Eight Must Do's in Chicago
If you are looking for things to do in Chicago, look no further. Whether you're visiting for business or pleasure, solo or with your family, Chicago is the largest and most-visited city in the Midwest and buzzes with energy and excitement all year long.
From the towering skyscrapers and world renowned architecture, to world class museums, to fantastic city parks, to an amazing lakefront, to endless shopping and food from around the world, Chicago has plenty to offer first time visitors. Below are eight things to add to your itinerary.
1. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is Chicago’s premier green space with 25 acres of landscapes, architecture and public art on display. With dozens of free events, outdoor concerts and films screenings it's a great place to be in the heart of downtown.
Don’t miss Cloud Gate a.k.a "The Bean" (168 highly polished stainless steel plates - giving the appearance of liquid mercury), stand beneath Crown Fountain (two 50-foot towers that reflect the faces of 1,000 Chicagoans), and grab a beer or hot cocoa at the restaurant Park Grill.
2. The Loop
Chicago’s Loop is the central business district and bounded on the west and north by the Chicago River, on the east by Lake Michigan, and on the south by Roosevelt Road. During the week it's full of office workers scurrying about.
The Loop is home to Grant Park, the State Street shopping district (stroll through legendary Macy's and shop at affordable shops like Old Navy, Forever 21), the Art Institute of Chicago (the #1 museum in the world according to TripAdvisor), the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Willis (Sears) Tower, and the Cultural Center.
Art Institute of Chicago
3. The Magnificent Mile
You better bring an extra suitcase. Michigan Avenue is the granddaddy of all Chicago retail and the cities most popular shopping street, think 5th Avenue New York
At about a mile long (hence the nickname) Michigan Avenue teems with shopping, dining, and entertainment options like Macy’s, Nike, the Disney Store and the Apple Store plus the Wrigley Building and The Tribune Tower.
4. Take an Architecture Boat Tour
For a different view of Chicago, take the Architecture Foundation’s boat tour on the Chicago River and hear from entertaining and informative volunteer tour guides as they interpret more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River and learn of the history of the Chicago skyline and the architectural side too. A must do in the warmer months!
5. Navy Pier
You can't visit Chicago and miss a trip to Navy Pier, especially if you have kids. This 50-acre playground of entertainment, museums, activities, restaurants, and shops is the perfect place for some family fun right on the lake.
And during the warmer months jump on board one of the many sightseeing and dining boat cruises all lined up along the waterfront for brilliant views of Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline.
Family fun at Navy Pier
6. Bike the Chicago Lakefront
The Chicago Lakefront Trail is an ocean-like foreshore along the coast of Lake Michigan. On sunny days it's here you'll see locals running, cycling, and walking the path that connects various beaches and recreational amenities for a 20 mile distance within the city limits.
Rent a bike and ride from Navy Pier to North Avenue Beach (grab a beer and burger at Castaways at the Boat House) and enjoy the city views!
7. Go up the John Hancock Tower
My favorite city view of Chicago was grabbing a specialty drink at night time from the Signature Room Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Tower. See the city skyline up close and the grid lights stretch off into the distance. I imagine the views over Lake Michigan and the city would be equally spectacular in the day - better than from Sears Tower in my opinion.
8. Eat a Deep Dish Pizza
Pizza lovers beware - Chicago is well known for its deep dish pizza - thick and crumbly crust topped with loads of mozzarella, toppings, and a layer of tomato sauce. You'll find deep dish in chains such as Lou Malnati's, Uno's, Pizano's, and Gino's East.
But if you're looking for the thickest, cheesiest, and most awe-inspiring pizza go to Giordano's for a mammoth pizza that can easily feed a whole family. Locations throughout the city.
Yum, yum deep dish pizza!