The 12 Finest 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 generally known as “the Second Metropolis” (which means second in inhabitants to New York), I really feel like Chicago is commonly neglected by vacationers. It sees a fraction of the guests LA and NYC obtain, which is a disgrace, because it’s certainly one 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 folks ought to go to.

Certain, the winters are brutal. However, come spring, Chicago blossoms right into a dynamic city panorama of road 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 record of the very 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 an effective way to see the primary sights, get the lay of the land, and join with an professional 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 just a few hours. Remember to tip the information on the finish!

For a extra distinctive tour, attempt 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 when you’re not a historical past buff like me, you’ll get so much out of it.

2. Loosen up in Grant and Millennium Parks

Positioned 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 sweet and, through the summer time, there are lots 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 via November, the Chicago Cultural Middle hosts strolling excursions specializing in the artwork of Millennium Park. It’s actually fascinating. I really like strolling via the park or simply chilling right here with a very good ebook 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. Positioned 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 the event 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 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 just about 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). Day by 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 perfect manner 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 professional information gives context for what you’re taking a look at. 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 constructions to see on this fascinating tour, and I promise, it’s way more fascinating than it sounds!

5. Stroll down the Magnificent Mile

Usually nicknamed “Magazine Mile,” this stretch alongside Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Avenue is thought 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 folks, 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 Statement Deck for expansive views over town (extra on this under).

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 be taught a ton whilst you roam the totally different exhibitions. You’ll be able to even pay further to do issues like feed penguins and sharks, they usually additionally host all types of enjoyable night occasions (similar to reside music after hours). I completely love coming right here. Simply make sure that to ebook your ticket upfront 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, 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. Soak up some pure historical past on the Discipline 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) befell within the Windy Metropolis to rejoice the four-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492. The truthful displayed some unimaginable artifacts from all over the world, notably within the Columbian Museum of Chicago, which showcased anthropological and organic collections. After the truthful was over, organizers questioned what to do with all of it. So, the Columbian Museum grew to become the Discipline Museum, named after benefactor Marshall Discipline, a division retailer mogul, and every little thing remained on show.

One of many greatest museums on the planet, the Discipline homes intensive collections spanning anthropology, geology, botany, and zoology. Some essential collections embody the shows of taxidermied animals, a wing devoted to astronomy, and engaging 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). Fundamental 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 surprising view at 360 Chicago Statement Deck

Chicago is a skyscraper metropolis, together with just a few relatively 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 very 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, a neighborhood brewery.

In the event 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 wanting immediately down on the road, 94 flooring under.

Simply make sure that to test the climate earlier than you go so you’ll even have a view to get pleasure from. 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 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 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 attempt whilst 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 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 right place to decelerate and benefit from the second on this Midwestern metropolis, however when you favor a extra lively expertise, there are additionally plenty of aquatic actions right here too (similar to kayaking or taking a river cruise).

11. Eat your manner via 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 immediately Pilsen is Chicago’s major Latino neighborhood, significantly Mexicans from the Michoacán area. In the present day you may wander the realm, consuming among the finest tacos whereas taking within the vibrant road 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 reduce their tooth. They placed on common performances and in addition host all types of particular occasions. They even host workshops and lessons if you wish to give improv a attempt your self. Simply you’ll want to get your tickets upfront as the preferred reveals promote out quick.

230 W North Ave, (312) 337-3992, Performances are held each day so test 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 web site, 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 into a form 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 a very good place to have some foolish enjoyable (particularly you probably have children).

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 might 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 Discipline

Residence of the Cubs, Wrigley Discipline, 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 US (it opened in 1914). In the event you’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 one of the crucial intimate and atmospheric baseball stadiums within the nation. If the Cubs are usually not on the town, you too can 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 (test the web site for availability). Tour admission is $30 USD. Tickets to see a recreation fluctuate tremendously 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 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-Individuals within the USA. Don’t miss Ping Tom Memorial Park, and preserve 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 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 massive 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, 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 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 luxuriate 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 creator 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 manner that honored Baum’s fashionable ebook.

There’s a playground named after Dorothy, a inexperienced area referred to as the “Emerald Gardens,” and quite a few life-size statues of fashionable 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 area, and a few nice eats, Chicago needs to be on each traveler’s record!

E book Your Journey to Chicago: Logistical Suggestions 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 at all times know no stone is left unturned.

E book Your Lodging
You’ll be able to ebook 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 as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low cost resorts.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to 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 instances up to now. My favourite firms that supply the very best service and worth are:

Searching for the Finest Firms to Save Cash With?
Try my useful resource web page for the very best firms to make use of while you journey. I record all those I take advantage of to economize after I’m on the highway. They’ll prevent cash while you journey too.

Need Extra Data on Chicago?
Remember to go to our strong vacation spot information on Chicago for much more planning suggestions!

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