Visit Chicago, the third largest city in the United States and the largest city in the Midwest! Tall buildings, an important economic and cultural center, Chicago has a lot to offer its visitors!
Looking for fun things to do in Chicago? What to see and visit things to do in Chicago ? With very contrasting seasons (very hot summer and freezing winter) “the Windy City” has something that New York does not have: the sumptuous view of Lake Michigan!
- And so many other cool things to do in Chicago to offer. Do you want to visit Chicago? An overview with our top things to do in Chicago. There are hundreds of activities in Chicago, here are the most popular ones!
Willis Tower (Formerly Known As Sears Tower)
Impossible places to visit in Chicago without climbing to the top of the incredible Willis Tower!
Previously called Sears Tower because it housed the offices of the Sears company, it is the second tallest tower in the United States just behind the One World Trade Center in New York (443 meters, against 541). Propelled in 45 seconds, to the 103rd floor of the tower, i.e. 412 meters high, the skydeck offers you one of the most impressive views of the city and Lake Michigan... and even, in the distance, as far as the neighboring states: Michigan, Indiana , Wisconsin. It takes about $25 per person to access this panoramic view.
The skydeck will surely give you dizzying sensations when you put your first foot on the glass floor. Day or night, the view is breathtaking. On the other hand, prefer a day when the weather is clear. If you want to avoid the endless wait, I advise you to go there at the opening. Not only will you avoid the queue to access the skydeck, but it will also be much more pleasant to take pretty pictures.
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Millennium Park and the "CLOUD GATE"
You have probably already seen in photos or in films the famous work of art The Cloud Gate, designed by the British artist Anish Kapoor. Here, it is rather nicknamed The Bean (“the Bean”), because of its shape. Day or night, summer or winter, this urban sculpture is simply stunning.
It is located in Millenium Park, a place where it is very pleasant to walk to admire other urban works and take a photo under the immensity of the Bean. A little extra if you go there during the holidays: a huge ice rink is installed there and the atmosphere is festive. Especially since it is very pleasant to skate with a view of the Cloud Gate and the beautiful skyline (the bristling skyline of skyscrapers) best things to do in Chicago.
The Navy Pier
This pier on Lake Michigan is over a mile long. It is a magnificent place, which offers a view of the lake and the skyline. Photography lovers will fall in love with this place. Impossible to visit Chicago without a walk on this pier. Here you will find hot dog vendors, small restaurants and a few kiddie rides. But the Chicago must see on the pier is the incredible Ferris wheel, which has been renovated very recently: it is huge and its cabins are brand new and even equipped with air conditioning!
Art Institute of Chicago
For art lovers and even for others, the Art Institute of Chicago, the second largest art museum in the country, is a must. From Grant Wood to Picasso, via Van Gogh, many major works are present in the collections. If you like impressionism, you will be spoiled, because the works of this movement abound.
If you want to see the entire museum, which is an important part of your Chicago sightseeing, be aware that you will need at least half a day, so do not hesitate to come when it opens to avoid the world and be quieter to admire the works.
Shopping on Michigan Avenue
Michigan Avenue is Chicago's best-known and most touristy street. From luxurious boutiques to more accessible boutiques, it is an emblematic place to shop and the best things to do in Chicago. Even if you're just window shopping, the street is very beautiful and you can see the Chicago Water Tower and the Art Institute of Chicago.
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A Cruise on the Chicago River
The Chicago River, 251 kilometers long, crosses all of the things to do downtown Chicago. It is best known for the local tradition of dyeing it green for St. Patrick's Day. Cruise ships allow you to embark on board for tours of about an hour, sometimes a little more, in order to discover the city and its architecture. A guide is present on board to tell you anecdotes about the architecture of the city. A must do in Chicago if you visiting Chicago.
Explore the Loop and Riverwalk in Downtown Chicago
Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States! Bordered by Lake Michigan and crossed by the Chicago River, it perfectly combines the urban environment with nature. A stroll on the Riverwalk allows you to admire its many weigh bridges and buildings with unique architecture. This free things to do in Chicago promenade is part of the Loop, the historic center of Chicago, which is also its business district.
You can also follow the Chicago River by taking the Riverwalk. This walkway designed for pedestrians offers many bars and restaurants, as well as beautiful viewpoints. To explore the neighborhood or get around Chicago, consider taking the skytrain to enjoy the view!
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Finally, it is in this district that you can see the beginning of the mythical route 66, indicated by a sign (“Historic Illinois US 66 Route – Begin”) in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.
If you want to discover the center of Chicago while being accompanied, know that an agency has recently launched walking tours in the company of French-speaking guides! These tours allow you to explore the most beautiful sites of the Loop and learn many anecdotes about its history and its development.
Take a Boat Trip on Lake Michigan or the Chicago River
Impossible to leave Chicago without having taken a boat trip! Cruises of 1h to 3h allow you to observe the city from the mythical Lake Michigan or to progress on the Chicago River in the heart of the buildings.Whatever the experience chosen, you will be amazed and will have a great time of relaxation! Chicago River cruise only: These cruises follow the course of the river and pass through the heart of the city.
They offer very beautiful views of the buildings of Chicago and offer interesting information on their architecture. Cruise on Lake Michigan only: these cruises take place on the lake and allow you to get away from the city a little to enjoy a beautiful unobstructed view of the Skyline (views of the city formed by skyscrapers).
Lake Michigan and Chicago River Cruises: These cruises allow you to navigate both the lake and the river in a single day trip to Chicago. They offer the most complete and undoubtedly the most fun experience, since they take place on board speedboats. These very fast boats allow you to go at full speed on the lake before moving slowly on the waters of the river. If you are looking for an activity that is above all entertaining, we recommend the speed-boat cruise on both the lake and the river.
If you especially want to take the time to navigate in the heart of the city, we recommend the cruise on the Chicago River only. It offers a truly unique point of view at the foot of the skyscrapers. Few cities in the world offer such a spectacle, so it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.
Climb to the Top of a Chicago Skyscraper: SKYDECK or 360
Chicago has some of the tallest skyscrapers in the United States. Like any self-respecting big city, it is therefore possible to climb to the top of certain towers to admire the city from above. The two main observatories are those of the Willis Tower (Skydeck – 412 meters high) and the John Hancock Center (360 Chicago – 304 meters).
If you ask what things to do in Chicago today, we advise you to visit at least one of the two! The two observatories are not located in the same place. The Skydeck is located in the heart of the Loop, while the 360 Chicago is further north of the city, near the lake. In terms of views, we preferred the one offered at 360 Chicago. We could indeed have a view of the city, but also a superb perspective of the lake and the beach that borders Chicago.
The Skydeck being located more centrally, the overall view seemed more “classic” for an American city and therefore less interesting. To compensate, the Skydeck offers an interesting attraction for thrill seekers, a glass floor located more than 400 meters above the ground!
In terms of sensations, the Chicago 360 allows you to cling to a tilting window that leans slightly into the void.
Visit the Most Beautiful Museums in Chicago: Art Institute, Field…
Chicago being the 3rd largest city in the United States, it obviously has its share of quality museums with an international dimension. The museum of arts and the museum of natural history of the city are thus among the most famous in the world! There is also a planetarium and an exciting science museum.
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The main museums in Chicago are:
Art Institute of Chicago (Art Museum)
This is the best known and most famous museum in Chicago. It is one of the largest and oldest art museums in the United States, which presents collections of incredible richness and variety.
You can thus see many paintings and sculptures ranging from impressionism to modern art, impressive weapons and armor or even old works from various eras and geographical areas (Roman Empire, ancient Greece, China , India, Africa…).
Field Museum (Natural History Museum)
This museum is also very famous! You can thus observe the largest and most beautiful skeleton of Tyrannosaurus Rex in the world.
There are also sarcophagi from ancient Egypt or even artifacts over 10,000 years old!
Museum of Science and Industry
This is the largest science museum in the United States! It offers many interactive experiences and allows you to better understand the world while having fun.
Adler Planetarium (Museum of Space and Planets)
This museum allows you to learn more about our solar system and the entire universe. It presents one of the finest collections of astronomical instruments in the world as well as a very powerful telescope. It also offers interactive experiences as well as a dive into the heart of space in its domed theaters.
Chicago History Museum
This establishment presents the country's history through exhibits complete with costumes, photographs, sculptures and paintings.
Museum of Contemporary Art
As its name suggests, this museum displays many works of contemporary art. It is mainly known for its temporary exhibitions. If you like art collections, you might also be interested in the following museums: Chicago Cultural Center, Oriental Institute Museum, American Writers Museum, Richard H. Driehaus Museum… Fly over Chicago in a helicopter and pass over the buildings Among all the cities that it is possible to fly over in the United States, Chicago is really a special case.
Helicopters are indeed authorized to fly above buildings for tourist flights (this is not the case in New York for example). These flights therefore offer an incredible and dizzying perspective, and allow you to observe this superb city from the sky.
With Lake Michigan on the horizon and the huge skyscrapers, the experience is one of the most beautiful that we could have when flying over a city!
Stroll Along Lake Michigan: Pier, Ferris Wheel, Beach…
There's nothing like a walk by the water to recharge your batteries! In addition to offering an ideal setting for beautiful walks, the shores of Lake Michigan also offer good stuff to do in Chicago. By going to the Pier (pier), you can enjoy different Chicago attractions and a Ferris wheel.
You can also stroll on the beach which runs along the south shore of Chicago and offers a unique environment at the foot of the skyscrapers! The shores of Lake Michigan are landscaped over more than 18 km. This boardwalk, called the Lakefront Trail, is accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. We invite you to take your time to discover and enjoy it.
If you have the chance to go to the Pier, we advise you to take a ride on the Ferris Wheel at a height of 46 meters to enjoy a beautiful view of the lake and the pier!
Stroll Through Millennium Park and Grant Park in Chicago
Grant Park is a huge urban park located in the center of Chicago. It is a place very popular with tourists and locals, who like to meet there and walk around. You can see many museums and monuments there, including the magnificent Buckingham Fountain. Millenium Park is a small public park itself integrated into Grant Park. It is home to Chicago's most famous landmark: the Cloud Gate. This 10-meter urban sculpture has a bean shape and offers an impressive distorted reflection of buildings and visitors!
Chicago Event this weekend: See a us sport match in city: NBA, BASEBALL
Sport has a very important place in the United States and particularly top things to do in Chicago. The city of Chicago has some of the most famous sports teams in the country. Everyone knows the famous basketball player, Michael Jordan!
Even though he hasn't played for years, going to see a Chicago Bulls game is still an experience not to be missed when visiting Chicago. If you are rather curious about baseball, you will also be served. Between the Chicago White Sox and the Cubs, the two emblematic teams of the city, you will have the choice.
The former rather represent the south of the city and the Cubs the north.
- The Cubs very recently won the World Series, which had not happened… since 1908.
It is true that the rules of baseball are not easy to understand if you are not used to following this sport.
Attending a match is no less a great experience. The atmosphere is absolutely fantastic and then it is not often that we have the opportunity to attend a baseball game.
It is also one of the only cities to have a professional team in each of the 5 major American sports (basketball, baseball, American football, ice hockey and football).
You don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy these matches... They have indeed many animations and are quickly transformed into an American show!
Visit Lincoln Park Zoo and the John Shedd Aquarium
The Chicago Zoo has two big advantages, that of being free and taking care of the animals. It is located in Lincoln Park and allows you to take a nice walk among rhinos, bears or gorillas. As for the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, it has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful aquariums in the world. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, it offers large well-maintained pools.
In particular, you can see belugas, sea otters, alligators and even sturgeons! The Chicago Aquarium is one of the largest in the United States. You can discover about 2100 animal species there. It's a great fun thing to do in Chicago that will appeal to children and adults alike. There are also shows with killer whales, including a Christmas-themed adaptation at the end of the year.
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Relive Relive the ‘’Gangsters & Prohibition'' ERA: BARS, SHOWS…
The history of Chicago is closely linked to that of Prohibition and organized crime. In the years 1919 to 1933, the consumption of alcohol was prohibited and sold clandestinely by gangsters, the most famous of whom was Al Capone. You can thus have food and drink in former clandestine bars, see a dinner-show dedicated to this period or take a guided tour to discover places linked to Prohibition.
What in Chicago todo? Other Sights and Activities
In addition to all the activities in Chicago presented in our TOP 10, are you looking for other ideas to know what fun things to do in Chicago? Here is a selection of other attractions and activities in Chicago that you might like:
- Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue
- Lincoln Park
- Garfield Park Conservatory
- Time Out Market
- Chicago Theater
- Chicago Theater
- Legoland Discovery Center
- Chicago Architecture Center
- Street Art – Chicago Street Art Guided Walking Tour
- Blue Man Group Show
- Bike or Segway tours
- Hop-on hop-off bus tours
- Indoor skydiving “I Fly” (giant wind tunnel)
- Tasting of a “deep dish pizza”
- Evening in bars with a blues or jazz atmosphere
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- 16 Jan 2023