Chicago is a bustling city teeming with life, culture, food, and history. It's famous for a wide range of things from hot dogs and pizza to jazz music, 1920s gangsters and natural history museums.
This is part of why Chicago attractions are so diverse. There are expansive parks and green spaces dedicated to the public and its recreation.
There are museums and art galleries that give you glimpses into the past and its legacy. There are entertainment sites that'll make your jaw drop and eateries that'll make your mouth water.
In other words, there's no end to your options here, and there are things for all preferences, ages, and wants!
So, with all the things to do in Chicago, how can you choose the best places in Chicago to visit? Let's start by considering all the wonders that Windy City offers!
Here are the top tourist attractions in Chicago.
Accomodation: 10 Best Family Friendly Hotels in Chicago
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Millennium Park is famous in Chicago, and a trip to the city wouldn't be complete without a visit.
Spanning 24.5 acres, it's a public space that showcases cutting-edge architecture, modern art, and beautiful landscaping. There are multiple smaller spaces for art, concerts, pavilions, gardens, and more.
One of the most popular and unusual features of Millennium Park is the Crown Fountain. This fountain is equipped with two LED-fitted towers spanning 50 feet in height.
The towers show videos of local Chicago residents with LED lights. The videos are aligned so that, at a point at regular intervals, the faces of the people pucker up their lips, and water flows out from a fountain between them. It makes it look like the videos are "spitting" onto onlookers.
Another highly popular feature of Millennium Park is the Cloud Gate, often called "The Bean".
Weighing 110 tons, the elliptical shape is designed to reflect the city skyline. It's made purely from stainless steel and is extremely iconic. The polished surface looks almost like liquid mercury.
Address: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602
Navy Pier was created in 1916 as a shipping facility and amusement location. Today, it's an iconic location filled with various attractions and features that make it a major tourist trap.
There are 50 acres of space filled with concert venues, gardens, eateries, parks, shops, museums, entertainment sites, and more. Festivals are also often held on the pier against the stunning backdrop of Lake Michigan.
When you're at Navy Pier, you'll realize more than ever that Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in the USA.
The moment you arrive, you'll be greeted by a 196-foot Ferris wheel ride that towers above all. Further rides involve a swing-seat attraction, a golf course, and a historic carousel. There's simply so much to do and enjoy!
Address: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Also Read: Most Beautiful Piers in the USA
It goes without saying that the Art Institute of Chicago is among the prime Chicago attractions for any art enthusiast.
It's home to one of America's most impressive and expansive impressionists and post-impressionist art collections.
Boasting over 300,000 works from across the planet in just its permanent collection, you'll find works from ancient and modern times alike.
The art institute is situated inside a gorgeous Beaux-Arts-style building. The entrance is guarded by two iconic bronze lions.
Basically, you're looking at art the moment you arrive! Inside, you'll find works dating back to the Byzantine era, works by masters like Renoir, van Gogh, and Monet, and a vast collection of art from other continents.
There are photographs, dollhouses in miniature rooms, an armory of medieval fittings, authentic furnishings, and much more.
Address: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Buckingham Fountain is one of the world's biggest fountains and is an absolute must-see in Chicago.
It sits in the very middle of Grant Park. The tiered fountain has a whopping 133 jets, with water that is shot up as high as 150 feet.
The fountain may contain a jaw-dropping 5,700,000 liters of water at any one time.
Displays are choreographed in 20-minute chunks once per hour, and those shows are even lit up and musically accompanied at night.
Buckingham Fountain was made in 1927 and is constructed from Georgia pink marble. The pool sits in measures 85 meters across and its total height is an impressive eight meters.
Architecture lovers will note the Rococo design inspired by the famous Versailles Latona Fountain. The fountain has four pairs of sea horses in statues, each representing the states across Lake Michigan.
Address: 301 S Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
Looking for things to do in Chicago to stretch your legs? Try out the Chicago Riverwalk and the Lakefront Trail! Both are equally loved for walks, hikes, and exploration.
To begin with, the Chicago Riverwalk spans 1.25 miles. It's a pedestrian walkway situated along the Chicago River's south side.
It offers lovely views of the skyline and provides a number of activities on the water. There are also art displays, eateries, bars, and gardens to explore, alongside museums and galleries.
Then, of course, there's the Lakefront Trail. This incredible expanse hugs Lake Michigan's coastline and goes on for a whopping 18 miles.
Gardens, beaches, parks, and various popular attractions can be found throughout its run.
You'll see people biking, riding segways, walking, and running along, so it's always a little busy!
Address: E Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601
Accomodation: Where to Stay in Chicago
The skyline of Chicago is famous for being breathtaking and awe-inspiring. And one of the best spots in Chicago to get a whole eyeful of it is at the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, located in the John Hancock Center building.
The deck is on the center's 94th floor and is entirely encased by safe windows from ceiling to floor.
On a clear day, 360 Chicago lets you gaze out for up to 55 miles in virtually all directions.
An interactive screen allows you to identify various buildings and landmarks in view.
The deck also has a new, high-tech feature called "Tilt", which lets you get "tilted" at an angle inside its glass walls. This allows you to gaze out over the Magnificent Mile, looking at a unique angle and view.
While you're in the John Hancock Building, you should also spend some time in its lobby to see Lucent.
Lucent is a stunning sculpture featuring an impressive 3,115 light on a scale star map.
The work of art uses thousands of hand-blown glass bulbs across its 13-foot length, with a mirrored ceiling above to further enhance the already stunning effect.
Address: 94, 875 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
Also Read: Best Observation Decks in the USA
The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the most extensive Chicago attractions and is perfect for all ages.
It rests in a building that was once the Palace of Fine Arts, with 14 acres of grounds to its name.
Not a bit of that space goes to waste and over 35,000 different artifacts and interactive, hands-on displays are located onsite.
There is no end to the great things you'll be able to witness at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Learn about electricity and aviation, see the only captured U-505 German submarine, view planets and stars at the space center, get up-close with baby chicks… the list goes on!
It's impossible to properly chronicle everything that can be experienced here, but you can rest assured that there's something for everyone.
Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637
The Lincoln Park Zoo can be found on the North Side of the famous Lincoln Park, and it's one of the best Chicago attractions for animal lovers.
It contains close to 200 different species of animals and is totally free to enter and view with an advance reservation.
The zoo boasts a mix of animal exhibits and green open spaces. You'll get to see hippos, zebras, sloths, camels, apes, and much more.
There are numerous smaller exhibits within the larger area that hone in on specific animal types and regions. It's an excellent spot for families and people of all ages.
Address: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Also Read: Best Zoos to Visit in the USA
The Field Museum is one of the planet's biggest and most renowned museums of natural history.
It was opened in 1893 and showcases a whopping 24 million or so artifacts that cover numerous different topics.
A trip here is one of the coolest things to do in Chicago for families, history lovers, and curious travelers alike.
Taking up half an acre all to itself, The Field Museum has items and displays harkening back to many different centuries and tons of different places.
Its most iconic feature is SUE, the biggest and most complete skeleton of a T-rex ever discovered. With 58 teeth and a 40-foot length from tail to nose, people love spending a little time gazing at her in delight.
Other interesting exhibits at The Field Museum are Inside Ancient Egypt, the Abbott Hall of Conservation, and the Geology Halls.
No matter where you go, you'll learn about anthropology, botany, zoology, geology, and more, all against the backdrop of a Neoclassical building and occasional stained glass windows.
For more unusual spots inside the museum's walls, look for the DNA Discovery Center to learn about how scientists sequence genomes and explore life's building blocks.
Or traverse the area behind one of its gift shops to see some narwhals preserved and encased in a stunning display.
Address: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
The Magnificent Mile is one of the top shopping destinations in Chicago. If you're a big spender, you'll love exploring this stretch of Michigan Avenue.
You'll find a mix of luxury retailers and department stores, high-end restaurants and bars, and luxurious hotels.
If you're more thrifty, you'll be pleased to know that the Magnificent Mile also offers great architecture and sightseeing.
There's a rather eclectic rush of buildings here, including the Chicago Water Tower, Tribune Tower, and the Wrigley Building.
Address: North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
We've talked about 360 Chicago, but what about an observation deck that's even higher up than that?
It's no wonder that the Willis Tower SkyDeck is among Chicago tourist attractions.
Over 2 million individuals flock to it annually, going up to the 103rd floor of the 110-floor Willis Tower, which is North America's second-tallest building.
On a clear day, the SkyDeck will allow you to see all the way past the borders of Chicago and into its four surrounding states.
The Ledge of the SkyDeck is nail-biting, made entirely of glass - floor, ceiling, walls, all of it.
Video screens allow you to get an idea of what various attractions look like from this high up, too.
Address: 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606
Garfield Park Conservatory is one of America's largest botanical conservatories.
It's one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Chicago and has 10 acres of outdoor gardens as well as eight different indoor gardens.
There are thousands of species of plants here of many different types. Each garden has a different theme and different kinds of flora.
Some great parts of the Garfield Park Conservatory are the Aroid House with houseplants, the Fern Room filled with ferns and a lagoon, and a Desert House with various succulents.
There's also the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children's Garden, the Palm House filled with 70 palm trees, and a Horticulture Hall.
And that's not even getting into the beautiful outdoor plants in the green spaces outside!
Address: 300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624
The Chicago Cultural Center, also called the People's Palace, is one of the nicest attractions in Chicago for those who want to get more in touch with local comings and goings.
It takes up an entire city block in the neighborhood of the loop. It's packed with cultural programming of all sorts, with concerts and exhibits of all types regularly being held here.
On top of that, the gorgeous building is home to one of the planet's biggest domes of Tiffany stained glass.
It uses more than 30,000 pieces of individual glass. The lobby is also extravagant, with precious stones, gold, and glass mosaics backed by marble floors that create an elegant appearance.
Address: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
When you visit Chicago, you'll probably be arriving with the knowledge that residents of the city are very serious about their love of sports.
So if you want to immerse yourself in that, there's no better place to go than Wrigley Field.
Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and is America's second-oldest ballpark for Major League Baseball.
It's here that the Chicago Cubs play their home games, and many memorable highlights in baseball history have taken place in this incredible location.
Not much for watching sports? You can still tour the stadium and field to get behind-the-scenes glimpses at Wrigley Field.
But if you can, definitely try to score tickets to a game - the crowd's energy is infectious, and there's nothing like chowing down on concessions as you cheer for your team.
Address: 1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613
Chicago is known for its great pizza, so it makes sense that looking for some of the best spots for that dish would be among the best things to do in Chicago.
Chicago Pizza Tours offers that opportunity during a lovely 3.5-hour experience.
It's relatively intimate, with each tour taking a maximum of nine guests on a little bus, and the experience is well-organized.
Chicago Pizza Tours brings you around the city to four different pizzerias. Guides know a lot about pizza, but they also know tons about the city's history.
The trip to each joint is filled with history lessons, information on the techniques and processes used in Chicagoan pizza, and the anticipation of waiting to chow down.
Address: 27 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606
Oz Park is one of the most whimsical Chicago attractions you can find, even in a neighborhood like Lincoln Park.
The author of The Wizard Of Oz, L. Frank Baum, actually lived in Chicago in the 1890s. This is why the city decided to honor him by dedicating a portion of the park to him through Oz Park.
Oz Park is filled with various character statues straight from Baum's own fantasy world, mostly depicted as they were seen in their 1939 musical adaptation.
All of the park's elements seem to have leaped right out of the novel, from the volunteer-tended Emerald Gardens to the children-adored Dorothy's Playlot.
Ultimately, this is a clean, safe environment for residents and tourists alike, making use of the neighborhood's previously dilapidated land wonderfully.
Address: 2021 N Burling St, Chicago, IL 60614
One of the best things to do in Chicago, especially if you love design, is to go on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise.
The tour is a highly polished, will-crafted experience, making use of a barge to bring large groups around the Chicago River.
Trained docents lead each tour, speaking throughout to provide information on the landmarks, river, and history of Chicago.
You'll learn about the river's topography, the most unique skyscrapers on the skyline and what makes them so special, and even about some designers' visual jokes that remain in the city.
Basically, it's an awesome crash course on the architectural history of the surrounding area, told with passion and zest.
Address: 111 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601
Maggie Daley Park is a large green space packed with activities, making it among the top attractions in Chicago for families with kids.
Most of these activities can be done for free, though a few do require fees.
Regardless of how much you plan to spend, you'll be thrilled by all that Maggie Daley Park has to offer.
There's a public garden, a climbing wall, a playground, a mini-golf course, a tennis facility, and even a winter ice-skating rink. All of this happens against the panorama of the skyline of the city.
Address: 337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601
Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities is one of the very best spots in Chicago for those who love the bizarre.
The shop houses a rather curious collection of different remnants of those who have passed away.
The establishment opened in 2010, spurred by a couple who received an odd set of teeth left to them.
This led to the collection of numerous medical oddities that eventually created enough artifacts for Woolly Mammoth Antiques!
As you comb through Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities, you'll be surprised by the selection.
From lice powder to hearing aids and from loose teeth to preserved animal fetuses, you'll find yourself staring in shock quite a few times.
There are urns, odd taxidermy, old medical equipment, outdated manuals, and other weird items packing each shelf.
Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities also has some less morbid offerings. You can see antique items dating back decades and newspaper clippings preserved from important dates, for example.
Whatever the case, have fun searching for treasure here! You can even take a class on taxidermy at the shop.
Address: 1513 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Shedd Aquarium is one of the biggest indoor aquariums in the world. It is home to approximately 32,000 different creatures and was first opened in 1930.
In order to safely house various aquatic creatures, the aquarium has different habitats that are designed to mimic real-life locations. This allows each animal to live safely and happily!
At Shedd Aquarium, you can view piranhas, penguins, beluga whales, sharks, stingrays, sea lions, and much more!
There are touch tanks where you can get up close and personal with small and gentle marine life.
There are behind-the-scenes tours where you can see how each animal is fed and cared for.
There are feeding experiences and animal encounters for even more enchanting interactions. It's no surprise that this is one of the most loved Chicago attractions.
Address: 1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a small but delightful location that's perfect for contemporary art aficionados. The location is one of the top Chicago attractions when it comes to art history.
The museum hosts work dating back to 1945 and then leading up to the present.
Genres include pop art, surrealism, minimalism, conceptual art, and other mediums like photography and textiles.
Works by Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, Chuck Close, Francis Bacon, Jasper Johns, Ann Hamilton, Rene Magritte, and Alexander Calder line the halls.
The permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art is relatively small, but that leaves lots of space for interesting special shows that push boundaries and prompt thought.
Regardless of what's being put on, the building is easy to navigate, and there are docent-led tours conducted, free of charge, once a day.
Address: 220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Chicago has a rich history in jazz music, so it's no wonder that some Chicago attractions relate to the genre.
Green Mill Jazz Club is a lounge and club that's just about the cream of the crop for this exact subject.
It can be found in Uptown and boasts over a century of history, with a mix of mobsters and world-class musicians gracing its bar.
The Green Mill Jazz Club is named a nod to the Moulin Rouge (translated as Red Mill) of Paris.
For a long time, it's been a hotspot for celebrities and artists. In its heyday, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Kurt Elling, and other great artists have taken to its stage.
During the Prohibition Era, it was Al Capone's mafia that took over the lounge, transforming its entire atmosphere.
Gang activity could have killed the club, but instead, it added to its historic value today. In fact, Capone's favorite seat is still in the lounge and is known as such!
Now, of course, Green Mill Jazz Club has been able to leave criminality behind and focus on its great jazz shows by premier musicians. It's also the site of the world's first poetry slam!
Address: 4802 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
The Richard H. Driehaus Museum is one of the key attractions in Chicago for design and art.
It is set inside a mansion that dates back to 1883 and features various exhibits related to 19th century and contemporary art, architecture, and beyond.
Before it was a museum, the mansion used for this establishment was nicknamed the Marble Palace.
This was due to the wealth of marble used in its entrance hall, which truly sets the stage for such a marvelous and extravagant location.
The further you go, the more stunning the designs you'll see. Tiffany Studios lamps, Renaissance Revival furniture, intricate woodwork, silverware, and more are displayed throughout its halls.
Address: 40 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
The Chicago Theatre boasts a bright marquee in yellow and red that you'll likely recognize as an iconic feature of the city.
That's why it's also one of the greatest places to go in Chicago for both entertainment and general tourism.
Located on the northern side of the Loop, the lavish venue for movies and performances has been home to numerous big names and big flicks over the years.
The Chicago Theatre was established in 1921 and has been a host to the likes of Lewis Black, Duke Ellington, and Diana Ross.
It almost fell out of its glory due to mismanagement, but in the 1980s, it was renovated thoroughly and brought back up to its prime elegance.
The historic elements of the theatre still remain, and you won't be wondering how it's won a Tony award.
Address: 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601
Looking for things to do in Chicago that'll entertain you endlessly? Watch a comedy show at The Second City!
This improvisational comedy theater is one of the most renowned of its kind on the planet.
It's been central at the beginning of numerous popular comedians' careers, including the likes of Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert, and Keegan-Michael Key.
The Second City has three stages. The most popular is the Mainstage, which hosts some of its classic events and has done so for six decades.
The other two stages are called the e.t.c. Stage, which is designed for improv and sketch comedy, and the UP Comedy Club, which is meant for stand-up shows.
Address: 1616 N Wells St Located in Pipers Alley, Chicago, IL 60614
Adler Planetarium was America's first planetarium, so it's only right that it's among popular Chicago attractions.
Situated in Grant Park, the establishment was built in 1930 and offers incredible insights into the wonders of the solar system and outer space.
The planetarium has a number of permanent exhibits, such as Astronomy in Culture, Our Solar System, and The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time.
There are also exhibits on the moon mission and the history and development of various telescopes.
Adler Planetarium also has a number of facilities. This includes the biggest publicly available telescope in Chicago, which is housed within the Doane Observatory.
There are three theaters, too, each one full-sized, showing 3D movies, presentations, and programs.
Address: 1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
The Oriental Institute Museum is a part of the campus of the University of Chicago.
For lovers of global art and archeology, this is one of the best things to do around Chicago.
The museum is dedicated to Near East artifacts, with excavated antiquities and art from places like Nubia, Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Megiddo, Turkey, and Iraq.
The permanent exhibits of the Oriental Institute Museum are well-known for their delightfully evocative galleries.
There are two galleries dedicated to Egyptian items, relics, and art. There's a Mesopotamian Gallery, which even has objects that date back to 100,000 BC.
To put it simply, you'd be shocked by the wealth of archeology and artifacts that are nothing short of remarkable.
Address: 1155 E 58th St, Chicago, IL 60637
The Ping Tom Memorial Park is one of the most serene Chicago tourist attractions in the city.
It's not entirely hidden, but it's certainly underrated! With a gorgeous pagoda-like pavilion, a little river, and tranquil bamboo gardens, it's a truly calming and meditative space on the Chicago River's south bank.
The Ping Tom Memorial Park is situated somewhat off the normal path in Chinatown. It's worth the trip, even if the park's terrain is a little uneven and offers a true taste of zen.
Address: 1700 S Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
The Rookery Building is an architectural marvel, designed by John Root and Daniel Burnham and remodeled in some portions by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The building, which spans 12 stories, boasts a Queen Anne and Roman Revival appearance, alongside other notable architectural features.
The Rookery Building is one of the best remaining examples of the early era of commercial skyscrapers, built in 1888.
The interior is equally gorgeous, with elegant staircases, ornamental ironwork, and a stunning light court.
Its majestic facade makes it one of the best things to do in Chicago for architecture appreciators.
It's no wonder that the building is on the National Register of Historic Places - or, specifically, its Rookery is.
Address: 209 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60604
The American Writers Museum is one of the more hidden Chicago attractions. It's tucked away on the second floor of an otherwise nondescript office building.
This celebration of literature and language is anything but boring, accessible to many, and with a calming, welcoming atmosphere.
At the American Writers Museum, you'll be greeted by a Word Waterfall packed with famous literary quotes.
Comfortable corners offer space to read quietly. An old-school vibe follows you as you learn about local writers like Jack Kerouac and E.B.
Walk through an immersive and interactive wonderland of technology. The high-tech museum boasts touchscreen tables and walls, but it also has usable typewriters.
Writers are welcome to use the facilities to work on their own masterpieces!
Address: 180 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60601
If you're wondering what to do in Chicago to get some exercise, you can't go wrong with the 606.
Also called the Bloomingdale Trail, it features almost 3 miles of manicured trails that you can explore. It's like the city of Chicago's version of the High Line of New York.
Along the way, the 606 provides verdant greenery, lovely city views, pedestrian-friendly walkways, art installations, and even wildlife.
The trail and park system that the 606 encompasses is a mark of the collaboration of numerous government and community organizations.
It's managed to achieve its goal of combining trails, design, art, and history together for those who walk across it.
Address: 1805 N Ridgeway Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Dusty Groove is famous in Chicago for selling a wide range of LPs, 45s, and other records, often called "dusties".
The shop was set up in the early 1990s by some University of Chicago DJs who wanted to re-sell the records they found to other collectors and DJs.
The business began as a direct-mail operation but has grown into a renowned, well-respected establishment for aficionados.
No matter your favorite genre, any vinyl-lover will have their jaw drop as they enter the simple but prolific store.
Sure, the prices are a little steep, but any collector knows they're more than worth it.
You can find the cool store at Wicker Park and browse its well-curated, genre-sorted bins for good finds. You may even spot some more obscure, rare finds that you can't get anywhere else.
Address: 1120 N. Ashland Chicago, IL 60622
There are numerous stories surrounding the mobsters and criminals of prohibition-era Chicago.
So many people have vacation ideas in Chicago that center around these dangerous and notorious figures in history. Chicago Crime Tours and Experiences caters to that niche!
This tour company brings you throughout the Windy City and tells you all about its dark past, with names like Dion Johnny Torrio, Bugs Moran, John Dillinger, and even Al Capone whispered as you go.
You'll learn about their profiles, visit the sites of various infamous shootouts, and hear various true crime stories on the tour group's hop-on-hop-off, climate-controlled bus.
Address: 163 E Pearson St, Chicago, IL 60611
The Bohemian National Cemetery dates back to 1877. It was created by members of the Czech community in Chicago.
Aside from being a final resting place, it is known today for its magnificent gardens and beautiful architecture and design.
These have made the sober site among the popular attractions in Chicago for those who appreciate the unusual and somber.
At the Bohemian National Cemetery, you'll be greeted by a stunning gatehouse made from limestone.
As you explore the grounds, columbarium niches rise on all corners, made with flags, photographs, souvenirs, and artwork. Storied mausoleums are scattered throughout the area, often with stained glass windows and other dedications.
A particularly interesting part of the Bohemian National Cemetery is the statue of The Pilgrim, outside the Stejskal Mausoleum.
Legend has it that this eerie depiction of a traveler moves ever so slowly towards the mausoleum's doors, and one day, when it reaches them, it will enter and signal the arrival of Doomsday.
Address: 5255 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60630
Lots of Chicago attractions are related to Lake Michigan and other bodies of water. North Avenue Beach is one of them.
This immensely popular location is perfect for swimming, playing volleyball at its provided courts, or simply relaxing in the expansive space.
The views of the city from the beach also attract lots of tourists and photographers.
North Avenue Beach is free to access and is filled with rental companies for sports equipment, restaurants for the hungry, and even a 22,000-square-foot beach house.
Whether you want to chill out, bike, hike, swim or play sports, you'll love basking in the sun here!
Address: 1600 N Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60614
The International Museum of Surgical Science catalogs the sordid, macabre, and at times horrifying history of medical surgery.
It offers a fascinating, information-wealthy peek into the evolution of the practice and is one of the more unique Chicago attractions.
The museum opened in 1954 and is operated by the International College of Surgeons.
It displays thousands of items related to the cultural, professional, and historical aspects of surgical medicine.
You'll see X-ray machines, portraits of medical figures, quack medicine, plastic surgery information, uniforms, needles, and more.
Plus, it has a hall of fame for various important doctors in the field's history, too. There's even a library filled with rare manuscripts, journals, and books!
Originally, the Lincoln Park building was created as a private home, which remains evident throughout the museum.
Italian marble furnishings and fittings drop jaws and a grand, gilded staircase remind you that this was once a luxurious estate.
Juxtaposed against this lavishness, the International Museum of Surgical Science's subject matter seems all the more gruesome.
Address: 1524 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60610
The Frederick C. Robie House was built in 1910 by the great Frank Lloyd Wright, so it's no surprise that the architectural marvel is among Chicago attractions.
It sits on the campus of the University of Chicago and was created in the Prairie School style so quintessential of the early 20th century.
The house is widely considered the very pinnacle of its architectural style, and Wright himself praised it highly as the cornerstone of modern architecture.
Its low profile, broad balconies, narrow bricks, and cantilevered eaves perfectly exemplify the Prairie aesthetic.
Within the house, you can see art glass, numerous fireplaces, beautiful lighting, antique fittings and furniture, and even period-appropriate rugs and curtains.
The Frederick C. Robie House sits in Hyde Park, a surprising way away from Wright's other prized works in Oak Park. Tours are offered regularly, led by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Address: 5757 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637
Promontory Point juts outwards into Lake Michigan and is one of the best places to visit in Chicago for photo opportunities.
It's a part of Burnham Park and is a beautiful, well-manicured man-made peninsula with gorgeous rock formations and a lakefront view.
Picnics and gatherings are common fares at Promontory Point. There are also several works of public art and sculptures to be viewed as you walk and explore.
The public space is pretty simple and easy to navigate, proving that you don't need a lot of bells and whistles to create a tranquil recreational spot.
Address: 5491 S Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60615
Anyone who enjoys water recreation and sports activities will know that the Chicago River is a prime location for such action.
That's the service that Urban Kayaks provides. It offers a mix of different tours that bring you via that river through various historic and interesting sites in Chicago.
Tours happen throughout the day. You'll get all the equipment you need to suit up and head out onto the Chicago River.
Historic tours let you circle museums and beautiful views. Night tours let you see Merchandise Mart and its digital art display.
The skyline paddle offers you the chance to traverse Lake Michigan and view various tourist attractions from the water.
All tours last from one to two hours and are available for people of all skill levels.
Address: 435 E. Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60611
Calumet Fisheries sits on the banks of the Calumet River and is one of the best places to go in Chicago for delicious seafood bites.
It's a simple shack with no seats, a busy but friendly staff and a fair number of fans.
Whether you like simple stuff or prefer gourmet cuisine, this no-frills joint and its natural wood-burning smoking process will capture your heart.
Calumet Fisheries opened when the steel industry was at its height, and hungry laborers needed a place to eat.
They serve expertly smoked fish, fried shrimp, crab cakes, oyster, calamari, and all manner of seafood served in various ways.
Your food will be handed to you in a paper bag, which you can eat in your car, on your bike, or on a bench by the waterfront outside.
Address: 3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617
Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. is one of the more unorthodox Chicago attractions.
The shop stocks a wide range of gadgets and different "spy" necessities. Its shelves boast secret disguises, voice modulators, carrier pigeons, walkie-talkies, spyglasses, and even more!
On top of all of that, Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. is a part of the 826 nonprofits. That means all of its profits support 826 Chicago of the eight 826 National branches.
These funds allow it to run a tutoring center and writing workshop for kids, which it does in a separate space attached to the store.
Address: 1276 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Looking for places to go in Chicago for contemporary art? Head to Hubbard Street and view the Hubbard Street Murals.
Starting on the 900 block, the murals began as a student art project in 1971. It has been recently revived by an artist collective known as the B_Line, which has begun expanding it.
Now, the Hubbard Street Murals cover a whopping five city blocks and have been made by more than 70 local and international artists.
They've become a sort of outdoor museum in their own right, with various styles of art depicted from surrealist to geometric and from abstract to traditional graffiti.
Address: 1030-1044 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60642
There are very few houses of worship for the Bahá'í Faith in the world. One of them is here, making it among the most unique destinations in Chicago.
The religion was founded in the mid-1800s by Bahá’u’lláh, a prophet from Persia. Its teachings involve world peace, racial equality, and religious oneness.
The Bahá'í Temple in Chicago is the only one in North America and has been nicknamed the Mother Temple of the West.
It is also the oldest surviving temple for the faith, with its construction beginning in 1921 and finishing in 1953.
It is built from white and clear quartz aggregate and portland cement concrete, and its architecture has won multiple awards.
The temple is surrounded by a nine-sided garden, covered on top with one dome. It's now on the National Register of Historic Places, too.
Address: 100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091
The Leather Archives & Museum is a catalog of leather and BDSM culture in history.
It's one of the more risque Chicago attractions, but despite its subject matter, it's quite educational.
You'll see a notable collection of equipment, artifacts, and various aspects of the fetish subculture presented in fascinating ways.
The museum discusses a wide range of topics under the general leather umbrella.
Bondage equipment, handcuffs, whips, leather apparel, chains, and antique devices all make up its collection. There's even a basement dungeon - for viewing only, of course!
The Leather Archives & Museum also hosts an impressively expansive literature library on the subculture.
Videos, art, writing, and academic works of all sorts add informative details to the intricacies of the movement and community.
Address: 6418 N Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60626
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art is one of the most important sites in Chicago for art lovers.
It is America's only nonprofit museum specifically dedicated to the presentation of the outsider and self-taught art.
Its permanent collection holds over 1,100 artworks, and the organization provides numerous educational resources and classes for students and scholars of all sorts.
Intuit has won multiple awards, and that's for a good reason! There are two galleries at the establishment, both of which are host to at least four different exhibitions of world-class level annually.
Above all, though, its most notable feature is its permanent Henry Darger Room Collection.
It contains numerous religious objects, worn furniture, architectural elements, and personal items once owned by Darger himself.
Address: 756 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
The Chicago Temple is the site of the oldest church in Chicago. Also known as the Sky Temple, it's the tallest church on the entire planet and was opened in a Gothic skyscraper in 1831.
The jaw-dropping, majestic location sits atop 21 floors and is elegantly topped by a traditional spire. It is 568 feet off the ground, which is pretty impressive.
The Chicago Temple seats 1,000 people on its first floor. The second to fourth floors have church offices and little sanctuaries.
The fifth to 21st ones are home to many different businesses. And then, on the top spire, that's where the Sky Chapel itself is!
Attending a worship session here is one of the coolest things to do around Chicago for the religious. But even if you're not of the faith, its weekend tours are very much worth it.
Address: 77 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
Merz Apothecary is one of the most unique and interesting Chicago tourist attractions. It has a rather lovely history.
It opened its doors in 1875, run by pharmacist Peter Merz. Instead of calling it a pharmacy, Merz opted to name his business an "apothecary", following European tradition.
With German and Swedish immigrants flocking into Chicago, Merz soon found himself visited by many immigrants seeking a chemist.
He hired salespeople fluent in many languages, which further increased the business' good reputation.
It faced success for many years and was saved from closure in 1972 by a young, budding pharmacist taking up the mantle.
Now, Merz Apothecary sits in a building that looks just like an old-world, turn-of-the-century structure.
It continues to stock homeopathic medicines and natural remedies, with modern vitamins, hygiene products, and skincare also on sale.
The wooden facade, complete with herb-filled glass bottles in oak cabinets, adds to the delightfully whimsical, authentic appearance.
Address: 4716 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
Midway Plaisance Park, often just called the Midway, is one of the natural recreational attractions in Chicago.
The stretch, spanning about a mile on the state's South Side, was an amusement site during the famous 1893 World's Fair.
The fair, also known as the Columbian World's Exposition, is one of the reasons the park continued to be popular as time went on!
For the most part, Midway Plaisance Park is a great recreational spot. It has over 200 acres to its name and is a good site for bikers or hikers. The park is easy to navigate and is pretty straightforward.
While you're here, be sure to check out the Fountain of Time. The gorgeous must-see reflecting pool and sculpture was inspired by "Paradox of Time", a poem by Henry Austin Dobson.
It was dedicated in 1922 and served as a monument celebrating the first century of peace between the UK and the US.
The thought-provoking work of art features the hooded, scythe-wielding Father Time looking over a myriad of figures of all ages.
Address: 1130 Midway Plaisance, Chicago, IL 60637
When you visit Chicago, you likely want to get a good idea of all the best features that the city has to offer.
Humboldt Park is a surprisingly nice way to get a bit of a taste of everything! Situated on the city's West Side, it's a mix of untamed grass and natural conservation.
There's an inland beach, community gardens, and formal gardens alike to explore.
Fans of baseball will love Little Cubs Field, a small replica of Wrigley Field. Different parts of the park have a variety of options for activities, whether you like nature, sport, or relaxation.
In addition to all of that, there's some history here, too. The Queen-Anne style building of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture is a great visit for the interested.
Address: 1400 N Sacramento Ave. Chicago, IL 60622
If you think of food as a form of art, then Alinea Restaurant is one of the places to visit in Chicago for a unique molecular gastronomy experience. Its chef and co-owner, Grant Achatz, is recognized as a master of this craft.
For the uninitiated, molecular gastronomy is a way of deconstructing food into its individual shapes, tastes, and textures.
These constituent experiences are mixed up and changed, producing unexpected results different from what we're used to, thrilling the senses!
Alinea Restaurant has mastered this art. You'll sample strange delights in the form of spherical dips, solid sauce, distilled lemongrass and green chili liquid, frozen marzipan, honey foam, and ice cream in strange flavors.
Each one is served in a thoroughly unique, distinctive manner that really makes a statement.
Address: 1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Chicago is a beautiful city. With its location on the waterfront, iconic skyline, and wealth of history and culture, it's no wonder that it's such a popular destination.
Whether you're seeking information, art, entertainment, cuisine, nature, or anything else, this list of top Chicago attractions have you covered.
As the third-largest city in all of the United States of America, it's really no surprise that the location is as diverse and fantastic as it is!