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THE ULTIMATE CHICAGO BUCKET LIST

Here's everything you need to see and do to say you've truly been to Chicago.

There's a lot of ways you can do Chicago. If you're going for the first time, you'll want to hit up all the classics. We've put together this definitive list of the essential Chicago musts, from iconic attractions to must-haves bites. To be fair, you won't be able to complete the bucket list in a single weekend — but it's a pretty good excuse to plan another trip back.

EAT UP & DRINK IN THE CITY

Lou Malnatis
Deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's

Eat

Drink

CHECK OFF THE CULTURE MUSTS

Jazz Fest Pritzker 2013
Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park

EXPERIENCE CHICAGO'S MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE

EXPLORE OUR MUST-SEE MUSEUMS

  • Gaze up at a Titanosaur, the largest land creature known to man, at The Field Museum. Don't worry to say hi to SUE, the most complete and best preserved T.rex ever discovered. 
  • Meander the Art Institute of ChicagoFerris Bueller-style to see the largest collection of Impressionist art outside the Louvre
  • Stand in a tornado, inside a U-boat, or deep down in a coal mine at the ultra-hands on Museum of Science and Industry
  • Watch rare and local aquatic creatures in stunning habitats at the Shedd Aquarium
  • Marvel at the wonders of the universe at Adler Planetarium, the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere
  • See remnants of the Great Chicago Fire and hop on the first 'L' car at the Chicago History Museum
 

Shows

  • Sit in the "Splash Zone" at Blue Man Group (waterproof ponchos provided — which says everything!)
  • Spring for the best seats in the house at a Broadway in Chicago show
  • See Chicago's very own talent shine at one of 5 Tony Award-winning theaters: Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Lookingglass and Chicago Shakespeare — take your pick!
  • Grab a seat at The Yard, a bold new theater space with movable towers for the most contemporary theater-going experience out there. Chicago Tribune has even hailed it as "The Greatest New Theater in the World"!
  • Enjoy experimental and avant-garde theater lakeside (and year-round) at the new and improved Theater on the Lake

BE WOWED BY CITY SIGHTS 

View of The Bean
Cloud Gate, aka The Bean

Sights

  • Take in "landscape art under glass" at Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest conservatory's in the country
  • Watch a light and water show on summer nights at Buckingham Fountain (jets shoot to a height of 150 feet!)
  • Splash alongside larger-than-life Chicagoans at Millennium Park's Crown Fountain 
  • Count the building fragments embedded in the Tribune Tower facade (there's a little bit of the Taj Mahal, Parthenon and Palace of Westminster)
  • And, of course, take a selfie with Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) 

SkyDeck ledge
The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago

Thrills

  • Stand outside one of the world's tallest buildings at The Ledge, an all-glass balcony at Willis Tower's Skydeck Chicago
  • TILT over the city at 360 CHICAGO observation deck at the former John Hancock Center
  • See fireworks and a 196-foot Ferris wheel rule the skies at Navy Pier all year round.
  • Hover above the city and lake in your very own piloted helicopter

Experiences

SOAK IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Chicago Riverwalk
The Chicago Riverwalk

Urban adventures

  • Go for a waterfront stroll on the Lakefront Trail
  • Go ice skating along the whimsical skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park
  • Bike, skate, walk, run — and take in a little hipster culture along The 606  
  • Paddle through an architectural canyon on a river kayak — then grab a drink on the award-winning Chicago Riverwalk 
  • Explore "Chicago's front yard" at beautiful Grant Skate Park, home of top city events like Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago

City in a garden

  • Lose yourself in the Lurie Gardens — with the Art Institute of Chicago Modern Wing and city skyline as your reference
  • Take some artsy pics at the tortoise shell-like South Pond pavilion —right in the middle of Lincoln Park Zoo's "urban ecology" 
  • Find Lincoln Park's hidden garden: Alfred Calder Lily Pool. Sit in the pavilion, gaze upon the prairie plantings and listen to the songbirds sing. 
  • Catch a tan or a quick volleyball game at one of Chicago's lakefront beaches 

Tip: Get the Chicago CityPASS and save 50% on premium admission to Chicago’s top attractions with CityPASS tickets.  

Includes prepaid admission to 5 must-see attractions:

Valid for 9 consecutive days, Chicago CityPASS tickets cost $108 for adults (value $214) and $89 for children ages 3-11. Buy online at CityPASS.com or at any CityPASS attraction.

Spend less, experience more.

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