Often known as the ‘’Windy City’’, it dwelled on the banks of Lake Michigan. This city draws people from all over the world because of its active arts scene, various cultural activities, superb shopping, and intriguing architecture. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of interesting and fun things to do in Chicago.
With the likes of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mir, Dubuffet, and Chagall leaving their marks, Chicago has gained a name as a major hub for 20th-century architecture and art.
The city also has a lot to offer in terms of sports There’s Chicago Bears which represents American football, the Chicago White Sox & Cubs in baseball, and the Chicago Bulls in basketball.
Last but not least, there are gorgeous beaches that stretch down the coastline and attract crowds of sunbathers in the summer.
See our list of the top attractions and things to do in Chicago for a comprehensive look at where to go.
1. Explore Chicago’s Cocktail Scene
One of the fun activities in Chicago is exploring crafty beverages. No trip to Chicago is complete without a drink at one of the classic venues. The Violet Hour is credited with being the birthplace of craft cocktails there.
To determine whether a bar is open for business, look for a yellow light at the entrance. As soon as you enter, the room is dark and quiet due to the presence of an upscale cocktail bar hidden behind tall velvet curtains. To ensure entry, keep your phone on mute and dress as if you’re meeting friends and family.
Add Lady Bird and The Drifter to your list if you can’t get enough of Chicago’s speakeasies.
The Drifter is housed in the historic Green Door Tavern in River North, which is the oldest bar in the area. Locate the door behind a bookcase on the way to the restroom. The best part, every hour, a vaudeville performance takes place.
Lady Bird is located in the basement of the Hoxton in the West Loop. A 1960s glam vibe permeates the dimly lit club, which plays live jazz, soul, and rock music Thursday through Saturday.
2. Signature Lounge Offers Chicago’s Greatest Views
What to do in Chicago to get an amazing view of the city? Here are the greatest views of the city skyline at Signature Lounge, which is the city’s worst-kept secret. And best of all, it is free.
Take the elevator to the 96th floor of 875 North Michigan Avenue and get a – albeit pricey – beverage while taking in the views from 1000 feet above the ground. Kids aren’t allowed in the lounge after 7 o’clock, but it’s much more amazing at night. Brace yourself for a large crowd.
3. Take a Look at the SkyDeck at Willis Tower
The 110-story Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower, was the world’s highest office building until 1996 when the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur were erected.
Despite the fact that there are now a number of taller structures, the view from this location is breathtaking.
It gives a glimpse of a bird’s eye view of Chicago’s striking architecture and is one of the best things to see in Chicago.
The Willis Tower took three years to build and was completed in 1974. The structure is 1,453 feet tall, featuring a SkyDeck observation platform on the 103rd level, 1,353 feet above the ground.
4. Tour the Chicago Art Institute
The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-class museum containing hundreds of thousands of works of art and is among the top places to visit in Chicago. The extensive collection, which spans thousands of years, features paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, architectural drawings, and more.
The Institute is well-known for its collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. You can find famous artworks of notable artists like Georges Seurat, Renoir, Claude Monet, and more.
The main building was designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge in the beaux-arts style. It was built for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.
Over the years, additional structures were erected, and the complex now has 400,000 square feet of space.
5. Discover the Magic of Chicago
Chicago is home to four of the industry’s most notable magicians. The primary, Midwest Magic is the world’s largest magic shop and is located in the nearby neighborhood of Franklin Park.
It seems to make sense that the city has evolved into a center for the booming magic scene, and is one of the fun activities to do in Chicago.
The lavish Palmer House Hilton in the Loop is hosting a private magic show with third-generation magician Dennis Watkins. Dress to impress as cocktail wear is suggested. Go to the Chicago Magic Lounge in the north if you want something more relaxed.
The entrance is disguised as a laundromat, in typical magical flair. A wall of washers opens to expose a host eager to direct you to an auditorium show or the bar. It is where the bartenders dish out magic tricks alongside refreshments.
6. Enjoy Pilsen’s Street Art and Murals
The Pilsen district is renowned for its murals, which can be seen for free and on foot and cover churches, schools, and cafes, and is one of the best activities in Chicago.
The railroad embankment on 16th Street is especially rich, with 50 pieces by local and foreign artists covering a 1.5-mile stretch between Wood and Halsted Streets.
Murals cover the walls and steps of 18th Street station, making the entire building a work of art. A few streets southwest of the station is the home of muralist Hector Duarte. His most stunning work Gulliver in Wonderland is on the display here.
7. Check out the Water Show at Buckingham Fountain
One of the largest fountains in the world, the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain was constructed in 1927 as a family bequest.
The central fountain, designed in the renowned Art Deco style of the time, is encircled by four seahorses representing Lake Michigan’s four neighboring states.
The fountain is activated hourly from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., spraying 15,000 gallons of water through over 200 nozzles per minute to produce an amazing spectacle.
The water show is supplemented by lights after sunset and is a must-do in Chicago to enjoy your evenings.
Grant Park, a sizable public area in Chicago that houses numerous attractions such as Millennium Park is centered around the fountain.
Museum Campus, which houses the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium, is one of the park’s most popular tourist attractions.
Many gardens and recreational amenities are in Grant Park, which also holds events like music and food festivals.
8. Explore Millennium Park on Foot
Millennium Park is part of Grant Park, which is located in downtown Chicago.
It is aesthetically juxtaposed in the heart of the city and is flanked by Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the north, and Monroe Street to the south.
Its centerpiece is a 110-ton artwork called Cloud Gate with a polished, mirror-like stainless steel surface that is modeled like liquid mercury. It mirrors the environment, including the sky, the surrounding structures, and the tourists passing under its main arch. And, it is one of the best things to do in downtown Chicago.
Crown Fountain, is a stunning modern rendition of the old goblin. It provides the effect of water gushing from the mouths of projected pictures of Chicago residents, which is another major attraction in Millennium Park.
Other popular activities in the area include seeing a performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue, and visiting Lurie Garden, which is free to the public all year.
This part of the city is an ideal place to base yourself because it’s close to many of the major attractions and offers fantastic shopping.
9. Enjoy a Show at the Chicago Theater
It’s tough to miss this gorgeous Chicago landmark with its distinctive sign and stunning façade. The façade of the structure, built in 1921, was inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, with stained glass and an extravagant neon sign, and is one of the top places to visit in Chicago.
The interior has French Baroque architecture influenced by Versailles’ palace.
Before entering the seven-story-high theater, visitors will encounter a majestic foyer with intricate decorations and a sweeping staircase.
Even if you are unable to attend an exhibit, be sure to arrange a tour to get a closer look.
The theater today features a range of theatrical performances by well-known performers, including musicians and comedians. The Second City, located on North Wells Street, hosts live comedy events every night if you’d like a smaller setting. Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Steve Carrell, and a host of other well-known comedians have all performed on this stage at the beginning of their careers.
10. Visit Wrigley Field or Watch a Game There
The only older Major League Baseball stadium in the US after Fenway Park in Boston is Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, which opened its doors in 1914.
You may find a sporting event going on any given day, with spectators packing arenas, stadiums, and pubs to support their favorite athletes, and is one of the best places to go in Chicago.
Chicago is one of the select towns with a lengthy history of championships, so don’t miss out on the magic.
The press box, field, and dugouts may all be seen on in-season ballpark tours, which are available even on days when there isn’t a game.
11. The Observation Deck at the Chicago 360 is a Sight to Behold
360 Chicago is an observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center office building. The Building is easily identifiable by its dark metallic appearance and cross-braced steel architecture that goes up the outside of the structure.
Views of the Chicago skyline and beyond can be seen from the spacious, glass-walled observation deck, and is one of the cool activities to do in Chicago today.
Located more than 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile, the deck’s newest feature, “Tilt,” provides visitors with a beautiful perspective of the metropolis. The finest feature is the angle at which it turns to face the glass enclosure, allowing a straight-down view.
The rest of the structure houses a variety of stores, offices, and apartments. It also has a multimedia exhibit on the first floor which offers displays on the city’s folklore alongside the construction of the John Hancock Building.
12. Take a Stroll Around Navy Pier
The Navy Pier was originally opened in 1916 as a shipping terminal and amusement park. Today it is one of Chicago’s most well-known tourist attractions.
The Navy Pier presently covers 50 acres and is home to gardens, sightseers, shops, eateries, concert venues, and parks.
Navy Pier Park has an antique carousel as well as a 150-foot Ferris wheel.
Another option for visitors is to visit Crystal Gardens, a one-acre, six-story indoor nature preserve.
You may also see a movie in the 3D Imax and catch a classic play at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
The Chicago Children’s Museum is also nearby.
The Chicago Festival is one of many events held on the Pier every month of the year. Cruise ships depart from here on numerous tourist trips.
13. Attend Local Comedy Shows
Stand-up comedy was created fifty years ago when a group of comedians started putting on purposefully unstructured sketches in a Chicago pub.
Although Second City continues to produce the greatest in the business, Chicago also hosts several other improv theaters that also operate on booze-fueled recommendations from the audience.
Powerhouse drama groups like Hollywood star-studded Steppenwolf and a tonne of fringey, provocative “off-Loop” groups, such as The Neo-Futurists are among the city’s 200 theaters.
14. Enjoy Local Shopping in Chicago Communities
Chicago is made up of vibrant neighborhoods. To truly experience the city as a native, leave the Loop, avoid Michigan Avenue, and patronize local businesses that reflect the city’s authentic composition flair.
The North Side neighborhood of Andersonville is historically Swedish. The Clark Street corridor between Foster and Bryn Mawr is lined with vintage boutiques that scream Wes Anderson. The Wicker Park and Bucktown cater to local hipsters and young families.
Continue south to Little Village, a large Mexican community that serves as the city’s highest shopping zone. Visit Comercio Popular to shop from unique artists and catch events brought directly from Mexico.
Finish your retail trip in Hyde Park, which is home to Michelle and Barack Obama. This Black-owned retailer, The Silver Room, is great stuff to do in Chicago. It offers a variety of items that highlight the Black culture and Black craftsmen.
15. Visit the Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History, formerly known as the Columbian Museum of Chicago, was founded in 1893.
It houses the zoological and anthropological collections amassed for the World Columbian Exposition. The name was changed in 1905 to recognize Marshall Field, a supporter of the museum and one of its operators.
The collection contains about 20 million artifacts and specimens from a range of fields, including archaeology, botany, paleontology, and geoscience. Special mention should be made of “Sue,” the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in the world. It makes it one of the top places to go in Chicago.
It also features ongoing exhibits on Ancient Egypt and the cultures of North, Central, and South America. Throughout the year, there are special rotating exhibits.
16. Adler Planetarium Invites You to Aim for the Stars
The Adler Planetarium is far superior to the ones most children see on school vacations, and people of all ages will enjoy the performances and displays it has to offer.
Built-in 1930 on the edge of Lake Michigan, The Adler was the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, and among the best things to see in Chicago.
The planetarium has two dome theaters that host a range of shows, including explorations of Chicago’s night sky, the solar system, and the moon.
There is also a wide variety of exhibitions that cover a wide range of subjects, such as astrology, meteors, life on other planets, space exploration, and the history of science.
There are also various displays honoring the achievements of disadvantaged communities, such as female, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ astronomers. An amazing exhibit highlights the significance of Islamic astronomers’ contributions and how their research benefited the faith and the globe. There are also collections of historical astronomy objects, including numerous antique and prehistoric sundials and telescopes.
While there, make time for the Skyline Walk around the perimeter, which is the greatest site to photograph the city on a boat excursion.
17. Watch the Nighttime Shows on Art on the Mart
One of the weirdest things to do in Chicago at night is attending the Art on the Mart extravaganza. A surreal light show projected twice a night for 30 minutes on the world’s largest commercial structure.
What’s even better is that it will do so without costing you a dime. The spring 2022 season runs from April to June, with presentations at 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. Check the website for showtimes for the rest of the year.
18. Walk through Chicago Riverwalk and Lakefront Trail
The Chicago River runs through the city’s heart, parallel to the lakeshore, and is notable for its numerous movable bridges. There are 18 bridges in just two miles, and they can all accommodate big boats.
The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum allows visitors to see one of the city’s most recognizable bridges up close. Here you can even see the gears turn as the bridge moves, and is one of the unique things to do in Chicago.
A number of river tours and cruises leave from the Riverwalk, which also houses a wide variety of food establishments and hosts special events all year long.
The fully paved Lakefront Trail stretches 18 miles from 71st Street on the South Side to Ardmore Street on the North Side. It offers stunning views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan.
There are beaches along its length, and it is accessible to both pedestrians and vehicles propelled by humans. Along the walk are numerous popular city landmarks, such as Soldier Field, Lincoln Park, and Navy Pier.
19. Stroll or Shop at the US’s Most Attractive Boulevards – Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile
Michigan Avenue is one of America’s most beautiful boulevards. The city’s well-known Magnificent Mile is a stretch of Michigan Avenue. It has famous art galleries, chic boutiques, and high-end stores.
The John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building, and the Tribune Tower are among the attractions along this stretch. Madison Street marks where Michigan Avenue divides into its North and South directions. This neighborhood is also famous for its theaters, which house touring plays, musicals, and comic acts.
20. The Museum of Science and Industry is a Sight to Behold
The Museum of Science and Industry is undoubtedly the most impressive museum in Chicago. It is located in the northernmost portion of Jackson Park and was founded in 1933.
It focuses on the use of natural laws in the advancement of technology and industry.
The museum is credited with introducing the concept of “hands-on” exhibits for the first time in the United States.
The lots of exhibits are open for interaction and are one of the best things to do in Chicago, Illinois. The MSI has both ongoing and one-time exhibits, as well as an OMNIMAX theater.
Best Places to Eat in Chicago
The top restaurants in Chicago come in various shapes and sizes, from pizza places and Michelin-starred giants to some of the city’s best affordable lunches.
The cuisines are as diverse, with dishes from Korea, Mexico, Italy, the Mediterranean, and India representing every region of the world.
Filling up at one of these restaurants is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Chicago, regardless of whether you’re a lifelong resident or just visiting for the weekend. This city’s burgeoning food industry shows no signs of slowing down, so we cut to the chase and selected our essentials—the city’s absolute top restaurants.
Locals will never agree on which Italian beef maker is the greatest, just as they won’t agree on Chicago-style hot dogs or deep-dish pizza. The closest to the agreement is Johnnie’s, a famed eatery that requires a trip to the suburbs. As you wait in line behind regulars, you’ll have plenty of time to choose your meal, but we advise ordering the beef, dipped in jalapeno sauce. To refresh your mouth thereafter, choose lemon Italian ice.
- Address – 7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park, IL 60707
You can order to-go versions of thick homemade burritos, freshly produced salsas, and vividly pink agua fresca. Their sole purpose, however, is to accompany the restaurant’s renowned plates of chopped goat meat. In contrast to other barriers, this one spoons some of the tomato-based stew over the meat after it has been served. At that time, a good dousing of hot sauce, a squeeze of lime, and some onions are all you need for the tastiest tacos in town.
- Address – 4852 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60632
The husband-and-wife team values quality above quantity, so expect a limited menu. However, you can relax knowing that every meal is excellent. The seafood pancake, which includes shrimp, scallops, jalapenos, and spring onions, is delectably crunchy and served with an onion-chili dipping sauce. The yukhoe (Korean beef tartare) can be elevated by adding eggs. You must try the bossam plate, which includes oysters on the half shell, roast pork, pig collar, sauerkraut, and lettuce for making wraps.
- Address – 3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Vito and Nick’s Pizzeria
Vito and Nick’s have been making pizzas in Chicago since 1949. Try their Farm House with a topping of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and black olives. The cracker-thin, tavern-style crust is stuffed with rich red sauce and creamy mozzarella. Stop by for an ice-cold Old Style in the dining room while watching the Bears or Sox game on TV.
- Address – 8433 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60652
Best Places to Stay in Chicago
Chicago, as one of the world’s great cities, has architectural marvels, an award-winning culinary scene, creative museums, and magnificent lakefront views.
The largest city in the Midwest has expanded to include a wide range of intriguing hotels, from small-scale boutiques to extravagant luxury. Business travelers, luxury seekers, families, and tourists of all stripes have access to a wide range of lodging options.
Here are our recommendations for the best Chicago hotels
The Langham, Chicago, is a high-end luxury hotel with a stunning riverfront position and is close to the Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile.
- Address – 330 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Hyatt Centric Chicago
The recently refurbished Hyatt Centric Chicago Magnificent Mile is a more reasonably priced top-end hotel with a fantastic downtown location.
- Address – 633 N St Clair St, Chicago, IL 60611
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel
The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, is in the same class and conveniently located. Travelers can enjoy beautiful views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan from this hotel.
- Address – 221 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60601
The Kinzie Hotel
A modern boutique hotel, The Kinzie Hotel is for both shopping and sightseeing.
- Address – 20 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654