The "Must-See-and-Do" list in Chicago is quite extensive -
indeed, you could spend years in the city and still not get to explore
everything. So how do you choose among all of Chicago's top restaurants,
nightlife, shopping and museums to fit them all into your busy schedule? Let
our Classic Chicago itinerary ideas be your guide for all the best that Chicago
has to offer.
Michigan Ave. 94th Floor
John Hancock Observatory, 360 CHICAGO is located on the cusp of Lake Michigan,
sitting in the heart of the city 1,000 feet above The Magnificent Mile. From
the 94th floor of Chicago's fourth tallest building, 360 CHICAGO delivers
incomparable views of the lake and city skyline. Thrill-seekers rejoice with
Chicago's newest epic attraction, TILT, an enclosed glass and steel moveable
platform that tips outward at a downward-facing angle that has you looking
straight down at the city beneath you. Conquer your fears and take on TILT
700 S. Wabash
blues legend Buddy Guy, this is Chicago's premier blues club, now in a new
South Loop location. Local and national blues bands perform every night,
ensuring an endless slate of the most talented blues musicians for you to
Cannon Dr. at
lions, playful meerkats and majestic gorillas just minutes from downtown
Chicago. Lincoln Park Zoo is free, open and amazing every day of the year.
Visitors can go nose-to-nose with chimpanzees, howl with red wolves, peer into
a black bear den and immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of Africa with
wild dogs, pygmy hippos and black rhinos. In addition to providing a wild home
to hundreds of species, the zoo also operates one of the largest zoo-based
conservation and science programs in the country.
Chicago's lush Millennium Park, home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture (affectionately
known as "the Bean"), Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Lurie Garden and the Crown
Fountain that spouts water from its digital human 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. It's simply the perfect spot to
spend a relaxing, refreshing day in this beautiful city.
600 E. Grand
Built in 1916
but reimagined in recent years as a festival destination of shops, dining,
cruises and activities, Navy Pier is a Chicago landmark and the city's most
visited destination. This lakefront playground of more than 50 acres has a
Ferris Wheel, mini golf course, a children's museum and an IMAX® Theatre. Stay
late for fireworks shows between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
233 S. Wacker
yourself standing 103 stories and 1,353 feet off the ground with sweeping 360-degree
views that span up to 50 miles and four states. Enter the Ledge at Skydeck
Chicago, placing you in an enclosed glass box past the building walls of Willis
Tower, the second tallest building in North America. The Ledge at Skydeck
Chicago is at your feet - literally!
artifacts and modern photography, to fossils and living organisms, all of it
can be found at Chicago's various museums. With more than 40 in the city, it's
easy to find one that fits your interests.
1300 S. Lake
Planetarium is the first museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and
features a state-of-the-art theater that will take you on a gripping journey
through space and time. Fuel your imagination with spectacular exhibitions,
leading-edge technology, and hands-on activities for the whole family. You
won't want to phone home after exploring the outer reaches of the Solar System!
Art Institute of Chicago
Named the No.
1 museum in the world in TripAdvisor's 2014 Travelers' Choice Awards, the Art
Institute houses more than 300,000 works of art, including one of the largest
collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist pieces on the planet.
Whether you're up for a trip into antiquity, a fan of Asian or African art, or
in the mood for cutting-edge, contemporary works, you'll find galleries to your
1400 S. Lake
What are you
curious about? Whatever your answer may be, chances are The Field Museum can
answer your burning questions about the world. Discover 26 million artifacts,
including Sue, the world's largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever
discovered. Explore dazzling gems, the Aztec empire, 23 Egyptian mummies and a
3D theater. Lose track of time as you traverse centuries of natural history.
of Science & Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Dr.
the name of the game at one of the largest science museums in the world, a
family favorite with 14 acres of exhibits. Explore the human body, ride through
a working coal mine and marvel at a 40-foot tornado before your very eyes in
the Science Storms exhibit. Make sure to also dive deep into history with the
U-505, a real captured WWII German submarine! There's something for everyone in
this fascinating museum.
1200 S. Lake
animals of the sea connect you to the living world. From whales to snails,
tarantulas to turtles, more than 32,500 creatures from aquatic habitats around
the world call Shedd Aquarium home. Come face to face with beluga whales,
dolphins, sea otters and penguins in the Abbott Oceanarium, talk to a diver in
the 90,000-gallon Caribbean Reef and walk through a flooded forest in Amazon
Rising. Widely renowned as one of the country's finest, Shedd
Aquarium is a "must-sea" Chicago destination.
Trolley & Double Decker Co.
Trolleys have become one of the most recognized elements of the Chicago
streetscape and are truly a part of the fabric of the city. Enjoy a quick
overview tour of the city and hop-on and hop-off at most major attractions with
trolley and open top double decker bus tours. Purchase a multi-day pass for a
continuous transportation option during your stay.
comprehensive tour of all things Chicago, also consider a ride on the Chicago
Gray Line. Their four-hour grand tour covers most of Chicago's expansive and
scenic outer drive, beautiful parks, and includes stops at the Lincoln Park
Conservatory and Museum Campus. Multi-day passes may also be used as convenient
transportation during your stay.
excursions range from dining cruises aboard the Odyssey or Spirit of
Chicago cruise ships; a Tall
Ship sailing experience with Tall
Ship Windy; and a very
exciting speedboat tour along the lakefront with Seadog
Chicago. With 26 miles of
lakefront along the massive Lake Michigan, Chicago has plenty of ways to get
out on the water, feel the breeze, and take in some truly remarkable sights of
our unforgettable skyline.
be most notable for its fabulous architecture. Greats like Daniel Burnham and
Mies van der Rohe have lent their talents to some of the major skyscrapers that
tower over the city today, many of which are best seen from the Chicago River.
Winding through the heart of the city, the river provides an avenue for guided
boat tours from Chicago's
First Lady Cruises, Chicago
Line Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing
Cruises, and Wendella
Boats, led by expert staff
and hyper-knowledgeable docents.
emerged as one of the great gastronomic cities in the world as noted and rated
by the 2015 Michelin Guide - indeed, the city boasts 24 starred restaurants. The range of flavor palettes
includes classic fine dining, steakhouses, eclectic trend setters, family
casual, and many ethnic dining options. See your concierge for a recommendation
which suits your taste.
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
1028 N. Rush
American steakhouse offers USDA Prime steaks, fresh seafood, huge portions,
sides large enough to share, impressively enormous desserts and famously large
martinis. Gibsons has been the pinnacle of Gold Coast dining for over 23 years,
with an energetic atmosphere and unsurpassable service that makes it a party
Caray's Italian Steakhouse
have to be a baseball fan to enjoy the American and Italian cuisine at Harry
Caray's Italian Steakhouse. Named for the late, hall of fame White Sox and Cubs
announcer, Harry's serves the finest prime, aged steaks, chops and Italian
favorites in a classic Chicago steakhouse setting. Universally recognized as a
Chicago legend, Harry Caray's has won numerous awards and accolades for its
outstanding food and service. Dine at the downtown location in the River North
district, or check out Harry Caray's Tavern at Navy Pier.
delicious, direct trade coffee in a cozy atmosphere at Intelligentsia, which
provides padded sofas for your espresso sipping experience. Or go all out and
join their local roasting tour! What a perfect way to kick start your day,
the oldest family name in Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati's has stayed true to the
original Chicago style deep dish pizza recipe first created in the 1940s. If
you're craving the best deep dish Chicago has to offer, stop by and savor the
buttery, flaky crust, tangy tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella that make Lou's
Portillo's Hot Dogs
Ready for a
true Chicago culinary classic? Sample a juicy Italian Beef sandwich or a famous
Chicago-style hot dog at Portillo's in River North. This 1930s and ‘40s themed
diner is located on a corner with Hard Rock
Café, and Chicago's most famous
contribution to dining in the world, a throwback Rock N Roll McDonald's. Not to
distract from the delicious food at hand, but Portillo's has some tempting
restaurants for neighbors.
adventure in Chicago should begin with the granddaddy of all Chicago retail:
The Magnificent Mile. This cosmopolitan, history-packed section of Michigan
Avenue teems with shopping, dining and entertainment treasures that make any
vacation unforgettable. That's not to leave out the other diverse neighborhood
hot spots where you can find luxury brands, independent and trendy boutiques,
and great vintage items at any number of Chicago's street fairs.
shopping experience that's as diverse as Chicago itself, head to The
Magnificent Mile. This retail mecca is home to more than 460 retail stores, 275
dining options, and almost 60 hotels filling the district with vibrant options
for any taste. Luxury retailers on Michigan Avenue and Oak Street include
Prada, Ferragamo, Escada, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Marlowe, Jimmy Choo and many
more. You will also find very accessible American shopping favorites and brands
from around the globe in places such as the world's first vertical shopping
Tower Place, as well as 900
North Michigan Shops and The
Shops at North Bridge.
fare, from lavish Broadway musicals to serious stories told in intimate
settings, is one of the magnets that attract the world to Chicago. With five
Tony Award®-winning regional theater companies and more than 250 professional
theaters, it's always show time somewhere. Chicago also abounds with first-rate
comedy venues offering the very best in stand-up, sketch and improv. You'll
leave delirious from laughter.
The best of
Broadway lights up downtown's grand theaters as Broadway In Chicago showcases
dozens of hit musicals every season. See shows direct from Broadway and world
premieres destined for the big stage. From "Jersey Boys" to "The Book of Mormon," Broadway In Chicago features a number of must-see performances. Off to the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
acclaimed as one of the best orchestras in the world, the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra collaborates with internationally renowned conductors and guest
artists, putting on more than 100 concerts each year. During the summer,
don't miss the free orchestral performance at the Pritzker Pavilion in
Millennium Park, where you can spread out a picnic blanket and listen to classical music under the stars.
oldest and largest not-for-profit theater has won international renown for the
quality of its productions, and the depth and diversity of artistic leadership.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Goodman Theatre is an essential cultural institution
in Chicago, providing productions of tremendous range and unsurpassed
the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, the Lookingglass Theatre Company is a
critically acclaimed live theater on The Magnificent Mile. Prepare yourself for
visually stunning, physical and dynamic productions of unmatched excellence.
The Second City
1616 N. Wells
No trip to
Chicago would be complete without a visit to The Second City, our world-famous
comedy club known as the birthplace of improv. With an impressive roster of
celebrity alums, such as Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve
Carrell, this full-time training ground for Saturday
Night Live is sure to lead to some laughs.
You will be
challenged to think harder, laugh longer and feel more. True to its mission,
Steppenwolf Theatre Company consistently delivers dynamic and exciting theater
that will hit you hard. Chicago's prized local theater has nine Tony Awards®
and a host of famous ensemble members under its belt - make it a priority to
check out a performance here.