From the expansive lakeshore to the towering skyscrapers, there’s an interesting feeling throughout the city of Chicago. With landmarks, exciting attractions, and friendly people, the Windy City embodies the values you would expect from America’s heartland.
There are more than a few exciting places to go and things to see during your time here. For example, you can tour Wrigley Field and pick up Chicago Cubs gifts from dugoutmugs.com or climb to the top of The Ledge at Skydeck and view the city from 1,353 feet in the air. If you are ready to plan your trip, be sure to put some of the destinations below on your list.
The Magnificent Mile
If shopping is on your schedule, visiting the Magnificent Mile is necessary. It is home to many luxury retailers, department stores, and multi-story malls. The area spans from Oak Street to the Chicago River down Michigan Avenue.
This upscale part of the city was named by Arthur Rubloff in the 1940s because of the eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and skyscrapers present. It’s also home to several appealing landmarks, including the Chicago Water Tower, Wrigley Building, and Museum of Contemporary Art.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory is home to eight indoor gardens, 10 acres of outdoor gardens, and thousands of plant species. Every one of the indoor gardens has a specific focus. This makes it a unique experience and one you can spend all day exploring and enjoying.
Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain
Referred to as “Chicago’s front yard,” Grant Park is 313 acres of green space. It begins near the Loop and to the fringes near the South Side. If it’s your first visit to the area, leave plenty of time to explore. Grant Park houses all types of activities, including Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Field Museum. You’ll also find plenty of grassy terrain, walking paths, flower gardens, and baseball fields in the area.
At the center of Grant Park is where you can see Buckingham Fountain. It’s one of the biggest fountains in the whole world, with 133 jets shooting water 150 feet in the air during the choreographed displays that take place every hour. At night, the show is accompanied by music and lights.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago gets you up close and personal with a diverse collection that spans over thousands of years, and that includes sculpture, architectural drawings, textiles, decorative arts, photography, prints, painting, and more.
The original building was designed to house the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Today, several other buildings have been added, and the complex measures more than 400K square feet today.
For a fun experience, consider visiting Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs. This is the second-oldest ballpark in the nation, coming in behind Fenway Park in Boston, and is located on Chicago’s North Side. You can click here to see some of the top souvenirs you can take home to commemorate your time at this location.
Another must-visit location in Chicago is Navy Pier. Located over Lake Michigan, Navy Pier provides visitors with various family activities. You will find endless attractions present, including gardens, carnival rides, food carts, and more. The pier, which is a kilometer long, is lined by several shops and restaurants.
While strolling down the pier, you will see everything from museums and theaters to performance spaces and public plazas, with multiple cultural festivals and events held throughout the year. There’s also a massive Ferris wheel and carousel, along with sightseeing cruises and mini-golf.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Found on the northern side of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, this zoo houses over 200 animal species, including hippos, zebras, sloths, and more. You can also see the scaly or furry friends in their natural settings. For example, visit the Kovler Seal Pool, harbor seals, or African apes in the Regenstein Center.
What’s even better is that it’s free to go to this zoo. You can also sign kids up for the Zoo Camps during your visit.
Visit Willis Tower SkyDeck
Up until 1996, the 110 story Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower, was the tallest office block in the world. While there are a few buildings taller now, the view from the SkyDeck at Wills Tower is nothing short of breathtaking.
If you visit on a clear day, you can see almost 50 miles, over four different stats. You also get a bird’s eye view of the impressive architecture that makes up the Chicago skyline.
The Willis Tower was built over three years and opened for public use in 1974. The building stretches 1,453 feet tall, and the observation area, which is named SkyDeck, is located on the 103rd floor. Here you step onto a glass box with a glass floor called the Ledge, which juts out from the observation area.
The iconic Chicago Theater is another must-see attraction. Here you can see everything from magic shows and concerts to plays, sporting events, speeches, and stand-up comedy. The building is easy to find thanks to the lighted six-story sign. There’s no question that this is one of the most magical places to attend any event.
Constructed in 1921, the interior still exudes the neo-baroque style the era was known for. The Palace of Versailles inspired the grand lobby and galleries inside. The massive auditorium features crystal chandeliers, which light up the gilded decorations and murals.
The Adler is the first built planetarium in the U.S. It provides visitors with amazing insights into the solar system. Some of the exhibits you can experience during your visit include “Astronomy in Culture,” “Our Solar System,” “Mission Moon,” and others. You can also use the largest telescope available for public use at the Doane Observatory.
Planning Your Visit to Chicago
Chicago offers something for the whole family, making it a great destination for any family vacation, couples’ trip, or solo adventure. As you start planning your time in Chicago, be sure to keep the attractions mentioned here in mind. Each one will give you an exciting and unforgettable experience.