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Best Places To Visit In Chicago

Lindsay Santoro2022-08-30

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There are many attractions, landmarks, and notable locations to visit in Chicago that make for incredible sightseeing adventures. There is truly something for everyone, at all ages, to enjoy in the Windy City. This list outlines the best of the best sightseeing locations that will help you decide how to spend your time in Chicago!


OMillennium Park

 


Millennium Park is a part of the larger Grant Park, located in downtown Chicago. At the centre of the park is the 110-ton sculpture by the name of Cloud Gate, also known as the Chicago Bean. The giant sculpture was inspired by liquid mercury and has a polished, reflective stainless steel surface that mirrors the surroundings of the park and the tourists visiting the area- making it perfect for photo-ops!

 

Millennium Park contains more attractions worth checking out as well, such as Crown Fountain, an eccentric modern interpretation of ancient gargoyles that presents large projected images of Chicago citizens with real water flowing from their mouths. More popular activities in the park include seeing a performance at the outdoor concert venue named the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, as well as visiting Lurie Garden, which is a year-round free attraction.


Navy Pier

 

(Photo via @jasoncarterphotos / Instagram)

Originally an amusement area and shipping facility, the Navy Pier is a must-visit tourist attraction in Chicago! The pier is made up of 50 acres of gardens, shops, restaurants, attractions, concert venues, and parks. There are many notable features on the pier, including the 150-foot ferris wheel and the historic carousel in the Navy Pier Park . Other attractions include the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Crystal Gardens, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and plenty of free entertainment such as live music and street performers.

Wrigley Field

 

(Photo via @secret.chicago / Instagram)

Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in the United States, and an absolutely quintessential part of Chicago. The stadium has been home to the Cubs for over a century and is a lively and exciting atmosphere to immerse yourself in while you’re visiting the city. Check out a baseball game during your trip, or, if you’d prefer, you can book a tour of the ballpark which allows you to visit the press box, field, and dugouts if there is no game on the day you’re there.

Field Museum of Natural History

 

(Photo via @fieldmuseum / Instagram)

The Field Museum holds 40 million diverse historical artifacts, making it perfect for anyone interested in science, archaeology, or anthropology, or for those who simply have a thirst for knowledge! There are many exhibits throughout the museum, including topics such as Ancient Egyptian mummies, the science of colour, and millennia-old fossils. They also cover a multitude of disciplines such as geology, botany, and zoology. Make sure you say hello to Sue, the world’s largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton!

Gangsters and Ghosts Tour

 

(Photo via @gangsters_and_ghosts_tour / Instagram)

Go back in time to the intriguing roaring 20s on the Gangsters and Ghosts Tour . A historian will guide you through places throughout Chicago that were infamous gangster hubs, and locations that have a rich history of ghost activity. You will visit such locations as the Chicago Loop, which was home to speakeasies and bootleggers and was frequented by gangsters, as well as haunted sites such as the Palmer House, Congress Hotel, and Death Alley . This attraction will provide you with a unique tour of Chicago by including the perfect mix of historical information and scares.

Shoreline Architecture Cruise

 



What’s better than a guided tour of Chicago? A guided tour of Chicago on a boat! Book a sightseeing tour that includes the Shoreline Architecture Cruise through the Chicago River. This boat ride provides narrated extensive history behind the city’s most infamous landmarks, buildings, and notable monuments - including the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower - all while you bask in a peaceful ride through the river..

Adler Planetarium

 

(Photo via @adlerplanet / Instagram)

Built in 1930 and located on the shore of Lake Michigan, the Adler Planetarium was the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. It contains two dome theatres that offer a variety of shows about Chicago’s night sky, the solar system, the moon, and more. There are also many exhibits that include extensive information on topics such as meteors, space exploration, and the history of astrology and the scientific discipline. The planetarium also offers several exhibits dedicated to the accomplishments of marginalized groups including female, Latinx, and LGTBQ+ astronomers! Check out the many exhibits and artifacts from astronomers past at this fun and educational attraction.

Shedd Aquarium

 

(Photo via @shedd_aquarium / Instagram)

The Shedd Aquarium is a beloved attraction in Chicago that is home to over 32,000 aquatic animals and counting! Observe an array of sea creatures such as penguins, Beluga whales, seahorses, stingrays, and dolphins, view daily shows, take part in VIP animal encounters, and more. Get up close and personal with all sorts of aquatic life as you learn about how they are being protected around the world.

Willis Tower

 



The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower , is 110 stories tall, providing incredible views of the city below. The 103rd floor in particular offers exhilarating sightseeing opportunities for tourists and locals alike. The Skydeck sits on this floor and offers unbelievable views spanning up to four states. An intense option for thrill-seekers is  The Ledge, an enclosed balcony made of glass that allows you to step out of the building and view the city 1353 ft below you. This attraction is sure to make you feel as though you’re on cloud nine.

Chicago Theatre

 



Built in 1921, North State Street’s Chicago Theatre is a dazzling landmark to visit while in the Windy City. The building is impossible to miss with its marquee lights, providing an old Hollywood feel. The front of the building was beautifully designed after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with its stained glass and neon sign, while the interior contains French Baroque architecture that pulls inspiration from the Palace of Versailles. The theatre’s ornate, six-story lobby is sure to impress, alongside the 3,600-seat theatre that offers a constantly changing program of diverse events and concerts such as comedy nights, movie screenings, live music, and Broadway shows. If you want to get a more intimate look at the theatre and its history, behind-the-scenes tours are offered!

CThe Art Institute of Chicago

 

(Photo via artinstitutechi / Instagram)

The Art Institute of Chicago is an essential location to visit to observe spectacular paintings, sculptures, prints, textiles, photography, and more. This museum contains an outstanding collection of artwork, with 300,000 works spanning 5000 years, including pieces from Ancient Greece and Rome, contemporary pieces by Andy Warhol, and numerous paintings by Claude Monet. The main building was designed in beaux-arts style, and was built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The museum hosts approximately 1.5 million people annually and has been named a Top U.S. Attraction of 2022 by TripAdvisor. Don’t miss out on visiting one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world.

Buckingham Fountain

 



Grant Park is home to one of the largest fountains in the world - Buckingham Fountain. This magnificent fountain was built as a memorial through the donation of the family of Clarence Buckingham in 1927. The landmark was designed in the Art Deco style of the time, and the surrounding water contains four seahorses to represent Lake Michigan’s four bordering states. The fountain provides regular water displays, shooting 15,000 gallons of water through nearly 200 nozzles, reaching up to 150 feet in the air! While remarkable during the day, stopping by the fountain after sundown on a night tour is a must as the water shows are accompanied by brilliant lights and music, adding to the wondrous sight.

Museum of Science and Industry

 

(Photo via @msichicago / Instagram)

The Museum of Science and Industry is an interactive and educational museum, making it the perfect stop for visitors of all ages. Founded in 1933, this science museum is one of the largest in the world, containing more than 35,000 artifacts and dozens of hands-on exhibits that will keep you entertained as you learn. The museum has such attractions as a human-sized hamster wheel, puzzles, a full-size WWII German submarine, a tornado simulator, and an Omnimax theatre. Many of the exhibits are ever-changing, so there is always something amazing to explore!

360 Chicago

 



Similar to the Willis Towe , 360 Chicago is a fantastic way to view the city from the sky! Sitting on the 94th floor of the staggering John Hancock Building is this observation deck that provides vast, panoramic views of Lake Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Winsconsin, Michigan, and the stunning Chicago cityscape from 1000 feet in the air!

 

This attraction includes high-powered telescopes, audio commentary and educational displays to teach you about noteworthy landmarks, as well as “TILT”, an angled glass wall that allows visitors to be tipped outward, giving a heart-racing view straight down from the building. Explore the shops in the rest of the building, as well as a multimedia exhibit that is located on the first floor which provides further information on Chicago and the construction of the John Hancock Building.

Lincoln Park Zoo

 

(Photo via @lincolnparkzoo / Instagram)

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country, and even better - it’s free to visit! The zoo was founded in 1868 and has grown an impressive collection of animal exhibits, including 1,100 animals ranging from reptiles to birds, elephants, lions, tigers, gorillas, marine creatures, and more. This attraction is perfect for families and people of all ages that are interested in the animal kingdom. The location spans 35 acres and provides picnic areas and eateries, ideal for a full afternoon immersed in a wildlife adventure.

Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile

 

(Photo via @themagmile / Instagram)
Michigan Avenue is Chicago’s notable hub for everything you could possibly be looking for in the city in terms of food, fashion, and fun. This 13-block street contains a section by the name of the Magnificent Mile which is North of the Chicago River and offers many galleries, boutiques, and luxury stores. Multiple notable landmarks are located here, including the John Hancock Centre, the Tribune Tower, and the Wrigley Building. This area is also known for its theatres which boast plays, comedy acts, and musicals, as well as speakeasy style pubs, and underground eateries. If you’re interested in seeing the city from a local’s perspective be sure to stroll over the DuSable Bridge and sign up for a locally-led walking tour.

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