Best Things to Do in Chicago: Complete Guide

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Chicago is based on Lake Michigan, Illinois and is one of the largest cities in the United States. It’s well known for its famous and bold architecture, skyline filled with skyscrapers and also museums and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Chicago is an excellent place to visit, with so much to do there. It’s great for couples, travelling by yourself or even with the family, you can be sure to find something to do. However, when visiting a large city, it can be hard to know exactly what to do, where to visit and the must-sees of the area. That’s where we’re here to help as we will be looking at the best things to do in Chicago.

Things to Do in Chicago

So before planning to visit the city, you want to take a look into the things to do in Chicago and work out what you want to do and the areas you would like to visit. There is so much to do there, you’ll never get bored. However, you want to make sure you make the most of your visit and plan ahead, to make sure you fit it all in. below, are some of the best things to do in Chicago, so make sure to check them out.

Art Institute of ChicagoArt Institute of Chicago(Source: Kim Scarborough)

If you’re an art lover, then this may be one of the best things to do in Chicago for you. Here, you can find more than 300,000 artworks inside and is one of the county’s best-known cultural institutions. At the Art Institute of Chicago, you can find three of the most studied and celebrated painting from the past 150 years.

Some of the key pieces of artwork that can be found here include Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, American Gothic by Grant Wood and Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette. They have old and new paintings and you can even take a look at ancient Greek, Egyptian and Roman artefacts including mosaics, pottery, bronze, coins and jewellery.

If you’re into your artwork, then you’ll love visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.

Lincoln Park ZooLincoln Park Zoo

If art doesn’t take your fancy or perhaps you’ve got kids to keep entertained, this may be one of the better things to do in Chicago. Located right in the centre of Lincoln Park, the 35-acre zoo has more than 1,000 animals to see. The best thing about it? It’s free! This is one of the last remaining free zoos in the country, so make the most of it, whilst you can. So, if you’re an animal lover or want to keep the children entertained, this is a great and free activity to do.

360 Chicago

360 Chicago

The 360 Chicago is up there with one of the best things to do in Chicago. The observation deck is 1,000 feet up in the air, giving you a great view of the city. On a clear day, you can see four different states from it. This is a great place to visit to take in all the views and experience Chicago, from up above.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest conservatories in the United States. It’s home to 600 different species of plants. If you’re into your plants, then this is a great opportunity to experience something new. With so much variety and being one of the largest of its kind in the United States, it’s not one to miss.

Millennium ParkMillennium Park

This Park was created for the new millennium and is located within Grant Park. It’s the most popular visitor attraction in the Midwest and is free to enter. Here you can find bold public art and architecture. It’s great for a walk around or cycle through the park. With it being so popular, it’s one of the best things to do in Chicago.

The 606The 606

The 606 is Chicago’s answer to the High Line that can be found in New York City. The 2.7 miles of abandoned elevated rail line has been transformed into a pathway for pedestrians, connecting to Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park. This is a great place for a walk in the park, jog and bike ride where you can visit the different neighbourhoods and see the art installations along the way.

Shedd AquariumShedd Aquarium

The Shedd aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals from all around the world, including rockhopper penguins, a giant Pacific octopus and a selection of sharks. You can even pay extra and have a face-to-face encounter with the beluga whales. This can be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so it’s great to consider whilst in Chicago.


River and Lake CruisesRiver and Lake Cruises

In Chicago, they offer cruises on Lake Michigan and also along the Chicago River, so you can sit back and relax, whilst taking in the views of Chicago. Whether you’re wanting a gentle and relaxing cruise or an exhilarating speedboat ride, they’ve got plenty of options. This allows you to see, explore and take in more of the city, without having to walk for hours all day.

This is a great option for those wanting to see a bit of everything and can either be relaxing or a fun speedboat ride!


The Willis Tower standing at 442-metres, was the tallest building in the world, for 25 years. From the top, you can see views for over 50 miles and across four states. They also have a ledge at the Skydeck, where you can stand in an all-glass box, that projects over the sheer drop of more than 100 stories. This is another great attraction to visit, to see the views of Chicago.


The Riverwalk is 1.25 miles long, made up of six coves up to Wolf Point. On this route, you will find many photo opportunities, great for photographers. Along the way you’ll see the public art work in the form of graffiti and ceramic tile murals. As well as walking along the river to take in some of the city, you can also go on a cruise boat, water taxi, kayak or cycle boat tour. Along the way, you will also find lots of restaurants and cafes, perfect to stop off at for a little snack.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Navy Pier is where the Chicago Portage enters Lake Michigan and the attraction extends over the water, across six city blocks. Along the pier you can find a funhouse maze, Centennial Wheel and fairground rides and amusements. During the summer, they do weekly fireworks as well as an IMAX theatre and crystal gardens with more than 80 palms. This is a great thing to do in Chicago that full of fun and great for those with kids too.

Wrigley FieldWrigley Field

Wrigley Field is known for the Chicago Cubs playing the second-oldest ballpark in the major league. It may look weird at first as it’s located in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. If you’re in town when there’s a game on at Wrigley Field, it’s a great attraction to visit and take in some of the local sports.

Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park

(Source: Alanscottwalker)

Found within Grant Park, this is one of the city’s newest treasures, laid out by a landscape architect. The play garden is for kids up to 12 and has six different zones to it. This includes the watering hole and enchanted forest. As well as the playground for the kids, there is also an ice-skating ribbon, picnic groves, mini golf course and rock-climbing walls. This is a great, fun day out to do in Chicago. One for both the adults and kids to enjoy.

Museum of Science and IndustryMuseum of Science and Industry

If you’re into museums and science and industry, then this is a great thing to do in Chicago. It’s also great for kids, giving them limitless inspiration with show-stopping exhibits. Some of the amazing things that can be found in the Museum of Science and Industry include a full-size German submarine captured during the second world war, the Pioneer Zephyr and the first Boeing 727 to enter commercial service. For the younger ones, you can wrap your head around the concept of Storms exhibit, Tesla coil and Wimshurst machine.

These is an excellent day out for all the family to learn and discover more about science.

As you can see, there is a great variety of activities to do whilst in Chicago. From art and science to enjoying the parks, river and the city itself. You can always find something to do in this incredible city and there’s even plenty for kids too. Above, are some of the best things to do in Chicago, also known to be some of the hot spots of the city and must see. If you’re planning a trip to Chicago anytime soon, make sure to explore some of these places, to keep you entertained, as well as making sure you see the city and make the most of your time there. Some of the key attractions to make sure you do include the Skydeck to take in all the views, the Navy Pier for some evening entertainment and to visit the variety of parks throughout the city.

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