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

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

Famously generally known 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 considered one of my favourite cities on the earth.

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 extremely wealthy historical past. I believe extra individuals ought to go to.

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

That can assist you plan your go to, right here’s my record of the most effective 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 the town. You’ll get to see lots of the coolest buildings within the metropolis whereas additionally studying in regards to the historical past of Chicago. The tour lasts a couple of hours. You should definitely tip the information on the finish!

For a extra distinctive tour, attempt 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 instances in Chicago’s historical past. Even for those who’re not a historical past buff like me, you’ll get so much out of it.

2. Calm down in Grant and Millennium Parks

Positioned downtown, these gigantic parks present an excellent place to hang around, have a picnic, or go for a run. Individuals play chess right here when the climate is good and, through the summer season, there are plenty of free live shows 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 fascinating. I like strolling by way of the park or simply chilling right here with a superb guide 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 around the globe. Positioned in Grant Park, the museum has a couple 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. For those who’re going to go to at least one museum in Chicago, this needs to be it. Count on to spend a couple of hours as a result of the gathering is so massive.

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). Each day excursions (included within the value of your ticket) are provided at 1pm and 3pm.

4. Admire superb structure on a river cruise

Chicago is an structure lover’s dream. The perfect method to absorb its famed buildings is through a river cruise. This manner, you’ll be able to sit again and cruise down the canals whereas an skilled information supplies context for what you’re taking a look at. The guides provides you with 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 fascinating 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, hire right here is the third highest within the US (after Fifth Avenue in New York Metropolis and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills). Even for those who don’t wish to blow your finances procuring, 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 points of interest alongside the way in which too, together with the 360 Chicago Commentary Deck for expansive views over the town (extra on this beneath).

6. Go to the Shedd Aquarium

For those who’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 study a ton whilst you roam the completely different exhibitions. You may even pay further to do issues like feed penguins and sharks, and so they additionally host all types of enjoyable night occasions (comparable to dwell music after hours). I completely love coming right here. Simply be certain to guide your ticket prematurely as they do get busy and promote out!

To beat the crowds, skip the weekend and go to through the week as a substitute. Additionally, attempt to go to proper when it opens (particularly Wednesday-Friday). It’s often 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 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 a good time the four-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492. The honest displayed some unimaginable artifacts from around the globe, 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 all the pieces remained on show.

One of many greatest museums on the earth, 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 historic 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, Open each day 9am-5pm (final admission is at 4pm). Primary admission is $30 USD. Particular exhibitions are an extra cost (which varies), although you may get an all-access cross for $43 USD.


8. Get a shocking view at 360 Chicago Commentary Deck

Chicago is a skyscraper metropolis, together with a couple of slightly iconic towers. Positioned atop what was previously generally known as 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 most effective view of the Windy Metropolis and Lake Michigan. You may even seize a pint on the Cloud Bar, which serves beer from Moody Tongue, a neighborhood brewery.

For those who’re a thrill seeker and wish extra than simply the view, join Tilt. This a part of the remark deck is the place you’ll be able to stand in entrance of a glass window, which then tilts ahead, till it seems you’re wanting instantly down on the avenue, 94 flooring beneath.

Simply be certain 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 each 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, USAA delicious deep-dish pizza made in the Chicago style in Chicago, USA
If there’s one meals Chicago has turn out to be 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 often an enormous fan of deep-dish (I like NYC pizza higher), but it surely’s one thing you must attempt whilst you’re right here.

For those who actually wish 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 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 for those who favor a extra energetic expertise, there are additionally plenty of aquatic actions right here too (comparable to kayaking or taking a river cruise).

11. Eat your method by way of the Mexican eateries in Pilsen

The neighborhood of Pilsen was based in 1878 by Czech immigrants, who named the world after the fourth-largest metropolis within the Czech Republic, the place pilsner beer was born. The Czechs could also be gone now, however in the present day Pilsen is Chicago’s predominant Latino neighborhood, notably Mexicans from the Michoacán area. Right now you’ll be able to wander the world, consuming a few of the finest tacos whereas taking within the vibrant avenue artwork.

12. Watch an improv present

The Second Metropolis is likely 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 enamel. They placed on common performances and in addition host all types of particular occasions. They even host workshops and courses if you wish to give improv a attempt your self. Simply remember to get your tickets prematurely as the most well-liked reveals promote out quick.

230 W North Ave, (312) 337-3992, Performances are held each 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, 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 delivery website, but it surely 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 turn out to be a kind of carnival. It’s Chicago’s second-most visited vacationer attraction (after “The Bean”) and accommodates some rides, a Ferris wheel, plenty of eating places, a Shakespeare theater, boat excursions, numerous beer gardens, mini-golf, and extra! It’s a superb place to have some foolish enjoyable (particularly if in case you have youngsters).

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

14. Catch a recreation at Wrigley Area

Residence of the Cubs, Wrigley Area, on Chicago’s North Aspect, is smack in the midst of city. It additionally occurs to be one of many oldest baseball stadiums in america (it opened in 1914). For those who’re in Chicago through 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 some of the intimate and atmospheric baseball stadiums within the nation. If the Cubs usually are not on the town, you may as well take a 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium.

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

15. Feast in Chinatown

Deliver your urge for food to Chinatown, the place you’ll be able to feast on low-cost dim dum, do karaoke, or loosen up 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 a watch 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 likely one of the finest locations to be on March seventeenth, St. Patrick’s Day. To honor its giant 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 remains to be accountable for the inexperienced river every year, although it gained’t disclose 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 likely 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 writer 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 method that honored Baum’s standard guide.

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 each 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 plenty of fascinating museums, loads of inexperienced house, and a few nice eats, Chicago needs to be on each traveler’s record!

E-book Your Journey to Chicago: Logistical Ideas and Tips

E-book 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.

E-book Your Lodging
You may guide your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace apart from a hostel, use as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost motels.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield 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 prior to now. My favourite corporations that provide the most effective service and worth are:

In search of the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most effective corporations to make use of whenever you journey. I record all those I exploit to save cash after I’m on the highway. They’ll prevent cash whenever you journey too.

Need Extra Data on Chicago?
You should definitely go to our sturdy vacation spot information on Chicago for much more planning suggestions!

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