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The 10 best Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Chicago

Chicago is called the “Windy City”, as it is sometimes called, and is located near the shores of Lake Michigan. The City is famous for its vibrant culture, numerous tourist attractions, great shopping and fascinating architecture; this City is a magnet for tourists from all over the U.S. and worldwide.

Chicago is renowned worldwide as a centre of art and architecture from the 20th century, including architects like Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright and artists like Picasso, Miro, Dubuffet and Chagall leaving their marks.

The CityCity has plenty to provide in the athletic arena, with Chicago Bears in football, the Chicago Bears in American football, The Chicago White Sox and Cubs in baseball, and Chicago Bulls in basketball. Chicago Bulls in basketball.

Last but certainly, not least is the stunning beaches that line the shoreline, drawing a plethora of sun-lovers in the summertime.

The decision of which time to go to Chicago could depend on your preferences, especially if you’re planning to attend cultural or sporting occasions. However, the period from spring to autumn is the ideal time to enjoy the temperatures.

For a comprehensive overview of the places to go, check out our top list of places to visit and things to do in Chicago.

1. Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry

On the northern edge of Jackson Park is the Museum of Science and Industry, established in 1933. It is the most impressive of museums in Chicago. It is dedicated to applying natural laws to technological and industrial advancement.

It is believed to be one of the first museums in the U.S. to incorporate the concept of creating “hands-on” exhibits. Visitors are invited to interact with hundreds of shows. The MSI has permanent and rotating exhibits in addition to the OMNIMAX theatre.

Address: 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: http://www.msichicago.org/

2. Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile

Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile
Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile

Michigan Avenue is one of the most beautiful boulevards in America. The famous Magnificent Mile comprises a stretch which runs alongside Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River, with numerous boutiques, galleries and luxury stores.

A few sights along this stretch comprise the John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building, and the Tribune Tower. Michigan Avenue splits between North and South designations at Madison Street. The area is also known for its theatres that stage musicals, touring plays and comedy performances.

Official site: http://www.themagnificentmile.com/

3. Reach for the Stars at Adler Planetarium

Reach for the Stars at Adler Planetarium
Reach for the Stars at Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium is leaps and ways above what youngsters visit during school trips. All age groups will enjoy the shows and the extensive exhibits it provides. The Adler boasts that it is the first planetarium located in the Western Hemisphere, built-in 1930 along the shores of Lake Michigan.

The planetarium has two dome theatres. They provide a range of shows that explore Chicago’s night sky, solar system, and moon. It also offers a collection of exhibits that cover issues like life on other planets, meteorites and meteorites, space exploration, the evolution of science as well as the history of astrology.

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Many exhibitions are devoted to the achievements of marginalized groups, including women, Latinx, LGBTQ and Astronomers. It is worth mentioning an outstanding exhibit that examines the significance of Islamic astronomers’ work and the impact their work had on religion and the world. Additionally, there are a collection of objects from astronomers of the past, such as numerous sundials from the past, both ancient and antique and telescopes.

When you visit, allow enough time to take your Skyline Walk along the perimeter. This is the best location to capture photographs of the City’sCity’s skyline without the hassle of a cruise.

Address: 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: www.adlerplanetarium.org

4. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago

Visit the Art Institute of Chicago
Visit the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is an internationally renowned museum that houses thousands of artefacts. The collection is diverse and spans thousands of years and comprises pieces made from various mediums such as prints, painting, photography, sculpture, and decorative arts, as well as architectural drawings, textiles and much more.

The Institute is famous as a museum that houses post-impressionist and impressionist paintings like Georges Seurat’s The Sunday Evening at La Grande Jatte and the artwork by Renoir in 1879, The Acrobats of The Cirque Fernando, as well as numerous works by Claude Monet.

The main building was designed by Shepley Rutan, Shepley, and Coolidge in the beaux-arts style and was constructed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Several other buildings have been added over time, and the current complex is 400,000 square feet.

Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: http://www.artic.edu/

5. 360 Chicago

360 Chicago
360 Chicago

It is located in the John Hancock Center office building; 360 Chicago is an observation deck located on the 94th level of the John Hancock Building, easy to spot due to its dark metallic exterior and cross-braced steel design that runs along the exterior and inside of the construction. The observation deck, which is large and glass-walled, provides views across Chicago’s skyline.

The more adventurous travellers will enjoy the new deck feature, “Tilt,” which offers visitors a unique perspective from over 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile when they tilt inwards at an angle to gaze straight down through this glass enclosure.

The remainder of the building houses various offices, shops and apartments. There is also an exhibit on the first floor, which contains information about Chicago’s CityCity Chicago and the construction of the John Hancock Building.

Address: 875 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: http://www.360chicago.com/

6. Take in the view From The Willis Tower SkyDeck

Take in the view From The Willis Tower SkyDeck
Take in the view From The Willis Tower SkyDeck

In 1996, when the Petronas Towers were constructed in Kuala Lumpur, the 110 stories Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, was the highest office building in the world. There are now several taller structures. The view from the top of this tower is breathtaking. If you’re lucky, you can see between 40 and 50 miles across four states and get an aerial perspective of Chicago’s stunning architecture.

The Willis Tower took three years to construct and opened to the public in 1974. The tower is 1,453 feet high and has an observation deck, known as the SkyDeck, located on the 103rd level, 1353 feet higher than the ground. A glass box with an open floor, referred to as the Ledge, extends from the SkyDeck, where people can sit and gaze at the CityCity below.

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Address: 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: https://theskydeck.com/

7. Stroll about Navy Pier

Stroll about Navy Pier
Stroll about Navy Pier

The Navy Pier originally opened in 1916 as an amusement park and shipping facility, but it is currently one of Chicago’s well-known tourist destinations. The Navy Pier comprises 50 acres of garden with shops, attractions, restaurants, concert venues, and parks. There’s an oversized Ferris wheel that is 150 feet tall and a historic carousel in Navy Pier Park.

Visitors can also enjoy a film in the 3D Imax Theater or witness actors perform famous classics in Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Chicago Shakespeare Theater and go to Crystal Gardens, a one-acre, six-story, outdoor botanical garden. The museum is also located in The Chicago Children’s Museum. The Pier is home to all year-round celebrations, which include events like the Chicago Festival in August. Cruise ships depart from here for various excursions.

Address: 600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: www.navypier.org

8. Watch the Water Show at Buckingham Fountain

Watch the Water Show at Buckingham Fountain
Watch the Water Show at Buckingham Fountain

The fountain was constructed in 1927 following an inheritance by the family in 1927; the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world. The famous Art Deco style inspired the design; the central fountain is flanked by four seahorses which symbolize Lake Michigan’s four bordering states. From 8 am until eleven pm, the water fountain roars to life regularly, blasting 15,000 gallons of water through around 200 nozzles every minute, creating a spectacular display.

At dusk, the fountain is lit by light shows, which is a must when walking through the area at night. This fountain serves as the main attraction in Grant Park, the City’sCity’s vast public park with a variety of interests, as well as smaller parks, like Millennium Park and Central Park, one of the most popular attractions located in New York City.

The park’s most popular tourist site is the Museum Campus, home to The Field Museum of Natural History, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Grant Park is also home to numerous gardens and recreation facilities. It also is the site of many events, such as food and music festivals.

9. Field Museum of Natural History

Field Museum of Natural History
Field Museum of Natural History

Initially, it was referred to as the Columbian Museum of Chicago; the Field Museum of Natural History was established in 1893 to exhibit the anthropological and biological collections collected in preparation for the World Columbian Exposition. The name was changed in 1905 in honour of Marshall Field, the department store’s owner, patron of the arts and the main patron of the museum.

The collection is permanent and contains around 20 million artefacts and objects from various disciplines, including geology, theology, botany and zoology. The most notable are the permanent exhibits on Ancient Egypt, the multiple cultures that shaped North, Central and South America, and “Sue,” the world’s most giant and complete Tyrannosaurus skull of a rex. Special rotating exhibits run every day all through the year.

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Address: 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: http://fieldmuseum.org/

10. Explore Millennium Park

Explore Millennium Park
Explore Millennium Park

Millennium Park is part of the larger Grant Park located in downtown Chicago and is bordered by Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the north, and Monroe Street to the south. The park’s centrepiece is a sculpture of 110 tons called Cloud Gate, which has a polished mirror-like stainless steel surface created by liquid mercury. It is reflective of the surrounding, including building structures, skies, and visitors who pass through the central arch.

Another popular tourist attraction at Millennium Park is Crown Fountain, a stunning modern take on the ancient gargoyle, which gives the impression of the water flowing out of the mouths of images projected onto the Chicago residents. Other popular attractions in Millennium Park include:

Watching a show at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

An outdoor venue for concerts.

Visiting the Lurie Garden, open to the public for free throughout the year.

The area is located close to many of the main attractions and also a great shopping area. This area in the centre of Chicago is a great location to stay. For lodging suggestions, look through our recommendations for hotels in this region.

Address: 201 East Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois

Official site: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park.html

Where to Stay in Chicago for Sightseeing

The best shopping, sightseeing and dining experiences and the fascinating architecture can be located in Chicago’s downtown, and that’s the place where visitors are most likely to stay. The City’sCity’s central area includes the famed Magnificent Mile and parts of the water that are incredibly well-known during summertime. Below are a few top-rated hotels that are conveniently located.

Luxury Hotels:

The top of high-end hotel range The most luxurious hotel is Langham, Chicago, featuring a stunning riverfront location and within walking distance of The Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, and Navy Pier.

The recently revamped Hyatt Central Chicago Magnificent Mile is a lower-priced luxury hotel with an excellent position in the City’sCity’s central.

In the same class and near all of the above is The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. The hotel has stunning views across Lake Michigan and Millennium Park.

Mid-Range Hotels:

A good area, within walking distance to several of the most important sites and situated within the theatre district, this is Hampton Great Chicago Theater District.

Kinzie Hotel Kinzie Hotel is an acclaimed boutique hotel with a contemporary design and is centrally located for shopping and sightseeing.

It is in a prime area just a few blocks from the Magnificent Mile and The ACME Hotel Company that claims to be “hip” but is also cute and cosy at the same time.

Budget Hotels:

The budget-friendly choices in the city centre are a rarity. The most affordable options are located in the suburbs and require commuting. Two options worth considering can be found at the Majestic Hotel and the dog-friendly Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace Hotel. Both are located in the Lakeview East neighbourhood, north of downtown. Both have complimentary breakfast buffets.

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