Chicago is known for its architecture and history, but it’s also home to some of the best museums, restaurants, and attractions in the country. The city has something for everyone: if you like sports and entertainment, you’ll be spoiled for choice; if you love art and design, there are plenty of galleries and museums to explore; if you want to spend time with friends or family, there are plenty of great outdoor spaces where you can do that too. This guide will help you out with everything from getting around town to what to eat, and where to stay when you’re there. If you’re looking for more information on how to get around town or how to plan your trip, check out our other guides.
When it comes to outdoor activities in Chicago, IL, you’re in luck. There’s no shortage of things to do outside in this city.
Whether you want to take in the beautiful views of the Chicago skyline, go on an outdoor adventure, or just enjoy some time outside in one of Chicago’s many parks and gardens, there are plenty of options for getting outside and enjoying Chicago’s great outdoors.
Willis Tower Skydeck- Best views of the Chicago skyline
The Willis Tower Skydeck is home to the highest public observatory in the United States, boasting 360-degree views of Chicago’s famous skyline. It also has an open-air glass balcony that extends 1,353 feet (412 meters) out from the 103rd floor of the building. The Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor of Chicago’s tallest building, and it offers a breathtaking view of all four compass points, as well as Lake Michigan and Navy Pier.
On clear days, visitors can see up to 80 miles (128 km) in any direction. You’ll be able to see all four sides of Chicago’s famous skyline: Lake Michigan and Navy Pier on one side; Lincoln Park on another; Grant Park on a third side; and Millennium Park on the fourth side. You will also have an unobstructed view of all downtown skyscrapers including Willis Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, and The John Hancock Center.
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Chicago, IL, we recommend Shedd Aquarium.
The Shedd Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions in Chicago and has been a staple of the city’s cultural life since 1930. It’s located on Lake Michigan and features more than 30,000 animals in 20 different galleries. There are over 4,000 aquatic animals living at Shedd, including sharks, beluga whales, and sea otters.
The aquarium also has several exhibits that focus on the natural ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest and other regions around the world. The habitats are designed to mimic the environment where these animals live so you can see them behaving naturally as they would if they were still in their natural habitat.
Garfield Park Conservatory- Best parks and gardens in Chicago, IL
Garfield Park Conservatory is a Chicago landmark, and it’s one of the city’s greatest parks. If you’re looking for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Garfield Park Conservatory is an ideal choice. It’s a lush oasis in the middle of Chicago that offers visitors a chance to enjoy some beautiful greenery, browse through the various plants on display, and even take part in some educational tours if they’re so inclined.
With over 10 acres of green space, this conservatory was established in 1881 as part of efforts to beautify the city after the Great Chicago Fire. It was designed by architect William Le Baron Jenney and contains nearly 1 million cubic feet of glass under its roof—the largest amount ever used in a greenhouse at the time!
Garfield Park Conservatory is open year-round (except on Thanksgiving Day), so you can visit anytime you want!
Attractions and Historical Landmarks:
Chicago is full of attractions and landmarks that are popular with locals and tourists alike.
The most iconic landmark in Chicago is the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), which was the tallest building in the world for about 25 years after its completion. It’s still one of the tallest buildings in Chicago, and it’s worth visiting for its 360-degree views of the city.
The John Hancock Center – Must-visit Historical sites and landmarks in Chicago
The John Hancock Center is a skyscraper located in Chicago, Illinois. It is the sixth tallest building in Chicago, as well as the second tallest residential building in the world. The tower was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and completed in 1969. It is currently owned by Boston Properties.
It has 100 stories, with 92 above-ground floors and 8 below-ground floors. The top floor is 1,136 feet above ground level, making it the highest residence in North America. The building’s unique design makes it stand out from other Chicago skyscrapers: it has four separate corners instead of two or three; its antenna is much smaller than most other buildings; it doesn’t have a traditional inner core; and its concrete frame was made without any steel reinforcement bars inside (though some were later added).
The John Hancock Center houses offices and residential apartments on different floors (the higher you go up, the more expensive the apartment). It also features an observatory at 950 feet above ground level which offers views of both Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago.
Buckingham Fountain is a Chicago landmark. It’s also one of the best things to do in Chicago, IL.
Buckingham Fountain is located in Grant Park, which is right next to Lake Michigan. This beautiful fountain was designed by Daniel Burnham and dedicated to the people of Chicago in 1927. The fountain is made up of two rings that are fed by water pumps from Lake Michigan. The outer ring holds a pool of water while the inner ring shoots water straight up into the air. Every hour on the hour from April through November, there’s a free water show that features lights and music. During this time, you can also see other fountains scattered around Grant Park that are all part of the Buckingham Fountain complex.
Field Museum- Best museums to visit in Chicago
If you’re looking for museums to visit in Chicago, the Field Museum is a must-see. Not only is it one of the best natural history museums in the country, but it’s also got an incredible butterfly conservatory and botanical gardens.
The Field Museum houses thousands of specimens from all over the world—including dinosaurs! You can see all kinds of fossils, including dinos and other prehistoric creatures, at this museum. You’ll also find gems and minerals, plus Egyptian mummies and an entire hall dedicated to butterflies.
If you want to learn more about plants and animals, or if you just love nature, then this museum is definitely worth checking out!
Navy Pier- A Family-friendly attraction in Chicago
Navy Pier is a great place to go if you’re looking for something to do with your friends or family. It’s located right on Lake Michigan and has lots of things to do, including boat rides, concerts, and amazing food options. As Chicago’s most popular tourist attraction, Navy Pier is a must-visit for anyone who’s ever been to the city. The pier stretches for over 1.3 miles along Lake Michigan and has more than 50 acres of fun to explore, including an aquarium and a beachfront amusement park. The pier is also home to an incredible collection of art—including sculptures by renowned artists such as Alexander Calder and Joan Miró—and an architectural wonder: the Ferris wheel. This popular tourist destination is a great place to breathe fresh air while exploring some of the city’s most beautiful architecture. Take advantage of one of their many outdoor events, like their annual holiday tree lighting or the Summer Dance Festival.
One of the best things to do in Chicago, IL is to head over to Millennium Park. It’s a beautiful public space that has lots of things to do and see. You can try and go for a walk, grab a bite at one of the restaurants nearby, or catch some live music at Pritzker Pavilion. It’s also home to Cloud Gate (otherwise known as “The Bean”), which is one of the most photographed landmarks in the city. This gorgeous park is home to an incredible array of art and architecture and is a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. Millenium Park also features many other works of art, including The Crown Fountain (which shoots water out of two giant towers), The Lurie Garden (a beautiful garden featuring sculptures by artist Daniel Libeskind), and The Pritzker Pavilion (an outdoor concert venue).
Art Institute of Chicago- One of the Hidden gems in Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best places to visit in Chicago. The museum’s collection includes both European and American art, with a focus on Impressionism, Modernism, and Post-Impressionism. The museum also features a sculpture garden that spans more than 15 acres.
The world-renowned architecture of the building itself is worth seeing. Designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, the building was completed in 1893. It is a prime example of the Chicago School of Architecture, which combines modern elements with classical architecture. The Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit destination for any art lover, and the city of Chicago has so much more to offer than just this one museum. This museum is filled with works from all different time periods and styles, including Impressionism, Baroque, and Post-Impressionism.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest, largest, and most famous zoos in the world. It’s also home to over 1,100 animals representing more than 200 species. This zoo has been a Chicago staple since 1868, and it’s no wonder why: it has all sorts of fun things to do, including an aquarium and a carousel. The zoo is home to two giant pandas: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. These two pandas were brought to the zoo in 2001 as part of an international conservation effort. They were originally born at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. but were moved to Chicago because their original habitat was not suitable for them anymore.
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
The Chicago Architecture River Cruise is the best way to experience the city’s incredible architecture. You’ll start this adventure cruise at the Riverfront Theater and go through the city’s famous landmarks like the John Hancock Center and Wrigley Building. You can also see other famous buildings like Marina City, which was one of the first modern high-rises built in the 1960s. The tour ends with a stop at Navy Pier, where you can enjoy some of Chicago’s best restaurants and attractions. The Chicago Architecture River Cruise is a 2.5-hour tour that covers the history of architecture in Chicago, and it’s a great choice for first-time visitors who want to get a taste of the city in one fell swoop.
The Magnificent Mile
The Magnificent Mile is a shopping, dining, and entertainment district in Chicago. It’s home to some of the most famous brands in the world and also has plenty of little boutiques with independent designers. You can find everything from high-end fashion to vintage finds, or stop by one of several museums along the way.
The best way to experience The Magnificent Mile is by foot—it’s only a few blocks long! But there are also lots of buses and trains running through it so you can go off-roading if you want to explore more of the city. The Magnificent Mile has over 450 stores and restaurants, including many high-end boutiques and department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Neiman Marcus.
Adler Planetarium- An Offbeat attraction in Chicago
The Adler Planetarium is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a more educational experience. The museum has exhibits on space, the solar system, and planets, as well as exhibits on the Earth’s climate and weather.
There are also many events throughout the year at the Adler Planetarium, including shows about both astronomy and space exploration. These shows include live presentations by astronomers, who discuss what they do in their day-to-day lives.
The Adler Planetarium also has different exhibits and shows that are geared toward children. These include an exhibit called “From Here To Infinity,” which explores how far away things in space are from Earth. The Adler Planetarium is also home to the Challenger Learning Center, which offers educational programs for children on topics like weather or dinosaurs. It’s an excellent place for children to learn about science and astronomy.
Food and Drink
Chicago is known for its food, and it’s not hard to see why. From deep-dish pizza to award-winning steakhouses, there is no shortage of culinary delights here—but where do you start?
We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite places to eat and drink in Chicago. Whether you’re looking for a fancy dinner or just a quick bite while sightseeing, these restaurants will give you an authentic taste of the city.
Here are some of our favorite places:
The Capital Grille
The Capital Grille is a steakhouse that serves up the finest cuts of meat. Located in Chicago, this restaurant has been serving the best steaks in town for over 30 years. They have an extensive wine list and offer delicious desserts such as strawberry shortcakes and apple pie. It’s a great place to celebrate special occasions with family or friends.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood is a world-class restaurant that has been named one of the top places to eat in Chicago by multiple sources. The menu features fresh, sustainable seafood with an emphasis on local sourcing and sustainability. The restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Chicago and offers an intimate dining experience with an elegant, coastal atmosphere.
Nightlife in Chicago
Chicago’s nightlife scene is a bustling, exciting place to be. From dive bars to cocktail lounges, Chicago has it all.
If you’re looking for a place to go out with friends and enjoy some live music, here are some of our favorite spots:
A cozy bar on Clark Street in Wicker Park, The Hideout hosts a variety of local and national artists every night. If you want to hear some great music while enjoying a drink or two, this is the place!
This venue offers intimate shows in an old theater setting located near DePaul University. You’ll love the sound system and the friendly staff!
Old Town School of Folk Music
This venue is known for its intimate acoustic sets from local artists like Pokey LaFarge and more well-known acts like The Avett Brothers and John Prine. It’s also open 24 hours so there’s never a bad time to g
Cultural festivals and events in Chicago, IL
The city of Chicago is known for its rich history and diverse culture. From art to music to food, the city offers a plethora of events and festivals throughout the year.
Here are some of the best:
Chicago Blues Festival
The Chicago Blues Festival brings together some of the biggest names in blues music for two days of performances on multiple stages throughout Grant Park. The festival attracts people from all over the world and has become an annual tradition for many in Chicago. The festival has been going on since 1980 and has featured artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buddy Guy. This year’s headliners include Mavis Staples and Tedeschi Trucks Band on Friday and Buddy Guy on Saturday.
Festival Latino Chicago
The Festival Latino Chicago is an annual event that features Latin American artists performing music from various genres including salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggaeton, hip hop, and more. The festival takes place at Union Park on Wabash Avenue between 14th Street & Randolph Street. It begins at 12 pm on Saturday and ends at 11 pm on Sunday night with fireworks concluding things off spectacularly! This year’s headliners include Calle 13
Chicago Jazz Festival
This festival has been held annually since 1982 and showcases some of the world’s best jazz performers in Grant Park each summer.
Chicago Jazz Record Fair
This event is held at different locations around town each year, with vendors selling rare vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, and more from a variety of artists past and present.
The Taste of Chicago
Taste of Chicago is an annual food festival that takes place over Memorial Day weekend in Grant Park each year. It features local restaurants offering samples of their signature dishes alongside live entertainment all day long!
Romantic and Fun things to do in Chicago, IL for couples
Chicago is a city that loves to celebrate its history. From the architecture of the buildings to the people who walk its streets, you’ll find yourself immersed in an experience that feels like it’s straight out of a movie.
But what if you’re looking for a bit more romance? Here are some of the best ways to make your trip more romantic:
Take a carriage ride along Lake Michigan with your partner. It’s romantic and gives you time alone together away from any distractions.
Find some delicious food at one of Chicago’s famous restaurants like Girl & The Goat or Girl & The Goat Diner (which is located inside the original restaurant). These restaurants serve up creative takes on Southern comfort food like fried chicken with pickled okra mashed potatoes and biscuits with honey butter.
See the stars at Cloud Gate
It’s not just a sculpture—it’s an experience! Cloud Gate is arguably one of the most iconic pieces of public art in Chicago, and couples love it for its unique ability to reflect their relationship back at them.
Enjoy an afternoon tea at The Palmer House Chicago Hotel
After having fun at some of the city’s most popular landmarks and attractions (like Millennium Park), why not bring your date back to your room at The Palmer House Chicago Hotel? This historic hotel offers several different types of afternoon tea options ranging from traditional English tea service
Shopping in Chicago, IL
Whether you’re looking for a new pair of shoes or a new wardrobe, Chicago has got you covered. There are a number of shopping districts throughout the city that are sure to please. If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, here are some shopping districts to explore:
Streeterville is located along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which means it’s home to all kinds of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, and more. Streeterville has several shopping centers including Water Tower Place and Michigan Avenue’s famous outdoor mall that houses Neiman Marcus and Tiffany & Co. You can also head over to Oak Brook Mall if you want an upscale mall experience without having to leave the city limits.
River North is another great place to shop in Chicago because it offers everything from discount stores like Target or TJ Maxx to boutiques like Armani Exchange or American Girl Doll Store. River North also has some great restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory or Bandera so you can enjoy yourself while you shop!
The Magnificent Mile
Chicago’s most famous shopping district, this stretch of Michigan Avenue between Oak Street and Wacker Drive is home to some of the city’s best stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Apple.
Located just north of downtown Chicago and south of Lincoln Park, Old Town is the city’s oldest neighborhood. The area features cobblestone streets and many historic buildings. Some of the neighborhood’s most popular attractions include The Second City comedy club and The Art Institute of Chicago.
Top-rated tours of Chicago, IL
Chicago is a city with a rich history, and there are many things to do in Chicago.
Chicago offers a number of tour options to help you explore the city’s most famous sites. Whether you’re looking for a walking tour, hop-on/hop-off bus tour, or something a little more adventurous like a Segway tour, plenty of options are available to suit your needs.
The following are some of the top-rated tours in Chicago:
A Ghost Tour of Chicago
This tour will take you through some of the most haunted places in Chicago, including Al Capone’s former home and the infamous Devil’s Alley.
The Original Chicago Pizza Tour
This tour takes you around Chicago’s famous neighborhoods to sample some of its finest pizzas. You’ll visit three different locations and learn about the history of pizza in each neighborhood.
The Historic Loop Tour
This tour takes you on a journey through the heart of Chicago, with stops at famous landmarks like Millennium Park and Navy Pier.
The Magnificent Mile Tour
This tour takes you along Michigan Avenue from Oak Street Beach to Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park, where you’ll learn about the history of some of Chicago’s most iconic buildings and attractions while enjoying some incredible views of Lake Michigan!
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) offers walking tours of various neighborhoods around the city. These tours include both buildings built before 1871 and those built after that date, so they’re perfect for anyone interested in learning more about Chicago’s history and architecture. Tours cost $20 per person and last about two hours.
You can also book a ticket on one of CAF’s boat tours; these are offered on select Saturdays throughout the year and give you an up-close look at parts of downtown Chicago that don’t usually get much attention from visitors (like Navy Pier). Tickets cost $40 per person and last about two hours; if you’re looking for something with less traffic than other boat tours in town then this option might be right for you!
Sports & Activities in Chicago
The Windy City is home to the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, and the Chicago Bulls—and that’s just in sports. It’s also a playground for fans of everything from professional hockey to soccer and basketball.
Check out these great sports events and venues in Chicago:
Chicago Bears at Soldier Field
The Bears have been playing at Soldier Field since 1971. They’re one of the oldest teams in the National Football League, having been founded in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys. Today they play at one of the largest stadiums in the country, with more than 70,000 seats on hand for games.
Chicago Blackhawks at United Center
The Blackhawks are another team with a long history—they’ve been around since 1926 and have won three Stanley Cups since their founding. Their current home is United Center (originally named “The Stadium”), which sits alongside Lake Michigan and features more than 22,000 seats for games.
Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field
The Chicago Cubs are a Major League Baseball (MLB) team based in Chicago, Illinois. They play in the National League Central division, along with the Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs have won two World Series championships since their founding in 1870.
The Cubs’ home field is Wrigley Field, named after former owner William Wrigley Jr., who was also the chewing gum magnate. The stadium has a capacity of 41,160 people and opened on April 23, 1914.
We hope you enjoyed this list of the best things to do in Chicago, IL. Whether you’re a native or just visiting, there is so much to explore and enjoy here. From museums and art galleries to parks and beaches, Chicago boasts some of the country’s greatest attractions, including a number of free things to do. Whether you’re looking for an activity that will get your blood pumping or a place to relax with loved ones, there are plenty of options available to keep everyone happy—and active.