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The 12 Greatest 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 | Could thirteenth, 2024

Famously referred to as “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 the town has a very wealthy historical past. I feel extra folks 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 suppose you may actually beat Chicago in the summertime.)

That can assist you plan your go to, right here’s my checklist of one of the best 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 a good 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 the town. You’ll get to see lots of the coolest buildings within the metropolis whereas additionally studying concerning the historical past of Chicago. The tour lasts just a few 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 instances in Chicago’s historical past. Even in the event you’re not a historical past buff like me, you’ll get lots out of it.

2. Calm down 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. Folks play chess right here when the climate is good and, throughout the summer season, there are quite a lot 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 way 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 way of the park or simply chilling right here with e book on a pleasant day.

3. Absorb some artwork on the Artwork Institute of Chicago

The 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 world wide. Situated in Grant Park, the museum has just a few 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 needs to be it. Anticipate to spend just a few 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 nearly to your self.

111 S Michigan Ave, (312) 443-3600, 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 wonderful structure on a river cruise

Chicago is an structure lover’s dream. The easiest approach to absorb its famed buildings is by way of a river cruise. This fashion, you may sit again and cruise down the canals whereas an skilled information offers context for what you’re taking a look at. The guides provides you with an in depth historical past of the structure. A number of the buildings you’ll see on the boat trip 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 constructions 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 Avenue is thought for its upscale designer boutiques. Actually, lease right here is the third highest within the US (after Fifth Avenue in New York Metropolis and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills). Even in the event you don’t need to blow your price range 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 sights alongside the way in which too, together with the 360 Chicago Remark Deck for expansive views over the town (extra on this under).

6. Go to the Shedd Aquarium

In case you’re visiting the 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’ll be able to even pay additional to do issues like feed penguins and sharks, they usually additionally host every kind of enjoyable night occasions (equivalent to stay music after hours). I completely love coming right here. Simply be sure to e book your ticket prematurely as they do get busy and promote out!

To beat the crowds, skip the weekend and go to throughout the week as an alternative. 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, Open 9am-5pm Monday-Friday (9pm on Tuesdays), 9am-6pm Saturday, and 11am-6pm on Sundays. Tickets begin at $37 USD. Admission may also be included with the Chicago CityPASS.

7. Absorb some pure historical past on the Area Museum

The exterior of the popular Field Museum in sunny Chicago, USA
In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition (also called the Chicago World’s Honest) occurred within the Windy Metropolis to rejoice the four-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492. The honest displayed some unimaginable artifacts from world wide, notably within the Columbian Museum of Chicago, which showcased anthropological and organic collections. After the honest was over, organizers puzzled what to do with all of it. So, the Columbian Museum turned the Area Museum, named after benefactor Marshall Area, a division retailer mogul, and the whole lot remained on show.

One of many greatest museums on the planet, the Area homes intensive collections spanning anthropology, geology, botany, and zoology. Some necessary 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 at the very least 3-4 hours to essentially take all of it in.

1400 S. Dusable Lake Shore Drive, (312) 922-9410, Open day by 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 shocking view at 360 Chicago Remark Deck

Chicago is a skyscraper metropolis, together with just a few slightly iconic towers. Situated atop what was previously referred to as the John Hancock Constructing and now (uninspiringly) known as 875 N. Michigan, the 360-degree viewing deck a thousand ft up and permits guests to get one of the best view of the Windy Metropolis and Lake Michigan. You’ll be able to 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 wish extra than simply the view, join Tilt. This a part of the remark 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 under.

Simply be sure to verify 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, Open day by 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, USA
If there’s one meals Chicago has turn 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), but it surely’s one thing you need to strive when you’re right here.

In case you actually need 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 Avenue, the 1.25-mile Riverwalk alongside the Chicago River makes for a enjoyable stroll. Alongside the way in which, you’ll not solely get improbable 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 proper place to decelerate and benefit from the second on this Midwestern metropolis, however in the event you desire a extra energetic expertise, there are additionally plenty of aquatic actions right here too (equivalent to kayaking or taking a river cruise).

11. Eat your approach by way of 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 as we speak Pilsen is Chicago’s fundamental Latino neighborhood, notably Mexicans from the Michoacán area. Immediately you may wander the realm, consuming among the greatest 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 minimize their tooth. They placed on common performances and in addition host every kind of particular occasions. They even host workshops and lessons if you wish to give improv a strive your self. Simply make sure you get your tickets prematurely as the most well-liked reveals promote out quick.

230 W North Ave, (312) 337-3992, Performances are held day by 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, USA
This 3,300-foot-long (1,010-meter) pier on the shore of Lake Michigan began off as a transport web site, but it surely has additionally been a jail for draft dodgers throughout World Warfare II, a Naval coaching middle, and a brief college campus. Since 1995, it has reopened to the general public in its present kind and has turn into a kind of carnival. It’s Chicago’s second-most visited vacationer attraction (after “The Bean”) and incorporates some rides, a Ferris wheel, plenty of eating places, a Shakespeare theater, boat excursions, a lot of beer gardens, mini-golf, and extra! It’s place to have some foolish enjoyable (particularly when you have youngsters).

600 E Grand Ave, (312) 595-7437, Open Sunday-Thursday 11am-8pm and Friday-Saturday 11am-9pm (particular person sights and eating places might 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 Aspect, is smack in the course 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 throughout 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 vital intimate and atmospheric baseball stadiums within the nation. If the Cubs aren’t on the town, you can too take a 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium.

1060 W Addison St, (773) 404-2827, Tour dates and instances differ relying on the season (verify the web site for availability). Tour admission is $30 USD. Tickets to see a recreation differ drastically however begin at simply $10 USD (for higher seats at a well-liked recreation, anticipate to spend nearer to $80-125 USD).

15. Feast in Chinatown

Deliver your urge for food to Chinatown, the place you may 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 maintain a watch out for colourful murals across the neighborhood. A few of my favourite locations listed here 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 celebrations
Subsequent to Eire, Chicago is without doubt one of the greatest locations to be on March seventeenth, St. Patrick’s Day. To honor its massive Irish-American inhabitants, the 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, but it surely 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 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 without doubt one of the greatest 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 creator of The Wizard of Oz. He lived within the space on the finish of the nineteenth century, and when the town needed to renovate the park they determined to take action in a approach that honored Baum’s well-liked 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 well-liked 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 feel it’s enjoyable and excellent for a weekend getaway. And you actually can’t beat the summers right here both. With plenty of attention-grabbing museums, loads of inexperienced area, and a few nice eats, Chicago needs to be on each traveler’s checklist!

Guide Your Journey to Chicago: Logistical Ideas and Methods

Guide 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.

Guide Your Lodging
You’ll be able to e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the largest stock and greatest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use as they persistently return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low cost resorts.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances previously. My favourite firms that provide one of the best service and worth are:

In search of the Greatest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for one of the best firms to make use of while you journey. I checklist all those I take advantage of to economize after I’m on the street. They’ll prevent cash while you journey too.

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

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