Where to Go in Chicago: 8 Places You Don’t Want to Miss
Make the most out of your trip to The Windy City by making sure you visit these eight spots!
A musical, a film, a band, and a city—Chicago means different things to different people, but of course, it’s most famous for being a city with a colorful history and a rich culture. With so many things to do and places to be, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip to “The Windy City”. To help you out, here are our top picks of places not to miss on your trip to Chicago:
Art Institute of Chicago
Even if you’re not a big fan of museums, you will surely have an interesting time at the World’s #1 Museum as voted by travellers on TripAdvisor. The museum is open daily from 10:30am to 5:00pm except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, giving visitors of the city plenty of chances to view their collections.
Be prepared to walk and spend hours inside the museum. Its wide range of art, ranging from contemporary pieces to ones from the Byzantine, and its many different exhibits and activities guarantee that everyone in your group will have fun.
Prices can be steep at $25 per adult and $19 for university and college students as well as teens, but this place starts off our list because of its amazing art, including works by Picasso, Matisse and Pollock.
111 S Michigan Ave
A favorite among tourists and locals alike, Chicago’s Navy Pier is home to multiple attractions. Navy Pier Park (closed for construction until summer 2016) has outdoor rides such as a Ferris wheel, a giant swing, a carousel and more. Other attractions include Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze, an interactive and sensory maze experience, and the Crystal Gardens, an indoor botanical garden housed in a six-story glass atrium.
With views of the lake and the city skyline, the pier is also a great spot to go strolling. Its 2,000-foot boardwalk is full of sights to see, food to eat, stores to shop at and attractions to visit. Visiting the pier is absolutely free, but some attractions may charge a fee, like Amazing Chicago’s, which charges $9.99 for its maze and $2 per game of Time Freak or Atomic Rush.
Overall, this is a great place to visit for those on a budget, as it provides many things to do in one area. It’s a must for those who want incredible views of the city and a great time exploring a local gem.
600 East Grand Ave
Speaking of incredible views, Navy Pier isn’t the only place to catch the best sights in Chicago. 360 CHICAGO, formerly known as John Hancock Observatory, is THE spot to view the city from above. See the lake, downtown Chicago, the lakefront and neighboring states from 1,000 feet. The deck is open everyday from 9:00am to 11:00pm, with general admission at $19 for visitors over 12 years old and $13 for those aged 3 to 11.
Visiting the observatory is a surefire way to learn more about the city and have fun at the same time. It has interactive touch screens all around the area, so you and your group can learn about the view you’re looking at as you’re enjoying it. Another great feature of the observatory is TILT. This new and exciting feature holds visitors at a 90-degree angle and tilts them outwards over the city.
Whether you’re looking for a place to visit during the day or one to fill your nighttime itinerary, 360 CHICAGO fits the bill. Make your visit extra special and visit just right before sunset to see the city in all its glory.
875 N Michigan Ave
Be amazed at the universe we live in and learn more about it at the Adler Planetarium. The planetarium is open from 9:30am to 4:00pm on weekdays with extended hours until 4:30pm on weekends. General admission costs $12 per adult and $8 per child, and for this price, you get to see several exhibits and shows that will leave you in awe. Take note though that general admission tickets should be bought before 9am or at least the day before.
Popular spots at the planetarium include its observatory as well as its Space Visualization Lab. Visitors also shouldn’t miss it's The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time exhibit which offers an extremely fascinating look at our universe.
Visitors above 21 years old can also book tickets for Adler After Dark, an event held every third Thursday of the month from 6pm to 10pm. Tickets include access to the museum’s exhibits and galleries, unlimited sky shows and live entertainment, all for $20 (advance purchase) and $25.
1300 S Lake Shore Dr
Music Box Theatre
Visit the city’s largest theatre space, the Music Box Theatre. An independently owned venue, the theatre showcases independent and foreign films. It was opened in 1929 and has kept its original architecture and design originally inspired by outdoor Italian architecture, which is evident in its beauty and charm.
Any film fan will appreciate the selection of films at the theatre, the schedule of which can be viewed online. Generally, tickets to films showing at the theatre cost $10 each, with tickets to matinee shows at $8. Other events such as film festivals are also frequently held at or by the theatre, such as the Chicago French Film Festival.
A visit to the Music Box Theatre is a must for anyone who wants to see a great historic landmark as well as have a modern and offbeat experience with a date, friends or family. The theatre also shows cult films and classics, so check out the schedule beforehand to see if your favorite is playing while you’re in town.
3733 N Southport Ave
Chicago Cultural Center
Another stunning landmark that is a hotspot for the city’s visitors and residents is the Chicago Cultural Center. Famous for its design and history, having been built in 1897 as a central public library and proof of the city’s sophistication and the craftsmanship and talent of those who worked on it. In fact, the building is home to the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome and a 40-foot dome by Healy and Millet.
Aside from its gorgeous design, the Center is famous for its monthly events, which are often free for the public. These include exhibits, concerts and screenings year-round, with schedules being posted on the Center’s website every month.
If the free events and picturesque details sound good (and trust us, they are), you’ll be glad to know that the Chicago Cultural Center is open daily from 9am to 7pm from Monday to Thursday, 9am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Sunday.
78 E Washington St
Another must-visit site for free events (such as concerts and tours) and breathtaking architecture is Millennium Park. The park is home to numerous art installations and attractions that include Lurie Garden, Crown Fountain and Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Admission is free, and the park is open daily from 6am to 11pm.
If you’re looking for attractions unique to the city, then you will find one of the city’s most iconic landmarks here. “The Bean” or Cloud Gate, a stainless steel public sculpture, has been used in different films and music videos and is quite a famous image to audiences of Western pop culture and media. The design itself is interesting, and you could honestly spend forever looking at your reflection or the reflection of the cityscape.
This must-see park is a great option for travelers looking to spend a day relaxing from the travel rush, as there are many opportunities to do so around the park. Take a blanket and a couple of sandwiches with you and enjoy your day with a picnic or head to the fountain to cool off on a hot day if you’re there during the summer.
201 E Randolph St
The Field Museum
Ever wanted to see a T. Rex? Visit Sue at The Field Museum, one of the largest natural history museums in the world. It has a large permanent collection, as well as changing special exhibits. The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and ticket prices start at $18 for adults, $13 for children and $15 for seniors (65+) and students.
Aside from the up-close look at Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex ever found, other collections and exhibits at the museum that constantly attract visitors include a look inside Ancient Egypt, a Hall of Jade, a Fossil Prep Lab and a Hall of Gems with rare jewels. Free daily tours are available everyday, and floor maps of the museum can be picked up at the information desk. If you’re planning for your trip to the museum as early as now, you can even download it from their website.
Incredibly fascinating, The Field Museum is a place you don’t want to miss out on when you’re in Chicago, especially if you’re a nut for learning and exploring. Go onto their website and see a list of their exhibits to find out for yourself what makes this place so special.
1400 S Lake Shore Dr
Want to know more about places to visit in Chicago? Daring Penguin is the place to look for more information on where to eat, where to go for entertainment and where to shop in different cities! See more of our articles on Daring Penguin to help you plan your trip to Chicago. Happy travels!
(Photo of "The Bean" by Jacob Surland on Flickr.com)
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