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What’s new in Chicago

There’s lots of new and exciting things for groups to check out in Chicago, from awesome attractions to downtown hotels. Come see why Chicago was named Best Big City in the U.S. for an unprecedented five years in a row by Condé Nast Traveler readers, and the second most beautiful city in the world by Time Out.

When making plans, be sure to check the city’s latest local COVID guidelines to keep your group safe and healthy while visiting Chicago.


The fantastic new visitor center at the Pullman National Monument recently opened. It’s located within the historic clock tower building of the Pullman Palace Car Co., on the grounds of the planned community that housed its workers in the late 1800s. The visitor center features exhibits on the railcar company that produced luxurious sleeper cars and coaches, as well as the porters who worked on them and formed the first Black union. The expansive Pullman National Monument includes factory space, residences, the A. Philip Randolph Porter Museum, and the grand Hotel Florence (which is currently under renovation).

The Pepper Family Wildlife Center, a new state-of-the-art habitat for lions and big cats, has opened at the free Lincoln Park Zoo. In addition to a pride of African lions, the Wildlife Center is home to snow leopards and Canada lynx. The design of the new habitat is based on big cat behavioral data collected over the last several years, resulting in a savanna-style environment that includes climbing tree structures and food zip lines that simulate prey. Visitors will find plenty of observation spots, including expansive viewing windows and the indoor Lion Loop, which enables guests to watch the cats from the center of the habitat.

Skydeck Chicago unveiled an immersive experience for visitors to explore before catching an elevator to the 103rd-floor observatory. See exhibits that showcase the city’s world-renowned architecture, music, cuisine, and legends like basketball superstar Michael Jordan. The colorful exhibition offers fun group photo ops, with displays like a giant Chicago hot dog and the downtown Picasso sculpture. Grab lunch at the adjacent Catalog food hall, featuring delicious options like tortas from celebrity chef Rick Bayless at Tortazo, burgers from Shake Shack, and shrimp by Brown Bag Seafood Co.

Look for the Art on theMART holiday-themed winter light show that kicks off in November. The largest digital art projection in the world will celebrate the season with festive images that dance across the Chicago River-facing facade of theMART in sync with music. The free light show begins every evening at sunset and runs for two hours. The best viewing spot is on the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk, directly across the river from theMART.


Pendry Chicago, located in the stunning art deco-style Carbide & Carbon Building, features 364 redesigned guest rooms and suites. Its Venteux Brasserie, Cafe & Oyster Bar offers elevated French fare by Michelin-starred chef Donald Young. The 24th-floor Château Carbide is a seasonal, garden-like rooftop bar inspired by the Côte d’Azur.

The Chicago Hotel Collection, known for its boutique hotels that reflect the unique style of their surrounding neighborhoods, has opened a new location in the Loop, just steps from Millennium Park. The Millennium Park hotel offers studio, one, two, and three bedroom suites. Another location in the hip Wicker Park neighborhood is planned to open soon.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Chicago Chinatown is located in one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. The 148-room, all-suites hotel is situated on Wentworth Avenue, surrounded by Chinatown’s colorful shops and restaurants. The hotel offers a complimentary hot breakfast buffet and 24-hour market for snacks.

The 215-room Canopy by Hilton Chicago Central Loop is located directly across from the Willis Tower, home of the thrilling Skydeck Chicago observatory. The boutique hotel offers the all-day Depot 226, a combination bistro, market, and coffee shop. It’s a great spot to grab a quick breakfast or lunch, as well as late-night cocktails.

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