Situated on the shores of freshwater Lake Michigan, Chicago is a metropolitan city in the state of Illinois. Often referred to as the ‘Windy City’, it is the third largest city in the United States, and also a major hub for finance, industry, and commerce. The city is dotted with impressive museums, interesting architecture, beautiful parks, towering skyscrapers, pristine beaches, and upscale ѕhоррing spots that are worth a visit as part of USA Tour Packages. If you are an art lоvеr then visit the Art Inѕtitutе оf Chiсаgо while in Chicago as it hosts vаriоuѕ Art exhibitions and Art sessions throughout the year. While there are a lot of places to see in Chicago, these 14 attractions are a must-visit on your bucket list.
Millennium Park is a large public park located close to Lake Michigan. Opened in 2004, it is one of the best places to visit in Chicago and is all about the city’s weekend vibe. Covering an area of 25 acres, the park is bounded by Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the north, and Monroe Street to the south. The main highlight here is the Crown Fountain, a stunning modern interpretation of the ancient gargoyle that gives the appearance of water flowing from the mouths of projected images of Chicago citizens. The other highlight here is the Cloud Gate, often called ‘The Bean’, an elliptical-shaped sculpture made of purely stainless-steel plates that reflects the city’s skyline on its surface. It is also the site of a number of important events, including the yearly Grand Park Music Festival. While in Millennium Park, you can enjoy various activities like strolling along the magnificent Lurie Garden, trying rock climbing at Maggie Daley Park, watching shows and concerts at the theatres, and satisfying your hunger at the Plaza at Park Grill.
Located on the southern bank of the Chicago River, the award-winning, pedestrian-friendly Chicago Riverwalk is one of the most bustling places to visit in Chicago. Stretches 1.25 miles from Lake Michigan to Lake Street, the Riverwalk is home to many bars, pubs, and restaurants and also hosts special events throughout the year. Visitors can watch boats swimming idly in the water or take a cruise on the river during the afternoon enjoying the stunning architecture of the city’s most celebrated landmarks, satisfy your hunger at any of the waterfront cafes along with wine, live music, and outdoor games.
Art Institute of Chicago
Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest museums in the USA. The museum was housed in a beautiful Beaux-Arts building that was built for the 1893 World Expo. The gallery is home to a mammoth collection of over 300,000 works spanning more than 5000 years – from ancient Egyptian artifacts to European Decorative Arts, to one of the world’s most significant Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections outside of France. The main highlights here are Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath, and works by famous artists such as Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, and Grant Wood.
The Magnificent Mile
One of the top shopping destinations in Chicago, The Magnificent Mile or the Mag Mile, is a section of Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River, with numerous galleries, boutiques, and luxury shops. This area also provides access to many landmarks and tourist attractions in Chicago, which includes the terracotta Wrigley Building skyscraper, the historic Chicago Water Tower, the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, and the 100-story John Hancock Center, which has a rooftop observation deck with fine dining and spectacular city views. If you visit this place in summer, don’t miss being a part of the Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival during your Chicago tour.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Located on the North Side of the famous Lincoln Park, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoological parks in North America, and among the prime attractions to visit in Chicago. Founded in 1868, the park houses over 1,100 animals including playful meerkats, fascinating gorillas and chimpanzees, fierce lions, black rhinos, wild dogs, red wolves, black bears, and pygmy hippos. Also, the zoo is known to be operating one of the biggest zoo-based conservation programs in the country. Visitors can also savor their hunger with delicious food and beverages in the on-site restaurant in the zoo.
Chicago History Museum
The Chicago Historical Museum was founded in the year 1856 with the purpose of studying and interpreting the glorious history of Chicago. It is one of the top historical places to visit in Chicago. The museum is home to approximately 22 million holdings as its collection relates to Chicago’s local history, which includes manuscripts, books and publications, photos, paintings, and sculptures. The main highlights include the hands-on model of the Hancock Building and the real story behind the Great Chicago Fire. Visitors can also find ancient costume collections and couture pieces.
Designed in the iconic Art Deco style, Buckingham Fountain is located at the center of Grant Park. Established in 1927, this extraordinary fountain is regarded as one of the largest fountains in the world and among the must-see places in Chicago. This fountain is built from Georgia pink marble in the shape of a rococo cake and is surrounded by four seahorse statues that represent the four states across Lake Michigan. It was designed by the architect Edward Bennett after the Latona Fountain at Versailles. It is operational during the peak hours of the day while it shows its magic with lights in the evening. As 15,000 gallons of water move around to make beautiful designs, this fountain becomes a must-visit spot for all tourists who are looking for iconic places to visit in Chicago.
Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long pier located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Chicago. Originally, it was opened in 1916 as an amusement area and shipping facility. But now, it is one of Chicago’s popular tourist attractions that consists of 50 acres of gardens, theatres, museums, shops, restaurants, concert venues, and parks. The pier also houses a 150-foot Ferris wheel and a historic carousel. Besides, one can enjoy the sightseeing tours and dinner cruises on the pier along with fireworks on the nights of Wednesday and Saturday. Apart, the pier also hosts annual festivals, including the Chicago Festival which is held in August every year.
Willis Tower Skydeck
The Willis Tower is a 110-story building that opened to the public in 1973. It was the world’s tallest office block until 1996, when the Petronas Towers were built in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Designed by architect Bruce Graham and engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan of Skidmore, the building is 1,453 feet tall. It was renovated in 2009, adding the Ledge to it on the 103rd floor. The Ledge is the huge extended outward window that is made entirely of glass where visitors can stand and enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Michigan and glimpses of the states of Michigan. It is the highest observation deck in the entire USA, making it one of the most popular Chicago tourist attractions. A 70-second ride takes visitors to this observation deck, located on the 103rd floor.
360 Chicago / John Hancock Observatory
360 Chicago is an observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building. Located 1,000 feet above the famed Magnificent Mile, this large glass-walled observation deck provides a spectacular view of Michigan Lake, Chicago’s skyline, and three other surrounding states. The deck is home to a new, high-tech feature called ‘Tilt’ which is Chicago’s highest thrill ride that lets you get tilted at an angle inside its glass walls. Also, one can relax at the BAR 94 of the observation deck and enjoy some local drinks from the KOVAL distillery and the Revolution Brewing. Besides, this building also contains several shops, offices, and apartments, as well as a multimedia exhibit located on the first floor that includes information about the city of Chicago.
Established in 1921, the Chicago Theatre is an opulent theatre located on North State Street in the Loop area of Chicago. Originally known as the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theatre, the theatre boasts a stunning neo-baroque interior inspired by the Palace at Versailles. The theatre boasts a bright marquee in yellow and red that serves as a venue for a variety of stage performances by major entertainers, from comedians to musicians. Its cavernous auditorium is fantastic as glittering crystal chandeliers light up the superb murals and gilded decorations that adorn its walls and ceilings. Even if you don’t have time to check out a show, be sure to pop in or schedule a tour to get a closer look.
Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world. Located closer to Lake Michigan, the aquarium was opened in 1930 and is home to more than 1500 species of sea life, including 32,500 fish, as well as an array of birds, insects, and amphibians. It was the first inland aquarium that had a permanent collection of saltwater fish. Visitors can see the permanent exhibits here, such as the Caribbean Reef, Waters of the Worlds, Amazon Rising, Abbott Oceanarium, and the Wild Reef. The most popular exhibits are ‘The Oceanarium’, which features beluga whales and dolphins. Visitors can also enjoy the One World aquatic show and the 4D Theatre.
Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum in Chicago is one of the largest and most renowned museums of natural history in the world. Originally called the Columbian Museum of Chicago, the museum was founded in 1893 to showcase the biological and anthropological collections gathered for the World Columbian Exposition. Later, the name was changed to the Field Museum of Natural History in 1905 to honor Marshall Field, the department store owner, art patron, and major benefactor of the museum. The museum contains a permanent feature of around 20 million artifacts and specimens that include geology, botany, zoology, and anthropology. The main highlight of the museum is the Tyrannosaurus skeleton with 58 teeth and a 12-meter long from tail to nose that draws thousands of visitors. The museum also features special rotating exhibits on a regular basis all-round the year. One can also explore the huge library of the museum that consists of the Ayer collection, Laufer collection, and Photo archives. A visit to this museum is one of the top things to do in Chicago for history buffs as part of Chicago Tour Packages.
North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach is one of the most famous beaches located in Lincoln Park, Chicago. This golden sand beach is known for its 22,000-square-foot beach house. One can spot several bikers, walkers, runners, and rollerbladers gliding on the lakefront trail. The beach offers something for everyone from swimming to playing volleyball to simply relaxing in the expansive space. Also, the beach offers splendid views of the city’s skyline and hosts many festivals and events every year. Apart, one can also enjoy great food, drinks, and desserts at the Castaways Bars and Grills. Thronged by a large number of beach lovers, it is one of the best places to visit in Chicago.
Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.