10 Great Things to do in Chicago
You can spend time in the Loop and visit some world-famous museums and cultural institutions or journey to surrounding neighborhoods to check out local stores and hangouts. Here is our list of the top 10 things to do in Chicago.
1. Go up
For a stomach-dropping view of Chicago, take yourself up to the Observatory Tilt platform on the John Hancock Center—a moving platform that slowly tilts over the side of the building at a 30-degree angle.
2. Get higher
If you want to get even more altitude, head to the Willis Tower Skydeck. From 103 floors above the streets, visitors can see as far as 50 miles in all directions from the top of the iconic skyscraper. If you’re feeling brave, step out onto the Ledge—a glass cube suspended from the side of the building that will have you walking on air.
3. Meet the monkeys
Housing more than 1,200 animals, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the few remaining free zoos in the United States. The 35-acre menagerie may seem small, but it packs in plenty of amazing sights, including the Kovler Lion House and the Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Get a closer look at a shark, touch a stingray or take a selfie with Luna, the sea otter, at the Shedd Aquarium—a slice of tropical paradise in the middle of Chicago.
5. Be cultural
Housing one of the largest collections of modern art in the USA, the Museum of Contemporary Art also hosts major touring exhibits, film screenings and performing artists. Be sure to get a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant and stroll through their picturesque sculpture garden.
6. Listen up
Housed in what used to be the city’s public library, the city-block-wide Chicago Cultural Center offers free classical concerts Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays.
7. Get back to nature
You don’t have to take a trip downtown to hang out in a world-class park. If you’re on the North Side, spend an afternoon amid the lagoons of Humboldt Park or fly a kite on Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park. The South Side offers ponds for fishing in Washington Park as well as the relaxing atmosphere of the Japanese-styled Osaka Gardens at Jackson Park.
8. Find that flower power
Walk among ferns and flowers at the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest of its kind in the USA. Inside, there are 120,000 plants spread across 1.6 acres, including the popular Fern Room, with an indoor lagoon and waterfall. A popular rain-or-shine destination for nature lovers, the conservatory holds seasonal flower shows as well as occasional concerts and events.
9. Get physical
Whether you run, walk, blade or bike, the 18-mile-long Lakefront Trail is for you. Stretching from Hollywood Avenue on the North Side to 71st Street on the south, the trail is a great way to experience Chicago’s lakefront.
10. Stay cool
Experience one of the city’s finest winter traditions from November to March. Ice skating in Millennium Park offers one of the best views of the downtown skyline. Admission is free with free skating lessons Friday through Sunday one hour before the rink opens.
Chicago is the city that gave the world the skyscraper—and its architectural, cultural and culinary ambition continues to soar. After New York, this is the second biggest business, financial and cultural center in the USA. It’s also one of the country’s music capitals, with a proliferation of jazz, blues and gospel clubs. There is so much to discover in the Windy City; there’s just not enough time, so be sure to arrange a return visit.
Text: Cindy-Lou Dale