We're glad you're coming for the first time--you'll fit right in. To make the most of your inaugural visit, put these must-see items on your itinerary. 

Explore Millennium ParkCloud Gate Spring

If it's your first time in Chicago, you need to visit our top tourist attraction, the Millennium Park campus. It's the site of one of our most famous pieces of public art, Cloud Gate (you might know it as The Bean). The reflective surface has drawn people to the park since 2006, and it's a must-see location--but there's so much more to see and do.

Kids playing in Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park

Splash around in Crown Fountain, which features the faces of more than 1,000 Chicagoans. Rock climb and skate the ribbon in Maggie Daley Park. Take a photo with the lions in front of the Art Institute of Chicago, where you can easily spend the rest of the day browsing one of the most impressive art collections in the world. 

Wander south to Grant Park, where Buckingham Fountain shoots off water shows every 20 minutes, and stop by Chicago's lakefront. 


Cruise the waterways

Chicago Architecture Foundation Boat Tour

Some of the best views of Chicago are from the river. Whether you want to learn more about Chicago's history or kick back and take in the sights, use this guide to help you pick the best boat tour for you


See a show

Hamilton An American MusicalThis town is full of talent, and we put it on stage every night. Of course, Broadway in Chicago and similar organizations bring in some big names, but we also have more than 200 storefront theaters, or stages that are smaller and usually built in former storefronts. 

Chicago is also a town that loves to laugh--after all, this city invented improvisation comedy. See where Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell performed at world-famous The Second City, and iO and ComedySportz are also big names in improv. Or, see traditional stand up at venues such as The Laugh Factory or Zanie's. 


Eat it Chicago-style

Lou Malnati'sCome on--you know you want to try it. Deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs are recognized around the world. No, we don't eat this way all the time, but it's a hearty. When it comes to dogs and sandwiches, make your way to Portillo's

Ready to tackle a pizza? Locals have their own favorites, but there are a few Lou Malnati's, Giordano's and Gino's East locations throughout the city, and Pequod's and Pizzeria Uno are great stops, too. 


Try award-winning dining

Monteverde Food ShotThe James Beard Awards gala is held in Chicago in May, and we have our fair share of award winners to back it up. The city also boasts 25 Michelin-starred restaurants, including the world's only brewpub with a Michelin star. See our food-lover's weekend guide if you want to create your own foodie getaway. 


See the city from the sky

Skydeck ChicagoAre you a daredevil? We have attractions for you. Go up to the 104th floor and step out onto The Ledge at SkyDeck, a glass box that extends four feet out from the Willis Tower (or, for die-hard Chicagoans, the Sears Tower). For additional stunning views, go north to 360CHICAGO and get sweeping views of the city; there, try out TILT, a glass pane that tilts you out over the city from 96 floors up. 

Here's a hot tip, too: If you want to try both attractions (and skip the lines), look into a CityPASS Chicago. You'll also get access to The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry for a huge discount. 


Pick a tour, any tour

Big Bus Tours ChicagoWe already told you to see Chicago by boat, but there are so many other ways to experience the city. Try different modes of transportation, like bikes, buses or segway. History buffs will love the city's storied past, and there's all kinds of tours for food and beer experiences. 

We highly recommend the free Chicago Greeter service, where volunteer locals will walk you through their favorite spots. Scheduled tours throughout the summer will take you through Millennium Park and different Chicago neighborhoods, and you can choose which neighborhood and language you want to walk through with advance notice. 


Shop for hours

The Magnificent MileDon't leave without browsing for something to take back with you! The Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago's most famous shopping districts, and you'll find flagship stores along the stretch of shops. Nearby, see what's on sale on State Street, where you can visit the original Marshall Field's that's now the Macy's.

Don't forget that there are shops in the neighborhoods, too, and you can find one-of-a-kind items at boutiques and mom-and-pop shops in places like Andersonville and Wicker Park/Bucktown. 


Take in a Chicago festival

Chicago Jazz FestivalTrust us: This needs to be on your to-do list.The city shows up for celebrations of all sizes, types and genres, as you can see by some of the most popular summer festivals and events in Chicago.


Related Listing

Skydeck Chicago
233 S. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 875-9696

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria Chicago - Gold Coast
1120 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 725-7777

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-7827

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-2438

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria Chicago- River North
439 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 828-9800

Gino's East River North
500 N. Lasalle St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 988-4200

Gino's East - Superior
162 E. Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 266-3337

Giordano's Famous Stuffed Pizza
730 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 951-0747

Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 744-6050

The Magnificent Mile® Association
625 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 401
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 642-3570

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600

The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-9410

Lou Mitchell's
565 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 939-3111

Palmer House Hilton
17 E. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-7500

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria Chicago- South Loop
805 S State St.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 786-1000

Gino's East South Loop
521 S. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-1818

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