TOP 20 Best Things to Do in Chicago – a vibrant city in the Midwest

things to do chicago

Looking for things to do in Chicago? Discover what you can do in Chicago, Illinois – We found 20 best tourist attractions and places to visit.

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This cosmopolitan city has it all: world-class museums, vibrant shopping districts and ample nightlife venues.

You can always find something to get excited about.

Beyond its iconic food, music, and architecture, Chicago is also known for its rich history and vibrant culture.

Are you planning a trip to Chicago?

Traveling somewhere for the first time can be really overwhelming sometimes.

To help you out, we highlighted 20 of the best things to do in Chicago.

Best Things to Do in Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

Is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world and hosts approximately 1.5 million people annually.

It’s home to more than 300,000 paintings, portraits, sculptures, ceramics, fabrics, photos and textiles. Places to stay in the area

Here you can experience the greatest Impressionist collection outside Paris, and view contemporary masterpieces in the spectacular Modern Wing.

Stand before classics like Nighthawks, and travel the globe through galleries devoted to the art of ancient Greece, Japan, Africa, and the Americas.

Walk down some stairs to view the Thorne Miniature Rooms – a hyper-detailed recreations of American, European and Asian architecture and furniture.

You don’t have to be an art lover to enjoy this iconic attraction in Chicago.

360 Chicago Observation Deck

If you really want to experience Chicago, make a stop at 360 Chicago Observation Deck.

360 CHICAGO offers breathtaking panoramic views of Chicago from 1,000 feet above the famed Magnificent Mile. Places to stay in the area

360 Chicago Observation Deck
360 Chicago Observation Deck

Once you’re on the observation deck, a mosaic of urban locales presents itself alongside the changing colors of the lake and sky.

The observatory also includes interactive exhibits about Chicago’s history and neighborhoods.

It’ll be the ultimate adrenaline rush for visitors who are looking for fun things to do in Chicago.

It’s one of the highest thrill rides on the planet.

Taking an elevator up to the 94th floor of the John Hancock building is something you shouldn’t miss when travelling to Chicago.

Magnificent Mile

If you are planning a trip to Chicago and want to know what to visit, Magnificent Mile is the answer to your questions.

Chicago’s premier commercial district, the “Mag Mile” is an especially vibrant and bustling 13-block segment of Michigan Avenue. Places to stay in the area

Magnificent Mile cHICAGO

Ready for one-of-a-kind city experience?

The Magnificent Mile is one of the great avenues of the world and is at the center of all that makes Chicago an international destination.

An endless array of shops and boutiques, massive shopping centers, luxury designers, restaurants, coffee shops, historic hotels, and iconic architecture combine to make a trip to “The Mag Mile” an unforgettable experience.

This famous attraction in Chicago won’t let you down.

Navy Pier is undeniably one of Chicago’s top attractions.

It is where you go in Chicago for events, free public programs, attractions, culture, dining, shopping and more. Places to stay in the area

Navy Pier Chicago
Navy Pier Chicago

It’s where fun lives large, whether you’re a visitor or local, with family or friends.

Is one of the most visited attractions in the entire Midwest and is Chicago’s second-most visited tourist attraction.

Navy Pier is free to the public, although attractions and events may come with a cost.

Here you can find a lot of things to do, such as visiting the Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

If you like Ferris wheel rides, Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel is a must do for you.

For outdoor adventures lovers, a cruise that departs from the Pier can be a relaxing and truly unforgettable way to see the sights of the city.

There’s so much to do in the 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, eateries and attractions.

Put this destination on your list for a memorable experience.

Things to Do in Chicago

Chicago Riverwalk

Can’t decide what to see first? Consider taking a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk as well. Places to stay in the area

Chicago Riverwalk

The Chicago River is a treasured natural amenity in the urban canyon of world famous architecture and the Chicago RiverwaIk enables you to take a leisurely walk along the picturesque river floating through the city.

There’s so much more to do at the Chicago Riverwalk .

The Riverwalk is a lifestyle — a uniquely Chicago one, with a little of something for everyone.

You can enjoy drinks in different cool outdoor bars or have lunch in one of the many restaurants along the waterfront.

Culture lovers will enjoy the museums and theaters. Outdoor enthusiasts can rent a bike, hop aboard a kayak or take a self-pedaling boat tour.

Don’t forget to visit the museum dedicated to the Chicago River!

This is by far one of the Chicago highlights.

Willis Tower

No trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to the Willis Tower.

Willis Tower captures the vibrancy of the city under one roof.

Visit the Skydeck, located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower!

Willis Tower Chicago

If you dare, step out on The Ledge, a glass balcony that allows views of Navy Pier and
Wrigley Field from one of the world’s tallest buildings, standing 1,353 feet (412.4 meters) tall.

Ready for a swooping sensation in your stomach as you look out at the world from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere?

Willis Tower also features beautiful art murals and educational displays for kids.

Also, don’t forget to take some cool pictures there because the Skydeck is definitely one of the best Instagram spots in Chicago!

This attraction is a can’t miss.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is the best place in Chicago for all things wildlife—where you can build an emotional connection with animals.

See roaring lions, playful meerkats and majestic gorillas in Lincoln Park.

Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo

Considered to be one of the most beautiful zoos in the country, the Lincoln Park Zoo is an easy place to lose a day.

Nearby is the Lincoln Park Conservatory, founded in the 1890s, with its beautifully landscaped gardens, wide walking paths, and plenty of shade trees interspersed throughout.

The whole experience of visiting the wildest spot in Chicago is an interactive one that helps you in increasing your imagination and creativity.

Spend some moments enjoying and learning everything you could about all of nature’s wildlife that surrounds us.

Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)

Are you fascinated by science or technology?

Housed in the only remaining building from the 1893 World’s Fair, MSI is a Chicago must-see. Places to stay in the area

Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry — one of the largest science museums in the world— is home to more than 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity.

The museum brings the fascinating worlds of science, technology, and engineering to life through interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, live science experiences, special events, and 3D movie screenings, and more.

You’ll have the chance to stand before a 40-foot tornado, climb aboard a World War II German submarine or descend into an Illinois coal mine!

MSI is the place where you get involved in the fun. Experience the living system that is our planet.

Put this attraction on your list if you’re looking for educational things to do in Chicago.

North Avenue Beach

Planning a trip to Chicago during summer time?

North Avenue Beach is the place where you should go first. Places to stay in the area

North Avenue Beach Chicago

As one of Chicago’s most popular beaches, North Avenue Beach covers more than 22,000 square feet of space that features something for everyone.

The beach is perfect for a day spent lounging shore side or taking a dip in the water.

The sandy beach has volleyball courts, plenty of space for visitors to stretch out and multiple things to do near nearby.

Located just footsteps away from the Lincoln Park Zoo, this destination offers spectacular views of the city skyline.

North Avenue Beach is a popular and busy attraction in Chicago.

Adler Planetarium

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and a premiere resource for inspiring the next generation of space explorers.

Looking for a fun vacation that you will never forget? Places to stay in the area

Adler Planetarium Chicago

The Adler has three theaters, space science exhibitions, including the Gemini 12 space capsule, and a collection of antique scientific instruments and print materials.

Discover amazing facts about the universe we all share.

The Adler Planetarium’s Doane Observatory is pretty special. It is home to the largest telescope available to the public in the Chicagoland area.

Make a day of the Adler Planetarium – its stunning terrace views and unique sculptures on campus are amazing.

If you want to find interesting things to do in Chicago, make time for the Adler Planetarium.

The Adler Planetarium connects people to the universe and each other.

Millennium Park

Though it’s only been around for a decade, Millennium Park is now one of Chicago’s most popular destinations.

You can’t visit Chicago without exploring everything Millennium Park has to offer.

Millennium Park Chicago

The playful heart of the Chicago shines with whimsical public art, both permanent and temporary exhibits, and it hosts a mixture of free and ticketed activities and events.

The Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate aka “The Bean”, The Crown Fountain, are only some of the best attractions that you can find here.

Also, don’t forget to seek out the peaceful Lurie Garden.

Explore Millennium Park, one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the city.

Field Museum

Explore natural history at the Field Museum, a revered Chicago institution and one of the world’s great museums of natural history.

There’s so much to see and do at The Field Museum.

Field Museum Chicago

Explore an ancient Egyptian tomb, meet the planet’s largest creature, get eye-level with insects, discover ancient civilizations, and more.

Spend all day at this beloved museum, finding your sense of wonder again and again.
The Field Museum showcases a variety of habitats, cultures, plants and animals throughout its hallowed halls.

It’s home to more than 24 million items in total!

Whether you want an up-close look at the diverse habitats that animals inhabit, learn about the many different cultures on the continent, or look at the world beneath your feet, The Field museum has it all.

Want to see a dinosaur? Field Museum is also the answer to your desire.

There’s no wonder that Field Museum tops the list of Chicago attractions.

Wabash Arts Corridor

Want to capture some memories during your time in Chicago?

Chicago is actually a Mecca for street art in the Midwest.

Wabash Arts Corridor

One of the most expansive, diverse, and well-known street art destinations in the city is the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) in the South Loop neighborhood.

Most art is viewable from the sidewalk. They are all over so wear comfortable shoes.

Its DIY spirit not only making it a tourist destination in Chicago, but promotes artists and creators to become involved in the community.

It’s unlike anything else that you’ll witness in the city.

Make your vacation unforgettable visiting one of the most unique places in Chicago.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

If you love walking, jogging, skateboarding or cycling, The Chicago Lakefront Trail is the perfect place for you.

The trail rides through many parks including Jackson Park, Grant Park, Millennium Park and Lincoln Park with its Free Zoo. Places to stay in the area

Chicago Lakefront Trail

No matter how you travel the trail, you can take in Lake Michigan’s blue waters to one side and a combination of lush parks and dramatic skyline views to the other.

Want to hang out outside? The Lakefront Trail connects to many of Chicago’s most popular parks and beaches.

There is so much to see and do along the Chicago Lakefront Trail, that you will never get bored.

The 18-mile Lakefront Trail is one of the most spectacular urban runs in the country.

If you’re wondering what to do in Chicago, you can’t go wrong with Chicago Lakefront Trail.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most stunning botanical conservatories in the United States.

Traveling through the conservatory allows you to experience lush flora and tropical temperatures away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago. Places to stay in the area

Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory provides significant horticultural collections, educational programs and community outreach efforts.

This indoor oasis feels like a secret city away from Chicago’s bustling sidewalks.

Palm House is the largest room in the Garfield Park Conservatory and features more than 70 elegant palms (and other warm-habitat plants), which soar upwards to its 65 ft tall ceiling.

The Desert House features an array of one of Chicago’s most diverse collections of cacti and other succulents.

Don’t forget to visit the 12 acres of stunning outdoor gardens during the summer!

Explore this unique and charming attraction in Chicago.

Chicago Theatre

Chicago is the perfect city for theatre lovers.

The Chicago Theatre is a legendary venue in the heart of the Windy City. Places to stay in the area

Chicago Theatre

This popular architectural landmark in Chicago hosts concerts and comedy shows, as well as daily tours of its spectacular interior.

The elegant lobby, majestic staircase and beautiful auditorium complete with murals above the stage and on the ceiling, are components of an amazing building called “the Wonder Theatre of the World”.

Probably you’ve already heard that it is considered the unofficial emblem of Chicago.

The theatre was originally opened as the flagship of vaudeville’s legendary Orpheum Circuit,

The Chicago Theatre was designed to be as lavish as Versailles.

Explore the grandeur of The Chicago Theatre when you travel to Chicago, and you will be amazed.

Whether or not you plan on attending a show at the Chicago Theatre, it is worth a visit just to appreciate its beautiful façade.

Wrigley Field

Built in 1914, this must-see Chicago attraction houses more than 100 years of history.

Wrigley Field is the second-oldest ballpark, behind Fenway Park, in the major leagues.

Wrigley Field

Some of the most memorable moments in baseball history have been played out here.

Wrigley Field is known primarily as the place where the Cubs play ball, but it’s also known for its ivy walls and unique main entry marquee.

Did you know that Wrigley Field has been the site of more professional football games than any other stadium?

It is actually the second stadium to be named Wrigley Field, as a Los Angeles ballpark with the same name opened in 1925.

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a game at Chicago’s iconic ballpark.

Chicago Cultural Center

Looking for free places to go in Chicago?

Chicago Cultural Center is the destination you should put on your itinerary.

Drawn by its beauty and the fabulous free public events, the Chicago Cultural Center is one of the most visited attractions in Chicago.

Chicago Cultural Center

The stunning landmark building is home to two magnificent stained–glass domes, as well as free music, dance and theater events, films, lectures, art exhibitions and family events.

Spend hours admiring the architectural splendor of this Chicago gem or just stop in for a quick dose of culture.

The Chicago Cultural Center also hosts performances during major annual events, like the World Music Festival and the Chicago Gospel Music Festival.

The Chicago Cultural Center’s dazzling interior is the perfect backdrop for the artful programming hosted here.

Don’t miss the free tours of the Chicago Cultural Center, where you can learn more about the building’s history, architecture, and events.

Maggie Daley Park

Now, it is time for you to go crazy at Maggie Daley Park.

Maggie Daley Park is a attraction in Chicago that offers a lot of fun activities for any kind of traveler. Places to stay in the area

Maggie Daley Park

This iconic landmark provides climbing wall, fieldhouse, ice skating, miniature golf, a playground, picnic areas, tennis courts, and in-line skate and scooter rentals.

The Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is a winter attraction unlike any other.

There’s plenty to do at Maggie Daley Park.

The Play Garden is one of the many attractions within the park area. It contains 6 different play areas, including: The Wave Lawn, The Harbor, The Watering Hole, The Slide Crater, The Enchanted Forest, and The Sea.

Make sure to allocate some time for the Cancer Survivors’ Garden, too, which sports views of Lake Michigan and the Field Museum of Natural History.

No matter where you interest lies, Maggie Daley Park worth a visit.

You can just walk through this spectacular green space in the heart of downtown

Chicago. It is connected to Millennium Park by the BP Bridge.

Maggie Daley Park is an ideal family-friendly attraction to visit in Chicago.

Untouchable Tour

Want to have a look into the dark history of the city?

Experience Chicago as it was during the 1920’s and 30’s while hearing historically accurate accounts of the exploits of Capone, Moran, Dillinger and the rest of the gangsters!

Untouchable Tour

Some of Chicago’s most beautiful streets have dark pasts, and you can explore the oftentimes grisly history on a Chicago crime tour.

Walking tour paths explore historic crime scenes.

This entertaining and cultural attraction is a unique thing to do in Chicago.

You’ll visit some relevant places, such as St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the Biograph Theatre, and the Holy Name Cathedral.

The Untouchable Tour is a must do for when visiting Chicago.

Discover the best of Chicago!

Start planning the perfect vacation for you and your friends.

Best Places to Visit in Chicago

  1. Best Things to Do in Chicago
    1. The Art Institute of Chicago
    2. 360 Chicago Observation Deck
    3. Magnificent Mile
    4. Navy Pier
  2. Things to Do in Chicago
    1. Chicago Riverwalk
    2. Willis Tower
    3. Lincoln Park Zoo
    4. Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)
    5. North Avenue Beach
    6. Adler Planetarium
    7. Millennium Park
    8. Field Museum
    9. Wabash Arts Corridor
    10. Chicago Lakefront Trail
    11. Garfield Park Conservatory
    12. Chicago Theatre
    13. Wrigley Field
    14. Chicago Cultural Center
    15. Maggie Daley Park
    16. Untouchable Tour