Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, it is entertaining, cultural, and historical. During my last three-day trip, I took the time to visit it and walk through its very charming streets. It is the starting and ending point of the Route 66, known for its public figures such as Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, but also Al Capone, the city knows how to tell us its story through its architecture. So, I share with you my top 10 things to see for your next stay, hoping to make you want to go there someday, if you haven’t already.
1 – Chicago River Boat Tour
This is unquestionably one of the things to do in Chicago, an architectural cruise on the Chicago River that will make you discover the most important buildings in the city. It sounds touristy to take a boat tour of the city, but it’s really worth it! You will be stepping back in time with a guide who will tell you how Chicago became the city it is today. We discovered an architectural mix of old buildings and other more modern ones, in a few years the story will have changed again. You will understand that Chicago knows how to evolve over time and adapt to any situation. We did this tour with the Shoreline Sightseeing company, with the City Pass which cost us $80 USD, we had three attractions that were included, including this tour. This pass can be advantageous if you know that you will be visiting places in the city that are part of it, because you will get what you pay for. We got this discount through Groupon, so be sure to check out that kind of discount site.
2 – Cloud Gate
Of course, how not to pass by the iconic Cloud Gate, also called the Bean, which really has the shape of a cloud or a bean (depending on what you want to see) in the middle of the city and which reflects in the form of a mirror all the buildings around. An interesting work of urban art made by the British Anish Kapoor which is still very modern since its construction began in 2004 to be finalized in 2006 for the general public. Access is free, you just have to take a walk around and even pass under it. Take a photo with the point of view you prefer, so you will be part of this atypical sculpture.
3 – Millennium Park
A walk in the Millennium Park was very pleasant for us, it is in this park that you will find the Cloud Gate, but also other sculptures by other artists, often with free shows and concerts that take place outdoors. Green spaces, a garden where you can take the time to admire the city. Many facilities have been made in recent years for families, such as climbing walls, karting, mini-golf, and in winter you can skate there. Inaugurated in 2004, as its name suggests, the park wanted to celebrate the change of millennium, but like all construction, delays have occurred, so here 4 years later.
4 – Grant Park – Buckingham Fountain
Talking about parks, we have the Grant Park which is in fact at the complete south of Millenium Park, by going there you can pass by the Art Institute of Chicago, which is very well known in the world for its collections of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.
We went to this park to see the Buckingham fountain, from April to October you can watch water shows from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., then in the evening there is a whole sound and light show. It lasts 20 minutes and starts every hour.
In this same fountain, you will also see four sculptures of horses that spit jets of water, they actually represent the four American states that border Lake Michigan (namely Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana). The fountain would also symbolize the end of Route 66 for those arriving from the east from Los Angeles.
5 – Shedd Aquarium
Since we were in Grant Park, there is a museum campus dedicated to the natural sciences, such as the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium or the Field Museum of Natural History. As we had the City Pass which included the Shedd Aquarium, we visited it, and it was a great discovery. It is quite large so allow two or three hours for your visit, especially if you are with your family, to admire and learn about all these marine species. The entrance fee is $39.95 USD, open from 9am to 5pm, plus you can check the calendar of events, there are sometimes performances of dolphins or other species at certain times of the day.
We also really liked the skyline view of Chicago from the aquarium, so do not hesitate to take the time to admire this very beautiful view, it is worth it.
6 – Navy Pier Wheel
We chose this attraction with our City Pass, the weather was very nice to have a panoramic view of the city from above. The Ferris wheel at Navy Pier gives you a 360-degree view of Chicago and Lake Michigan up to a height of 200 feet (61 meters). We can be a maximum of eight people per gondola, but we went on a weekday and there were not many people, no queues either, so we could have a gondola for two. We did three laps, for about 15-20 minutes. The price without a pass was $18 USD. At the Navy pier you also have plenty of attractions such as rides for children and adults, several restaurants and shops.
7 – Ohio Street Beach
On our way to the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, we happened to stop at Ohio Street Beach and settled in for a cool drink and lunch by the water. Time stops and we realize that we are in the middle of the third largest city in the United States, surrounded by skyscrapers and that we are sipping a cocktail with our feet in fine sand on a beach. The feeling is most pleasant for relaxation to the sound of the waves, and I highly recommend it. Access is free. A few people were swimming at the beginning of September, the weather was very nice, but the water was still cold (we just soaked our feet 😊).
8 – Wrigley Field
The famous and legendary Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field stadium for baseball fans (or not)! Do not miss the opportunity to go see a match and visit the stadium, it is worth living the experience to the end and who knows maybe catching a ball during the game (like in the movies). We didn’t get a chance to catch a ball, but we walked around the stadium and had the privilege of having our cap signed, a baseball and taking a picture with one of the Cubs players, and the team won that day. The atmosphere is very festive, so enjoy and have a good time eating a hot dog or a pizza. A very nice historic stadium that I recommend when visiting Chicago. It is indeed the second oldest stadium in the United States of Major League Baseball, it was built in 1914. Close to the city center, you can take the metro and get there directly at the Addison station on the red line. Go Cubs Go!
9 – Observatory Deck 360
One of the popular attractions in Chicago would be to visit one of the tallest towers and take in the view. We did not do it for lack of time, but it seems that the panoramic view and the experience of being at more than 1000 feet (350 meters) makes you have sensations. Especially since there is also the option called TILT, to be in the void with tilting windows all around the skyscraper on the 94th floor of the 360 Chicago tower. The experience must be dizzying. Going there at sunset must be beautiful too. According to their site, prices are $30 USD per adult, but with the TILT experience and a drink included it is $49 USD.
10 – Theater
Finally, since you are in Chicago, why not go see a play or a show. The city brings together more than two hundred theaters and most of them are gathered in the Theater District, the neon lights of theaters and cinemas will bring you back to an old classic film decor. Also, very famous for its musicals, you will have a wide choice of shows such as Broadway or the Phantom of the Opera. Outside the city center, several theaters are spread throughout the city to discover the different more authentic neighborhoods. So, grab yourself a ticket and take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Theatre capital of America.
By writing this top 10 in Chicago I realize that there are many more activities and attractions to see as this city is full of surprises. Therefore, I also invite you to share with me the other activities that you have been able to do or that you wanted to do. What would be your favorite attraction?
See you soon for new adventures!
4 thoughts on “The top 10 things to see in Chicago”
Great list! I’ve been to Chicago quite a few times, but I think the only thing I’ve done is the Navy Pier on your list. My sister moved there earlier this year, maybe I’ll visit one day!
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Nice!! You have your sister as a guide! She might have a top 10 local list then 😉 if you do, I’ll be interested to know too!
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I was born and bred in Poland, but Chicago used to be my home for a long time. I was there four times in all, and know all of the places you mention here (I’ve been to some, like the Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium, and have heard about others). Would love to go back there some day 🙂 Thank You for rekindling so many memories 🙂
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Thanks for reading it! 🙂 I’m glad it rekindles you some memories!
Would love to go there again 🙂
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