As a city built by people from many cultures, modern Chicago is home to diverse eateries, cool architecture, sports facilities and a million stories. There are so many great things to see and do when you’re here, everyone will find something to love. Whether you are traveling with your partner, friends or family, here are a few things that should not be missed when visiting Chicago.
- Millennium Park
Spend some time in the lush, sculpted greenery of Millennium Park for a breath of fresh air. Take a walk or ride a bike. From a concert series designed specifically for family fun to the giant silver “bean” sculpture, Millennium Park provides plenty of options for entertainment. Dance performances and craft shows make this park a centerpiece for family vacations in the Windy City.
- Lake Michigan
The city of Chicago sits right up against one of the Great Lakes — Lake Michigan. While there are several places to overlook the water from the land, consider overlooking the city from the water instead. Several boat tours will take you out into the lake where you can get a stunning view of the city skyline. Relax on the water as you watch the sun go down over Chicago.
- Ohio Street Beach
Visiting in the summer? Don’t miss the Ohio Street Beach, the perfect place to soak in the warm sun and have lunch. Golden sand edges a southern curve of Lake Michigan that is spacious and not overcrowded. There’s no admittance fee here, so just drop by and enjoy yourself.
- Live Comedy
Chicago is packed to the gills with entertainers and comedians. You just have to know where to look. Check out The Second City Theater, The Playground Theater, The Comedy Bar and The Chicago Improv Den for some top-rated acts. Be sure to look at The Gallery Cabaret’s schedule as well for free weekly comedy performances.
South Side’s Chinatown is home to about 8,000 of Chicago’s 90,000 Chinese-Americans. The principle economy of the area consists of restaurants, gift shops and Chinese medicine shops. If it doesn’t go without saying that you need to visit Chinatown for some amazing food, then, we’re saying it. Follow up your meal and some shopping in the Chinatown Square with a walk along the Chicago River in Ping Tom Memorial Park.
- Navy Pier
New York has Coney Island and Chicago has Navy Pier. This waterside amusement park has shops, restaurants, rides and other attractions that are fun for people of all ages. There’s a Ferris wheel, historic carousel and stops to hop on a river cruise. It’s one of the top places to visit in Chicago for travelers of all ages and interests.
- Wrigley Field
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest MLB park in the country and home of the Cubs. Watching a ball game is an experience that visitors can’t miss. Delicious hot dogs, green beer on St. Paddy’s Day and a chance at watching history being made give Wrigley Field its aura of excitement. Wrigley Field also offers 90-minute guided tours where fans can hear stories about the team and learn more about Cubs history. Wrigley Field is accessible via public transportation, so you can easily get there from your vacation rental.
- View from the Willis Tower Skydeck
More than two million people head to the Willis Tower Skydeck each year to catch the view from 103 floors up. Hopefully, you’ll make it on a clear and sunny day when not only can you see all of Chicago, but also up to 50 miles out into Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. The Ledge is a glass box with a glass floor that you can step onto and look straight down from — if you dare.
- Walking the Riverwalk and Lakefront Trail
The Riverwalk and Lakefront Trail are great Chicago places to visit for people who want to see the city and admire its bridges and architecture. The Riverwalk has several places to eat and shop right along the river. The Lakefront Trail is one of the top places to visit in Chicago if you prefer to tour the city by walking or biking. It stretches 18 miles along the river, with many other attractions along the way.
- Shopping at the Magnificent Mile
Hop on the bus or the L and head to the Magnificent Mile. This one-mile stretch of Michigan Avenue is known for its shopping. It’s home to department stores, boutiques, galleries and fine dining. Even if you don’t want to spend money, it’s one of the top places to visit in Chicago during the holiday season when the stores go all-out with their window displays.
- Lincoln Park Zoo
The zoo caters to families with children by offering mini-safaris with lions, monkeys and birds on display. Children can even camp out under the stars at the zoo during the summer with after-hours viewing of amazing animals.
- Adler Planetarium
Families get a glimpse of the universe with exciting space artifacts and walk-through models of the planets. Domed theaters give visitors a 3D cosmos experience in the nation’s oldest planetarium.
- John Hancock Observatory
Rising over 1,200 feet above the pavement, the John Hancock Observatory offers 360-degree views of Chicagoland. This towering building features some of the speediest elevators in the entire city, rising at a breathtaking pace.
- Shedd Aquarium
Since Chicago’s weather can be a bit brisk, you may find yourself wanting to keep to the comfort of indoor attractions. One popular locale that provides an ideal shelter from the elements is the Shedd Aquarium, an attraction that’s home to nearly 32,000 marine creatures. With everything from polar bears to sea turtles that call the Caribbean home, the aquarium walks its visitors through a variety of habitats and animal experiences. To make the most of your day, buy your tickets online before heading out the door — on busy days, the wait in the ticket line can be two hours or more.
- The Field Museum
The Aquarium isn’t the only cultural attraction that’s indoors. The Field Museum is an expansive and impressive natural history museum, where visitors discover the link between the earth of yesterday and today. Step back in time and see the dinosaur fossils and ancient Egyptian mummies, and then experience the wonders of the natural world with a stroll through the Grainger Hall of Gems. If you’re planning to spend the morning at the aquarium, add the Field Museum to your afternoon itinerary — because the two attractions utilize the same parking lots, visiting both in the same day means you’ll save some cash.
There’s more than enough to keep you entertained in Chicago. In fact, you’ll probably want to come back a second time to fit everything in.