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Things to do in Chicago

Things to do in  Chicago

Welcome to Chicago

Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago—the largest city in Illinois and the third largest in the United States—offers a wealth of art, music, historical, and architectural experiences. Culture lovers can stroll through Millennium Park and the Loop to view outdoor art (including the iconic “Bean”), tour world-class museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, or cruise the Chicago River to see modern landmark gems. To meet the locals, buy a ticket for a ball game; catch some live blues or jazz (both of which have deep roots in Chicago) at a club; or laugh at the comedy acts at Second City, where many top comedians launched their careers.

Top 10 attractions in Chicago

#1
Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower (Sears Tower)

Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower (Sears Tower)

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Once the world’s tallest building, Willis Tower is still way up in the clouds. Though it functions as an office building, the skyscraper’s 103rd-floor Skydeck Chicago draws 1.7 million annual visitors for a trip out onto The Ledge, an enclosed glass balcony extending 4 feet (1.2 meters) out over the city, as well as panoramic views that—on clear days—extend as far as Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin.More
#2
Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

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Opened in 1897 as Chicago’s first public library, the Chicago Cultural Center is the city’s hub for arts and cultural events as well as one of the city’s most beloved architectural monuments. The center is among Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions and features more than 1,000 free concerts, films, art exhibits, and other cultural events each year.More
#3
Navy Pier

Navy Pier

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Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist destinations—and with good reason. The 3,300-foot (1,010-meter) pier jutting into the waters of Lake Michigan, originally constructed in 1916 as a freight dock and public space, encompasses almost 50 acres (20 hectares) of exhibits, rides, parks, and family attractions.More
#4
Millennium Park

Millennium Park

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Located just a block away from Lake Michigan in the heart of downtown Chicago, Millennium Park showcases world-class art, music, architecture, and landscape design. Completed in 2004, the 24.5-acre (10-hectare) park is one of Chicago’s most popular destinations, drawing 25 million visitors per year.More
#5
Chicago River

Chicago River

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Winding its way through the heart of the Windy City, the Chicago River flows past some of the city’s most notable architecture, including the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Wrigley Building, and Navy Pier. The river also offers opportunities for exploration, such as river cruises, kayaking, and canoeing, along a revamped riverfront.More
#6
Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk

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Connecting Lake Michigan to downtown, the Chicago Riverwalk is an open-air pedestrian-friendly walkway that runs along the Chicago River. Composed of six main sections, the Riverwalk is a main hub for entertainment. Head to the Marina Plaza section for restaurants, outdoor seating, and boat access. Take a stroll through a series of piers and floating wetland gardens at the Riverbank, or head to the Water Plaza where the kids can splash in water fountains.More
#7
Grant Park

Grant Park

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Known as “Chicago’s Front Yard,” Grant Park stretches over 300 acres (121 hectares), and is the city’s primary downtown park. Located in the Loop, Grant Park is sandwiched between Lake Michigan and soaring skyscrapers. Its cultural highlights include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum Campus, and Millennium Park.More
#8
Wrigley Building

Wrigley Building

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The 1920s were an important time for Chicago architecture, and when the Wrigley Building opened in 1925, it set the pace for the city’s development. When owner William Wrigley Jr. (of the Wrigley gum company) scouted locations for the building that would become his company’s headquarters, he chose a unique triangle shape of land that eventually became the bustling Magnificent Mile.More
#9
The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile

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Fashion, architecture, and history in Chicago come together on this renowned stretch of Michigan Avenue nicknamed the Magnificent Mile. As you walk from the Chicago River to Oak Street, you’ll pass several Windy City landmarks, including the Water Tower, John Hancock Center, and Tribune Tower, as well as numerous luxury brand retailers.More
#10
Marina City

Marina City

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The dueling main columns of Marina City overlook the Chicago River. Its scalloped “corn-on-the-cob” exterior, formed by undulating half-moon balconies, has made it instantly recognizable and a popular setting in movies such as Batman Begins, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Blues Brothers. While the historic buildings are largely residential—some 1,400 people call Marina City home today—visitors are welcome to the complex. You can head up to roof decks for 360 degree views of the city skyline, rent boats in the attached marina to explore the Chicago river, dine in restaurants like Smith and Wollensky’s Grill, catch a concert in the House of Blues, and even use the structures’ ice skating rink, swimming pool, and bowling alley.Marina City’s 588-foot towers, designed by great Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg, were the tallest residential structures and the tallest concrete buildings in the world when they were constructed in the early 1960s. Forty-stories of pie-shaped apartments, designed to emphasize city views, sit atop twenty stories of parking. Designed as a “city within a city,” with shopping, dining, office buildings, recreational spaces, and entertainment for its residents, the then-novel concept was part of a movement encouraging Chicagoans to return to downtown from the suburbs.More

Trip ideas

Don’t-Miss Dishes in Chicago

Don’t-Miss Dishes in Chicago

Top activities in Chicago

Recent reviews from experiences in Chicago

star-5
Great tour & worth the time
Anita_C, Jul. 2021
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
A great way to see and learn about Chicago through the history of the buildings.
star-5
Beautiful view of the skyline
Brenda_O, Jul. 2021
Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise
This was my first time to Chicago and I was very excited to see the skyline and it was absolutely beautiful.
star-5
Great Docent
Astrid_B, Jul. 2021
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
I go on this trip every time someone comes to visit Chicago and I never get tired of it.
star-5
Super day with family!!
Maureen_S, Jul. 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
It was hot and humid but that’s summer in Chicago,….
star-5
Excellent!!!
Andrea_R, Jul. 2021
Chicago Crime and Mob Bus Tour
It was really enjoyable to see and hear the history of Chicago!
star-5
Fun and informative
Kristina_M, Jul. 2021
Chicago in a Day: Food, History and Architecture Combo Tour
Plus, we were able to see parts of Chicago we would not have gone to otherwise.
star-5
Take this tour
Lisa_C, Jul. 2021
Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour
It’s the perfect way to see the beautiful architecture of Chicago.
star-5
Amazing experience
Boryana_R, Jul. 2021
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
I recommend it for everyone who wants to enjoy Chicago summer time!
star-4
Crisp Chicago tour with limited agenda
Amitav_B, Jul. 2021
Chicago Private Tours
Limited areas in North & South sides visited giving impression that nothing much to see in Chicago!
star-5
Great sightseeing
Kanae_G, Jul. 2021
Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise
Being able to see Sunset with a nice breeze, appreciating the beauty of Chicago...
star-5
Fantastic Experience
Andrew_L, Jul. 2021
Chicago Pizza Tour
The pizza tour was a fantastic way to see different neighborhoods and experience different variations of Chicago style pizza.
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Wonderful tour guide!
Judy_M, Jul. 2021
Half-Day Small-Group Chicago Highlights Tour with Pick Up
Great excursion to see and learn so much about downtown Chicago!
star-4
Wonderful History of Architecture
Albert_Y, Jul. 2021
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
It is easy to see why the boat was full of folks from all over the world.
star-5
Awesome
Julio_V, Jul. 2021
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
It was great to see this side of Chicago
star-5
Fantastic!
Jeffrey_B, Jul. 2021
2-Hour Chicago Fireworks Segway Tour
One of the best activities in Chicago!
star-5
Great Tour
Karen_G, Jul. 2021
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
Great way to see the beautiful city.
star-5
Highly recommend this bus
Miriam_C, Jul. 2021
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
This is the perfect way to see Chicago and get to the most important attractions.
star-5
Relaxing, entertaining, and educational
Jaclyn_W, Jul. 2021
Chicago City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture River Cruise
Greatest way to see the city!
star-5
Great experience!
Tamera_H, Jul. 2021
Bikes, Bites, and Brews: Chicago's Signature Dishes Bike Tour
The evening was a great time of day to see and be in the city!
star-5
Fun tour of Lake Michigan and the river's great architecture!
Frieda_H, Jul. 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
This was a great way to see some and learn aboutChicago's best architecture and the city's history!

All about Chicago

When to visit

After being cooped up all winter, Chicago is ready to party when the sun comes out (sometime during May). Summer highlights include the annual Taste of Chicago, Chicago Blues Festival, Andersonville’s Midsommarfest, and the Chicago Air and Water Show. Alternatively, fall brings fewer crowds and brisker weather, perfect for exploring neighborhoods on foot and watching the trees turn colors along the quaint neighborhood streets.

Getting around

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is your best friend when traveling around Chicago. You’ll see many references to “the Loop,” the circle elevated train tracks that define the city’s downtown area. From there, train lines (both underground and elevated) shoot out to the airport and the nearby suburbs. The CTA also has a robust network of bus lines that make all corners of the city easily accessible. The Loop itself is very walkable, and if you’re there in the dead of winter and your toes are frozen, hailing a cab is a cinch.

Traveler tips

The best place for a chargrilled Chicago hot dog after bar closing time (2am) is the Weiner’s Circle in Lincoln Park. The dog is served with a pickle, tomato wedges, chopped onions, sweet peppers, celery salt, and a side of major sass from the counterperson. If you know what’s good for you, never ever ask for ketchup—Chicago is a mustard town.

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