active family travel,  Travel

Family Travel Experts Weigh in on Their Favourite Chicago Attractions

I don’t think it’s possible to be disappointed when you visit Chicago. One of the largest cities in the US., Chicago is rich in culture, cuisine, music, and shopping too! Whether that’s a romantic weekend adventure or a fun family getaway, there are many Chicago attractions that make it a worthy travel destination for your next trip.


While I adore Chicago I know many travel bloggers have been more frequently than I have. And several call Chicago home, so I thought I’d ask the experts to share their thoughts and picks for Chicago attractions you cannot miss!

The Insider’s Guide to Chicago Attractions

Whether you love museums or beaches, food or music, Chicago has something for everyone. There’s a lot to do and many well know sites as well as a few hidden gems you want to make note of for your next visit.

The First Few Spots Here are Well Known Landmarks You Need To Visit. These are the ones I adore.

Unsplash photo by Fineas Anton

Navy Pier

Perhaps one of the best known Chicago attractions, Navy Pier has a little something for everyone. From a huge Ferris wheel to tons of delicious food to an IMAX theater, Navy Pier is one of those places that you could spend a day at easily.


Millennium Park

Home to the famous Bean, Millennium Park is the perfect place to enjoy a warm summer day. Featuring open green spaces, sculptures, and and all sorts of concerts and community activities all year round, you can always find something to do at Millennium Park. I once did a group yoga class in this park. It was incredible.


House of Blues

If you love music, there’s no better place to visit in Chicago than the House of Blues. Featuring delicious food, a laid back vibe, and the best music scene in the city, the House of Blues is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and enjoy some great food and even greater music.

Unsplash photo by Tim Trad

Willis Tower

Formerly know as Sears Tower, Willis Tower is home to the famous Sky Deck. Take an elevator ride to the top of the tower and gaze out on the city on a deck made completely of glass. Be warned, the floor is also glass, so those who fear heights probably shouldn’t venture up there! 😉

Lincoln Park Zoo

One of the most well known Chicago attractions is also one of the best for families. With all the habitats you’d expect to find at a big zoo, as well as education and conservation programs, the Lincoln Park Zoo is THE zoo to see in Chicago.

Chicago Children’s Museum

If you have kids, the Chicago Children’s Museum is one of the must-see Chicago attractions. Featuring a ton of interactive exhibits that focus on immersive, play based learning, the Chicago Children’s Museum turns a learning experience into a travel experience you children won’t ever forget.

Water Tower Place

What trip is complete without shopping? If you make your way to Chicago, be sure to visit Water Tower Place. A Chicago landmark on the Magnificent Mile, this huge, 8 story mall features over 100 stores, a number of restaurants, and great entertainment, including a live theatre!

What to Do with Teens:

Dr Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators on Chicago Attractions for Teens:

“Depending on your teen’s interests, there is much to see and do in Chicago. Our creative, artistic, theatre-loving teen always chooses to see a show, spend time at the Chicago Institute of Art, and play near the Bean (everyone plays near the Bean! If you sit back and people-watch, it’s also great fun to see people pose with their reflections). She loves to explore local history and the arts at the Chicago Cultural Center, and then pop next door to world-renowned Intelligentsia Coffee for a mocha.”

“We also love to shop – but maybe not only the big shops on the Magnificent Mile! We have found treasures at both Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button (which has to be the most disorganized fabric store I’ve ever been to – it’s wonderful!) and area Ragstock stores, where we dig for vintage fashions for her cosplays.”

Museums and Aquariums:

Of course, the big Chicago attractions are also fantastic –

Shedd Aquarium, with amazing habitats, exhibits, and educational and conservation programs, the aquarium has hours of undersea adventure.

The Field Museum

If dinosaurs, animals, and nature are your thing, you’ll want to be sure to stop by the Field Museum. Home of Sue, the famous T. Rex, skeleton, The Field Museum offers all manner of exhibits devoted to dinosaurs (most famously), the natural world, and a myriad of limited time exhibits.

Museum of Science and Industry

If science and technology is more your speed, make sure you drop by the Museum of Science and Industry. Featuring exhibits devoted to flight, sea exploration, robots, and more, it’s truly educational.

Don’t forget the many smaller museums and cultural centers.

We have always loved the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago – they have an INCREDIBLE archaeology and mummy section – it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen (and their online mummification game is magnificent). There are excellent events there, as well as lectures.

And, of course, eating! Plenty of great ethnic eats, coffeeshops, and deliciousness galore.

Where to EAT:

Sarah of on her favourite Chicago Foodie Hotspots

“Chicago is an amazing food city. No trip to Chicago is complete without trying some of our famous eats. If you are into James Beard Award-winning chefs, we have plenty. We also have lots of family friendly restaurants with delicious dishes that are famous in Chicago.”
“It’s fun to explore the neighborhoods of Chicago and find great places where us locals like to eat. When people ask me for my favorite quintessential Chicago foods here’s where I tell them to go, all of these are family friendly and famous for classic Chicago dishes:”
For Chicago Deep Dish Pizza – Pequod’s, Lou Malnati’s, our Pizzeria Due
For Chicago Hot Dogs- Superdawg or Portillos
Best Italian Beef – Mr. Beef or Al’s Italian Beef
Best BBQ Ribs – Carson’s
Best Jewish Deli – Manny’s Coffee Shop and Deli
Burgers made famous by Saturday Night Live – Billy Goat Tavern
Fancy lunch in the old historic Marshall Field’s (Now Macy’s) – The Walnut Room
For an authentic German meal in the loop – The Berghoff is a classic
For an authentic meal in Greek Town – Greek Islands
For an authentic meal in China Town – Phoenix
For an authentic meal in Little Italy – Francesca’s on Taylor
For a fun lunch before or after Lincoln Park Zoo- R.J. Grunts
Looking for the Best Desserts in Chicago? Sarah has anentire post dedicated to that topic. You are welcome! )

Where to Dig a Little Deeper:

Francesca of  The Working Mom’s Travels

“The best way to really experience Chicago is to visit its distinctly diverse neighborhoods. I grew up in one of Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods, Little Italy, and am an advocate for preserving the history and culture of such neighborhoods. A few of my favorites are: Andersonville (Swedish-American); Hyde Park, home to prestigious University of Chicago and site of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893; and Lincoln Square (German-American).

Chicago Attractions that Have you Saying, “I’m Glad I Came!”

These are some of the travel experts’ recommendations for top Chicago attractions. In addition to these places, there are many small quirky shops and cafes, parks and more. So if you’re planning a trip to Chicago, be sure to wear your walking shoes and make sure you check out these great Chicago attractions.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • April H

    Wow, this is such a great resource for traveling to Chicago! I would LOVE to go to the Willis Tower and step out on that glass deck. Most of all I would like to eat a Chicago deep dish pizza. Sounds like they have more foodie options than I thought. Maybe I will just eat the whole trip, lol. A day at the zoo would be fun too!

  • Jenn

    i have only been to Chicago a couple of times, but I am dying to go back. I would love to visit some of these attractions. I need a weekend there when I have a lot of free time to explore. I love how much the city has to offer.

  • Censie Sawyer

    I went to Chicago for a work conference and did not have any time to do any site seeing. So bummed. My husband has never been to Chicago either so I hope that one day we can plan a trip to really get the whole experience. Thanks for these great travel tips and ideas for Chicago.

  • Sapphire Kharyzma

    I didn’t know that there was so much to see and do in Chicago. I’ve always wanted to visit Chicago. It’s definitely on my bucket list. I think I will head there before the end of 2017.

  • Cyn Gagen

    There is just so much to do and see in Chicago! It’s a great city to go to but I had no idea about some of these. Will bookmark this for my next trip there.

  • Shelley King

    I love the Willis Tower and Navy Pier. One of the things I always wanted to see were the Tsavo lions. I was told they are in one of the museums. I have watched the movie The Ghost in the Darkness many times and have always wanted to check them out. It just seems there has never been time. THANK you for the dessert article. Another thing I love is visiting Pizza cities!! YUMMY!

  • Nadalie

    CHICAGO! I’ve never been, but it’s one of those cities that I’d love to explore. So many iconic landmarks to check out. Love that they have a giant Ferris wheel too, classic landmark worth visiting. I hear the architecture is breathtaking and that it’s one of those cities that just has character. Can’t wait to go!

  • Yona Williams

    I’ve been trying to get my sweetie to ride the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier for the longest time. We visit Chicago often and we see it in the distance when we go bike-riding. I did manage to drag him to the Field Museum. I think he had fun. I LOVED it…I’m actually planning a post on it soon. We’ve been to Lincoln Park Zoo – it was in walking distance to where we were staying.

  • Tami

    We have got to make a trip to Chicago now. I didn’t know they had so many great attractions for the entire family. I think first we will go see the Water Tower Place.