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A view of the Chicago skyline pictured from Lincoln Park.

Things to do in  Chicago

Welcome to Chicago

Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago—the largest city in Illinois and the third largest in the United States—offers a wealth of art, music, historical, and architectural experiences. Culture lovers can stroll through Millennium Park and the Loop to view outdoor art (including the iconic “Bean”), tour world-class museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, or cruise the Chicago River to see modern landmark gems. To meet the locals, buy a ticket for a ball game; catch some live blues or jazz (both of which have deep roots in Chicago) at a club; or laugh at the comedy acts at Second City, where many top comedians launched their careers.

Top 15 attractions in Chicago

#1
Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower (Sears Tower)

Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower (Sears Tower)

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Once the world’s tallest building, Willis Tower is still way up in the clouds. Though it functions as an office building, the skyscraper’s 103rd-floor Skydeck Chicago draws 1.7 million annual visitors for a trip out onto The Ledge, an enclosed glass balcony extending 4 feet (1.2 meters) out over the city, as well as panoramic views that—on clear days—extend as far as Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin.More
#2
Chicago River

Chicago River

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Winding its way through the heart of the Windy City, the Chicago River flows past some of the city’s most notable architecture, including the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Wrigley Building, and Navy Pier. The river also offers opportunities for exploration, such as river cruises, kayaking, and canoeing, along a revamped riverfront.More
#3
Navy Pier

Navy Pier

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Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist destinations—and with good reason. The 3,300-foot (1,010-meter) pier jutting into the waters of Lake Michigan, originally constructed in 1916 as a freight dock and public space, encompasses almost 50 acres (20 hectares) of exhibits, rides, parks, and family attractions.More
#4
The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile

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Fashion, architecture, and history in Chicago come together on this renowned stretch of Michigan Avenue nicknamed the Magnificent Mile. As you walk from the Chicago River to Oak Street, you’ll pass several Windy City landmarks, including the Water Tower, John Hancock Center, and Tribune Tower, as well as numerous luxury brand retailers.More
#5
Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

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Opened in 1897 as Chicago’s first public library, the Chicago Cultural Center is the city’s hub for arts and cultural events as well as one of the city’s most beloved architectural monuments. The center is among Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions and features more than 1,000 free concerts, films, art exhibits, and other cultural events each year.More
#6
Hard Rock Cafe Chicago

Hard Rock Cafe Chicago

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The Hard Rock Cafe Chicago has been serving the Chicago River North area since its opening in 1986. River North borders the Magnificent Mile, is just across from the Loop, and a few blocks west of Michigan Avenue, a vibrant and popular dining and nightlife district.Be sure to order Hard Rock’s signature food offerings like the Legendary Burger and drinks like Rockarita. Check the menu for house made local entrees that have a touch of Chicago flavor as well.Like other Hard Rock Cafes around the world, the Hard Rock Cafe Chicago features music memorabilia on the walls, with an emphasis on funky styles. Be sure to tour the restaurant and see various guitars, platinum records, and more.There are numerous concerts and events taking place at the cafethroughout the year, so be sure to check the Hard Rock Cafe Chicago events page for details and reservations.More
#7
Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk

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Connecting Lake Michigan to downtown, the Chicago Riverwalk is an open-air pedestrian-friendly walkway that runs along the Chicago River. Composed of six main sections, the Riverwalk is a main hub for entertainment. Head to the Marina Plaza section for restaurants, outdoor seating, and boat access. Take a stroll through a series of piers and floating wetland gardens at the Riverbank, or head to the Water Plaza where the kids can splash in water fountains.More
#8
Millennium Park

Millennium Park

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Located just a block away from Lake Michigan in the heart of downtown Chicago, Millennium Park showcases world-class art, music, architecture, and landscape design. Completed in 2004, the 24.5-acre (10-hectare) park is one of Chicago’s most popular destinations, drawing 25 million visitors per year.More
#9
Wrigley Building

Wrigley Building

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The 1920s were an important time for Chicago architecture, and when the Wrigley Building opened in 1925, it set the pace for the city’s development. When owner William Wrigley Jr. (of the Wrigley gum company) scouted locations for the building that would become his company’s headquarters, he chose a unique triangle shape of land that eventually became the bustling Magnificent Mile.More
#10
Grant Park

Grant Park

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Known as “Chicago’s Front Yard,” Grant Park stretches over 300 acres (121 hectares), and is the city’s primary downtown park. Located in the Loop, Grant Park is sandwiched between Lake Michigan and soaring skyscrapers. Its cultural highlights include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum Campus, and Millennium Park.More
#11
Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

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Located in Chicago’s Grant Park, the Art Institute showcases 300,000 works of art ranging from ancient works to pieces created by today’s foremost artists. More than 1.5 million visitors from across the globe flock to the museum annually, making it one of Chicago’s most-visited destinations.More
#12
Tribune Tower

Tribune Tower

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Once home to the Chicago Tribune, this neo-Gothic landmark was built as a result of the International Design Competition in 1922. Before this 462-foot (141-meter) building was constructed, reporters from the paper brought back pieces of rock from important landmarks around the world like the Taj Mahal, the Hagia Sophia, the Great Wall of China, and more.More
#13
Marina City

Marina City

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A distinctive feature of the Chicago skyline since the 1960s, the twin concrete columns of Marina City were once the tallest residential buildings in the world. Their scalloped “corn cob” exterior made them instantly recognizable and a popular setting in movies like Batman Begins, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Blues Brothers.More
#14
Field Museum

Field Museum

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With more than 20 million artifacts, the Field Museum is an engaging museum filled with both interactive and imaginative displays. The big attraction is the Tyrannosaurus rex named "Sue," a 13 foot (4 meter) tall, 41 ft (13 m) long beast who menaces the grand space with ferocious aplomb. The most complete T-Rex ever discovered, it takes its name from Sue Hendrickson, the fossil-hunter who found the 90 percent complete skeleton in South Dakota in 1990.Dinosaurs loom large in the Field Museum. At the Evolving Planet exhibit, you can also watch staff paleontologists clean up fossils, learn about the evolution of the massive reptiles, and even learn about Homo sapien's evolutionary ties to the extinct beasts. Away from the prehistoric giants, the “Inside Ancient Egypt” exhibit recreates an Egyptian burial chamber on three levels. The mastaba (tomb) contains 23 actual mummies. The bottom level, with its twisting caverns, is especially worthwhile. Those reeds growing in the stream are real.Other displays worth your time include “Underground Adventure,” a vast exhibit exploring the habitats of animals and insects that live underground, and the “Pawnee Earth Lodge,” which allows visitors to explore a complete dwelling of the Great Plains tribe.More
#15
Chicago Theatre

Chicago Theatre

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The historic Chicago Theatre, which dates back to 1921, is a popular downtown architectural landmark. With its famous dazzling marquee, French baroque architecture, and lobby modeled on a Versailles chapel, this picturesque structure today hosts concerts and comedy shows, as well as daily tours of its spectacular interior.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Chicago

Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Chicago Architecture River Cruise

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From
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Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise
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Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise

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Chicago Crime and Mob Bus Tour

Chicago Crime and Mob Bus Tour

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Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
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45-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour from Magnificent Mile
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Chicago Premier Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan
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Private 45-Minute Chicago Skyline Helicopter Tour
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Chicago Signature Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan
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Chicago in a Day: Food, History and Architecture Walking Tour
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Chicago CityPASS

Chicago CityPASS

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Chicago Lunch Cruise on Lake Michigan
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Chicago

star-5
Great tour day
karen_g, Oct. 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
The river is a beautiful way to see chicagos awesome buildings
star-5
Great tour
Kevin_C, Oct. 2022
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
Definitely recommend to visitors and even our Chicago residents.
star-4
Chicago by night.
Denise_W, Oct. 2022
Chicago Premier Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan
Lovely way to see Chicago by night.
star-5
A great way to see and eat in Downtown Chicago
Alima_S, Oct. 2022
Chicago in a Day: Food, History and Architecture Walking Tour
Definitely a great way to see the best of Downtown Chicago’s best bits and to get recommendations to visit places by yourself.
star-5
Chicago downtown
Shelley_V, Oct. 2022
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
if you want to see Chicago, this is the way to go and the cost was inexpensive.
star-5
Highly Recommend This Tour
Ruth_B, Sep. 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
It was a great way to spend a fall afternoon in the, “Windy City”.
star-5
Chicago with friends
Tina_T, Sep. 2022
45-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour from Magnificent Mile
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and it was a beautiful sight to see this was our first time to Chicago.
star-5
A Must !
Patricia_Z, Sep. 2022
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
This cruise is a must to see the beautiful architecture of Chicago .
star-5
A good host
Bhavya_S, Sep. 2022
Chicago Architecture Boat Tour
The unexpected opportunity to see the skyline of Chicago in its entirety was another highlight of the trip.
star-5
Great tour
Ana_M, Sep. 2022
Gangsters and Ghosts Tour in Chicago
She is very accesible and was very easy to understand (English is my second language).
star-5
Great experience with delicious food
Kayla_C, Sep. 2022
Original Walking Food Experience in Chicago with Tastings
Dave was also very knowledgeable and gave great recommendations on things to see and do.
star-5
A beautiful way to see...
Tammy_S, Sep. 2022
2-Hour Guided Segway Tour of Chicago
A beautiful way to see Chicago.
star-4
Great tour.
Keisha_N, Sep. 2022
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
Nice to see the history of chicago, we had John as our guide, he knew everything about the buildings and how they came about.
star-5
Memorable
Freddy_O, Sep. 2022
Gangsters and Ghosts Tour in Chicago
Was an amazing experience to go back in time to see the old Chicago spots of the notorious Al Capone
star-5
Greatest guide=fabulous tour
Amanda_S, Sep. 2022
Chicago Night Crimes Bus Tour
Learning about many of the notorious Chicago criminals and mobsters along with actually being able to see the sites where historical events took place was incredible.
star-5
The driver was very...
Jonnie_B, Sep. 2022
Big Bus Chicago Night Tour
The Chicago skyline is something you need to see in person to truly appreciate.
star-5
Breezing along the lake!
William_K, Sep. 2022
Amazing Lakefront Segway Tour in Chicago
A fun ride covering a huge swath of the the lakeside attractions.
star-5
Chicago is gold!
Fevin_R, Sep. 2022
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
Happy that the tour still happened and our family was able to see the skyline from the water.
star-5
10/10
Madison_K, Sep. 2022
Chicago Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise
Best sights you’ll see in Chicago!
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The Chicago Realm
Andres_S, Sep. 2022
Best of Chicago Small Group Tour with Hotel Pickup Included
We had a phenomenal time touring around Chicago, learning , and enjoying the places we were able to visit.
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All about Chicago

When to visit

After being cooped up all winter, Chicago is ready to party when the sun comes out (sometime during May). Summer highlights include the annual Taste of Chicago, Chicago Blues Festival, Andersonville’s Midsommarfest, and the Chicago Air and Water Show. Alternatively, fall brings fewer crowds and brisker weather, perfect for exploring neighborhoods on foot and watching the trees turn colors along the quaint neighborhood streets.

Getting around

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is your best friend when traveling around Chicago. You’ll see many references to “the Loop,” the circle elevated train tracks that define the city’s downtown area. From there, train lines (both underground and elevated) shoot out to the airport and the nearby suburbs. The CTA also has a robust network of bus lines that make all corners of the city easily accessible. The Loop itself is very walkable, and if you’re there in the dead of winter and your toes are frozen, hailing a cab is a cinch.

Traveler tips

The best place for a chargrilled Chicago hot dog after bar closing time (2am) is the Weiner’s Circle in Lincoln Park. The dog is served with a pickle, tomato wedges, chopped onions, sweet peppers, celery salt, and a side of major sass from the counterperson. If you know what’s good for you, never ever ask for ketchup—Chicago is a mustard town.

Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
CDT (UTC -6)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English

People Also Ask

What is Chicago famous for?

Chicago is famous for its architecture—skyscrapers like the Willis Tower and John Hancock Center dominate its skyline, and architectural boat tours chart the Chicago River. The Windy City is also known for its signature bites like deep-dish pizza, its world-class museums, dynamic and diverse neighborhoods, and views overlooking Lake Michigan.

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How can I spend a day in Chicago?

If you have just one day in Chicago, start at the Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower for panoramic city views. Stroll through the Loop to Millennium Park and pose near "The Bean" before exploring the Art Institute of Chicago. Be sure to try Chicago's famous deep-dish pizza before leaving.

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How can I have fun in Chicago?

For a fun-filled day in Chicago, visit the attractions of Navy Pier, embark on a sightseeing boat tour of Lake Michigan, or head to the 360 Chicago Observation Deck for aerial views. Alternatively, go on a Segway tour of the Lakefront—and even see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

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What is the number 1 attraction in Chicago?

Chicago's number-one attraction is Millennium Park. This relaxing green space, steps from Lake Michigan, is home to many famous public artworks, including Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate"—better known as "The Bean." Right next door is the Art Institute of Chicago, where you can continue your cultural immersion indoors.

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What is there to do in Chicago in the winter?

Chicago is known for its snowy winters. For a winter-wonderland experience, discover the ice rink in Millennium Park or hit the Soldier Field Sledding Hill. Then, warm up in a top-rated museum, like the Art Institute of Chicago or Field Museum. End the evening with a musical or comedy show.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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