Things to Do in Chicago

Chicago is our kind of town: From its rise from the ashes following the Great Fire of 1871 to its stellar skyscrapers and unique style of (what else!) pizza, Chi-Town offers plenty to do … and eat!
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Photo By: John Hancock Observatory

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Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Choose Chicago / City of Chicago

Photo By: Choose Chicago / City of Chicago

Photo By: By Lykantrop [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By: By Quinn Dombrowski from Berkeley, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Photo By: Choose Chicago / City of Chicago

Photo By: Choose Chicago / City of Chicago

Photo By: Lincoln Park Zoo

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Photo By: Choose Chicago / City of Chicago

John Hancock Observatory

Take in a 360-degree view of the Windy City from 1,000 feet up, courtesy of the seventh-tallest building in the US. Located on Chicago’s bustling Michigan Avenue, the John Hancock Center offers views of up to four states (Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin) from its observatory deck.

Chicago Theatre

Enjoy plays, magic shows, concerts and other performing arts at this historic theater in downtown Chicago’s historic Loop, or commercial center. Architecture buffs will also want to tour the famed seven-story landmark, which occupies nearly half a city block.

Navy Pier

Take the kids to this 3,300-foot-long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. A city fixture since 1916, Navy Pier now stands as Chicago’s No. 1 tourist attraction. Enjoy a dinner cruise, see fireworks at night, take in an IMAX movie and hop aboard the 150-foot-tall Navy Pier Ferris wheel -- Chicago was the first city in the world to erect one!

Wrigley Field

Take the gang out to the ballpark! Home to the Chicago Cubs since 1916, Wrigley Field hearkens back to baseball’s heyday with a jewel-box design. The ballpark is also famous for its outfield walls covered by ivy -- the only professional ballpark with that distinction -- and a scoreboard that’s still manually operated.

Chicago Field Museum

Brace yourself: These fighting African elephants go horn-to-horn at Chicago’s Field Museum. But the real star attraction at this museum of natural history is Sue, the largest, best-preserved and most complete T. rex ever found -- you’ll find this 42-foot-long, 13-foot-high beast within an exhibition on the museum’s balcony.

Chicago River Cruise

If you love water and architecture, then come to Chicago. Enjoy a cruise along one of Chicago’s two rivers: The Chicago River cuts through downtown, weaving past dozens of skyscrapers, each a speaking to a style of architecture known as the Chicago School, which went on to become famous throughout the world.

Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright

And on terra firma, take a tour of Robie House. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building, located on the University of Chicago’s campus, is often hailed by architects as one of the most important buildings in American architecture … and a forerunner of modernism in architecture.

University of Chicago Tour

Bragging rights alert: This impressive 211-acre campus is widely considered by academics to be one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Let some of that smartness rub off with a tour of the grounds, which showcase a mixture of Victorian Goth and Collegiate Gothic architecture, as well as more modern styles.

Uno's and Malnati's

Oh, yeah... sink your teeth into this carb-heaven indulgence, which we know and love as the deep-dish pizza. Origins of the deep-dish are disputed -- Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in nearby Northbrook also claims to have invented the recipe. To which, we offer one solution: Sample both Uno’s deep-dish, and Malnati’s -- and see which one you like the best!

Taste of Chicago

Head to the outdoor food festival Taste of Chicago, which showcases more than 70 food vendors who set up shop over a 10-day period each summer in Chicago’s Grant Park. Just imagine: Chicago hot dogs, Eli’s cheesecake and so much more! Coming in the fall instead? Grant Park is home to another great show: the annual Lollapalooza music fest.

The Magnificent Mile

To see Chicago’s best landmarks, stroll down the Magnificent Mile. Just make sure your camera’s all juiced up: You’ll see some of America’s tallest buildings -- the John Hancock Center and the Trump International Hotel and Tower -- as well as Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, the Chicago Water Tower and the Allerton Hotel. They don’t call this stretch of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue magnificent for nothing.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Some things in life really are free, and you can enjoy them any day of the year at the Lincoln Park Zoo. One of the last free-admission zoos in America, the 35-acre grounds are home to 1,200 animals, representing 230 species. Among them is this 1,700-pound polar bear, getting up close and personal with some visitors.

Billy Goat Tavern

Feel the allure of newspapers’ glory days with a visit to this tavern. Tucked in a corner of Michigan Avenue, beneath elevated railroad tracks, the pub achieved its legendary status through newspaper columns by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko. Enter at your own risk (think: Curse of the Billy Goat story)...and order a cheezborger!

The Bean

There’s just something about Millennium Park’s Bean; people are drawn to the sculpture’s massive shiny, mirrored surface. They come up to it, gaze at their reflections, and the city skyline’s, and take advantage of some great photo-taking ops. Go ahead, you know you want to do the same.

Willis Tower

Shooting 1,451 feet into the air, this 108-story skyscraper was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1973 -- a distinction it held for the next 25 years. Head to its Skydeck, on the 103rd floor; on a clear day, you can see across the plains of Illinois...and Lake Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Most astoundingly, visitors can actually feel the building sway on a windy day. 

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