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!
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 WellTraveledKids.com on her favourite Chicago Foodie Hotspots
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.