Chicago is racking up world-class accolades. So we've put together a checklist of classic Chicago activities that include the best of the best.
Whether you are planning a Chicago travel itinerary for a half day, weekend or multi-day stay, these are some of the many must-sees while in the Windy City. But just as Chicago is unique, we invite you to put your personal stamp on your Chicago adventure. So let the fun begin!
Visit the Tallest Building in North America at the Willis Tower and step out onto The Ledge, a suspended glass box at the Skydeck Chicago observatory that is more than 1,000 feet in the sky.
Ford the Chicago River by boat tour and explore Chicago's architectural wonders on the Only River in the World that Flows Backwards. The reversal of the Chicago River was a pioneering, massive public works effort that saved the Chicago region from waterborne diseases in the early 1900s.
Ride on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. It's modeled after the very first Ferris wheel built for Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Rides, shops, restaurants and boat tours abound at the Midwest's Number One Attraction.
Explore Chicago's lush Millennium Park that is home to the famous Cloud Gate or "Bean" sculpture, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Lurie Garden, and the Crown Fountain that spouts water from its digital faces. Millennium Park is constructed on top of a railroad yard and expansive parking garages - making it one of the Largest Green Roofs in the World.
Loop up and around on an architecture tour. Chicago was home to the world's First Skyscraper and while it no longer stands (the iron-and-steel-framed Home Insurance Building stood downtown from 1884-1931), the city's skyline is one of the most recognizable and is filled with architectural treasures of the past and present.
While most cities build industrially all the way up to their respective lakefronts, Chicago's remains an open playground to the public. Chicago boasts 26 miles of shoreline, 33 beaches and an over 19-mile long bike path along Lake Michigan to explore during the warmer weather months.
Roar with the lions at the country's Oldest Public Zoo, which is also one of the last Free Zoos. Offering an unforgettable wildlife experience amid a stunning urban skyline, the Lincoln Park Zoo is open to the public for free every day of the year.
Chicago is home to 77 community areas containing more than 100 neighborhoods, each brimming with their own unique cultures and histories. Travel the world without leaving Chicago on a neighborhood tour.
Arts & Culture Aplenty
Take pleasure in one of the World's Finest and Largest Collections of French Impressionist art at The Art Institute of Chicago. And while you're there, explore the architecturally stunning Modern Wing, which allows the Art Institute to house great collections of modern and contemporary art.
In the Chicago Cultural Center, the nation's First Free Municipal Cultural Center, look up at the World's Largest Tiffany Art Glass Dome for a sparkling masterpiece created with nearly 30,000 pieces of stained glass and browse the numerous halls filled with music and art exhibits.
Feel the power of Chicago's dazzling, knee-slapping, and thought-provoking theater scene. As the nation's only city to have Five Regional Tony Award-Winning Theater Companies, Chicago delivers unforgettable performances every day of the week.
The term "Jazz" was first coined in Chicago in 1914. Check out the many live jazz clubs across the city that keeps this great music tradition alive.
Submerge yourself in the U-505 German Submarine at the Museum of Science & Industry, the Largest Science Museum in the Western Hemisphere.
Find yourself Deep in Space at the Adler Planetarium's Grainger Sky Theater. As the World's Most Advanced Digital Theater, the Grainger boasts images that are eight times sharper than your digital cinema.
Dive in to a coastal environment of Beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, and seals at the Shedd Aquarium's 3-million-gallon saltwater Oceanarium, the Largest Indoor Marine Mammal Habitat in the World.
Pay a visit to the Largest, Most Complete, Best Preserved T. rex ever discovered. You can meet the T. rex named Sue at The Field Museum. Don't worry, she doesn't bite.
A Culinary Epicenter
Chicago is one of only three U.S. cities to have its own Michelin Guide. Dine around town at critically-acclaimed restaurants using their prestigious ratings as your guide.
Need more proof of our culinary pedigree? Taste test through the top spots as deemed by the Forbes Travel Guide, AAA Diamond awards, Zagat best lists and more. And from television personalities (Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard and celebrity host Chef Rick Bayless) to ethnic cuisines of every flavor and beloved foodie events (such as Taste of Chicago and Chicago Gourmet) - our dining scene is a showcase of the best and the brightest.
Indulge in some cheesy goodness at one of Chicago's famous pizzerias that serve up our Award-Winning Deep-Dish Pizzas. Who serves up the best pies? That's for you to decide!
Smell the wonders of Chicago's famous Chicago Mix before you even reach the storefront door at Garrett Popcorn Shops. While you might feel like it's the Longest Line in the World for Popcorn, the intriguing blend of caramel and cheese popcorn is well worth the wait.