Top Things To Do in Chicago
Chicago is a great city that captures a unique culture that comes from a variety of things. It’s an amalgamation of the impressive modern architecture, the one-of-a-kind food culture, as well as the art and technology scene in the city.
Fun Trivia: Chicago is where the iconic snack, Twinkie, originated.
If you’re in the US and looking for the best places to visit in Chicago, there are plenty of activities that you can do in the city that will let you get to know the city. Even if this won’t be your first time, there might be some iconic things to do in Chicago for free that you still haven’t tried yourself.
So, pack your bags from your favorite luggage brands. Head on over to Chicago and all the sights it has to offer below! The list of top things to do in Chicago will definitely make your itinerary memorable:
1. Look at masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago
There are all sorts of art galleries available in Chicago that keep the art scene in the city alive. Whether you’re an artist yourself or someone who’s very into the art scene, it may be of interest to you to go to the Art Institute of Chicago. It is one of the top things to do in Chicago for a weekend where you can take your entire family.
Make sure that you bring money for the admission fees, by the way. The admission fees differ between locals and tourists. If you’re a local, carry an ID to be safe.
Even if you’re not an art enthusiast, you can still spend a couple of hours or more going around the Art Institute of Chicago. In fact, a lot of people have found that the Thorne Miniature Rooms were specifically notable.
Some famous pieces that you definitely must see are Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, and even the Art Institute’s Lions outside of the museum is worth a stop themselves.
2. Enjoy the lush green oasis at the Garfield Park Conservatory
A big gulp of clean and fresh air is few and far between, especially in a big city like Chicago. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can get in touch with nature while you’re here.
One of the most popular ways to reconnect with nature is by going to the lush green oasis, which is the Garfield Park Conservatory. Indeed, it is one of the ideal things to do in Chicago for free with your kids.
As one of the nation’s largest botanical conservatories, the Garfield Park Conservatory offers plenty of plant specimens for everyone to behold. The conservatory spans around 12 acres, so plant lovers have much to see in it.
If you plan on visiting the conservatory, consider going to their website to see if there are any programs or events that you could take part in when you’re there.
3. Take a look inside Chicago Cultural Center
Another place you can visit in Chicago that you can enjoy while getting to know the city better is the Chicago Cultural Center. If you are searching for things to do in Chicago today, you must add this destination to your itinerary.
Given the diverse culture in Chicago, you can expect the same when you look at the presentations and exhibitions that you’ll find in the Cultural Center itself.
If it’s your first time there, then you might want to join an architecture tour that’s available from Wednesday to Saturday. It doesn’t cost anything to join, and the entire tour shouldn’t take you more than an hour or so to finish.
Something that everyone could appreciate would be music, which is something you’re bound to find in the Cultural Center. If you’re lucky, you might discover classical concerts playing, jazz instrumentals, and all sorts of genres.
4. See animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo
If you’re interested in seeing exciting creatures, then going to the Lincoln Park Zoo is worth your time. An even better reason to go there is that it costs you nothing to enter the zoo! No wonder it is listed in one of the highly recommended things to do in Chicago with kids for free.
You can see cute waddling penguins, several gorillas, and chimpanzees. If you have kids with you, you can let them meet face-to-face with a variety of barnyard animals like pigs and cows.
Aside from seeing the animals, there are also all sorts of exhibits and activities that you can try out. It’s one of the remaining significant zoos in the nation that don’t charge you for the entrance, so it’s a treasure.
5. Make your way to The Magnificent Mile
Not all people go on a trip to relax by the beach or to visit the museum. For some people, the best way they can relax is to go shopping. Nothing like good ole retail therapy to get some daily dose of serotonin for some people out there!
If you’re one of these people and are looking to get some shopping and dining, then the Magnificent Mile of Chicago is your place.
The Magnificent Mile, located between Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago River, has plenty of luxury stores for shopaholics. Aside from that, luxury hotels and excellent restaurants are available in this strip as well.
The Magnificent Mile is also a great place to behold the architectural wonders unique to Chicago. From the Wrigley Building to the Tribune Tower, there are lots of modern architectural wonders worth enjoying aside from shopping.
6. Have a blast at the Navy Pier
It can be hard to find activities to do when you’re traveling with your kids that entertain everyone in the family.
But if you’re in Chicago, one of the best places that entertain everyone in the family is the Navy Pier near Lake Michigan.
The Navy Pier is a hub of activity where you can do a lot of things. One thing that will stand out to you immediately will be the Ferris wheel known as the Centennial Wheel. You can also get on a cruise to look around Lake Michigan.
Catch one of the programs or events held in the Pier and so many more.
7. Experience the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
Chicago’s skyline is one of its most iconic attractions that you should get to see. The best place to see that view is the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck.
Located on the 94th floor of John Hancock Center, the observatory is about a thousand feet right over the Magnificent Mile. It also boasts a floor-to-ceiling window that allows you to see the iconic view of the skyline.
However, there’s something in the observation deck that’s more than just the sight of Chicago that adrenaline junkies will like. There is also the 360 CHICAGO’s TILT, where people are tilted to look down on North Michigan Avenue.
If this isn’t for you, then you can have a relaxing time in some of the cafes available inside, as well.
8. Escape the city’s hustle-bustle at Millennium Park
Chicago may be the definition of a big city, but it surely doesn’t neglect its parks. One such notable park in Chicago is called the Millennium Park.
Given its name, it’s a right combination of modern and greenery that is available to the public. There are plenty of features in the park that you should stop by, such as the Cloud Gate (or “The Bean” as the locals call it), the Crown Fountain, the Lurie Garden, and more.
9. Don’t forget to visit the Wrigley Field
If you’re a big sports fan (or a baseball fan in particular), then the Wrigley Field is worth a visit. For sports lovers, it is one of the top things to do in Chicago today to make the day memorable.
You can go there during a game and feel the energy from being around people that have the same love for the sport that you do. You can even munch on some hotdogs while you’re at it.
If you come upon a time where there is no game, you can still get a tour around the field if you want.
10. Laugh out loud at the Second City
Comedy fans should check out the Second City and go to one of the many comedy shows that are running in the city.
From Steve Carell to Bill Murray, plenty of famous comedians now found success through these improvisational comedy theaters available in seven branches all over Chicago.
11. Bask in the sun at Montrose Beach
For some fun under the sun, you can go to Montrose Beach in Uptown Chicago to splash around at the lake if you’ve got the chance. It is one of the ideal things to do in Chicago this winter.
There are even areas for those with pets that you can go to if you want. And unlike other beaches in Chicago, Montrose Beach is a lot better with the crowds, and it has almost the same amenities.
What’s next waiting for you?
There’s still a lot more than Chicago has on offer for you. However, you can’t go wrong with first visiting the 11 sights listed above. If you find yourself in Chicago with nothing to do, give this post a read. From top things to do in Chicago next weekend to fun things to do in Chicago Illinois, you have discovered everything in this travel guide. See if there’s anything that you haven’t tried for yourself and enjoy more. If you are looking for the best places to visit in Chicago and other popular cities then don’t forget to check our travel guides to get the correct info.