What to do when visiting Chicago.
Chicago, or the Windy City, is known for being absolutely unforgettable to all who visit. Lying along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is loved for its interesting architecture, fun art scene, cultural experiences and of course, its shopping opportunities.
It’s also the third-largest city in the United States, so whether you’re on a day trip or visiting for the week, you can relax knowing that the city has you covered with plenty to do. Here’s our top five picks of the very best attractions you should visit in Chicago.
While you may not recognize the name, you’re sure to recognize the 110-ton sculpture bean-like that marks this attraction. Millennium Park, part of the larger Grant Park, is located in downtown Chicago.
Its centerpiece, Cloud Gate, is not one to be missed- while its design is mind blowing enough, the beautiful mirror-like stainless steel that covers it also reflects its surroundings to make for the very best photographs. Inspired by liquid mercury, the piece is the backdrop for hundreds of concerts, exhibitions, tours and family activities that take place in the city every year.
Plus, from November 15 to March 8, you’ll find a beautiful ice rink center stage so you can take a spin on the wintry ground (or a few falls, if you’re anything like us).
Pretty much all of us love a rooftop bar, whether it’s to see beautiful views of the city from up high or just to have a few drinks after a long day. When summer comes around, some of the very best of the city’s bars, hotels and restaurants offer Chicagoans the chance to take in some vitamin D while sipping on an ice-cold drink.
There’s plenty out there for you to choose from in Chicago, too: visit The London House for a range of cocktails and well-crafted bar eats, or head to Celeste for an incredible tradition Victorian pub scene. We’re sure that no matter your taste in food, drink, and style – there’s something out there on the Chicagoan skyline for you.
If you’d like to browse more offerings, check out Cool Things Chicago’s list of the hotels with the best rooftop bars. Some of the very best views are to be seen at night when the lights of the city are shining, so be sure to head after sundown.
Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History is perfect if dinosaurs are more your thing, or you need something to suit the whole family during the daytime. Founded in 1893 and originally named the Colombian Museum of Chicago, this building was set up to showcase the biological and anthropological collections gathered for the World Columbian Exposition. The world’s fair was held in Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492, and it goes on to honor him even now in 2019.
The permanent collection contains around 20 million impressive artifacts and specimens covering zoology, geology, botany, and anthropology. Exhibitions include Fantastic Bugs, the Cyrus Tang Hall of China, Maximo the Titanosaur, Inside Ancient Eygypt, Audubon’s Birds of America, and Brewing Up Chicago. Our favorite, however, has to be ‘Sue’ – the world’s largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.
Of course, you simply can’t touchdown in Chicago without visiting the home of the Chicago Cubs. Wrigley Field is the second-oldest Major League Baseball park in America and has seen some of the most legendary moments of the sport. From the 1917 no-hitter pitching duel between the Cubs’ Jim Vaughn and the Reds’ Fred Toney to Babe Ruth’s “called shot” during game three of the 1932 World Series, there’s plenty of history behind the venue.
While most will see a game during the in-season, ballpark tours are also conducted in the offseason to give you a little more insight into the team year-round. Within 60 minutes, the Cubs promise to give visitors the chance to experience the full beauty and charm that fans have come to love – including a visit to the dugouts. Plus, if you’re feeling like splashing a little cash or are a major fan, the team also offers private VIP tours that take you through the grounds with your very own personal tour guide. Check out the tours here.
When the sightseeing and shopping get a little too much, it’s probably time to go and take a stroll through Lincoln Park, which is of course named after the US President. This six-mile stretch of green land overlooked by some of the city’s tallest skyscrapers is the best way to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle and take in Chicago’s largest park.
It’s also home to Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the US, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the Chicago History Museum. Don’t get us wrong, though – there’s still plenty for those who simply want to enjoy the great outdoors, including bike trails, playing fields, jogging paths, and even beaches for swimming.
A number of significant Chicago statues can also be found within the park grounds, including Augustus Saint Gaudens’ Standing Statue of Lincoln, and the Lincoln Park Conservatory is definitely worth a visit. With 20 million visitors every year the park is the second most visited city park in the US, behind Central Park, but you’re sure to find a quiet spot just for you.
The bottom line
The truth is, we’re sure that you’ll have a great time no matter where you visit in Chicago. From towering skyscrapers to the gorgeous lakeshore there’s plenty to take in, and we’re proud to call it our home.
It’s not all about the buildings, either – Chicago’s residents are also the friendliest around and are sure to help you out if you take a wrong turn or aren’t sure what to order on the menu. The Windy City truly does embody American values and showcases exactly what can be done with a little hard work and determination.