Chicago’s newest town square is the downtown Millennium Park Campus, made up of the historic Chicago Cultural Center, esteemed Art Institute of Chicago, exciting Maggie Daley Park and the arts-filled Millennium Park. We’ve planned a one-day itinerary, from morning to night, to help you explore them all.



(2 hours)

Chicago Cultural Center Staircase

Begin your day at the beautiful Chicago Cultural Center, which served as the city’s first central public library in 1897. Today the Cultural Center offers a variety of free arts programs, including the popular Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts held every Wednesday at 12:15pm in Preston Bradley Hall. These 45-minute classical music concerts feature a lineup of emerging artists, from violinists to pianists. There are also a number of rotating art exhibits to discover, located in galleries throughout the building.

Experience the magnificent architecture of this historic building during one of the free Chicago Cultural Center tours. The 45- to 60-minute tours will take you beneath the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome, past colorful mosaics and through rooms featuring intricate detailing such as marble arches. Tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday at 1:15pm and meet in the Randolph Street lobby. Tours are limited to the first 20 people, so be sure to arrive early. See the ever-changing Chicago Cultural Center events calendar to find what will be going on during your next visit.



(3 hours)

The Art Institute is known around the globe for its amazing collection of artworks, ranging from Old Masters like Monet to contemporary pieces by Andy Warhol. But did you know it’s also a great place for an elegant lunch? Terzo Piano, located on the third level of the stunning Modern Wing, is headed by award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano. Enjoy upscale Italian dishes in the chic dining room or on the terrace overlooking Millennium Park.

Art Institute Chicago Exhibit

Afterwards, tour the impressive art museum that features one of the largest collections of French Impressionist works in the world, with outstanding pieces by Renoir (don’t miss the monumental A Sunday on La Grande Jatte), Degas, Van Gogh, Gauguin and more. The Modern Wing is home to the Art Institute’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art, with contemporary artworks by artists that include Picasso, Magritte and Kandinsky. Be sure to stop at the Museum Shop and pick up a lovely gift themed to a current exhibit.



(1-2 hours)

Kids Playing in Maggie Daley Park in Chicago

If you’ve got kids in tow, then a visit to Maggie Daley Park is a must. Named for Chicago’s beloved former First Lady, this spectacular 20-acre oasis of green space in the city is a children’s fantasyland. The fun Play Garden features suspension bridges, tube slides and a big ship to explore.

Older kids will want to tackle the 40-foot-tall climbing wall or putt along the 18-hole mini golf course through Chicago-themed obstacles like a six-foot-tall Willis Tower. In the summer, the curvy Skating Ribbon becomes a walking and rollerblading path (in-line skate rentals are available). Walk along the spectacular stainless steel BP Bridge to reach neighboring Millennium Park.



(3 hours)

Crown Fountain Chicago in Millennium Park

Millennium Park is Chicago’s downtown playground for the arts. Intriguing larger-than-life public art includes the multimedia Crown Fountain featuring projected faces of everyday Chicagoans (kids love to splash around its cascading water walls) and Anish Kapoor’s huge reflective Cloud Gate sculpture, which is affectionately known as The Bean and is a favorite backdrop for the ultimate Chicago selfie. The Boeing Galleries on the north and south ends of Millennium Park feature rotating outdoor exhibits of contemporary art. Spend some time in the beautiful Lurie Garden or rent a bike from the on-site McDonald’s Cycle Center and peddle around the grounds. 

Have dinner at Park Grill, located at the gateway to Millennium Park, serving sophisticated American cuisine. In the evening, grab a spot on the lawn and catch a free concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an architectural marvel notable for its crown of billowing stainless steel ribbons. Or see a music or dance performance at the Harris Theater (through mid-May).

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