Chicago IL, which has been dubbed the Windy City, is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, with a bustling business sector, world-renowned museums, sports teams and much more. Chicago Illinois is also well-known for its amazing iconic skyscrapers and buildings, and is the third largest city in the U.S. More than 50 million visit the city every year. Here are some of the best things to do in Chicago:

1. Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is among the largest and most renowned museums in the United States. It also is home to some of the most famous pieces of art in the world, including “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet, “American Gothic” by Grant Wood, and “The Old Guitarist” by Pablo Picasso. The museum is best known for its extensive collection of French impressionist paintings. However, it also includes modern American art, Japanese textiles, and ancient Egyptian sculpture, among others. This is a huge museum, covering almost one million square feet. Children under 14 are offered free admission.

2. Shedd Aquarium

You can see marine mammals and fish of all kinds at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which is one of the world’s largest aquariums. It is home to around 32,000 animals, mainly aquatic (fish, seahorses, rays, sharks, and belugas), along with penguins, small monkeys, reptiles, birds, and more. Shedd Aquarium is an award-winning aquarium that has more than two million visitors per year and is one of the most popular attractions in Chicago.

3. The Loop

This is the central business district in Chicago and was named after the cable cars and railways that used to encircle the area. It is the heart of downtown Chicago and the ideal place for visitors to become acquainted with the city and be right in the middle of the action. Some of the most iconic architecture in Chicago is located in the Loop, including Willis Tower (formerly called Sears Tower) and Chicago Theatre. It is also home to Grant Park, and close to the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum.

4. Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum in Chicago is home to one of the world’s most expansive and largest natural history displays, including anthropological items, ancient artifacts, gemstones, and fossils, There are also three working laboratories here. Sue is the leading attraction, which is the most complete T. rex fossil that has ever been discovered. There are over 24 million items in the museum, with multiple floors and wings to explore.

5. Millennium Park

Millennium Park is actually part of Grant Park and is a must-see for any first time visitors to Chicago. It is home to some of the best known attractions in the city, including gardens, ice skating rink, Crown Fountain, the Bean, and the Pavilion, which is a venue that showcases the park’s symphony orchestra and free concerts on a regular basis. There are always family-friendly free events and public art here, which makes it a must-see attraction to visit.

6. Museum of Science and Industry

This museum features some massive displays! The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is home to a submarine, a WWII dive bomber, a Boeing 727, a steam locomotive, and Apollo 8 spacecraft. There are exhibits on all things related to science, from meteorology, to shipbuilding to biology and much more. There is also an IMAX move theater.

7. Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field is among the oldest ballparks in Major League Baseball and is the home field for the Chicago Cubs. It was originally built in 1914 for the Chicago Whales, which was a professional baseball team, and in 1921 was purchased by William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing gum magnate. You can take in a baseball game and also take a behind the scenes tour of one of the most famous sports venue in the world.

8. Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is one of the world’s largest contemporary arts museums. It houses various twentieth century artistic genres, ranging from surrealism and pop arts, to more contemporary works, which include sound exhibitions and video installations. Notable works include pieces of Frances Bacon, Rene Magritte, and Andy Warhol. It has a vast collection and is a well-organized museum that is easy to navigate.

9. Holy Name Cathedral

Holy Name Cathedral is a stunning Gothic revival style cathedral. It is an architectural and artistic must-see for any visitor to Chicago and features one ton bronze doors, a 46 meter arched ceiling, and famous Resurrection Cross. Holy Name Cathedral was commissioned in 1874 following the Great Chicago Fire. It was designed by the renowned architect Patrick Keeley, who designed numerous New England Catholic cathedrals during the 1800s.

10. Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium is a national historical landmark and the first U.S. planetarium. The museum was founded by Max Adler, a Chicago business man, in 1930 and is dedicated to studying astrophysics and astronomy. It is home to the Historic Atwood Sphere, where you can view the night sky the way it appeared in 1913, along with the Doane Observatory, which houses the largest aperture telescope in public use. The museum contains an extensive collection of antique scientific print materials and instrument, expansive space science exhibitions, and three full-sized theaters.

11. Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum is home to a wide range of items from the storied history of Chicago, including Abraham Lincoln’s deathbed and carriage, the city’s first passenger train car and first locomotive. There are also relics from the wild side of the city, including an original Playboy bunny outfit and Prohibition-era whiskey still.

12. Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo first opened in 1868 and is one of North America’s oldest zoos. It features approximately 1200 animals from all over the world, including reptiles, big cats, monkeys, apes, and more. Some of the more recent additions include colobus monkeys and polar bears, along with favorites like rhinos and lions. Admission is free and the zoo is open 365 days per year.

12. The Oriental Institute

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago focuses on ancient Near East artifacts. It has thousands of artifacts on exhibit from early human civilizations that have been discovered on digs across the Middle East from ancient Babylon, Nubia, Mesopotamia and more. The museum has particularly impressive collections of Egyptian and Persia relics and art, which date back to 10,000 B.C. The Oriental Institute was founded in 1919 and was funded by J.D. Rockefeller. It is still an active research center, and has a conservation center and lab located in Luxor, Egypt.

13. John Hancock Center

John Hancock Center is an iconic 100-story skyscraper. It is world-renowned for its observation deck on the 94th floor that offers a 360 degree panoramic view of Chicago. The building features signature stylistic features and X-braced exoskeleton which has won it numerous architectural awards.

14. Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile is the central shipping district of Chicago stretching out along Michigan Avenue. It features mid-range and high-end storefronts, including large department stores such as Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s, along with elite boutiques like Gucci and Prada. Burberry’s flagship store for the U.S. and the world’s largest Ralph Lauren store are also located on the Magnificent Mile. There are numerous cafes, deep dish pizza, and fine dining restaurants, along with many landmark buildings, including the Hancock and Wrigley buildings.


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