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Things to Do in Chicago

You will find several things to do in Chicago loaded with fun, entertainment and knowledge during your trip to this city. The city's magnificent architectural buildings, tall skyscrapers, and beautiful parks will delight you. You can explore the city using the hop-on hop-off big bus, or you can opt to explore on your own as well. If you wish to get an aerial view of the city, you can choose to go for an enjoyable helicopter ride. To add more fun and thrill to your vacation, several options of enjoyable cruises, boat rides, and kayaking rides are also available here. Admire the breathtaking view of Chicago from a high point of Willis Tower Skydeck or the tilted glass windows of 360 Chicago Observation Deck.

There are several things to see in Chicago which exhibit the grandeur of architecture and provide you with the perfect spots to click some memorable pictures. The city has some delightful parks which you will feel happy visiting. The Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park is sure to mesmerize you with its sound and light show, and Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate at Millennium Park will surely make you feel thrilled. Some of the other places to visit are the Brookfield Zoo and Chicago street arts.

In your list of activities to do in Chicago, you must include watching a theater at the famous Chicago Theater. Spend some time in the Escape Room or opt for a session of Indoor skydiving if you are looking for some adrenaline rush. Make your nights in Chicago memorable by going for a night walk in the city or spend some enjoyable time sipping beer at The Beer Garden at Navy Pier.

Here are the best activities to do in Chicago:

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Art Institute Of Chicago
One of the most interesting and unique things to see in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the biggest and oldest museums in the USA. It is situated in Chicago's Grant Park and was established in the year 1879. This museum, which features pieces by notable artists like Grant Wood, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, and more, is one of the top destinations for history fans in Chicago.
Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium is an indoor public aquarium, and one of the best things to see in Chicago, with over 32000 creatures. It was the first aquarium on land to have a steady supply of saltwater fish. Its collection contains 1500 different kinds of fish, birds, insects, snakes, amphibians, and marine animals. The aquarium's permanent displays, including the Caribbean Reef, Waters of the Worlds, Amazon Rising, Abbott Oceanarium, and the Wild Reef, are available for your enjoyment.
Chicago History Museum
One of the best historical attractions in Chicago is the Chicago Historical Museum, which was established in 1856 and was once known as the Chicago Historical Society. It was established with the intention of researching and comprehending Chicago's illustrious past. Here, you can examine the collection's around 22 million items, which cover both Chicago and American history.
Field Museum
The Field Museum of Natural History has established itself as a leader in the field of natural history thanks to its extensive collection of scientific artifacts and models. It is also known for its high caliber of educational and scientific activities. Listed among the best Chicago tourist attractions, know that the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 is where the Field Museum got its start.
Willis Tower

Noted amongst the most unique Chicago tourist attractions, the Willis Tower, one of the world's tallest buildings with 110 stories, was first made available to the public in 1973. The building's Skydeck was first used in 1974, and it underwent renovation in 2009 to include The Ledge. The Ledge has enormous windows that spread outward and provide a sweeping view of the city below. On a clear day, the Skydeck offers views across four states and more than 50 miles.

360 Chicago

The 360 is among the most breathtaking locations in Chicago, and is one of the best Chicago tourist attractions to visit . A viewing platform called Chicago is located on the 94th level of the John Hancock Center. In addition to offering a magnificent view of the Michigan River, Chicago's skyline, and three more neighboring states, it soars over the Michigan River. The Tilt, Chicago's tallest thrill attraction, is available to experience here.

Millenium Park

One of the best places to visit in Chicago, this third millennium public park in Chicago was inaugurated in 2004 and is a well-known civic hub close to Lake Michigan. One of Chicago's most picturesque locations, Millennium Park has been portrayed in a number of films and television series. It is also the site of a number of important events, including the yearly Grand Park Music Festival.

Navy Pier

Counted in top Chicago sightseeing places to visit, Navy pier is one of the most popular destinations in Chicago is this 1010 meter long pier that is situated on the edge of Lake Michigan. Over its 50 hectares, the Navy Pier features a large number of eateries, stores, family attractions, gardens, parks, and exhibition spaces. On Wednesday and Saturday nights, you can take part in the dinner cruises and sightseeing trips that are offered on the pier.

Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk, a multipurpose public space situated on the southern bank of the Chicago River, is one of the busiest locations to visit in Chicago. On foot, you can stroll along the several coves of the riverwalk and admire the city's stunning architecture. You can find historical public art, museums, monuments, seaside cafes, bars, and wineries, among other things.

Cloud Gate

Among the top places to visit in Chicago, a public artwork called Cloud Gate, sometimes referred to as The Bean, is situated atop Park Grill in Chicago's Loop neighborhood. There are no visible seams on the outside of it since it is constructed from stainless steel plates that are welded together. Its surface reflects the city skyline, and liquid mercury served as the design inspiration.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo, a free zoo that exhibits a diverse range of animals, is located just outside of downtown Chicago. There are countless species of animals in this magnificent zoo, including playful meerkats, interesting gorillas and chimps, fearsome lions, black rhinos, wild canines, red wolves, black bears, and pygmy hippos. One of the largest zoo-based conservation projects in the nation is run by the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is renowned for this.

Buckingham Fountain

The Buckingham Fountain, one of the biggest fountains in the world, is situated in the middle of Grant Park. This rococo cake-shaped fountain, which alludes to Lake Michigan, is one of the best things to see in Chicago, with friends and family. The Buckingham Fountain, is one of the top destinations in Chicago for tourists looking for leisure activities, offers daily water presentations as well as light-colored musical performances.

The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile, often known as the Mag Mile or the Mag Mile, is a popular destination in Chicago for lovers and shopaholics alike and is the city's largest shopping district. Along with numerous museums, hotels, and restaurants, this area is home to a number of mid-range and high-end retail stores. Here, you may find a number of renowned and opulent department stores and boutiques, such as Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Tom Ford, Gucci, Prada, Rolex, etc.

Museum Of Science And Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry, a science museum with exhibits on the development of science and industry, is situated in Jackson Park. It is located in the former Palace of Fine Arts, which was once the site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. In the museum, you may see, among other things, a scale model of a coal mine, a railroad, and a German submarine that was seized during World War II.

Wrigley Field

If you are a sports enthusiast, then Wrigley's Field is one of the best places to visit in Chicago with your friends and family. The Chicago Cubs, one of the city's two Major League Baseball organizations, play in this field, which was first established in 1914. This facility, which has a 41649-seat capacity, is also called "The Friendly Confines" and is the oldest in the National League. In the year 2002, this park became a National Historic Landmark.

Oak Street Beach Center

Listed amongst the best Chicago sightseeing places, the Oak Street Beach, which is located on the edge of Lake Michigan, is a well-liked summer destination for both locals and visitors. Renting a chair, a bike, using the facilities, renting a volleyball, etc. are all available here. While you enjoy the stunning city skyline along the beach, you may get food and drinks at this Oak Street Beach cafe.

Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center, which was inaugurated in 1897, serves as the city's official receiving location. It was once a central library before being transformed into an arts and culture center in 1977. The Chicago Cultural Center, one of the most recommended places to visit in Chicago to learn about the wonderful legacy of the city. 

North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach, which is situated in Lincoln Park, is one of Chicago's most well-liked beaches owing to its beach house. Every visitor will find something to appreciate in the beach house's 22000 square feet of open area. A blue and white ocean liner served as inspiration for the architecture of this structure, which offers the greatest view of the city.

Oriental Institute Museum

The University of Chicago's multidisciplinary research hub is the Oriental Institute Museum, founded in 1919. Its huge collection of ancient civilisation artifacts is displayed in public. The museum's holdings of artifacts come from excavations that were carried out in Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. The famous Megiddo Ivories, artifacts from the former Persian capital of Persepolis, and the human-headed winged bull, among others.

Montrose Beach

Montrose Beach, which is close to Uptown, is well-known for providing a range of amenities to visitors, including food stands, restrooms, showers, and places to rent kayaks and volleyballs. On the beach, you may enjoy distance swimming, and if you want to visit a dog-friendly beach, it is only a short distance to the north of Montrose Beach.

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Chicago Things To Do FAQs

What are the best things to do in Chicago?

1. Explore Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain: The beautiful Grant Park must be on your list of things to see in Chicago. Feel mesmerized exploring this 319 acre of greenery often referred to as “Chicago’s front yard” and admire its meticulously manicured grounds. The main attraction of the park is its centerpiece - the Buckingham Fountain, known to be one of the largest fountains in the world. Watch the 20-minute water show in awe and catch your breath while looking at the fountain’s center jet shoots water 150 feet into the air. Head to this magnificent park after sunset to watch the Buckingham Fountain dance with colorful lights to the sound of music.

Location: 337 E. Randolph St.
Timing: 6 AM to 11 PM

2. Visit Millennium Park: Spend some time at Millennium Park, a part of the larger Grant Park. Admire and take your picture in front of its centerpiece, Cloud Gate, a 110-ton sculpture with a polished mirror-like stainless steel surface reflecting its surroundings. Feel fascinated looking at the Crown Fountain, a modern interpretation of an ancient gargoyle with the appearance of water flowing from the mouths of the projected images of the citizens of Chicago. Catch a performance at the outdoor concert venue, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and take a stroll in the Lurie Garden.

Location: 201 East Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
Timings: 8 AM to 9 PM

3. Spend an afternoon at Navy Pier: Spending an afternoon at Navy Pier should be one of the top items on your list of things to do in Chicago. Feel relaxed while listening to live music by the pier or take a cruise in Lake Michigan or the Chicago River. If you are traveling with family, you may love visiting Pier Park and take a ride on the Centennial Wheel. Catch a play at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater or visit Public Art and exhibition. Enjoy visiting the Crystal garden or feel mesmerized looking at the Polk Bros Fountain at Polk Bros Park.

Location: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago IL 60611, United States
Timings: 10 AM to 10 PM

4. Enjoy city view from 360 Chicago Observation Deck: Enjoy a breathtaking view of Chicago's skyline and beyond from 360 Chicago. Include a visit to this observation deck in your list of fun things to do in Chicago. Ride up to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building and feel enchanted while watching the view from the tilted window glass-walled observation deck. If you want to see the best way and feel adventurous, you may tip outward on the window to get the angle at which you can look straight down from the glass enclosure.

Location: 875 North Michigan Avenue, 94th Floor
Timing: 9 AM to 9 PM [Tuesdays & Wednesdays closed]
Price: Adult (12+) : $30; Youth (3-11) : $20; Child (below 3): Free

5. Watch a Show at Chicago Theatre: Your Chicago trip is incomplete without including a visit to the Chicago Theater in your list of 

activities to do in Chicago. You are bound to fall in love with this beautiful landmark with its 20th-century French Baroque architecture stretching up 7 stories. Watch a show at this amazing theater to spend some time in this beautiful place. You can also go on a separate Marquee tour and stand in the lobby and admire the gilded décor of the grand space with crystal chandeliers.

Location: 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601, USA

6. Visit Escape room: Feel excited to be a part of an adventurous game at Escape Room at Chicago. Enter one of the themed escape rooms for 60 minutes and get thrilled looking for clues, solving puzzles and completing your mission to escape in time. Choose from the various themes such as Gold Rush, Mission: Mars, Prison Break, The Heist, etc.

Location: 42 East Ontario Street, Chicago, IL 60611 (N. Wabash Avenue)
Timings: Monday to Sunday 8 AM to 11 PM

7. See Chicago street art: Your list of things to see in Chicago must include seeing Chicago street art. Embark on a Chicago mural tour and stroll through three neighborhoods of the city - Wabash Corridor, Pilsen, and Wicker Park. Admire the street art at Wabash that is a part of a public art project. Feel mesmerized looking at the street art collection at Pilsen that had begun as a cultural touchstone. You may also opt to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art at Pilsen. Discover the hidden art street of Wicker Park and search for its most popular “Welcome to Chicago" mural.

Location: 3 Locations at South Loop (Wabash), Milwaukee Avenue (from Wicker Park to Logan Square), and Pilsen.

8. Visit Brookfield Zoo: Include a visit to the Brookfield Zoo in your list of things to do in Chicago and spend some time with the exotic animals of the Zoo. Feel thrilled while watching the animals from the rainforests, The Savannahs, the deserts, and many more. Children would feel excited while looking at the 40 animatronic dinosaurs placed all around the place. They will feel thrilled while experiencing a close encounter with penguins

Location: 8400 W 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street), Brookfield, IL 60513
Timing:Weekdays: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m ; Weekends(Sat-Sun): 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Price: Adults: $24.95; Seniors 65 and over: $19.95; Children 3 to 11: $17.95;

9. Cruise at Chicago River: Feel enchanted watching the beautiful city of Chicago from the water by including a cruise tour in your list of things to do in Chicago. Being home to two waterfronts - The Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, the city offers several cruising options to its visitors. You may enjoy cruising in a group learning about the city’s iconic landmarks. You may opt for a sunset cruise if you crave to watch the glittering city at night and then have dance and dinner onboard. Romantic couples may find private cruises to be more of their choice.

Location: Lake Michigan & Chicago River

What are the best things to do in Chicago at night?

1. Go Cruising at Night: You may want to enjoy the city lights from the lakefront and include a cruise in your list of things to do in Chicago. You may opt to go for a private sunset sail or go for a group sail with beer, wine, or cider on offer.

2. View the night from the sky: Enjoy an aerial night view of the glittering city from above in a helicopter. Take a look at the city’s landmarks and skyscrapers from above the sky during this tour which is a must-inclusion in the list of activities to do in Chicago.

3. Admire the city from Willis Tower Skydeck: Your list of things to see in Chicago must include a vista of the shimmering city from the top of the Skydeck of the world-famous Willis Tower. Feel an adrenaline rush while looking down to see the sidewalk 1353 feet below from the glass terrace jutting out from the side of the tower.

4. Enjoy a dining experience at 360 Chicago: Feel mesmerized looking at the view of the shining Chicago city from the tilted glass window at 360 Chicago. Enjoy dinner with a breathtaking view at Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of this building.

What are the best romantic things to do in Chicago?

1. Dine on the top of Skyscraper: If you and your loved one crave a romantic sky-high dining experience, you must include a dinner at Signature Lounge on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building, in your list of activities to do in Chicago. Enjoy the romantic settings of the place, dine and drink while watching the twinkling lights of the city below.

2. Sail across Lake Michigan: Go for a romantic sail across Lake Michigan either during the day or in the evening. Include this cruise in your list of things to do in Chicago and admire the city’s famous skylines and architectural wonders from the lakefront while basking in togetherness.

3. Ride a Horse Carriage: Feel yourself being taken in the world of fairytale romance while taking a ride in a horse carriage across the Magnificent Mile. Make it more beautiful by going for a night ride and enjoy the glistering city while cuddling under a blanket.

4. Escape on the Centennial Wheel: Huddle together in a VIP gondola of the iconic Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier and enjoy the city view overlooking Lake Michigan. Enjoy the thrilling view through the glass bottom of the gondola while sitting comfortably in plush seating.

How to reach Chicago?

1. By Air: Chicago is well connected with cities all over the world through its two international airports - O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport.

2. By Road: Chicago is connected via several interstates and highways with various parts of the country.

3. By Bus: Chicago also has several city-to-city bus services.

4. By Train: Chicago’s Union Station connects the city to other US cities by Metra Rail, South Shore Line, and Amtrak.

What is the best time to visit Chicago?

Chicago should be best visited either between April and May or between September and October. During these months, the city enjoys warm weather and has a variety of festivals taking place in the city.

Do we need a visa to visit Chicago?

Yes, you will need a visa along with a valid passport to enter Chicago. However, there is a list of 39 countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program whose citizens do not require a visa.

What is Chicago known for?

Chicago is known as a “Windy City” with the winds from Lake Michigan blowing over the city. It is the third-largest city in the US which has been nicknamed “The City of Neighborhoods” for having many tourist locations in its neighborhood for quick day trips. The city is also known for its skyscrapers and buildings with amazing architecture. You will delight in watching “Willis Tower” the inaugural tallest building in the United States. 

Is Chicago worth visiting?

Yes, Chicago is worth visiting for its art and architecture, views from the Skydeck Chicago or 360 Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and for its plentiful tourist suburb locations. Chicago is also worth a visit for its beer and cheese, its vibrant bars, and its mouth-watering food such as deep-dish pizzas, hot dogs, etc.

How many days should I spend in Chicago?

You can spend 3 days in Chicago to have a blasting vacationing experience. An ideal 3-day itinerary would be as follows:

Day 1: Go for Hop-on hop-off big bus city tours and visit places such as Museum Campus, Navy Pier, Willis Towers, etc. Also visit Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, etc.

Day 2: Visit the Chicago Theatre and take a tour of the whole place. You can also opt to go to the Architecture River Cruise and visit 360 Chicago. Those who love some activity can also go for a bike ride in the Navy Pier area or ride the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel.

Day 3: Reserve Day 3 for visiting Skydeck Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park

Newly Added Chicago Experiences

Chicago Things To Do Reviews

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Wooyeong Kim
Reviewed: 27 Oct 2023
4.0/5
I loved the atmosphere 
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Harry White
Reviewed: 12 Dec 2022
5.0/5
The art collection here is simply astounding, and there are even exhibits on knights and Thorne Miniature Rooms. Grateful to Thrillophilia for this amazing and their hassle-free bookings. Would definitely visit again!
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Drona Nayar
Reviewed: 21 Nov 2022
5.0/5
We got a chance to wallow in hundreds of years at this museum. It is also the second largest museum of the country and we saw some spectacular works of art by the likes of Warhol, Van Gogh, and Hokusai. Even though my wife and I are not great art enthusiasts, what we say swept us completely off our ... Read More
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Imogen Roberts
Reviewed: 08 Nov 2022
5.0/5
Our guide for the aquarium tour was simply the best and told us so many fun facts about the marine animals. Thrillophilia’s instant confirmation of our bookings was a delightful experience too. Highly Recommended to everyone.
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Isaac Patel
Reviewed: 31 Oct 2022
5.0/5
I purchased the Shedd Aquarium tickets from Thrillophilia & got good deals with hassle-free booking. We had a great time exploring the beautiful underwater world.
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Aurora Clarke
Reviewed: 25 Oct 2022
5.0/5
During my last visit to Chicago with my friends, we booked Shedd Aquarium tickets on Thrillophilia and it was a great experience. Kudos to Thrillophilia.

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