Trip and Wellness

12 Top Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Chicago

As you explore the magnificent city of Chicago, you’ll be captivated by its towering skyscrapers that reach for the sky and the breathtaking views of its expansive lakeshore. Everywhere you go, you will sense a vibrant energy and a sense of pride emanating from the iconic landmarks and the friendly faces of the city’s residents. Chicago, known as the Windy City, invites travelers to experience the essence of the American heartland. A visit to this vibrant city provides an opportunity to witness the remarkable achievements that can be attained through perseverance and dedication.

Chicago boasts a plethora of must-see tourist attractions, each offering a distinct vantage point of the city’s iconic skyline. Located on the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan, this city offers a delightful waterfront experience. Visitors can indulge in the beauty of lakeside parks while exploring a pier filled with exciting attractions. Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, offers a plethora of diverse experiences and an abundance of activities to explore. It is a destination that should not be missed.

1. Magnificent Mile

Magnificent Mile
Source: istockphoto

Located in a renowned travel destination, the Magnificent Mile offers an exceptional shopping experience. This vibrant area boasts a wide array of department stores and high-end boutiques, complemented by numerous expansive shopping centers. Spanning from Oak Street to the Chicago River, this vibrant stretch of Michigan Avenue offers an unparalleled travel experience for those seeking a shopping extravaganza.

Immersed in the midst of towering skyscrapers and renowned landmarks like the Chicago Water Tower and Wrigley Building, this luxurious district earned its moniker from real estate tycoon Arthur Robloff during the 1940s. When exploring the vibrant ‘Mag Mile’, travelers will be delighted by its array of charming boutiques and high-end designer shops. Moreover, this bustling district offers a plethora of exquisite dining options and opulent hotels, ensuring a memorable experience for visitors.

The “Mag Mile,” as its sometimes called, offers convenient access to a variety of iconic landmarks and top tourist attractions in Chicago. These include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Wrigley Building, and the historic Chicago Water Tower.

2. Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago
Source: istockphoto.

The Art Institute of Chicago is an unmissable destination, being one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Its global reputation only adds to its allure. Located in a stunning Beaux-Arts building constructed for the 1893 World Expo, you can explore its vast exhibitions and galleries nestled within the expansive Grant Park.

Established in 1879, you can explore a mesmerizing assortment of artwork that spans from renowned artists like Magritte and Monet to the likes of Renoir, Rembrandt, and Picasso. While traveling to this destination, you will discover that the museum is renowned for its impressive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. However, it is worth noting that the museum also showcases a diverse range of artifacts and artworks from distant regions such as Africa and Asia. Two of the most renowned American artworks can be found in this destination: Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.

3. Millennium Park

Millennium Park
Source: istockphoto

Millennium Park had gained quite a reputation for its delays and cost overruns, causing it to miss its anticipated opening date by a significant amount of time. However, when I arrived at my destination, the biggest surprise of all was that it turned out to be quite enjoyable.

In addition to vast green landscapes and expansive areas, this destination boasts contemporary sculptures made of steel and glass. Among them is The Bean, also known as Cloud Gate, which has become a must-see attraction for tourists visiting Chicago. Additionally, visitors can enjoy outdoor concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion, a stunning architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Gehry. During the winter season, visitors can enjoy gliding across the ice at a charming ice rink. As the weather warms up, the same location transforms into a delightful open-air restaurant, offering a unique dining experience.

4. 360 Chicago Observation Deck

360 Chicago Observation Deck

Situated within the John Hancock Center office building, 360 Chicago is an observation deck located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building. It is easily identifiable by its distinctive dark metallic exterior and cross-braced steel design that ascends along the building’s façade. The expansive glass-walled observation deck offers panoramic views extending across Chicago’s skyline and beyond.

For more adventurous visitors, the deck boasts its newest attraction, “Tilt,” providing a unique perspective from over 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile. Here, visitors are tilted outward at an angle, allowing them to peer directly downward from the glass enclosure.

The remainder of the building houses various shops, offices, and apartments, along with a multimedia exhibit located on the first floor, offering insights into the city of Chicago and the construction of the John Hancock Building.

5. Field Museum of Natural History

Field Museum of Natural History
Source: istockphoto

The Field Museum of Natural History owes its existence to the World’s Fair that took place in Chicago in 1893, attracting travelers from all over the world. Originally established as a means to explore the wonders of different destinations, the museum swiftly transformed into a treasure trove of captivating travel artifacts and immersive exhibitions.

In 1921, the collection found its way to its present location in Grant Park, which is a captivating part of the Museum Campus. Travelers can explore a diverse range of exhibits, including a captivating taxidermy collection featuring majestic African elephants and an extensive array of Native American artifacts. A must-see attraction in Chitown is the museum’s renowned Tyrannosaurus skeleton, known as “Sue.” Stretching an impressive 12 meters (40 feet) in length, this dinosaur exhibit captivates countless visitors and is considered the highlight among the museum’s vast collection of specimens. No trip to Chitown would feel truly complete without experiencing the awe-inspiring presence of Sue.

6. Navy Pier

Navy Pier
Source: istockphoto

One of the top tourist attractions in Chicago is the renowned Navy Pier, a captivating attraction that extends into the beautiful Lake Michigan. It provides a plethora of enjoyable and family-oriented entertainment options. Nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, the kilometer-long pier beckons travelers with its vibrant carnival rides, enchanting gardens, and a myriad of captivating attractions. Indulge in the delightful experience as you explore the countless restaurants and charming shops scattered throughout, offering a wide range of enticing options for every traveler to savor.

While exploring the vibrant streets of a new city, you’ll stumble upon a variety of attractions along the bustling pier. From captivating theaters and captivating museums to lively public plazas and enchanting performance spaces, this destination offers a plethora of cultural experiences. Throughout the year, immerse yourself in the local culture by attending numerous events and festivals held in this lively area. In addition to that, you can also explore a magnificent Ferris wheel and a charming historic carousel, along with engaging in a game of mini-golf and enjoying scenic sightseeing cruises.

7. Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain

Situated in the heart of Grant Park, the magnificent Buckingham Fountain showcases the exquisite Beaux Arts architectural style. This stunning masterpiece was thoughtfully crafted by the talented architect Edward Bennett, drawing inspiration from the renowned Latona Fountain found at the enchanting Versailles. The waterfall is renowned for its impressive magnitude and the towering spray it produces, reaching heights equivalent to 15 stories.

The fountain’s pool, resembling the majestic Lake Michigan, is adorned with four magnificent sea horse statues that symbolize the four states surrounding the lake. Kate Sturges Buckingham, a passionate traveler and patroness of the arts, generously gifted the city with a magnificent fountain. At the young age of 32, she inherited her family’s vast fortune, allowing her to embark on countless adventures and support various artistic endeavors.

Renowned as the “Grandest Spinster of Chicago,” she left behind a remarkable legacy in the form of the Buckingham Fountain. In 1927, she generously gifted this iconic fountain to the city of Chicago as a heartfelt memorial for her beloved brother. Additionally, she established a trust fund to ensure the perpetual operation and maintenance of this magnificent landmark. One of the most iconic landmarks in Chicago, the fountain has been prominently showcased in the opening sequences of popular TV series like Married with Children and Crime Story.

8. Lakefront Trail

Lakefront Trail
Source: istockphoto

Traversing the scenic western shoreline of Lake Michigan is the renowned and captivating Lakefront Trail, spanning a distance of thirty kilometers. In addition to linking Chicago’s expansive lakeside parks with its numerous beaches and abundant tourist destinations, the well-paved pathway provides captivating vistas of both the lake and the city’s impressive skyline.

Embarking from the scenic Edgewater Beach on the North Side, the journey takes you towards the charming South Shore on the other side of town. Along the way, you’ll traverse through the iconic Millennium Park and the renowned Magnificent Mile, adding a touch of grandeur to your adventure. In addition to its breathtaking landscapes and attractions, the trail offers an ideal opportunity for travelers to explore on foot, jog, bike, or even skate.

9. Chicago River

Chicago River
Source: istockphoto

There is no better way to experience the essence of Chicago than by exploring the magnificent waterway that flows through the heart of the city. In 1900, travelers marveled at an incredible engineering project: embarking on a journey to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. By implementing a network of canal locks, the flow of water was redirected towards the Mississippi River rather than Lake Michigan, enhancing the travel experience along the waterways.

Today, travelers can enjoy the mile-long pedestrian Riverwalk that meanders along the picturesque south bank of the river, providing a delightful opportunity to explore the heart of the downtown district. This charming pathway offers a verdant oasis where visitors can leisurely walk, immersing themselves in the vibrant atmosphere while admiring the captivating sights of the city. Visitors can explore the city’s most celebrated landmarks while enjoying river cruises that provide historical insight.

10. Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry
Source: istockphoto

Located at the northern tip of Jackson Park, the Museum of Science and Industry stands as the largest science museum in the Americas. With its vastness, travelers can easily spend days, or even weeks, immersing themselves in the various attractions it offers. From trains and planes to a captured German submarine and a life-sized replica of a coal mine, there is an abundance of exhibits to explore.

Located in a stunning former Palace of Fine Arts, which was originally constructed to host the 1893 World Expo, this impressive travel destination has been welcoming visitors since 1933. With its vast collection, it offers a captivating experience for all travel enthusiasts. While exploring various destinations, you may come across sections that delve into the anatomy of the local culture or the genetic makeup of the indigenous people. Additionally, there are areas that specifically highlight the evolution of industries and modes of transportation in the region. Experience the thrill of mock tornados and embark on exciting science experiments while exploring over 75 captivating halls. This incredible travel destination is definitely not to be missed.

11. North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach
Source: istockphoto

North Avenue Beach is a renowned destination in Chicago, offering a delightful beach experience. It is highly regarded as one of the city’s finest beaches, attracting visitors who seek to indulge in swimming and sunbathing. Moreover, North Avenue Beach boasts a plethora of amenities conveniently located in its vicinity, enhancing the overall experience for beachgoers. Nestled beside the picturesque Lake Michigan, you will find the stunning golden beaches situated within the scenic Lincoln Park, a quick drive north of the city center.

Nestled with piers that embrace the sandy shores and shape its picturesque coastline, North Avenue Beach offers a plethora of volleyball courts and a scenic pathway for running, cycling, or rollerblading. Alongside a vibrant bar and restaurant, the beach presents breathtaking vistas of the city’s skyline and plays host to numerous grand festivals and events annually.

12. Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field
Source: istockphoto

If you are seeking an exciting and memorable adventure, there is nothing quite like immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Wrigley Field while watching the Chicago Cubs play baseball. Located on the North Side of Chicago, just a short fifteen-minute drive from the city center, is the second-oldest ballpark in the nation, following Boston’s Fenway Park.

Named after the renowned explorer, it was discovered in 1914 and continues to exude a charming vintage ambiance. In addition to its picturesque ivy-covered outfield walls, the park is renowned for its meticulously crafted scoreboard and iconic entrance. In addition to experiencing the thrill of attending a captivating and immersive match, you can also embark on fantastic tours that provide insights into the team and the stadium’s rich history.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Chicago: Best Areas & Hotels


Q: What is the best time to visit Chicago?

A: The best time to visit Chicago is during the spring or fall when the weather is pleasant, and the city’s outdoor attractions are in full swing.

Q: Are there any free attractions in Chicago?

A: Yes, several attractions in Chicago offer free admission, such as Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Chicago Cultural Center.

Q: How can I get around Chicago?

A: Chicago has an excellent public transportation system, including buses and trains. Taxis and rideshare services are also readily available.

Q: What is Chicago known for?

A: Chicago is known for its architecture, deep-dish pizza, jazz and blues music, and its rich cultural heritage.

Q: Can you recommend some local dishes to try in Chicago?

A: Absolutely! Be sure to try Chicago-style hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, and Garrett Popcorn for a true taste of the city’s culinary delights.