Best Tourist Attractions In Chicago

CHICAGO | Chicago has everything you’d expect from a bustling city – world-class museums, beautiful parks, exquisite shopping and dining venues, and a sweeping skyline to top it off. As the third largest city in the United States, there’s no shortage of tourist attractions and things to do when you visit Chicago, be it for the first time or fiftieth time.

Two decades after its devastation following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the city made its comeback debut as host of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. During the lead up to the Columbian Exposition, Chicago was one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The construction boom leading up to the Exposition gave rise to a couple of Chicago’s most popular attractions, and drew millions of people to the city to witness the fair’s classical architecture and popular exhibits.

Today, Chicago continues to welcome approximately 50 million tourists from around the world each year. There are many things that draw people toward Chicago, and we’ve rounded up Chicago’s top “typical yet can’t-miss” tourist attractions. Some are worth multiple visits, others you can cross off your list to make room for more the next time you’re in town.

Navy Pier

chicago tourist attractions
Navy Pier, Chicago’s number one tourist attraction, has served many purposes throughout its more than 100-year history. It has been used as a military training ground, freight dock and university classroom. The Navy Pier ferris wheel is a dominant element of the Chicago skyline. In 1893, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. debuted what was then known as the Chicago Wheel, for the World’s Columbian Exposition. It stood tall, at an impressive 264 feet, and was dismantled and rebuilt in several different locations after the fair before being destroyed in 1906.

1995 brought a new ferris wheel to the city that made its home at Navy Pier. At the end of the summer of 2015, the wheel was dismantled and moved to make room for the brand new, taller and more refined Centennial Wheel. The new wheel stands 196 feet tall and includes 42 climate-controlled gondolas with individual seating within. Aside from the wheel, which officially opened Memorial Day 2016, Navy Pier as a whole is a family-friendly attraction filled with great eats. The Pier also offers great activities, including viewing iMax movies, visiting a Funhouse Maze and enjoying one of many boat tours offered in around Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

Navy Pier

600 E Grand Avenue
Chicago
Illinois 60611
United States

Museum Campus

chicago tourist attractions
The Museum Campus was developed in 1998 to create a unified space between three of Chicago’s most impressive museums – the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium, which is in fact America’s first planetarium. If you care for the natural sciences, or simply want to capture a superb view of the Chicago skyline, visit the Museum Campus.

Only a 15-minute drive away is the Museum of Science and Industry, housed in a relic of the World’s Columbian Exposition. The museum’s building played the role of Palace of Fine Arts in the fair. It is now one of the largest science museums in the world.

Museum Campus

Museum Campus Drive
Chicago
Illinois 60605
United States

Skydeck

chicago tourist attractions
While Chicago’s Willis Tower (which will always be known as Sears Tower to most Chicagoans) has been around since 1973, the Skydeck is a newer addition that was completed in 2009. The 110-story tower is the second tallest in the US and 14th tallest in the world. Located on the 103rd floor, the Skydeck sees about 1.7 million tourists every year.

The observation deck is comprised of four glass boxes that each extend out at slightly over four feet. Visitors who dare can step out onto the ledge and experience the city by looking down 1,353 feet. If stepping onto a clear glass ledge is too far outside of your comfort zone – don’t worry! You’ll still be able to gaze at views up to 50 miles out, and see four states from the observation deck. As a popular tourist destination, the Skydeck is often busy. We highly recommend buying tickets ahead of your visit, online.

Skydeck

233 S Wacker Drive
Chicago
Illinois 60606
United States

Millennium Park

chicago tourist attractions
British artist Anish Kapoor left his mark on Chicago when he contributed his first piece of public outdoor work to Millennium Park. Cloud Gate (also commonly known as “the bean”) is made of a mirror-like substance that beautifully and incredibly reflects Chicago’s skyline. The sculpture was inspired by liquid mercury, and has become the hallmark of the city’s beloved Millennium Park.

Aside from Cloud Gate, Millennium Park also showcases Crown Fountain, by Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa. The fountain features video imagery of Chicago residents and is intended to call to mind the use of gargoyles in fountains.

More art and architecture abound at the park in the form of the Boeing Galleries, BP Bridge, Lurie Garden and the Millennium Monument. Often, the public is invited to watch movies or concerts, and participate in dance or yoga classes at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. In the winter months, the park offers ice skating. One thing is for sure, there’s plenty to inspire the whole family at Millennium Park.

Millennium Park

201 E Randolph Street
Chicago
Illinois 60602
United States

Buckingham Fountain

chicago tourist attractions
The heart of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world and offers impressive displays every hour from 8:00am to 11:00pm daily. The fountain was donated by the Buckingham family, who wanted its light display to be reminiscent of soft moonlight. One of America’s most ornate fountains, this attraction is a tremendous photo opportunity and is especially beautiful at night. The last display each evening begins at 10:35pm Plan to arrive a bit before then if you’re driving, to allow time for finding parking.

Buckingham Fountain

301 S Columbus Drive
Chicago
Illinois 60605
United States

The Magnificent Mile

chicago tourist attractions
The Magnificent Mile, commonly known as the “Mag Mile,” is to Chicago what the Champs-Elysees is to Paris. The luxury shopping district runs from the Chicago River to Oak Street. It’s lined with upscale hotels, department stores and restaurants that attract residents and tourists alike. The Mag Mile features some of Chicago’s most impressive architecture including the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.

If you need a break after shopping, we recommend grabbing a drink and bite to eat at the Fig & Olive on Oak Street. With its sleek and relaxed vibe it’s the perfect spot to get some reprieve after pounding the pavement on the Mag Mile.

The Mag Mile caters to the seasons with various displays throughout the year. In the summer, flower displays dot the street. In the winter, there is a lights festival in Pioneer Park to kick off the holiday season. (The 2016 festival will be held on the evening of November 19). Regardless of what time of year you’re visiting, the Magnificent Mile will prove an impressive stop.

The Magnificent Mile

Michigan Avenue, between North Avenue and Randolph
Chicago
Illinois 60611
United States

Architecture River Cruise

chicago tourist attractions
One of many things Chicago is known for is its incredible architecture. An architecture river cruise is one of the best ways to experience all of the beautiful buildings across the city. Boat tours are 75-minutes long and glide through all three branches of the Chicago River. Along the way, a tour guide details the history of significant and impressive buildings. Tours are run by Weldella Boats and operate March through November, and allow plenty of opportunities to capture beautiful shots of Chicago. Consider booking a time in the evening to experience sunset on the river.

Architecture River Cruise

400 N Michigan Avenue
Chicago
Illinois 60611
United States

Wrigley Field

chicago tourist attractions
Home of the Cubs, Wrigley Field is an iconic Chicago landmark. With the Cubs’ role in the 2016 World Series, Wrigley Field has emerged as the centerpiece of much Chicago pride and is well worth a visit while you’re in town. The ballpark, which is the second oldest in the majors, is located in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. The area has no shortage of restaurants and sports bars, such as famous post-game party spot, The Cubby Bear, located kitty-corner across from Wrigley Field.

If you’re looking for a behind-the-scenes glimpse, sign up for one of several tours that take you into different areas of the stadium. Tour stops include the Cubs’ dugout, seating bowl and press box. Don’t forget to check out our “Guide To Game Day at Wrigley Field” too.

Wrigley Field

1060 W Addison Street
Chicago
Illinois 60613
United States

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Nausheen
Nausheenhttp://www.globe-gazers.com/
Nausheen is a writer / photographer who called both Houston and Madrid home for a while before returning to Chicago. When she's not out exploring all Chicago has to offer for The City Lane, she's discovering the rest of the world and writing about it at www.globe-gazers.com.

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