational activities to participate in during the summer months – windsailing, boating, swimming, you name it!

Weather in Chicago could be downright cold during the winter months, making late summer through fall the best time to visit. Evening thunderstorms are common, so you’ll always want to make sure you have layered clothing and some backup plans in case your excursion experiences some inclement weather. Like many cities, Chicago has its fair share of unique destinations and foods – two things you must try during any visit is a world-famous Chicago hot dog and the deep dish pizza.

There are many iconic Chicago spots to add to an itinerary, fitting all budgets and lengths of stay. Walk around Millennium Park, complete with public art, plenty of green space and gorgeous flowerbeds throughout the nearby Lurie Garden. During the summer months, you’ll find some festival or exhibition taking place at Millennium Park more often than not. Another famous park in the city, Grant Park, offers perfect views of Lake Michigan and is the ideal spot to walk, relax or even jog around to get awesome city and lakeside views.

Those who want to explore the city and all its history have many options, too. Head up the Willis Tower to the Skydeck, which offers unobstructed views of the city and the expansive surroundings from its 110-story platform. Looking for a thrill while you’re up there? Check out the ‘Ledge,’ which allows you to step into a glass enclosure to give you the illusion that you are floating over the city – even the floor is made of glass!

Stroll down the high energy Magnificent Mile, which houses some of the finest shopping destinations in the country. Other iconic, must-see spots to include on the itinerary is Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, Navy Pier and the John Hancock Center!


Willis Tower

For a fun way to get your bearings in Chicago, head to Franklin Street and take the 70 second elevator ride up to the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). From the observation deck you can see for up to 80 kilometres out to the horizon, and if you’re looking for something more, why not take a tour on the Ledge, hovering 1353 feet above the streets below! The clear-glass room extends right out from the building – what a way to get bragging rights!


Chicago River

At 156 miles long, the Chicago River runs right through the centre of the city, and with the river delivering a much needed link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley, it has been an important part of the city’s development for centuries. Stroll along the banks and you will come across many landmarks – stop a while and take in the views, or choose one of the many fine restaurants to relax in for the afternoon.


Lake Michigan

With a proud shipping history, Lake Michigan has been vital to the evolution of Chicago. With 26 miles of shoreline in the Chicago area, join the locals and enjoy the walkways and beaches that the lake offers. In the warmer months, the lake is a great place to explore by kayak, or take one of the many cruises and relax as you take in the sights.


Millennium Park

In the heart of Chicago, you will find the exceptional Millennium Park. As you wander around the 24 acres of Public Park, imagine the vision that turned a railway wasteland into one of the most striking spaces in the city, full of modern architecture and beautiful trees. So make a day of it – come down and join the locals who regularly congregate here for concerts and family outings.


Field Museum of Natural History

When you visit the Field Museum of Natural History, it’s great to explore the 20 million artefacts that have been collected for your enjoyment, but it’s even better knowing that you also get to talk to the scientists who have collected them! Take a journey through the life of the planet and see the magnificent dinosaurs! Or, visit ancient Egypt and see a recreated, 5000 year old tomb, with one of the biggest collections of mummies in the country! Woah, there is so much to see and do here!


John G. Shedd Aquarium

Explore the oceans, the rivers, and the Great Lake, all at the John G. Shedd Aquarium. With over 32,000 creatures to see – many of which you can even touch – this is a great day out for everyone! As you stroll through the many exhibits, visit a Caribbean reef, the Amazon, and the Polar Play Zone, and get up close and personal with the beluga whales, dolphins, seals and sea otters!


Navy Pier

Join the locals and come down to Navy Pier for a great day out for the whole family. This 50 acre park is free to enter, with tickets purchased only for the individual rides and attractions. From tiny-tots to adults, there is something here for everyone. Stroll through the park and take in the views, people-watch for a while, and stay for a meal and a drink at one of the many restaurants and bars.


The Magnificent Mile

Modern day commerce and high-fashion, intertwine with the historical landmarks of Chicago, as you meander along Michigan Avenue’s, Magnificent Mile. From the Michigan Avenue Bridge, stroll and explore the many landmarks along the way – such as the Tribune Tower and The Wrigley Building – take in the shops, and stop for a meal at one of the many restaurants on offer.


360 Chicago Observation Deck

Enjoy the best views of the city at the 360 Chicago Observation Deck – what a great way to get your bearings in Chicago! Take the speedy elevator up to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, and enjoy panoramic views on a giant moving platform, taking in Chicago, and on a good day, even the states of Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin! Make it a day to remember, and go up two more floors to enjoy a drink at BAR 94!


Wrigley Field

For baseball fans – or those just curious about this great game – a tour of Wrigley Field – the home of the Chicago Cubs – is a “must!” On non-game days, explore the visitors’ clubhouse, the Cubs’ dugout, walk on to the field, and see where the hard questions are asked in the Press box. Of course, the best way to soak up the atmosphere is to get a ticket to a game, but that’s not always easy!


Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum

Come to the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, and unlock the secrets of space through fascinating shows, interactive exhibits, and special events. Enjoy shows that take you through space exploration, and discover how the secrets of the universe are being solved, watch Planet Nine and Cosmic Wonder, travel to the year 2096, and go on your very own space tour!


Art Institute of Chicago

People flock to enjoy the 95,000 exhibits on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. As you meander through the museum, the sheer breadth and diversity of the art will amaze you. Explore fifteen collections, including American, African, Ancient, Asian, and European art.


University of Chicago

For beautiful examples of architecture dating back to the 1800’s, take time out from touring and meander through the University of Chicago for a while! Make sure you drop into the Gothic Rockefeller Chapel, and be sure to check out some of the more modern buildings on campus, too; bought to life by famous architects such as Eero Saarinen, their designs reflect the constant evolution of this great university. Relax in the gardens of the 211 acre campus, and people-watch for a while, as new and seasoned scholars go about their day.

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