Chicago is a familiar name not just within the travel community. For theatre lovers, “Chicago” is the name of a famous musical play set in this Illinois city during the jazz age, and is a satire of corruption in the administration of criminal justice. For basketball fans, Chicago is home to what else, the Chicago Bulls. For foodies, it is here where they can get the best-tasting Chicago-style deep dish pizza. From turning your gaze to its jaw-dropping architectural marvels to getting a taste of its amazing food, there are so many things to do in Chicago.
Tourists from around the world are blown away by the Windy City. Its steely skyscrapers, rocking festivals, and top chefs preparing the tastiest recipes are all mesmerizing, but Chicago is never outrageous. Rather, the city is known for its low-key characteristics. So what are the best things to do in Chicago? Let’s take a closer look.
10 Best Things To Do In Chicago
Flying to Chicago, Illinois? Get to know 10 of the best things to do in Chicago. The rundown begins right now.
1. Watch A Baseball Match And Gobble Up Some Pretzels At Wrigley Field
NYC is to Yankee Stadium. Chicago is to Wrigley Field. One of the best things to do in Chicago is watching a baseball match and other amazing shows at Wrigley Field.
Though Wrigley Field hosts a wide range of spectacular shows, the main attractions here are the baseball matches, and you need not be a season ticket holder to earn the experience. The Chicago Cubs usually open their season in April, so it’s done, but the matches continue in the weeks after.
For instance, tomorrow, May 5th, the Chicago Cubs will fight it off with the Miami Marlins. In the following days during the month of May, the Chicago Cubs will have matches with the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Mets, the Cincinnati Red, and the Tampa Bay Rays.
This historic stadium also plays host to a multitude of big-name concerts and special events in the warmer months. If you happen to be in Chicago outside the baseball season, don’t fret. You can instead tour the Friendly Confines, the Park at Wrigley, or gobble up on the food being sold around the area, such as pretzels and hotdogs. Nothing beats the experience of sitting on its bleachers with an ice-cold beer and a hotdog in hand.
2. See The Iconic ‘The Bean’ Up Close And Personal At Millennium Park
If you search for “the best things to do in Chicago” and head over to the images section, this photo would often appear: the reflective bean-shaped structure. Yes, this is an icon in Chicago, and you can find it at Millennium Park.
This 24.5-acre park is where you can catch free concerts and famous public art installations. Plus, it is also just a stone’s throw away from the Chicago Loop, a vibrant area in the city that has various eateries, shops, theaters, and parks.
The centerpiece of this Chicago park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a flowing structure from the mind of its designer, Frank Gehry. It hosts the city’s grandest outdoor festivals and concerts.
As stated earlier, Millennium Park is also where you can see “The Bean” up close and personal. Officially referred to as Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor, this reflective sculpture is so famous you will find crowds taking photos of it.
Or, you can head over to Millennium Park for a picnic on its lawns, better if there’s a free concert being held. During the summer, the park hosts the Millennium Park Summer Concert Series, a show that features rock, jazz, and world music. No admission required.
3. Bond With The City’s Animals For Free At Lincoln Park Zoo
Did you know that according to experts, there are health benefits of going to the zoo, or “zootherapy”? You read that right. These include helping the visitor fight depression, reduce stress levels, and establish healthier habits, among many others.
So, if you are in Chicago and want to get these health benefits, take it to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Nothing could be better than being healthier without paying a dime. Yes, admission is free in this zoo.
Here, you can find lions, beavers, otters, bears, eagles, penguins, parrots, snakes, turtles, and crocodiles. Perfect for the whole family.
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4. Discover Art History At Art Institute Of Chicago
Named the “Best Museum in the World” by TripAdvisor, besting other popular museums like the Louvre in Paris, France, and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, the Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879, is home to some of the nation’s most beautiful collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist artworks.
Did you know that this museum features almost 300,000 works from all across the world? Visitors will find pieces created during the Byzantine era, Jacob Lawrence’s “The Wedding,” Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” and so much more.
Plus, the Art Institute of Chicago also displays the most intriguing artifacts, as well as interior design and furnishings in America and Europe from the late 13th to the early 20th centuries.
5. Relax And De-Stress By The Buckingham Fountain
Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain is found at Grant Park. You can relax and de-stress here after a day filled with walking tours and sightseeing. Often regarded as “Chicago’s front yard,” Grant Park is a green space at around 313 acres. It begins at the Loop’s easter edge and goes all the way down to Near South Side’s northern fringes.
Buckingham Fountain is the centerpiece of Grant Park. Touted as one of the largest fountains across the globe, this tiered water feature has 133 jets shooting water as high as 150 feet in the air during choreographed displays for 20 minutes. The show takes place every hour from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. from early May to mid-October, depending on weather conditions. This may be Chicago’s version of the Bellagio Water Show at MGM Resorts in Las Vegas.
Grant Park is also a relaxing green space if you want to stroll around. Many love its intricately manicured grounds and fantastic views of Chicago’s downtown.
6. See Beautiful Cherry Blossoms In Chicago
Witnessing the beauty of cherry blossoms has seemed to have been a springtime rite in Japan. But who says cherry blossoms are only in this East Asian country? In the United States, the best places to see cherry blossoms are in Washington DC and Chicago.
Around Chicago, places where you can see these gorgeous cherry blossoms are at Jackson Park, Garden of the Phoenix, Chicago Botanic Garden, and at Morton Arboretum, among many others. This is one of the best things to do in Chicago that you don’t want to miss.
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7. View Yoko Ono’s Astonishing Installation At Jackson Park
If you are visiting Jackson Park for the cherry blossoms, take advantage of the moment to drop by “Skylanding,” an installation art located in the park by Japanese multimedia artist Yoko Ono.
“Skylanding” is an artwork consisting of 12 large steel lotus petals protruding from the ground of the park’s Garden of the Phoenix. Every public art enthusiast loves this. Furthermore, this photogenic artwork was built as a symbol of peace, as it is located on the site of a pavilion constructed by the Japanese government for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
For the health buff, Jackson Park also has a fitness center, and areas for basketball, tennis, baseball, golf, walking, jogging and biking.
8. Listen To Late-Night Jazz At The Green Mill
Raise your hands if you are visiting Chicago for its jazz music too. You are not alone. Even the lesser music lovers want to experience jazz music right in its capital, the Windy City. But you need a venue to listen to this music genre. Take it to the Green Mill.
Green Mill is an Uptown institution that showcases bebop and jazz with a discriminating ear. Seriously and literally, you can tap your toes to the beats of the music.
Here’s a fun fact. During the 1920s, gangster and businessman Al Capone, together with other gangsters, used to hang out at the Green Mill. But today, the place has transformed to be a venue for great music.
Looking for the best things to do in Chicago, particularly at the Green Mill? Don’t forget to take a picture under the glittering marquee, which many movie fans know was destroyed in the 1981 neo-noir film, “Thief,” by Michael Mann.
9. Experience Chicago’s Very Own Deep-Dish Pizza
Chicago’s architecture, done. The parks, done. Its jazz music, done. Of course, are we going to forget about Chicago’s very own deep-dish pizza? Foodie travelers head over to the Windy City and try the things to do in Chicago, gastronomic style, with this kind of pizza.
Deep-dish pizza, also known as Chicago-style pizza, is prepared according to various cooking styles that were developed here. The pan where it is baked gives this pizza is distinctive high edge, providing sufficient space for magnanimous amounts of cheese and a chunky, tasty tomato sauce.
What are the best places to eat Chicago-style pizza? The list includes Pequod’s Pizza, Burt’s Place, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Giordano’s (no, not the clothing store), Labriola Ristorante and Cafe, and more.
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10. Cruise Down The Chicago River And Marvel At The City’s Stunning Architecture
Chicago is known for its beautiful skyline and architecture. What better way to take these all in than with a cruise down the Chicago River? Aboard the cruise, you will get to see the city’s famous architectural wonders.
The boat tour includes a tour guide, and will let you watch the spectacular skyline glide by. See over 40 notable buildings such as the Navy Pier, the Wrigley Building, the John Hancock Building, and more.
The tour covers all three branches of the Chicago River, passing by the East Bank Club, the old Post Office Building, and the Willis Tower. With so many things to do in Chicago, you will never run out of options.
Things To Do In Chicago: Airlines That Fly To The Windy City
Are you traveling to Chicago from Asia? Or, are you visiting this city in Illinois from Europe? As a bonus content in our “things to do in Chicago” piece, we list down some of the airlines you can take that fly to the Windy City.
- Cathay Pacific
- China Eastern Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- All Nippon Airways
- Korean Air
- American Airlines
- Air Canada
- United Airlines
- British Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- Air France
- Qatar Airways
- And more
Let Chicago Inspire You
Illinois is a fantastic state to visit in the United States. The Illinois state is nestled in the heart of the American Midwest, popular for its diverse landscape, vibrant culture, and rich history. From the busy city of Chicago – its magnificent skyscrapers and architectural marvels – to Illinois’ peaceful countryside dotted with quaint, small towns and scenic farmland, the state offers something for everyone.
One of the most visited cities in Illinois is Chicago. Travelers love it here. Chicago is an incredible metropolis standing proud on Lake Michigan’s shores, taking pride in its rich history, diverse culture, and of course, its skyline that many visitors fall in love with. Whether you are here for the food, for the architecture, for the parks, just to have a good time, or for the other best things to do in Chicago, the city will truly inspire you.
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