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

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The 12 Best Things to Do in Chicago (Updated 2024)

Posted: 5/13/2024 | Could thirteenth, 2024

Famously often called “the Second Metropolis” (which means second in inhabitants to New York), I really feel like Chicago is usually ignored by vacationers. It sees a fraction of the guests LA and NYC obtain, which is a disgrace, because it’s one in every of 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 believe extra individuals ought to go to.

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

That will help you plan your go to, right here’s my checklist of the perfect issues to do in Chicago:


1. Take a Strolling Tour

One of many first issues I do after 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 in regards to the historical past of Chicago. The tour lasts a number of hours. Be sure you tip the information on the finish!

For a extra distinctive tour, strive the Gangsters and Ghosts Tour. You’ll study 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 so much out of it.

2. Chill out in Grant and Millennium Parks

Situated downtown, these gigantic parks present an awesome place to hang around, have a picnic, or go for a run. Individuals play chess right here when the climate is good and, in the course of the summer time, there are loads of 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 situated. This iconic work of public artwork is a must-see. And, beginning at midday on the primary and third Saturdays from April by November, the Chicago Cultural Middle hosts strolling excursions specializing in the artwork of Millennium Park. It’s actually attention-grabbing. I really like strolling by 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. Situated in Grant Park, the museum has a number 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 contains 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 the event you’re going to go to at least one museum in Chicago, this ought to be it. Anticipate to spend a number of hours as a result of the gathering is so large.

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 just about 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). Every 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 may sit again and cruise down the canals whereas an skilled information offers context for what you’re . The guides offers you an in depth historical past of the structure. A few of the buildings you’ll see on the boat journey embody 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 way more attention-grabbing than it sounds!

5. Stroll down the Magnificent Mile

Usually nicknamed “Magazine Mile,” this stretch alongside Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Road is understood for its upscale designer boutiques. In reality, 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 need to blow your price range buying, it’s nonetheless an expertise to walk alongside the avenue and take within the sights and the individuals, and benefit from the view of the Chicago River. There are a number of landmarks and sights alongside the way in which too, together with the 360 Chicago Remark Deck for expansive views over town (extra on this beneath).

6. Go to the Shedd Aquarium

In the event you’re visiting town with children (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 study a ton when you roam the completely different exhibitions. You possibly can even pay further to do issues like feed penguins and sharks, they usually additionally host every kind of enjoyable night occasions (resembling dwell music after hours). I completely love coming right here. Simply make sure that to e-book your ticket upfront 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 an alternative. Additionally, attempt 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 Area 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) occurred within the Windy Metropolis to have fun the four-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492. The honest displayed some unimaginable artifacts from all over the world, notably within the Columbian Museum of Chicago, which showcased anthropological and organic collections. After the honest was over, organizers questioned what to do with all of it. So, the Columbian Museum grew to become the Area Museum, named after benefactor Marshall Area, a division retailer mogul, and the whole lot remained on show.

One of many largest museums on the planet, the Area homes intensive collections spanning anthropology, geology, botany, and zoology. Some essential collections embody the shows of taxidermied animals, a wing devoted to astronomy, and interesting artifacts from historical Egypt. I like to recommend planning to spend no less than 3-4 hours to actually take all of it in.

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


8. Get a shocking view at 360 Chicago Remark Deck

Chicago is a skyscraper metropolis, together with a number of somewhat iconic towers. Situated atop what was previously often called the John Hancock Constructing and now (uninspiringly) referred to as 875 N. Michigan, the 360-degree viewing deck a thousand ft up and permits guests to get the perfect view of the Windy Metropolis and Lake Michigan. You possibly can even seize a pint on the Cloud Bar, which serves beer from Moody Tongue, an area brewery.

In the event you’re a thrill seeker and wish extra than simply the view, join Tilt. This a part of the statement deck is the place you may stand in entrance of a glass window, which then tilts ahead, till it seems you’re trying immediately down on the avenue, 94 flooring beneath.

Simply make sure that to examine the climate earlier than you go so you’ll even have a view to take pleasure in. Moreover, if you wish to beat the crowds, come early (earlier than 10am).

875 N Michigan Ave, (888) 875-8439, 360chicago.com. Open day by day 9am-11pm (the final entry is at 10pm). Admission begins at $30 USD (get your tickets upfront 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 the event you actually need to indulge, hop on a Chicago Pizza Tour, on which you’ll get to pattern all of the varieties on supply 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 way in which, you’ll not solely get unbelievable 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 house 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 (resembling kayaking or taking a river cruise).

11. Eat your approach by the Mexican eateries in Pilsen

The neighborhood of Pilsen was based in 1878 by Czech immigrants, who named the realm 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. At present you may wander the realm, consuming a few of the finest tacos whereas taking within the vibrant avenue artwork.

12. Watch an improv present

The Second Metropolis is without doubt 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 lower their enamel. They placed on common performances and in addition host every kind of particular occasions. They even host workshops and courses if you wish to give improv a strive your self. Simply be sure you get your tickets upfront as the most well-liked exhibits promote out quick.

230 W North Ave, (312) 337-3992, secondcity.com. Performances are held day by day so examine 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 website, nevertheless it has additionally been a jail for draft dodgers throughout World Conflict II, a Naval coaching middle, and a brief 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 if in case you have children).

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

14. Catch a recreation at Wrigley Area

House of the Cubs, Wrigley Area, on Chicago’s North Facet, is smack in the midst of city. It additionally occurs to be one of many oldest baseball stadiums in the USA (it opened in 1914). In the event 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 recreation. It’s one of the crucial intimate and atmospheric baseball stadiums within the nation. If the Cubs usually are not on the town, it’s also possible to 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 range relying on the season (examine the web site for availability). Tour admission is $30 USD. Tickets to see a recreation range enormously however begin at simply $10 USD (for higher seats at a preferred recreation, anticipate to spend nearer to $80-125 USD).

15. Feast in Chinatown

Convey your urge for food to Chinatown, the place you may feast on low cost dim dum, do karaoke, or chill out 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-Individuals 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 without doubt one of the finest locations to be on March seventeenth, St. Patrick’s Day. To honor its giant 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 chargeable for the inexperienced river every year, although it gained’t expose 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 revel in. This is without doubt one of the largest days of the 12 months right here!

17. Discover Oz Park

This whimsical little park, situated 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 needed 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 house referred to 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 day by day 6am-11pm. Admission to the park is free.


Chicago doesn’t get the eye it deserves. I believe it’s enjoyable and excellent 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 house, and a few nice eats, Chicago ought to be on each traveler’s checklist!

Ebook Your Journey to Chicago: Logistical Ideas and Methods

Ebook 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 all the time know no stone is left unturned.

Ebook Your Lodging
You possibly can e-book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they constantly return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low cost lodges.

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

Searching for the Finest Firms to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the perfect corporations to make use of while you journey. I checklist all those I exploit to economize after I’m on the street. They’ll prevent cash while you journey too.

Need Extra Data on Chicago?
Be sure you go to our strong vacation spot information on Chicago for much more planning ideas!

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