15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Chicago

Chicago, often called the Windy City, is a major city in the Midwestern United States. It is known for its vibrant arts scene, large number of cultural attractions, excellent shopping opportunities, and interesting architecture. The city draws people from across the United States, as well as from many other countries.

Chicago is known for its architecture and art. If you lived here, you would see famous buildings built by famous architects and paintings by famous artists. Some of the best artists in the world have come from Chicago. Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright are two of them. You might have heard of these guys. They’re famous. You’ve probably seen some of their work before.

Chicago is no slouch in the sporting world, either. Its sports teams include the Bears of the NFL, the Sox and Cubs of Major League Baseball, and the Bulls of the NBA. Plus, it has beaches that are a big hit with tourists in the summertime.

When you are deciding when to visit Chicago, your biggest concern should be the weather. Spring and fall are the most pleasant times of the year, and if you want a full experience of everything Chicago has to offer, it is best to consider visiting in these seasons.

1. Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world class museum with an incredibly diverse collection spanning thousands of years, including things that look like paintings and things that look like sculptures. The collection also includes a variety of media, such as prints, photography, textiles, and architectural drawings.

The Institute is famous for its collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. Among the most famous are Georges Seurat’s 1884 A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, Renoir’s 1879 Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando, and Claude Monet’s 1887 Rouen Cathedral.

The main building, which was designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge in 1893, was built for the World’s Columbian Exposition. It is a beaux-arts style building that measures 400,000 square feet.

Also Read: 10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Orlando, FL

2. Walk Through Millennium Park

A spectacular and popular public park in the center of Chicago, Millennium Park is part of Grant Park. It’s bordered by Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the north, and Monroe Street to the south.

The centerpiece of the Millennium Park is a stunning sculpture that looks like it’s made of metal and reflects buildings and the sky. It’s inspired by liquid mercury. The sculpture is in the middle of the park, and it reflects tourists who walk through its central arch, as well as nearby buildings.

The Crown Fountain is a Chicago attraction that features gargoyles. It appears as though water is flowing from the mouths of the gargoyles, which are modern interpretations of the ancient mythical creatures.

There are two popular ways to spend time in Millennium Park: seeing a show and visiting the garden. The Pritzker Pavilion is an open-air venue that hosts a variety of free shows. Lurie Garden is a free, public park that is open year-round and can be enjoyed at any time.

If you’re traveling to Chicago, it’s best to stay near the main attractions and great shopping. We recommend these hotels in this area.

3. Stroll around Navy Pier

The Navy Pier was built in 1916 as a shipping facility and amusement park. In 2016, it has been updated to become one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors can enjoy the 150-foot Ferris wheel and historic carousel, as well as many gardens, shopping areas, restaurants, concert halls, and parks.

The Navy Pier is a great place for vacationers to visit. It has many attractions, such as the Imax theater, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Crystal Gardens, and more. Visitors can also take a cruise from here. The Pier is open year-round, and hosts festivals such as Chicago Festival in August.

4. Museum of Science and Industry

At the top of Jackson Park, at the north end of Chicago, is the Museum of Science and Industry. It was founded in 1933, and it’s the most impressive museum in Chicago. It’s devoted to technology and industry, and it’s able to use natural laws to create technological and industrial development.

The Minnesota Science Museum is the first in the United States to incorporate interactive exhibits. Hundreds of exhibits invite visitors to touch, play, and interact. The MSI offers permanent exhibits and ones that are changed out regularly, as well as an OMNIMAX theater.

5. See the View from the Willis Tower SkyDeck

The Sears Tower held the world’s tallest office building record for over 20 years. In 1996, the Petronas Towers were built in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Today, the Willis Tower still holds the record for the tallest building in North America. On a clear day, it offers an incredible view of Chicago and its beautiful architecture.

The Willis Tower was built in 1974, taking three years to complete. At 1,453 feet, the building is the tallest in Chicago and includes a 103rd floor observation area called the SkyDeck. The SkyDeck also features a glass box called the Ledge, which juts out from the building, offering visitors a chance to stand on glass and look down on the city below.

If you’re visiting Chicago for the first time, it’s a must to visit SkyDeck. Buy your tickets online in advance to get the most out of your experience. At SkyDeck, you can go on The Ledge, explore exhibits, and watch a short film to learn about the history of Willis (formerly Sears) Tower.

6. Watch the Water Show at Buckingham Fountain

The Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain is a symbol of generosity and civic pride. It’s also the largest fountain in the world. This iconic Art Deco structure is surrounded by four seahorses that represent the bordering states of Lake Michigan.

Between 8 and 11, the fountain is busy. It shoots 15,000 gallons of water through nearly 200 nozzles each minute, making an impressive display.

The evening water show is a must-see. It is accompanied by lights and is the central focal point of Grant Park, Chicago’s expansive public space. Grant Park contains many attractions and smaller parks like Millennium Park, comparable to Central Park in New York City.

Grant Park is one of the major tourist attractions in Chicago. It is home to several museums, including The Field Museum of Natural History and the Adler Planetarium. Grant Park also has several gardens, which are popular for public events and festivals, such as music and food festivals.

7. 360 Chicago

Chicago’s John Hancock Center has an observatory on the 94th floor. It is a very glassy building with a dark metallic exterior and cross-braced steel. The observation deck is full of windows and offers panoramic views of Chicago, plus the view extends beyond into the distance.

An exciting new feature is the “Tilt” deck. It gives visitors an adventurous but safe view from 1,000 feet above Michigan Avenue, straight down. The deck is attached at a 45-degree angle to the building, and it’s made of glass to enhance the view.

The remaining portion of the building is divided into a variety of shops, offices, and apartments. The first floor contains a multimedia exhibit including information about the city of Chicago, as well as a history of the construction of the John Hancock building.

8. Field Museum of Natural History

The museum was originally called the Columbian Museum of Chicago, but changed its name in 1904 to honor a major benefactor. Marshall Field, who started as a department store owner, is a major art collector, and donated $1.5 million to the museum.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History contains millions of items, like rocks, plants, animals and human remains. It is a collection of objects and specimens for the purpose of advancing knowledge about nature, and it covers all types of science.

Do you like dinosaurs? You’ll love this museum! It has a lot of dinosaur bones and artifacts. You can see permanent exhibits on Ancient Egypt and North, Central, and South American cultures. But the coolest part is “Sue,” the world’s largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. There are special rotating exhibits on a regular basis throughout the year.

9. Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile

The city has a famous boulevard called Magnificent Mile. It is a part of the famous Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River. This section is filled with galleries, boutiques, and luxury shops.

The Magnificent Mile is a street that features the John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building, and the Tribune Tower. It splits between North and South at Madison Street. This district is known for its theaters, which host touring plays, musicals, and comedy acts.

10. Take a Tour or See a Game at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field, built in 1914 and home to the Chicago Cubs, is the second-oldest MLB ballpark in the US. The stadium has seen many incredible events in baseball history, including the no-hitter pitched by Jim Vaughn and Fred Toney in 1917. It also hosted the “called shot” by Babe Ruth during game three of the 1932 World Series.

To get an up-close look at a baseball game, you can take a tour. With this tour, you will see the press box and field, along with the dugouts if there is no game that day.

11. Lincoln Park

Chicago’s Lincoln Park is a green oasis with a huge stretch of grass along the shore of Lake Michigan that’s home to the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the United States. Visitors can also visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Chicago History Museum here.

If you want to get out and play, there are many ways. You can play sports on the playing fields, bike down trails, take a jog, or just relax on the beaches. If you want to see something really impressive and powerful, check out the statues or public art within the park. You can see Augustus Saint Gaudens’ Standing Statue of Lincoln that is really impressive and powerful.

12. Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is the place to go if you want to learn more about aquatic life around the world. It’s located in downtown Chicago, and it has a bunch of exhibits on different aquatic regions.

If you have children, or if you are a child at heart, you need to visit the Polar Play Zone. Here you can slip into your favorite animal costume and pretend to be an explorer. In the submarine, you can even take a make-believe trip. The Stingray touch tank is also a must-see for all ages. This massive tank is full of curious stingrays who love to be petted and touched.

13. Lincoln Park Zoo

A great family activity in Chicago is a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo has over 200 species of animals from around the world. Sixteen different exhibits showcase these amazing animals. Some of the most fascinating animals include penguins, otters, and seals. For an unforgettable experience, make a stop at the Regenstein Center for African Apes.

The zoo isn’t just about animals, in fact it’s one of the best places in Chicago to see beautiful flowers. Each year, the gardening crew tends to over 2,000 individual plants across 1,200 plant species.

14. Chicago Riverwalk and Lakefront Trail

Chicago is a city that’s known for its large number of movable bridges. These bridges allow large boats to pass through the Chicago River, which runs through the heart of the city and parallel to Lake Michigan.

The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum is a tourist’s favorite. It is a museum where you can see the machinery of a famous bridge that spans the Chicago River. That machinery actually works and moves, so you can watch gears turn as the bridge makes its way to the other side of the river.

The Riverwalk offers many dining options and hosts special events throughout the year. There are also various river tours and cruises that depart from the Riverwalk.

The Lakefront Trail is a beautiful, fully-paved path that runs 18 miles through the heart of Chicago. It offers spectacular views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan. It is open to pedestrians and bicyclists. There are parks, gardens, and recreation areas on either side of the trail, as well as public beaches.

Chicago is one of America’s most popular cities. It has numerous top attractions, including Navy Pier, Lincoln Park, and Soldier Field.

15. Oriental Institute Museum

The Oriental Institute Museum is located on the University of Chicago campus and it is dedicated to archeology and art from the Near East, including antiquities from excavations in Egypt, Sudan, Nubia, Israel, Iraq, Turkey, and the ancient site of Megiddo.

The British Museum has a lot of stuff. Their permanent exhibits include the Mesopotamian Gallery, which includes objects from 100,000 BC to the 7th century AD, and two Egyptian Galleries, which contain artifacts ranging from everyday items to mummification relics.

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