Traveling to Chicago: Iconic Tourist Attractions and Under-the-Radar Places to Go

Traveling to Chicago: Iconic Tourist Attractions and Under-the-Radar Places to Go

Reading Time: 4 minutes

On the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago has become one of the must-see cities in the United States. The city is home to iconic locations like Wrigley Field, the Willis Tower, and Millennium Park. Along with numerous famous landmarks, Chicago offers festivals, local markets, and neighborhoods with unique architecture. If you haven’t been to Chicago, the time to visit is now. The locals love living there, and tourists love visiting. Whether you take in the top tourist attractions or check out the hidden gems, there is truly something for everyone in the Windy City.



What are the Top Tourist Attractions in Chicago?

When you visit Chicago, it is easy to get around to the top tourist attractions. While automobile traffic can be an absolute nightmare in town, there are several methods of transportation that you can use to see the sites. Buses, trains, and tourist trolleys will take you to the major sights. 



Visit State-of-the-art Museums in Chicago

Chicago takes great pride in its museums. These museums are on par with some of the best in the world, including the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. These are the must-see museums in Chicagoland. Begin at the southern end of Lakeshore Drive and work your way north to see these icons: 



Seeing the museums in Chicago can take up several days. If you visit Chicago in the warmer months, these tourist attractions are worth your time. 



Stroll Around the Parks 

Millennial Park, in the middle of downtown, is home to several special events and festivals. It is also the home of several memorable art displays. The Cloud Gate – which is affectionately called The Bean – is a piece of art to see, so is the Crown Fountain that features a variety of Chicago residents. 


Another top park to visit is Grant Park, which is home to the beautiful Buckingham Fountain. Grant Park is the park in Chicago that includes several smaller parks, including Millennial Park. You can sit along the banks of Lake Michigan, run in the Chicago Marathon, and visit the museums at the Museum Campus.


Lincoln Park Zoo is another park to see in Chicago. This zoo is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and it is for free. After you spend the day at Lincoln Park Zoo, you can spend the evening at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The Friendly Confines are only two miles to the north. A visit to Chicago is incomplete without checking out the ivy at the second-oldest active ballpark in the US. 



tourist attractions in chicago

Check Out Navy Pier

If you are looking for a place to shop, eat, and be entertained, Navy Pier is it. This is a great place to go with children because it is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum. It is also home to the Centennial Wheel. You can even book a dinner and cruise at the pier. 




See the Heights

Chicago is home to some of the tallest buildings in the world. At one point in time, the Willis Tower (which was then called the Sears Tower) was the tallest building in the world. Both the Willis Tower and 360 Chicago (the observation deck atop the Hancock Building) give you a bird’s eye view of Chi-Town. 




What Hidden Spots Should Tourists See?

Chicago has 234 square miles of things to see. While the city is smaller than places like New York City and Los Angeles, these are still a lot of square miles to fill. And, along with the plethora of must-see tourist attractions, there are several hidden gems that are worth seeking out. 



Graceland Cemetery

You might not think of a cemetery as a place to visit, but consider the sheer numbers of people who see Arlington Cemetery each day. Graceland Cemetery in Uptown is filled with statues, elaborate tombs, and a historic stone chapel. Graceland Cemetery has over 2,000 trees on the grounds, making it a certified arboretum. 


Many famous Chicagoans are buried there, including renowned architects Mies van de Rohe and Louis Sullivan, socialite Edith Rockefeller McCormick, Cubs great Ernie Banks, and movie critic Roger Ebert. 



Bridgeport Art Center

On the southside near Guaranteed Rate Field is the Bridgeport Art Center. This is the creative home to local artists and designers who work in several media. The center has an outdoor sculpture garden, and three curated art galleries. There are even plenty of parking spots, which is a unique sight in Chicago, too. 


what to do in chicago


Maxwell Street Market

Chicago is a great place to shop, and one must-visit gem is the Maxwell Street Market, which is open Sundays from 7 AM – 3 PM all year. It’s near the South Loop and Little Italy. Check out the handmade crafts, resale treasures, street food, and live music. It’s a family-friendly market that you shouldn’t miss. 



Old Town School of Folk Music

Up the road from Lou Malnati’s Pizza in the Ravenswood neighborhood is the Old Town School of Folk Music, which was the school that trained students like Steve Goodman and the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn. If you love music, you must check it out. 



Garden of Phoenix

Some remnants of Chicago’s World’s Fair still exist, including the Japanese garden in Jackson Park. It’s south of the Museum of Science and Industry in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The Garden of The Phoenix is on an island within Jackson Park and is home to cherry trees, koi ponds, and authentic Japanese horticulture. Visit in the spring when the cherry trees blossom. 


Chicago is the perfect place for tourists. The Midwestern city is filled with friendly people and plenty of unforgettable places to see and things to do. If you are visiting Chicago for the first time, this is a perfect guide for you. One of the last adjectives anyone would use to describe Chicago is boring. From professional sports leagues, momentous skyscrapers, notable shopping centers, award-winning restaurants, and unexpected parks filled with landmark works of art, Chicago has it all.

Touring New York City: Secret Spots and Favorite Tourist Attractions

Touring New York City: Secret Spots and Favorite Tourist Attractions

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New York City is regularly named the greatest city in the world. It is truly the center of everything – finance, fashion, entertainment, sports, and more. From modern, mesmerizing skyscrapers to the iconic buildings of days gone by, the architecture in New York stands apart from other cities. The city is filled with monuments to its greatest moments. And, food-and-beverage options cannot be beaten. There is always something to do in the City That Never Sleeps. 



Top Tourist Spots in NYC

There are several places that first-time visitors to New York City must-see. These are places that define the city and have had impacts on American and world history. It is impossible to see them all in a few days, as most have special events for tourists that can take a few hours to an entire day to complete. 



Iconic Buildings to See

These buildings have become symbols of the strength and resolve of New York City. They defied gravity in the early days of the city and continue to be places of power. Most of them have observatories at high levels, so you can see what the architects saw when they first made it to the top of their masterpieces. Others have ground-level features that offer treats for the senses. These buildings must be on your agenda:

  • Empire State Building
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • One World Trade Center and One World Observatory
  • Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock Observation Deck



things to do in nycMonuments and Parks

In a city with so much hustle, parks are a necessity. New York City has some amazing green spaces that have inspired memorable stories, songs, and other works of art. When visiting the Big Apple, tourists should take a break from the concrete and steel. Go to the parks to see the monuments and take some time to relax and play. These must-see places include:



Cultural Stops 

New York City is loaded with culture, which is what separates it from other great cities. There are so many ways to expand your mind and broaden your horizons by taking in these treasures. These are the must-see cultural stops for every New York City tourist:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Broadway and the Theater District
  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • The Frick Collection
  • New York Public Library
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Yankee Stadium



Sights on the Streets

Big cities often have a few streets that everyone knows. In Chicago, tourists visit Michigan Avenue to take in the shops. In San Francisco, visitors must drive down the curvy Lombard Street. But, in New York City, there are so many streets to see and sights to behold. These are a few of the greatest:



Hidden Gems in NYC That You Should Definitely See

Believe it or not, there are still hidden gems that have yet to go mainstream. These special places give you a glimpse of what New York City means to the locals. Many of the secret treasures are in or near popular tourist attractions, so you do not have to go out of your way to enjoy them. 



The Whispering Gallery

This special spot is located inside the Grand Central Terminal. It’s magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture created a unique acoustic sensation: sound travels across the domed ceiling. The perfect arches on a lower floor of the terminal offer a corner-to-corner whispering gallery. You can stand in one corner of the space, whisper to the wall, and your voice can be heard by other people standing in the farthest spaces in the same room. 


where to go in new york city


The Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island

On Roosevelt Island in the East River, the Renwick Hospital shows off its gothic-revival style. This secluded hospital was used to treat highly contagious patients with diseases like smallpox and the plague. It is no longer a working hospital but was named a city landmark in the 1970s. It is the city’s only landmark ruin, and the island features a public area dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.



Secret Garden at the Rockefeller Center

When visiting Rockefeller Center, take the time to visit 620 Loft and Gallery. This special spot is a garden oasis that is often used as a wedding venue. When you visit the space, look down below to see the unforgettable views of nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 



See a Piece of Berlin Wall

As a world-class city, New York City has several historic sights to see. One is the five-part piece of the Berlin Wall. The actual pieces from this Cold War monster were installed at 520 Madison and feature street art from German artists Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny. 



The Old City Hall Subway Stop

New York’s subway is a masterpiece on its own, but some of the stops have become must-see locations for tourists. One of those is the City Hall Subway Station in Lower Manhattan. It was the first subway stop in the city and it opened in 1904. It shut down in 1945. Subway trains still pass through the stop, but the public space has become a museum and homage to the architects Heins & LaFarge. This space is nothing short of elegant, and tickets to the museum and tours are difficult to acquire. 


Visiting NYC is considered a rite of passage for the citizens of the world, and seeing the sights leaves indelible marks of inspiration on those who visit. New York City is one of the busiest places on the planet. Because of this, visitors need to take time to slow down and enjoy all that it offers. From the must-see attractions to the hidden gems tucked away in mysterious places, there is never a dull moment in the city affectionately called The Capital of the World

Experience the Best Houston Texas Has to Offer with This Top 10 Activities List

Experience the Best Houston Texas Has to Offer with This Top 10 Activities List

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New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles are some of the most well-known cities in America. Add Houston, Texas to that list. Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States and is a must-see for any tourist. When planning your weekend getaway or a road trip around the country, be sure to include Houston in your travel plan. Named after the first and third president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston, this metropolitan area has a lot of activities and places to see. This article will provide you with ten must-do activities when you visit the great city of Houston.



Make Sure You Stop by the Space Center Houston

One of America’s biggest accomplishments was putting a man on the moon. So much of NASA’s history can be traced back to Texas, which makes the Space Center a must-see. As Houston’s topmost attraction, you would be missing out if you didn’t take a visit. The Space Center holds more than four hundred artifacts, with both permanent and traveling exhibits on site. You can see what the space program has accomplished and what missions they have planned for the future.



Take A Look at the Museum District

New York City may have some impressive museums, but Houston’s collection of museums is nothing to scoff at. The Museum District has nineteen museums residing in its downtown area, which makes it one of the best cultural attractions that you can be privy to. Eleven out of the nineteen museums are free to the public, so there really aren’t many excuses you can come up with as to why you can’t make it to at least one.



Time to Go to the Zoo!

The Houston Zoo should definitely be on your list of places to visit while exploring Houston, Texas. The zoo holds more than six thousand exotic and indigenous animals. For those exploring with children, the zoo has an educational center that will make the trip fun and informative for the whole family.



Catch Some Sun in Galveston

Houston is a beautiful metropolis, but even the biggest city lover needs a break from skyscrapers. This is why Galveston is a wonderful place to visit and relax. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is beautiful. Vacation is meant to be relaxing, and what’s more tranquil than lying on the warm sand or splashing in the gorgeous ocean? Take a trip to Galveston with the whole family to have a nice break while exploring the city.


what to do in houston 

Take a Trip Around the Beautiful Buffalo Bayou Park

You can walk, bike, or paddle in Buffalo Bayou Park. The park consists of one hundred and sixty acres of green, with slow-moving water at the center. It’s a calm area to really enjoy the outdoors and nature while you are in Houston. Take a break in between your city exploring to get back in touch with nature when you visit the Buffalo Bayou Park. The beauty will certainly beckon you back long after you’ve left Houston.



Make Sure to Attend a Livestock Show and Rodeo

It wouldn’t be Texas without a rodeo. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is Houston’s biggest annual event. If you time your visit right, you can land yourself smackdab in the middle of the nineteen-day event. Taking place between February or March, enjoy the carnival, food stands, and games associated with this popular event. Of course, the main attraction is seeing cowboys in the rodeo show, which you do need tickets for.



Go to a Sports Game

Even if you aren’t the biggest sports fan, going to a live sports game is incredibly fun. Houston has football, basketball, baseball, and soccer, so there are plenty of options for you to choose from. The Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park are perfect places to visit for anyone who fancies themselves a lover of all sports.



Explore Rice University

Even if you aren’t a college student, you can gain a lot of knowledge when you take a walk through Rice University Campus. This three-hundred-acre campus holds a lot of history, as well as contemporary art on its campgrounds. Get a view of the longstanding buildings on campus and feel the history that this university possesses.



Explore the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Now, this is an impressive piece of architecture. This multi-story sculptural fountain dwarves everyone as it stands sixty-four feet above you. While a waterwall park may not seem like something you’d originally put on your itinerary, this 2.77-acre park has lovely oakwood that makes it simply a beautiful park to explore. Be sure to add this on your list of places to visit when you arrive in Houston, Texas.



Deep Dive into Houston’s Dining Experience

Houston has a lot of variety of food to offer visitors. Whether you are looking for Latin American dishes, Asian cuisine, Mexican food, or even health-conscious meals, Houston has it all. Houston is nowhere to stick your nose up and the variety of food may surprise you. A few places too good not to mention are One Fifth Houston, which is a five-year project that develops unique dining concepts, such as steak and even Mediterranean. Mexican food lovers can enjoy a high-end cuisine at Xochi, which will always surprise you. No matter what you are looking for, Houston has it.


Houston, Texas will provide one of the richest experiences than any other American state has to offer. There are endless options for tourists to explore and you will simply need to keep coming back to see it all. As a multicultural city, its food, shops, and parks all display what Houston stands for. There are so many things to do, and we couldn’t even fit them all on this list. This list is just a taste of what Houston has to offer, and you may wonder why you didn’t take this trip sooner. Every moment you are there will feel like returning home, and you may never want to leave after all of the fun you have.

Keeping Things Weird: What to Do in Austin, TX

Keeping Things Weird: What to Do in Austin, TX

Reading Time: 5 minutes

You know the saying – “Keep Austin Weird”? Well, Austin, TX is undeniably cool, and if you’re looking to visit or move to the city, there are tons of things to do from food trucks to music festivals and swimming holes. Whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge, there is something for everyone to do in Austin.



What To Do in Austin, TX

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is a gorgeous area for outdoor rec, hiking, biking, and adventuring. It’s not a swmmin’ hole, but you can go kayaking, rowing, or stand-up-paddle boarding. Explore the whopping 468 acres of land and take the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail for exercise with trees and lake as your backdrop. 


Forget Peloton, come here for motivation to exercise! The best part? Admission is free!



Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

For an after-hours experience, this is the place to go. Every day from 6 pm-8 pm, the museum holds a free “after dark” experience for the whole family. Enjoy a lit-up sculpture garden, gallery exhibits, themed activities, food, and entertainment. 


It starts in May and goes through the summer, along with free evening yoga classes and refreshments from local vendors. This is an event the entire community enjoys. Come for a taste of what it’s like to live like a local Austinite and do something out of the ordinary.



things to do in austin txTexas State Capitol

For a taste of Texas beauty and history, step inside the capitol building. It’s free to enter, and docent-led tours are offered every 20-30 minutes. Learn about the history of Texas and the beautiful building itself by experienced and knowledgeable guides. If you’d rather take a tour at your own pace, self-guided options are available for the whole family to enjoy.



Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Explore the astounding garden at the University of Texas and immerse yourself in the native fauna and flora of the Lone Star State. The center has regular family programs for children to get hands-on experience with gardening. 


Older kids will love the available magnifying glasses, books, and binoculars to take their garden adventure to the next level. Be sure to call ahead so you can plan to experience everything the center has to offer.



Barton Springs Pool

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Well, folks, it’s true – even for swimming pools! If you’re looking for a family-friendly swimmin’ hole, this is it! Barton Sprints is an outdoor recreational swimming pool that measures a whopping three acres in size. 


The pool is fed entirely with warm water from nearby natural springs and stays at a consistent year-round temperature of 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. 



The Continental Club

The Continental Club has been in operation since 1957 and holds a well-deserved reputation as a premier music club. They play a delightful variety of Americana and Texan tunes. It’s a favorite hot-spot for locals, but visitors and tourists are welcomed in gladly. 


If you want to live like a local Austinite for a few hours, this is the place to come. Grab a drink and turn to a neighbor for delightful discussion about life in Texas.



Franklin Barbeque

You can’t have Texas without BBQ and BBQ wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for Texas. Franklin Barbeque is a legend in Austin and beyond, often boasting hours-long lines because they’re just that good. The chef and food celebrity, Aaron Franklin, cooks up sausages and beef ribs that are to die for. 


One taste of his “Q” and you’ll never go back to eating regular barbeque again. Bring a folding chair, a hungry stomach, and a friend to hang with while you wait for your mouthwatering grub.


austin tx



This ain’t your regular, ordinary, everyday doughnut shop. This particular donut shop serves up Texas-sized donuts for Texas-sized appetites. They come in mouthwatering flavors like the famous “Mother Clucker” – fried chicken on donuts, and “Cache Me Outside” – Nutella, bananas pecans, and whipped cream. No matter what you choose from their one-of-a-kind menu, you can’t possibly go wrong.



Alamo Drafthouse

For a movie and good-eats, Alamo Drafthouse is the best there is. Snag a seat for your favorite flick and order from a menu that sports options like buffalo cauliflower, banh mi hot dogs, and bourbon milkshakes. 


Why settle for the plain old popcorn and soda when you can have your move and dine-out experience, too? Austinites really love their food. 



Driskill Hotel

Snag a room in this hotel that is quite literally old as dirt. It’s a true Texas landmark and is the oldest operating hotel in Austin. It’s also creepily haunted. Whose specter roams its halls? It’s rumored that a girl who fell down the stairs to her death and few suicide brides have never left the building.




If you’re looking for a live music venue, you can’t pass up Mohawk. Live music gets going every day from 8 pm-2 am and showcases some of Austin’s best creatives. Other live music venues to consider are The Continental Club, Antone’s Nightclub, ACL Live, and Elephant Room. Live music is essential in the Austin culture. 



Allen Boots

No trip to Austin would be complete without getting your very own pair of spur janglers – that’s right, we mean good old-fashioned cowboy boots. You’ll be sure to find a pair you love in Allen’s, where the Texas-sized store boasts over 4,000 pairs of boots for your choosing. 


You can also find cowboy hats, western duds, and plenty of accessories for a complete outfit. Walk in a visitor, walk out a Texan.



Uncommon Objects

If you’re already visiting Allen Boots, head on over to the next store – the greatest antique and vintage shop around. Peruse items of old, relics, and home goods grandma used. If you’re looking to pick up household items to complete that “Farmhouse” style, this is where you’ll find them!



Dirty Sixth

For nightlife lovers, this is the street where you’ll want to spend some time. It’s a local hot-spot and well-known icon in Austin. Why? It’s several blocks filled with bars and restaurants and endless options for grabbing a bite to eat, indulging in Texas grub, and drinking your fill of local and national brews.


austin tx


Congress Avenue Bridge

This bridge is famous for two reasons. One, it’s dedicated to the 45th governor of Texas, Ann W. Richards. Two, it’s home to the largest urban bat colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. Between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats call this bridge their home during the summer months. 


Here, you can join up to 100,000 tourists every year to watch the bats as they come out at dusk and fly around Lady Bird Lake looking for their nightly meal. 



Harry Ransom Center

If manuscripts, historical documents, and old photographs are your thing, you won’t want to pass this up. The center is home to one of the most extensive archives of original manuscripts and documents in the nation. 


Here, you can ogle at exhibits including The First Photograph – the oldest surviving photograph known taken in 1826 in France – and a first edition of the Gutenberg King James Bible.



Come Visit Austin!

These are only a few of the fun attractions that Austin offers. Want to learn more? Come visit this unique city that boasts a vibrant music scene, loads of food, and friendly people. 


Stated by the credit repair Austin experts, if you plan on moving to Austin, TX, make sure your credit score is high, and your debt is in check to get the best mortgage rate possible. If you need help with creating a customized financial plan to improve your credit score, contact the Phenix Group.