Here is a list of fabulous Chicago attractions not to miss! Chicago is packed full of stunning landmarks, known for their cutting-edge architecture and modernistic themes. The city is dominated by the massive Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, calling for water lovers to get out on cruises and kayaks.Stroll in the biggest underground shopping mall on the planet and take the kids to see an amazing Children's Museum, Aquarium and Science Museum. Relax on a beautiful Riverwalk before setting off for a decadent Medieval meal complete with jousting knights and sword fights.
The first Chicago attraction that cannot be missed is Lake Michigan. The City is built on the shores of this massive waterway and is blessed with miles of beachfront, fabulous marinas and beautiful scenic walks. Book an adrenaline pumping high speed boat trip across the water or take it slower when you kayak or canoe with a guide and see the famous landmarks from the water.
Enjoy a walk or a bike ride along the miles of Lakefront Path. Relax at a café on a marina and watch the hundreds of boats, big and small, as they come and go. Romantics must enjoy a fabulous sunset cruise with breathtaking views over the Lake, the City and the iconic Mackinac Bridge.
If heights don't scare you, this is the next not-to-be missed Chicago attraction. The Willis Tower is the second tallest building in the United States. It stands at 1454 feet and features 110 stories. Take the lift to the famous Skydeck on the 103rd floor where you will have breathtaking panoramic views of the city and, depending on the weather, see as far as 50 miles over the surrounding countryside. If you are brave, step out into one of the clear glass exposed balconies that protrude from the building and get suspended in space high above the ground.
The 70 second lift ride to the top is also educational and while you wait in the queue, a film updates you on the amazing statistics of the Tower.
Another massive waterway makes for a great Chicago attraction. The Chicago River winds its way through the city, passing many of the famous landmarks and makes for a great day outing.
Book a trip on a boat, a canoe, a kayak or a quaint gondola and sail with your guide along the River as you are informed about the landmarks and their history. The Chicago Architecture River Cruise focuses on the astounding architecture that makes the City famous and you will learn about the history of more than 40 iconic buildings and the Great Fire that inspired the rebuilding.
For some fun, try to see the River on St Patrick's Day when it is dyed bright green!
Those with an eye for design, cannot miss Millennium Park, it is a stunning Chicago attraction. The Park is built on top of massive parking garages and a railroad yard and is often classified as a rooftop garden. It houses some of the most beautiful examples of modern architecture in the world. See the amazing silver band, created by Frank Gehry, that stands 36m high and is actually an outdoor design gallery. Visit the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink and the AT&T Plaza. See the Crown Fountain, a delight for the kids with images of locals spewing water out of their mouths and then be awed at the Cloud Gate sculpture, shaped like a massive bean and made from shiny silver steel.
For a great family Chicago attraction, a visit to the John G. Shedd Aquarium is a must. This old-style building with marble exterior, holds the largest collection of aquatic creatures in the world. Spend time and see the Oceanarium which is designed to recreate the marine conditions of the north west coast. Take pictures of the tiny beluga whales, the harbor seals and the white-sided dolphins. For a closer look, venture downstairs and watch the marine life through special viewing windows.
Shark lovers will be thrilled to see a recreation of a Philippine reef, teaming with sharks. Then explore the Amazon Rising educational exhibition which brings to life different seasons in the Amazon rain forests.
Dinosaurs always thrill kids and a visit to the Field Museum is another fascinating Chicago attraction.
The star of the show is the 41 feet long, 13 feet high, Tyrannosaurus Rex, fondly known as 'Sue' after the fossil hunter who discovered the skeleton in 1990. This massive display will take your breath away as you enter the building. Then set off to learn how fossils are cleaned and preserved as you watch the palaeontologists at work.
See the Evolving Planet Exhibition which will teach you about the evolution and extinction of the dinosaurs and then set off to see real Egyptian mummies in the tombs of the Inside Ancient Egypt show.
Visiting Lincoln Park and the Zoo is a fabulous Chicago attraction that makes a perfect family day outing.
The Park is a beautiful open area in the city, located next to the Lake, where you can walk, hike along the trails or relax with a picnic basket. In winter it is covered with snow and provides fabulous opportunities for cross-country skiing. In summer, sunbathing is the order of the day.
The Park covers 485 hectares and also includes a famous free-admission Zoo. Kids will be delighted to see big cats, gorillas, reptiles and monkeys. The Aquarium features huge polar bears and a Lion Seal pool. Before you leave, make sure you get a photo of the huge statue of Lincoln that dominates the Park.
If you want more art and Picasso sends shivers down your spine, then The Picasso is the next Chicago attraction to explore. The Picasso is a massive contemporary, modernistic structure created by the master and given to the city by the artists himself. It is 50 feet tall and has become a loved unique landmark for locals and tourists defining the artistic spirit of Chicago.
The statue is crafted from welded steel and was forged at the US Steel Company in 1967, based on a small model created by the artist. It soars into the air with an arrangement of flat panels, swirls, bars and curves that cannot fail to thrill.
The Windy City played a decisive part in shaping the history of the USA and visiting the History Museum is a great Chicago attraction. Well documented and beautifully preserved exhibits will enchant historians. The collections feature artifacts from the city and from America. Learn about the growth of the city, its murky mobster past and the influence it had on culture in the USA. Explore the life of Abraham Lincoln, the history of jazz music and the development of sports and transportation. There is a lot to see, so plan for a day or more! The Museum was opened in 1856 and was badly damaged in the 1871 Great Fire. Today it is securely housed in a fireproof building.
If listening to great jazz in an outdoor venue is your thing, then Grant Park is another fabulous Chicago attraction.
This stunning venue is also home to the world famous Art Institute, the Museum Campus and the Shedd Aquarium. Set in the middle of the city, this green space attracts both locals and tourists, offering a space to relax, walk and explore. It is bordered on one side by the stunning Lake Michigan and on the other by the city skyline. The massive Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain offers a breathtaking sight on the lakefront.
The Park rocks in summer with huge outdoor events like the Lollapalooza Music Festival and the Chicago Jazz Festival. Not to be missed!
Be part of the most popular Chicago attraction, Navy Pier! This dock area is the launching point for boat, cruise, kayak and canoe tours and also provides a fabulous entertainment venue if you prefer to stay on dry land.
Kids will be enthralled by the Children's Museum which offers thrilling high-tech rides, interactive educational exhibits and fast food stalls. Take a ride on the gigantic Ferris wheel to see panoramic views over the harbor and the City. Enjoy the famous carousel with its old carved horses and period organ music. Relax at the waterfront café and soak up the atmosphere of this unique venue, before setting off on a sunset cruise where you can sip wine and be tempted by a fine-dining dinner.
Not every city has a Magnificent Mile and taking a stroll down this iconic street is an amazing Chicago attraction.
Michigan Avenue is world famous for its stunning array of landmarks, high-class shopping and beautiful architecture. See the only building to survive the Great Fire, the Water Tower. Then pass the Tribune Tower, the tall John Hancock Center and the famous Trump International Hotel. For some retail therapy, stop in at exclusive boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bloomingdale's or Saks Fifth Avenue. Alternatively just look the part, slip on your dark sunshades and window shop! Then relax at a café, order a snack and soak up the atmosphere of this upmarket street.
Wrigley Field is a Chicago attraction that will make baseball lovers weak at the knees!
This iconic venue is the home of the Chicago Cubs and is one of the oldest baseball parks in the major league. The grounds are steeped in tradition and history and loyal supporters pack the stadium full even though their team has not had any major wins since 1908. But don't be put off! This thrilling venue will enchant with its ivy-covered clubhouse, old photos and magnificent grounds. If you cannot get a ticket, head to Sheffield Avenue and take a peep through an opening known locally as the Knothole. Serious fans must do the guided walk that takes you through the dugouts, the clubhouse and the press box.
Art lovers will no doubt head to the best Chicago attraction of all, the Art Institute. Even if you are not an art expert, this venue should be on your itinerary. It houses world famous works by iconic masters like Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renior, Matisse, Picasso plus many more. The building is an historical landmark and is known for the two massive bronze lions that stand guard at the front.
See the famous painting by Grant Wood, depicting the farmer with a pitchfork and his spinster daughter. Then admire Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Serious art lovers must take an in depth tour with a knowledgeable guide where you can spend the entire day exploring these treasures.
Getting a bird's eye view of the city is the next Chicago attraction to discover. The looming Hancock Observatory and Tower is located on the famous Michigan Avenue and stands at 1127 feet high.
Take the lift up to the 94th floor where you will find the 360 Deck and be awed by the astounding views. Then go up two more floors and settle down in the luxurious Signature Lounge with a glass of vintage wine. If the weather is good, you can see across three states, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Interactive displays will update you on the landmarks and the history of the famous buildings you can spot. Then relax in the Architect's Corner and sip an exotic cocktail while you watch the sunset and the city lights appear.
Star gazing is taken to another level at this amazing Chicago attraction. The Adler Planetarium makes a great day out for the whole family.
The building is designed with 12 sides, one for each Zodiac sign. Each can be explored and offers digital shows, interactive displays and fabulous educational thrills that will delight the kids. See supernovas explode and watch would happen if a meteor had to hit the Earth. Visit other galaxies and ride in a space ship. Explore planets in our galaxy like Mars and Venus and then enjoy the Shoot For The Moon exhibit which teaches about lunar exploration. There are a myriad of displays and getting the kids out will be a battle!
Another great Chicago attraction designed to thrill children is found at the Children's Museum.
This modern and cutting-edge interactive venue allows the young ones to explore a host of topics in a fun way, learning as they go along. Kids can dig for dinosaurs, sail their own pirate ship, catch fish in a river and build a huge structure. They can climb the three-story schooner and make use of the costumes and toys throughout, that add to the authenticity of the experience.
Programs are current and relevant and change regularly, so you will never get bored. With three stories to explore, this adventure is likely to take a whole day or more!
The Windy City is often subjected to extreme weather, but this does not deter the locals. An entire underground city for shopping, eating and entertainment is an amazing Chicago attraction that requires you to get out your credit cards and get going!
The Pedway is a massive walkway that connects the high-rise buildings with shops, bars, hotels, restaurants and train stations. Apart from serving thousands of locals in their daily business, it offers a fabulous opportunity for tourists to explore the city without stepping out outdoors into the cold or wet weather. Development of the Pedway started in 1951 and covers an area underground of about 40 blocks of the main business district.
Looking for mind-blowing thrills? A visit to the Museum of Science and Industry is the next Chicago attraction to put on your list.
This astounding venue will thrill adults and kids with over two thousand exhibits to see and explore. Most are interactive and educational and designed to delight with visual aids and cutting-edge technology.
Learn all about the Earth ranging from abstract questions about time travel to how your breakfast cereal is made. See the Apollo 8 command module and then explore a real German U-boat from World War II. After all the mind games, relax in the lovely Jackson Park and enjoy the Japanese Garden. It is a beautiful nature oasis filled with lakes, birds and landscaped grounds.
Exploring the downtown business district is the next Chicago attraction to put on your list. This area is one of the largest economical districts in the USA and also houses many of the famous landmarks and tourist attractions. Museums, galleries and restaurants are found in abundance and a day to explore may not be enough! Start off at the Willis Tower and take the lift ride to the Skydeck for astounding views. Relax at the beautiful Buckingham Fountain and visit the Art Institute and the Field Museum. Wander through Millennium Park to see the massive fountain and soak up the sun. A hop-on-and-off bus tour through this district is a fun way to get to all the main attractions without having to walk too far.
Every large city has its authentic Chinatown and this wonderful Chicago attraction cannot be overlooked.
Chinese immigrants were originally attracted to California when the transcontinental railroad was being built. During the 1800's they began experiencing discrimination and started moving east to Chicago, looking for a better life. They brought with them ancient culture, tradition and exotic foods that have now become a major tourist attraction. Visit the numerous small traditional restaurants and indulge in Chinese delicacies, shop in the quaint markets and pick up a souvenir. Many museum offer wonderful displays of Chinese art. Immerse yourself for a day in this corner of age-old eastern culture in a modern city!
Photo byGary Craig
The Windy City does not do things in half measures and the Lakefront Trail is the next amazing Chicago attraction to explore. This 18 mile paved walkway runs along the banks of the stunning Lake Michigan and provides a recreational area for those who love the outdoors but want to remain in the city.
Walk, ride a bike, skateboard or go for a run. The sights are mind-blowing as you pass famous landmarks like Lincoln Park, the Zoo, Navy Pier, the Shedd Aquarium and the astounding Buckingham Fountain.
This skyline is one of the most iconic on the planet and taking photos is a must. Pack a picnic basket and relax on the landscaped lawns, soak up the ambiance and watch the people.
The Riverwalk is another water themed Chicago attraction that must be put on your list. This development offers a continuous walkway along the Chicago River, from Lake Michigan to the downtown business district. The Walk offers a host of shops, restaurants, bars and luxury hotels. Stop and watch a live concert taking place on one of the large stages. Hire a canoe or a kayak and go boating on the river. Enjoy local food from the many stalls offering traditional fare. If you are a food fanatic, book for the Riverwalk Food Tour, where your guide will take you to off-the-beaten-track venues.
This area is popular with locals and tourists. Visit at night for an altogether different look when thousands of lights twinkle over the water.
Every music lover knows of the Hard Rock Café and visiting the one in the Windy City is a must-do Chicago attraction. Steeped in history of jazz, music memorabilia, famous record labels and old guitars, you will first need to take a tour of the restaurant before settling down to sample some of the iconic food on offer.
Order the signature Legendary Burger and a Rockarita drink and soak up the ambiance. The venue hosts an ever changing array of events and concerts, so check it out to see what is on when you are there. The café in Chicago also specialises in local entrées that cannot be missed, to get that authentic Chicago mood going.
If Medieval is your thing, get dressed up and set off for a bout of jousting at the next Chicago attraction. The Medieval Times offers you a full-scale grand castle experience.
Explore this fabulous venue which resembles an 11th century castle, complete with old artifacts, coats of arms and heavy knights armor. Then get ready for the games! Your host is King Carlos and Princess Catalina and you will obey the rules. Watch nail-biting sword fights, cheer on the knights on horses, admire the falconry skills and jousting tournaments.
When the games are over settle down to a lavish meal that you dig into without cutlery, served by the Castle's serfs and wenches. Enjoy the likes of herb-basted potato, bisque soup and oven roasted chicken. Adult beverages are available at the bar and kids are also catered for.
A stunning memorial built to honor fallen American soldiers is the next Chicago attraction to explore. Soldier Field is also the home to the Chicago Bears, of the National Football League. The stadium was constructed in 1924 and has showcased iconic sporting events over the years, like the boxing match between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey.
Franklin Roosevelt visited it personally in 1944 and it hosted the first World Cup Games held in the USA.
Book tickets for a match and cheer on the team with the locals.
The locals are sports mad and yet another sporting venue is the next Chicago attraction to explore. The united Tower is home to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. This amazing venue can seat over 20000 people and covers over one million square feet of space.
It hosts more than 200 games annually as well as a range of concerts and special events. The famous acoustic system magnifies the clapping and roaring of the crowd to create a spine-tingling atmosphere. Outside are statues of Stan Mikita and Michael Jordan in action that require a few selfies to be taken.
Chicago Botanic Garden is a beautiful Chicago attraction, and not just in summertime. You will enjoy your visit all year around, because the scenery is constantly changing. You can explore the place by strolling around, or by taking a 35-minute guided tram tour. There are 25 display gardens and 2 conservation trails. My favorite spots here are Japanese Garden and Rose Garden. A lot of interesting birds and butterflies are flying around. So don't forget to bring your camera. Little ones will establish a better connection with nature while visiting the Growing Garden and the Sensory Garden. The Model Railroad Garden will be very amusing and educational for the kids as well.
Chicago Botanic Garden hosts the variety of special events in spring, summer and autumn. Another good news is that the entrance is free! There is a catch though - the parking will cost you $25. But you can avoid this expenditure if you get there by train and then take a short walk.
Lincoln Park Conservatory is located right next to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This Chicago attraction is smaller than some other Chicago botanical gardens, but worth visiting nevertheless.
The inside area of the exhibit is located in the charming Victorian Era glass house. The place is full of palms and other unusual for Chicago flora. So in winter time the visit here feels like a vacation to a tropical island. Be prepared to get warm and wet, because the setting is very close to the real rain forest in several rooms.
The Orchid House has a huge variety of orchid species. Visit there is the best stress-reduction therapy for me. The Fern Room is the place to go with the kids - they will just love finding hidden dinosaurs! Don't forget to visit the Lincoln Park Conservatory during the holidays, as there are always some special exhibits highlighting the spirit of the event.