Things to Do

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Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago offers unparalleled arts and culture, natural beauty, entertainment, dining and more. Let this list be your introduction to this city that is second to none. 

See Our Award-Winning Skyline & Stellar Sights

Chicago's skyline is beyond breathtaking. The 26 miles of lakefront, 18 miles of bike path and numerous beaches offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy the city's magnificent architecture and the beautiful blue water of Lake Michigan. Plus, more than 20 downtown Chicago hotels boast views of the lake or the Chicago River. Tours and attractions cover every inch of the city, so no matter your interest (from modern skyscrapers to historic churches to public art or hidden gardens) you can take your pick of sightseeing options.

For even more incredible views of the Chicago skyline — named Best Skyline in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure readers — take your sightseeing to new heights... literally. Stand out on the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago in Willis Tower and find yourself staring over 100 stories straight down. The John Hancock Observatory also offers expansive sights of the city and lake. And for the daring, grab your camera and go 150 feet up in the air on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier

Play in Our Parks

Some of the best places to enjoy Chicago's breathtaking green space are in the city's parks. Don't miss your chance for a prime photo op under the "Bean," officially named Cloud Gate, in Millennium Park. The downtown park also includes the Jay Pritzker Pavilion — a stunning outdoor concert venue designed by Frank Gehry — and Lurie Garden, a year-round, five-acre oasis. Nearby is the famous Museum Campus, plus Grant Park, home to the iconic Buckingham Fountain.

Shop Magnificently

Walk down The Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue and discover hundreds of stores and luxury lines, from Tiffany & Co. to Topshop, not to mention department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue. Or head to The Loop shopping district where you'll find bargain shops, retail chains and the 12-story Macy's on State Street, one of the largest department stores in the world. Plus, Chicago's neighborhoods, like Bucktown/Wicker Park and Lincoln Park, are filled with boutiques and cool vintage shops. If you love to shop, welcome to heaven as Chicago shopping spans all styles and budgets.

Eat Your Heart Out

Whatever you decide to bring with you to Chicago, make sure an appetite is first on the list. Gourmet to casual, the Chicago dining scene satisfies the stomach and soul. For a true taste of the city, turn to deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati's Pizzeria Chicago, the Chicago-style hot dog at Hot Doug's or an Italian beef sandwich at Al's Beef.From Little Italy to Chinatown, you'll also find authentic ethnic eateries from across the globe. Looking to pamper your palate? T-bones and filets reign supreme at classic steak restaurants like Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse.

Chicago is also one of only three U.S. cities to have its own Michelin Guide. Indulge your taste buds at one of 19 Michelin-rated fine dining restaurants or get a great deal at one of the 64 eateries on Michelin's 2013 Bib Gourmand list.

Experience Top-Notch Theater

With impressive organizations like Broadway in Chicago and the legendary comedy club The Second City, Chicago theater takes center stage when it comes to show business. Plus, Chicago is the only city with five regional Tony Award®-winning theaters — Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater.

Game On!

Sports and recreation are year-round activities here. Chicago is a serious sports town with its famous professional sports teams the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, Fire and White Sox. In addition to catching a live game, you can head to one of the city's lively sports bars, where you can cheer for your hometown team with like-minded fans. And for the active visitor, the great outdoors beckons throughout the seasons: sledding and skating in winter to beach volleyball and bicycling in the warmer weather months.

Wander Our World-Renowned Museums

Chicago is home to more than 40 museums. In fact, the only thing we're missing is a museum of museums! Meet Sue, the largest, most complete T.rex ever discovered at The Field Museum.

Dive into an aquatic spectacle starring beluga whales, dolphins, penguins and sea lions at the Shedd Aquarium. Lay eyes upon buried treasures of African-American artists at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Get swept away by a tornado or see what you will look like in 50 years at the Museum of Science and Industry. Surround yourself with the paintings, sculptures and prints from the stellar collections of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Get Diversified

Chicago is a place where you can travel all around the world without leaving the city. Colorful Chicago neighborhoods await exploration, each with their own distinct cultures and histories. Wander the Mexican-American community of Pilsen, where eclectic galleries fill the Chicago Arts District and restaurants abound with authentic Mexican spice. Indulge in the tasty and traditional Greektown, where gyros and saganaki were introduced to the United States. Stop by Little Italy for the cuisine of the Old Country. Or tour the cultural epicenters of the Polish Triangle and Chinatown.

These unique, must-see Chicago stops are just the beginning. For more ideas for your stay during IPW 2014, check out Things to Do at choosechicago.com and our blog Chicago Like a Local.


Check out our blog to get a unique insider's perspective into the city and discover places, spaces and events that most visitors never see.
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