Navy Pier combines everything you could ever hope for in an area of a city you're visiting, and it has placed it right on the shores of Lake Michigan. There are shops, places to eat, boat tours, mini golf and a Ferris wheel. You might also find the Children's Museum of interest if you're there with family. Regardless of weather Navy Pier offers indoor and outdoor activities, and seasonal events pop up year round so be sure to see if there's one planned during the time you're visiting!
Chicago is lucky enough to sit on the shore of this wonderful lake. There are "bike share racks" along the shore that make for great transportation alternatives to the car. They're great for a relaxing ride along the shore, and perfect because you'll be able to stop at will for pictures or strolls on the beaches. Stop at one of the piers, have a lemonade or a beer, and watch the boats pull in and out of the marina. Or, if you're more of an adventurer, you can actually scuba dive.
Among Chicago's favorite beaches is North Avenue Beach, a great place for every type of beach goer. The beach even offers free wifi for its guests! Many sporty types flock for the volleyball scene here, which is second to none as far as Chicago beaches go. The view from the beach still encompasses much of the city's skyscrapers while also offering up the obvious ability to check out the water. If North Avenue Beach doesn't sound like it's for you, there's also Oak Street and Ohio.
Wrigley is home to the Chicago Cubs but is also famous for its brick outfield wall, covered in ivy vines. The area around the stadium is called "Wrigleyville," a residential area that serves as a great nightcap after catching a baseball game with its many lively bars and restaurants. This is one of the best views of Chicago's tall downtown buildings, and one of the most traditional Chicago experiences that the city offers.
The Riverwalk is a series of walkways and benches where you can admire some of Chicago's finest architecture, stop for lunch or dinner at one of the waterfront cafes, then take a water taxi or a boat tour to top off your afternoon or evening. The bridges and buildings are breathtaking whether you're viewing them from the Riverwalk or from the boats, and you can't beat the restaurants down there!
You may know this building better as the John Hancock Observatory, but regardless of the name this place is bound to give you an unforgettable experience. On a clear day you can see up to four different states from its observatory. 360 Chicago also offers restaurants and an interactive tour. If you're just there for the view then you're in the right place, because from the top you can see up to 55 miles out!
Another breathtaking lakefront property, Grant Park, which is otherwise known as "Chicago's front yard," is a beautiful example of Chicago's outdoors and architecture. Notable attractions within the park include Buckingham Fountain, Millennium Park and the Art Institute. In the summertime the park transforms into the host of wildly popular festivals like Lollapalooza, the Taste of Chicago and Blues Fest.
Whether you have the money for a Chicago-style shopping spree or just want to walk around window shopping while pretending that you do, the Water Tower Place is a great place to check out while you're in town. Here you'll see the big retailers and plenty of high-end stores. This seven-story complex also has a food court and the Lego and American Girl stores if you're there with the kids.
This is for all you film buffs out there that are tired of your typical block buster. If you're in Chicago, it's best to take advantage of its unique options like the Music Box. This two screen cinema plays all the latest art house films as well as documentaries. It's a beautiful looking theater that also hosts screenings of cult classics every week at midnight.
In addition to the museum's thousands of archived photographs, there are also permanent and temporary exhibits offered. This is where you're going to find an unbeatable collection of historical objects and photos that tell the story of Chicago's history. One of the most famous exhibits is called "Chicago: Crossroads of America" and it's a must-see if you visit the museum.