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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 10 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
Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

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Chicagoans take their baseball seriously, and one of best places to see a Major League Baseball game in the United States is at the ivy-covered home of the Chicago Cubs: Wrigley Field. Built in 1914 and known as the "Friendly Confines," Wrigley Field is the oldest baseball park in the National League and should be on the bucket list of any baseball fan.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
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
#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

Trip ideas

Don’t-Miss Dishes in Chicago

Don’t-Miss Dishes in Chicago

Top activities in Chicago

Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise
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Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise

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$28.34
Chicago Crime and Mob Bus Tour

Chicago Crime and Mob Bus Tour

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$46.00
Chicago CityPASS

Chicago CityPASS

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$114.00
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
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Chicago Lake and River Architecture 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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Private Lake Michigan Sailing Charter and Sightseeing Tour of Chicago
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Things to do in Chicago this...

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Chicago

star-5
Excellent tour of Chicago
Stuart_J, Jun 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
Great way to see Chicago!
star-4
My kind of town Chicago
JOYCE_F, Jun 2022
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
This boat cruise is one of the best tourist attractions.
star-5
Wonderful sight seeing tour.
Virginija_K, Jun 2022
Best of Chicago Tour
We got to see all the best of Chicago in four hours only.
star-5
By far the best way to...
Russell_H, Jun 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
By far the best way to see Chicago.
star-5
Great Experience
Katie_L, Jun 2022
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
Loved that we were able to see the city of Chicago with a great guide full of energy!
star-4
It was awesome!
Colette_L, Jun 2022
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
I like being able to see the city of Chicago.
star-5
Pedway Fascination
Sally_C, Jun 2022
Walking Tour Chicago Passageways - Pedway & Riverwalk
When I first heard about an underground walkway, I knew I needed to see it with an experienced guide.
star-5
Fun and easy way to see...
Tyler_C, Jun 2022
Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus Tour
Fun and easy way to see some breweries around Chicago.
star-5
You'll be suprise
Vinod_K, Jun 2022
3-Hour Scenic Chicago Night Tour
The most memorable part was to see the Chicago 360-degree view from the 103rd floor of the Skydeck.
star-4
Audio not working properly
Barbara_D, Jun 2022
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Being able to sit on the top section since it was great weather to see much of Chicago.
star-5
5 star tour!
Julie_B, Jun 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
Great way to see Chicago and learn about the history through its architecture.
star-4
Chicago fireworks
Gary_m, Jun 2022
Chicago Fireworks Cruise
Fireworks on the water and Chicago skyline was beautiful to see on the water.
star-5
Best part of our visit to Chicago!
JChris_B, Jun 2022
90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour
What a great way to see Chicago!
star-5
Must do for your first visit to Chicago
Gregory_T, May 2022
Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise
Smooth embarking, sailing and disembarking with just the right duration for a cruise to see what Chicago looks like from the lake.
star-5
Cool tour with the family
Edgardo_G, May 2022
Chicago Lakefront and Museum Campus Small Group Tour
Really cool tour to visit and learn about Chicago history and places.
star-5
Nate was an entertaining...
Mirian_C, May 2022
Bikes, Bites, and Brews: Chicago's Signature Dishes Bike Tour
Would highly recommend this tour as a way to see the city and taste some of Chicago's famous eats.
star-5
Great Toue
Jamie_F, May 2022
3-Hour Scenic Chicago Night Tour
Advise to future participants-dress warm, Chicago can get cold at night in the spring.
star-5
Best of Chicago 4 hour tour
Kathy_S, May 2022
Best of Chicago Tour
The tour was a great overview of the top things to see in Chicago.
star-5
Our guide, excellent story teller
Joy_H, May 2022
Art Institute of Chicago Private Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Ticket
On a beautiful spring morning, our tour guide Joe, met us next the museums lion.
star-5
Wonderful trip.
David_K, May 2022
Private 45-Minute Chicago Skyline Helicopter Tour
The best way to see Chicago.
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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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