Must-See Places in Chicago
If you're headed to Chicago for the first time, then you've probably heard about most of the amazing sites, attractions, and activities that you must see and do while visiting. This amazing city has so much to offer, so where should you start? Many of Chicago's attractions are famous because they have been in the movies and on TV. Other places have become famous through history - after all, Chicago's history is known for fascinating times and characters such as gangsters, the great fire, the railroad expansion of America, and more. And now you've got to see it all! If you're coming to Chicago for the first time, all of these must-see places should be on your bucket list because they are the most famous and most popular destinations in the city.
Museum Campus is a large part of Grant Park that houses five of the city's top attractions - the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, Soldier Field, and the Lakeside Center of McCormick Place.
1217 East Solidarity Drive, South Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60605
The Willis Tower, still called the Sears Tower by most locals, is a 110 story skyscraper that was completed in 1973. For 25 years it was the tallest building in the world. The tower's observation deck is famous for its glass boxes, with glass floors, which give visitors a unique view of the city.
233 South Wacker Drive, Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60606
The Chicago River is an iconic part of the city, and it runs parallel to the lakeshore through the heart of the city. The Riverwalk is along a popular stretch of the river, and it's lined with many great restaurants and some of Chicago's most impressive architecture. You can wander along the Riverwalk, rest at one of the many benches, take in the impressive views or simply people watch.
Loop, Chicago, IL, 60601
Cloud Gate (The Bean)
"The Bean" is a 110 ton stainless steel sculpture that was designed by Anish Kapoor. It's surface is a mirror and the shape of the structure was inspired by a drop of liquid mercury. During the winter months, there is a public ice skating rink surrounding The Bean.
201 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60602
Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in the United States, and is home to the Chicago Cubs. Catch a game here during the summer, or come any time of the year to the surrounding neighborhood to take in some Cubs memorabilia at the nearby shops, bars, and restaurants which are popular with fans.
1060 W Addison Street, Wrigleyville, Chicago, Illinois
Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile
The Magnificent Mile is one of the most famous shopping neighborhoods in the world. It's lined with brand name retail shops, boutique designers, historic hotels, luxury brands, large shopping centers, one-of-a-kind stores, and unique attractions. This neighborhood also has the original American Girl Place, Water Tower Place, and The Drake Hotel where you can enjoy high tea at the historic Palm Court.
Located on the South Side of Chicago, this neighborhood is rich in history. It was the location of the 1893 World's Fair and it has a number of notable residences including a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as well as the former home of President Barack Obama. Hyde Park sits on the edge of Lake Michigan and offers beautiful water views. It's also easily accessible to the 18 mile lakefront running and biking path. Within Hyde Park you'll find the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, and part of Jackson Park.
The Chicago Theatre
This famous theatre resides in the heart of Chicago. Visitors will be greeted at the entry with the large and frequently photographed "Chicago" sign out front, and then mesmerized by the gorgeous and historic interior with murals on the ceilings and sculptures throughout. The venue puts on a large number of shows from concerts to theatre productions and plays and musicals throughout the year. If you're in town, grab a ticket to any event and you won't be dissapointed.
175 N State Street, Loop, Chicago, Illinois
The Loop is Chicago's downtown neighborhood and it is at the heart of the city's tourism scene. This area is filled with iconic attractions, classic architecture, theaters, restaurants, and shopping. It's where you'll find Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, the theatre district, and State Street. There are river cruises, architectural tours, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene with music festivals, and live music venues. For many tourists, this is the neighborhood where they spend the most time.
Chicago Architecture Center
Located in the impressive Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s skyscraper at One Illinois Center, this museum has exhibits on the many skyscrapers of Chicago. Located right by the Chicago Riverwalk, they offer a number of walking, bus and boat tours as well.
111 E Wacker Dr,, South Shore, Chicago, IL, 60601
Centennial Wheel was built in 1995 and offers a classic Chicago experience along the Navy Pier. It reaches a height of 200 feet and offers 360 degree views of the city and Lake Michigan. The ferris wheel has large enclosed gondolas with very open city views. The enclosed space offers reassurance so even those with a fear of heights can enjoy the experience.
Navy Pier, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
The Navy Pier is one of Chicago's most popular tourist attractions. It opened in 1916 as an amusement and entertainment area and today it includes about 50 acres of gardens, parks, restaurants, shops, and concert venues. One of the most iconic parts of the Navy Pier is the 150 foot ferris wheel, which offers breathtaking views over the city and lake. There's also a classic historic carousel in Navy Pier Park. Head hear to pick up a boat tour as well.
600 East Grand Avenue, Streeterville, Chicago, IL
This neighborhood and park area offers a beautiful setting with nicely landscaped gardens, a quaint lily pond, and lakefront green space that has nice views of the city. The Lakefront Trail, the Lincoln Park Trail, Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach, and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are all in the area. There is also plenty of shopping in Lincoln Park with many boutique shops spread among the row houses.
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $5 to $498. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $95. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Chicago