Almost three million people call Chicago their home. The city has several nicknames including the most famous “Windy City,” the “City of Big Shoulders,” the “Second City,” and the “City That Works.” It is the third largest city in the U.S. and lies on the shores of Lake Michigan in the northeastern part of the state of Illinois. The city is rich in arts and music, having over 250 theaters, 200 music venues, 50 museums, and 700 public artworks just to name a few. The well-known and historic Route 66 starts in Chicago on Adams Street right in front of the art institute. The city is also home to the Wills Tower, which is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 110 stories high. There are dozens of other major attractions, things to do and things to see in Chicago.
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360 Chicago Observation Deck
The Chicago skyline is one that is impressive and beautiful. Visitors that fly in during the day are welcomed to the massive city and the beautiful water of Lake Michigan as they arrive. If you’re visiting the city, one of the top things to do is visit the 360-degree observation deck that is on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center in the heart of downtown. There are a café and bar to sit and enjoy the views with a beverage or snack as well. Watch the sunrise or sunset from this massive tower with the city sprawled out before you. Make sure it is a clear day before you go so you can see the water of the lake and the Windy City.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute is a must see while in Chicago. It is one of the most famous art museums in the U.S. It was founded in 1879 and is one of the largest and oldest museums. The museum’s permanent collections consist of over 300,000 works of art. Not to mention the special exhibits and displays that are presented seasonally. It also has one of the largest art history and architecture libraries in the U.S. Make sure to grab a museum map because you will need it! This is a world class museum with everything from American Modern to Impressionist masters. Look for iconic works like Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist,” and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” There is over a million square feet of the museum to explore with some of the best exhibits you will ever see.
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the second oldest and active baseball park in the U.S. Popular features of the park include the ivy-covered wall, the hand-turned scoreboard that still exists, and red marquee over the main entrance. It is home to the team the Chicago Cubs who has a loyal and fierce following. The train drops you off at the doorstep to the park if visitors would rather take it than try to find parking. The majority of the seats in the stadium provide excellent views of the players and field, and the food is gorgeous. Enjoy a stadium style hot dog and sit in one of the most historic stadiums in the U.S. This is a great place for everyone, so bring the kids too.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago is all about the history, and the Lincoln Zoo is no exception. It was established in 1868, making it one of the oldest zoos in the U.S. This zoo is also free, yes free! There is also a tree located in the zoo known as the burr oak tree that dates back to 1830 which was before Chicago was even founded. The zoo exhibits have over 200 species and include big cats, polar bears, gorillas, reptiles, monkeys, penguins, and many others. It is more of a mid-size zoo, so walking long distances is not required. Guests can come and go as they please since it is free. The animals and the exhibits are well presented, and the zoo is well organized and clean. Did I mention free?
The Chicago Theatre
This famous and historic theater was the starting place for many top performers and stars. The iconic façade of the theater and building are known throughout the U.S. and shows still carry on today. The shows in the evening are hard to get, so make sure you reserve your tickets and seats well in advance. The interior is impressive and beautiful with soaring ceilings, chandeliers, murals, and many other details to appreciate. The theater offers tours during the day where visitors are shown around, including the stage, backstage, dressing rooms, and many other areas. The guides are knowledgeable and entertaining, and the tour comes highly recommended.
Cloud Gate is otherwise known as “the Bean” in Chicago. It is a famous sculpture made of stainless steel in the shape of a giant kidney bean. It rests in the AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park and is the centerpiece of the area. The sculpture is made of plates that are welded together, making the exterior appear as if it has no seams. The sculpture was created by the winner of a design competition for a sculpture for the park was held. It is considered a must-see while in Chicago and continues to gain in popularity.
The Field Museum
The Field Museum is the natural history museum and also one of the largest in the world. Over 2 million people flock to see this museum which has amazing artifact collections and scientific specimen. The main entrance has stunning high ceilings and a giant T-Rex display that impresses anyone and everyone that walks through the doors. There are a bug exhibit, 3D movies, evolving planet exhibit, Mummies, women in photography, and so much more. You can spend an entire day here and still not see everything. There are also excellent gift shops and an excellent café to rest and grab a bite to eat Visitors love their experience here, and the museum is highly rated and recommended when visiting the Windy City.
Giant City, Endless Possibilities
Chicago is a huge city, and there is lots more than what is listed to see! There are boat tours around Lake Michigan with the pretty cityscape as your background. Visit the Symphony Center which is home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and stroll down Michigan Avenue and enjoy shopping galore. The Holy Name Cathedral is just stunning, and the Chicago Cultural Center is considered a hidden gem. Discover this spectacular city for yourself and all the things to see and do in Chicago.