One of the crown jewels of the Midwest, Chicago is a bustling city known for its good food, interesting architecture and boisterous sports fans. Boasting a combination of widespread cultural attractions and a prime location on Lake Michigan, the city regularly draws visitors who come to see Chicago with the aim of viewing all the best sights the city offers. If you’re renting a vacation home in the Windy City, add some of these must-visit attractions to your to-do list.
Visiting a new city means finding the best Instagram-worthy spot, and that’s just what you’ll find at Millennium Park. This 24.5-acre expanse is home to Cloud Gate, an enormous mirrored structure that’s better known as “The Bean.” After snapping a photo in front of this iconic landmark, spend the day enjoying some of the park’s numerous other attractions. Take in a show at the Pritzker Pavilion, cool off in the Crown Fountain, enjoy the lush greenery at Lurie Garden or relax with a picnic lunch at the McCormick Tribune Plaza.
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.
The Art Institute of Chicago
With over 400,000 square feet of art and collections ranging from medieval armor to Asian ceramics, the Art Institute of Chicago is not to be missed. Among the more than 300,000 works of art, the museum’s most popular exhibits include paintings by Renoir, van Gogh and Monet. In addition to the impressive permanent collection, you’ll also enjoy a range of rotating exhibitions from collections around the world.
Museum of Science and Industry
If you’re a science or technology lover, make it a point to visit the Museum of Science and Industry. Founded in 1933, this science museum is an impressive look at innovation throughout the years. With hundreds of hands-on exhibits and over 35,000 artifacts, it’s a stop the whole family can enjoy. Even the building that houses the museum, the former Palace of Fine Arts, has its roots in science and technology. Home to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, the palace played host to scientific bigwigs like Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Today, their legacy lives on among the museum’s numerous collections.
When you visit Chicago, a trip to the waterfront is a must. Navy Pier satisfies all your tourist wants, with plenty of restaurants, a movie theater, abundant shopping and an amusement park. Stretching into the waters of Lake Michigan, the pier boasts plenty of family-friendly fun, including rides like the 196-foot Ferris wheel and hands-on activities at the Chicago Children’s Museum. Adults find plenty of entertainment here too, from live shows at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater to sightseeing cruises departing from the pier.
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the impact the sport has had on the city. One of baseball’s most legendary stadiums, Wrigley Field boasts a history and reputation that attracts visitors year-round. Built in 1914 and home to the Chicago Cubs, the ballpark is the second oldest in the country. Take a stadium tour and see the dugouts, view the historic scoreboard and catch a unique peek at what makes this stadium a city favorite. If you’re lucky enough to catch a game, skip the nachos and opt instead for a hot dog from Hot Doug’s or a slice of deep dish from Giordano’s — the stadium’s outstanding Chicago eats are worth a visit alone.
Chicago’s skyline is punctuated with a variety of interesting, expressive architecture, and one of the best spots to view it all is the 360 Chicago observation deck. Located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building, the glass-walled deck offers an excellent vantage point of the skyline and beyond. On a clear day, you may be able to see as far as 55 miles in any direction. If you’re up for a little action and heights don’t bother you, try out TILT, a moving platform that extends out over Michigan Avenue below.