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The 12 Finest Issues to Do in Chicago (Up to date 2024)

The famous Bean in Chicago at sunset, near the towering downtown of the city
Posted: 5/13/2024 | Might thirteenth, 2024

Famously often called “the Second Metropolis” (which means second in inhabitants to New York), I really feel like Chicago is commonly ignored by vacationers. It sees a fraction of the guests LA and NYC obtain, which is a disgrace, because it’s one among my favourite cities on the planet.

Chicago is chock-full of world-class establishments, Michelin-starred eating places, awe-inducing structure, and verdant parks. There’s a lot to do right here and town has a extremely wealthy historical past. I feel extra folks ought to go to.

Certain, the winters are brutal. However, come spring, Chicago blossoms right into a dynamic city panorama of avenue life, out of doors cafés, and sunny parks when locals take over the outside to benefit from the few months of good climate. (I don’t assume you’ll be able to actually beat Chicago in the summertime.)

That can assist you plan your go to, right here’s my listing of the very best issues to do in Chicago:


1. Take a Strolling Tour

One of many first issues I do once I arrive in a metropolis is take a strolling tour. They’re an effective way to see the primary sights, get the lay of the land, and join with an skilled native information who can reply all my questions. Free Chicago Strolling Excursions hosts common free excursions that may introduce you to town. You’ll get to see most of the coolest buildings within the metropolis whereas additionally studying concerning the historical past of Chicago. The tour lasts a couple of hours. Make sure to tip the information on the finish!

For a extra distinctive tour, strive the Gangsters and Ghosts Tour. You’ll be taught all about Chicago’s darkish aspect and creepy previous as you discover the Chicago Loop. The tour lasts two hours and actually talks about one of many pivotal occasions in Chicago’s historical past. Even when you’re not a historical past buff like me, you’ll get lots out of it.

2. Chill out in Grant and Millennium Parks

Positioned downtown, these gigantic parks present an important place to hang around, have a picnic, or go for a run. Folks play chess right here when the climate is good and, in the course of the summer time, there are numerous free concert events and occasions right here. The bigger Grant Park stretches alongside Chicago’s waterfront, whereas Millennium Park is the subsection the place the well-known “Chicago Bean” sculpture is positioned. This iconic work of public artwork is a must-see. And, beginning at midday on the primary and third Saturdays from April by means of November, the Chicago Cultural Heart hosts strolling excursions specializing in the artwork of Millennium Park. It’s actually attention-grabbing. I really like strolling by means of the park or simply chilling right here with an excellent e book on a pleasant day.

3. Soak up some artwork on the Artwork Institute of Chicago

The exterior of the Art Institute of Chicago on a sunny dayThe exterior of the Art Institute of Chicago on a sunny day
Since 1879, the Artwork Institute of Chicago has been wowing guests with its glorious assortment of works from all over the world. Positioned in Grant Park, the museum has a couple of instantly recognizable items, together with “American Gothic” by Grant Wooden, Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” and “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. The huge assortment additionally consists of works by Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Jasper Johns, and Jackson Pollock. There are additionally wings dedicated to African, Asian, and American indigenous artwork. In case you’re going to go to at least one museum in Chicago, this must be it. Anticipate to spend a couple of hours as a result of the gathering is so massive.

To beat the crowds, skip a weekend go to because the place will get packed. As an alternative, go on a Monday or Thursday night (they’re open late on Thursdays). You’ll have the place nearly to your self.

111 S Michigan Ave, (312) 443-3600, artic.edu. Open Thursday-Monday 11am-5pm (8pm on Thursdays). Admission is $32 USD ($40 USD for advance skip-the-line entry). Each day excursions (included within the value of your ticket) are supplied at 1pm and 3pm.

4. Admire superb structure on a river cruise

Chicago is an structure lover’s dream. The perfect approach to soak up its famed buildings is by way of a river cruise. This manner, you’ll be able to sit again and cruise down the canals whereas an skilled information gives context for what you’re taking a look at. The guides will provide you with an in depth historical past of the structure. A number of the buildings you’ll see on the boat experience embrace the Tribune Tower, 333 West Wacker, Navy Pier, the Willis Tower, the Wrigley Constructing, and Marina Metropolis, amongst others. All in all, there are about 50 buildings to see on this fascinating tour, and I promise, it’s rather more attention-grabbing than it sounds!

5. Stroll down the Magnificent Mile

Typically nicknamed “Magazine Mile,” this stretch alongside Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Road is understood for its upscale designer boutiques. In actual fact, lease right here is the third highest within the US (after Fifth Avenue in New York Metropolis and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills). Even when you don’t wish to blow your funds procuring, it’s nonetheless an expertise to walk alongside the avenue and take within the sights and the folks, and benefit from the view of the Chicago River. There are a number of landmarks and points of interest alongside the best way too, together with the 360 Chicago Remark Deck for expansive views over town (extra on this beneath).

6. Go to the Shedd Aquarium

In case you’re visiting town with youngsters (otherwise you’re a child at coronary heart), head to the huge Shedd Aquarium. It’s the third-largest aquarium within the Western hemisphere and residential to over 32,000 animals. They’ve turtles, penguins, sea otters, snakes, sharks, and extra. They actually emphasize schooling right here so that you’ll be taught a ton when you roam the completely different exhibitions. You may even pay additional to do issues like feed penguins and sharks, they usually additionally host every kind of enjoyable night occasions (akin to reside music after hours). I completely love coming right here. Simply make certain to e book your ticket prematurely as they do get busy and promote out!

To beat the crowds, skip the weekend and go to in the course of the week as a substitute. Additionally, try to go to proper when it opens (particularly Wednesday-Friday). It’s normally quieter then.

1200 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr, (312) 939-2438, sheddaquarium.org. Open 9am-5pm Monday-Friday (9pm on Tuesdays), 9am-6pm Saturday, and 11am-6pm on Sundays. Tickets begin at $37 USD. Admission will also be included with the Chicago CityPASS.

7. Soak up some pure historical past on the Subject Museum

The exterior of the popular Field Museum in sunny Chicago, USAThe exterior of the popular Field Museum in sunny Chicago, USA
In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition (often known as the Chicago World’s Honest) passed off within the Windy Metropolis to have a good time the four-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492. The truthful displayed some unimaginable artifacts from all over the world, notably within the Columbian Museum of Chicago, which showcased anthropological and organic collections. After the truthful was over, organizers puzzled what to do with all of it. So, the Columbian Museum turned the Subject Museum, named after benefactor Marshall Subject, a division retailer mogul, and every little thing remained on show.

One of many greatest museums on the planet, the Subject homes intensive collections spanning anthropology, geology, botany, and zoology. Some necessary collections embrace the shows of taxidermied animals, a wing devoted to astronomy, and engaging artifacts from historical Egypt. I like to recommend planning to spend a minimum of 3-4 hours to essentially take all of it in.

1400 S. Dusable Lake Shore Drive, (312) 922-9410, fieldmuseum.org. Open each day 9am-5pm (final admission is at 4pm). Fundamental admission is $30 USD. Particular exhibitions are a further cost (which varies), although you will get an all-access go for $43 USD.


8. Get a surprising view at 360 Chicago Remark Deck

Chicago is a skyscraper metropolis, together with a couple of reasonably iconic towers. Positioned atop what was previously often called the John Hancock Constructing and now (uninspiringly) known as 875 N. Michigan, the 360-degree viewing deck a thousand toes up and permits guests to get the very best view of the Windy Metropolis and Lake Michigan. You may even seize a pint on the Cloud Bar, which serves beer from Moody Tongue, an area brewery.

In case you’re a thrill seeker and need extra than simply the view, join Tilt. This a part of the statement deck is the place you’ll be able to stand in entrance of a glass window, which then tilts ahead, till it seems you’re trying straight down on the avenue, 94 flooring beneath.

Simply make certain to verify the climate earlier than you go so you’ll even have a view to get pleasure from. Moreover, if you wish to beat the crowds, come early (earlier than 10am).

875 N Michigan Ave, (888) 875-8439, 360chicago.com. Open each day 9am-11pm (the final entry is at 10pm). Admission begins at $30 USD (get your tickets prematurely for skip-the-line entry).

9. Feast on deep-dish pizza

A delicious deep-dish pizza made in the Chicago style in Chicago, USAA delicious deep-dish pizza made in the Chicago style in Chicago, USA
If there’s one meals Chicago has develop into synonymous with, it’s deep-dish pizza. It was invented in 1943 by Pizzeria Uno, which is now a nationwide restaurant chain. For one thing extra native, Chicagoans swear by Lou Malnati’s. Personally, I’m not normally an enormous fan of deep-dish (I like NYC pizza higher), nevertheless it’s one thing it’s important to strive when you’re right here.

In case you actually wish to indulge, hop on a Chicago Pizza Tour, on which you’ll get to pattern all of the varieties on provide on the town. Excursions begin at $49 USD.

10. Stroll the Chicago Riverwalk

Stretching from Lake Michigan to Lake Road, the 1.25-mile Riverwalk alongside the Chicago River makes for a enjoyable stroll. Alongside the best way, you’ll not solely get incredible views of the river and metropolis, however you’ll encounter a legion of waterfront eating places, cafés, and bars. There’s a ton of public artwork and inexperienced area too (nice for picnicking and people-watching). It’s the right place to decelerate and benefit from the second on this Midwestern metropolis, however when you want a extra lively expertise, there are additionally a lot of aquatic actions right here too (akin to kayaking or taking a river cruise).

11. Eat your approach by means of the Mexican eateries in Pilsen

The neighborhood of Pilsen was based in 1878 by Czech immigrants, who named the world after the fourth-largest metropolis within the Czech Republic, the place pilsner beer was born. The Czechs could also be gone now, however at the moment Pilsen is Chicago’s major Latino neighborhood, notably Mexicans from the Michoacán area. As we speak you’ll be able to wander the world, consuming a number of the greatest tacos whereas taking within the vibrant avenue artwork.

12. Watch an improv present

The Second Metropolis is likely one of the hottest and well-known improv troupes within the nation. It’s the place greats like Invoice Murray, John Sweet, Catherine O’Hara, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler all reduce their enamel. They placed on common performances and likewise host every kind of particular occasions. They even host workshops and lessons if you wish to give improv a strive your self. Simply you should definitely get your tickets prematurely as the preferred exhibits promote out quick.

230 W North Ave, (312) 337-3992, secondcity.com. Performances are held each day so verify the web site for what’s on. Tickets begin at $35 USD.

13. Have enjoyable at Navy Pier

The fun and quirky Navy Pier with a tall Ferris wheel on the coast of Chicago, USAThe fun and quirky Navy Pier with a tall Ferris wheel on the coast of Chicago, USA
This 3,300-foot-long (1,010-meter) pier on the shore of Lake Michigan began off as a transport web site, nevertheless it has additionally been a jail for draft dodgers throughout World Struggle II, a Naval coaching heart, and a short lived college campus. Since 1995, it has reopened to the general public in its present type and has develop into a form of carnival. It’s Chicago’s second-most visited vacationer attraction (after “The Bean”) and accommodates some rides, a Ferris wheel, a lot of eating places, a Shakespeare theater, boat excursions, a lot of beer gardens, mini-golf, and extra! It’s an excellent place to have some foolish enjoyable (particularly when you’ve got youngsters).

600 E Grand Ave, (312) 595-7437, navypier.org. Open Sunday-Thursday 11am-8pm and Friday-Saturday 11am-9pm (particular person points of interest and eating places could have separate hours). Admission to the pier is free, although points of interest cost their very own charges (the Centennial wheel is $21.30 USD, for instance).

14. Catch a sport at Wrigley Subject

Dwelling of the Cubs, Wrigley Subject, on Chicago’s North Aspect, is smack in the midst of city. It additionally occurs to be one of many oldest baseball stadiums in america (it opened in 1914). In case you’re in Chicago in the course of the baseball seasons (April to October) and the Cubs are on the town, do your self a favor and go to a sport. It’s one of the intimate and atmospheric baseball stadiums within the nation. If the Cubs will not be on the town, you too can take a 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium.

1060 W Addison St, (773) 404-2827, mlb.com/cubs/ballpark. Tour dates and occasions differ relying on the season (verify the web site for availability). Tour admission is $30 USD. Tickets to see a sport differ tremendously however begin at simply $10 USD (for higher seats at a well-liked sport, count on to spend nearer to $80-125 USD).

15. Feast in Chinatown

Carry your urge for food to Chinatown, the place you’ll be able to feast on low cost dim dum, do karaoke, or calm down at one of many many tea homes. One of many oldest Chinatown’s within the nation, over a 3rd of Chicago’s Chinese language inhabitants lives in Chinatown, making it one of many largest concentrations of Chinese language-People within the USA. Don’t miss Ping Tom Memorial Park, and hold an eye fixed out for colourful murals across the neighborhood. A few of my favourite locations listed below are Hing Kee, MCCB Chicago, and Phoenix.

16. Expertise St. Patrick’s Day

A bright green river in Chicago during the rowdy St. Patrick's Day celebrationsA bright green river in Chicago during the rowdy St. Patrick's Day celebrations
Subsequent to Eire, Chicago is likely one of the greatest locations to be on March seventeenth, St. Patrick’s Day. To honor its massive Irish-American inhabitants, town dyes the Chicago River inexperienced, hosts an enormous parade, and events till the solar comes up (full with copious quantities of inexperienced beer).

The custom started in 1843, when Chicago’s first Irish parade was held, nevertheless it wasn’t till 1962 that the dyeing of the river began, on the suggestion of a plumber’s union, which continues to be accountable for the inexperienced river annually, although it gained’t reveal its secrets and techniques about what’s used (it’s environmentally pleasant, although). Take a river cruise on the emerald waters or snap a pic from the sidelines and luxuriate in. This is likely one of the greatest days of the yr right here!

17. Discover Oz Park

This whimsical little park, positioned within the Lincoln Park space, was created to honor L. Frank Baum, the writer of The Wizard of Oz. He lived within the space on the finish of the nineteenth century, and when town wished to renovate the park they determined to take action in a approach that honored Baum’s standard e book.

There’s a playground named after Dorothy, a inexperienced area known as the “Emerald Gardens,” and quite a few life-size statues of standard characters from the musical adaptation, together with the Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow.

Open each day 6am-11pm. Admission to the park is free.


Chicago doesn’t get the eye it deserves. I feel it’s enjoyable and ideal for a weekend getaway. And you actually can’t beat the summers right here both. With a lot of attention-grabbing museums, loads of inexperienced area, and a few nice eats, Chicago must be on each traveler’s listing!

E-book Your Journey to Chicago: Logistical Suggestions and Tips

E-book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to discover a low cost flight. They’re my favourite search engine as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned.

E-book Your Lodging
You may e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and greatest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they persistently return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low cost resorts.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. My favourite corporations that provide the very best service and worth are:

Searching for the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the very best corporations to make use of if you journey. I listing all those I exploit to economize once I’m on the highway. They may prevent cash if you journey too.

Need Extra Data on Chicago?
Make sure to go to our sturdy vacation spot information on Chicago for much more planning suggestions!

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