Here Are Our 10 Best Things to Do in Chicago
If you’re ready for some major walking and shopping, then make sure to check out all that The Mag Mile has to offer. From luxury brands to national chains, top restaurants to your local franchise, Michigan Avenue will not disappoint.
Along the way, don’t miss the great architecture from the Tribune Tower, Michigan Avenue Bridge, The Wrigley Building, Trump Tower, John Hancock, Burberry Flagship and many more cultural institutions. You’ll see many local artists performing on the sidewalk. If you’re visiting on a weekend, be sure to get there early!
2. The Museums
World class museums on the shores of Lake Michigan will give a glimpse of all Chicago has to offer. Make a trip to view contemporary art at the Modern Wing at the Art Institute, explore the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, and tour the universe at the Alder Planetarium. You might want to venture off to the Museum of Science and Industry, still one of my favorites, but a bit far from the Museum campus (but easily accessible by bus). Several of the museums offer free days to Illinois residents, so check their websites often. There is also a slew of artistic immersive museums that have popped up recently around Chicago include some of our favorites like wndr Museum and Hebru Brantley’s Nevermore Park.
Just off the I-90/94 expressway to Cermak is Chicago’s Chinatown, the ever-changing town where culture and top Asian cuisine make this a top experience you don’t want to miss. Whether you prefer to take the “L” train or drive, it’s an easy day trip. The small shops with Asian themed souvenirs are always at the top of our list. You must try the famous bubble tea – a real fruit shake with tapioca balls that will cool you down on any hot summer day. If you go early, you might head over to any of the Dim Sum restaurants. My favorite is the Phoenix, located on the second floor of 2131 S. Archer Avenue, for a cool experience of steam or fried dumplings served on small plates. Another place to visit is the Chinatown Square Plaza, where you’ll find the Chinese zodiac and many other shopping and dining selections that I am sure will get your attention.
4. Navy Pier
One of the number one places to visit in Chicago is Navy Pier… A fun place for the entire family with a mix of well- known restaurants, exciting attractions like the Ferris Wheel, art exhibitions along the sidewalk, a great kids museum, and the best place to get a great picture of the sunset.
5. State Street
You might think all of the shopping is done around Michigan Avenue, but venture off to State Street and you’ll find an entire new world of boutiques, shops and theaters. Just by the Chicago Theatre, you can explore the front of ABC 7 news, the Joffrey Ballet, block37 and the former Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) and much more. Also in the same area, you will find the theater district with famous plays like Wicked, Book of Mormon and more at broadwayinchicago.
6. Lincoln Park Zoo
Going to the zoo is a perfect experience for the entire family, and the best part, it’s free. Located by the lake in the Lincoln Park neighborhood is one of the oldest zoos in the nation with great exhibits from sea lions, monkeys, zebras, a polar bear, and much more. Public transportation and parking is available in the area. www.lpzoo.com
7. The “L” Train
There is not an easier way to get around the city than taking the “L”. It’s not as clean as you might think, but it’s an economical way to reach some of Chicago’s best neighborhoods in just a few stops. One of the best perks about the Chicago “L” is that you can get a nice view of the city and downtown while you are traveling to your final destination. If you’re thinking about staying a few days in Chicago and you are planning to take the “L”, they have 1, 3 and 7 day passes www.transitchicago.com
8. Lake Michigan
We like things that are free and beautiful and Lake Michigan will not disappoint you at all. The water might be a bit cold but on a hot day, it’s the best place to hang out and relax while the kids are playing with the sand. The Lake Michigan shore is also the perfect place to eat, walk and bike from north to the far south side of Chicago.
Here are a few restaurants and sports rentals. Castaways, Oak Street Beach, Kayak Chicago, The Dock at Montrose Beach, Heartland Cafe @ Loyola
9. Willis or John Hancock Top Floor Views
Check out the view from the top of Chicago’s tallest buildings. At the John Hancock, right by the lake shore, you can admire the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan and if it’s clear enough, you may get a glimpse of Michigan and Indiana. Don’t forget that you might also have the opportunity to dine at the Signature room located on the 95th floor and enjoy the view at the same time. Willis Tower (better known as the Sears Tower) is just a bit taller and located in The Loop. Something not to miss is the Skydeck – stand on the ledge in a glass box that extends just about four feet outside the building at 1,353 feet in the air. Perfect for a picture!
10. Millennium Park
A multifunctional park for all visitors and residents! While it’s the most visited during the warmer temperatures for its free concerts, art shows and displays, gardens, famous sculptures like the Cloud gate or better known as the “Bean” and the Crown Fountains, this is a place for everyone. In the winter months, enjoy ice skating by the Bean and ice sculpture competitions, as well as a brisk walk.
There’s so much to experience in Chicago in the summer as well as winter! Also, free is always good so don’t miss Chicago museum free days to the Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute.