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:
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Oriental Institute Museum
- Field Museum of Natural History
- Art Institute of Chicago
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.
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.
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.
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.