From its towering skyscrapers to the sweeping arc of its expansive lakeshore. There’s a feeling of confidence and pride that radiates from the landmark features of Chicago and from the faces of the city’s inhabitants as well.
The Windy City embodies the values of the American heartland. And a trip to Chicago offer visitors the chance to see what an American city can accomplish through hard work and determination.
There is a wealth of not-to-be-missed tourist attractions in Chicago, many of which offer unique perspectives of the city’s memorable skyline.
As it is set on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city also has a wonderful waterfront to enjoy with lovely lakeside parks lying alongside an attraction-packed pier.
With so many different sides to it and so much things to do in Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States is definitely worth a visit.
1. Magnificent Mile
One of the best places to shop in the world. The Magnificent Mile is home to an incredible number of department stores and luxury retailers with several multi-storey malls also dotted about.
Stretching from Oak Street to the Chicago River. This gleaming section of Michigan Avenue is the place to go if you want to shop until you drop.
Towered over by massive skyscrapers and iconic buildings such as the Chicago Water Tower and Wrigley Building, the upscale area was given its nickname by real estate magnate Arthur Robloff back in the ‘40s.
In addition to all its unique boutiques and designer shops. The ‘Mag Mile’ has lots of excellent restaurants and luxury hotels for visitors to enjoy.
The “Mag Mile,” as its sometimes called. Also provides access to many of the numerous landmarks and tourist attractions in Chicago, including the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Wrigley Building and the Chicago Water Tower.
2. Sears Tower
While some may argue that the skyscraper, renamed Willis Tower in 2009. Has lost a bit of its swagger since it lost its status as the world’s tallest building. The Sears Tower remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chicago.
Completed in 1973, the 108-story structure features some of the fastest elevators in the world. Covering as much as 1,600 feet per minute.
A 70-second ride takes visitors to the 103rd-floor Skydeck where they can feel the building sway beneath them on a windy day.
The Skydeck offers of sweeping views of Lake Michigan and glimpses of the states of Michigan and Wisconsin beyond.
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3. Millennium Park
Long before it opened, Millennium Park had become notorious for delays and cost-overruns. Missing its titular date by a wide margin. However, when it was finished, the biggest shock of all came when it turned out to be quite nice.
Aside from plenty of grass and open space. It has modern sculptures in steel and glass, including Chicago’s newest must-photo for visitors.
The Bean (properly known as Cloud Gate). And the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion for outdoor concerts. An ice rink accommodates skaters in the winter and serves as an open-air restaurant in the summer.
Another of Chicago’s must-visit sites is the incredible Navy Pier which juts into Lake Michigan and offers up all kinds of fun and family-friendly entertainment.
Lined with carnival rides, gardens, and an endless array of enticing attractions the kilometre-long pier has something for everyone to enjoy with countless restaurants and shops also dotted about.
While wandering along the pier. You’ll come across everything from theaters and museums to public plazas and performance spaces with lots of cultural events and festivals held here over the course of the year.
On top of this, there is a towering Ferris wheel and historic carousel to try as well as mini-golf and sightseeing cruises.
5. Art Institute of Chicago
As it is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the States. The world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago really is not to be missed.
Housed in a beautiful Beaux-Arts building that was built for the 1893 World Expo. Its extensive exhibitions and galleries can be found in the ginormous Grant Park.
Founded in 1879, its captivating collection includes everything from masterpieces by Magritte and Monet to Renoir, Rembrandt, and Picasso.
While it is particularly known for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. The museum also houses artefacts and artworks from as far away as Africa and Asia.
Two of its most famous American works are Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.
6. Chicago River
No other feature better illustrates the character of Chicago than the waterway that runs through the city. In 1900, the city completed an incredible engineering project, reversing the flow of Chicago River.
Through the installation of a series on canal locks. The water was directed to empty into the Mississippi River instead of Lake Michigan.
Today, the mile-long pedestrian Riverwalk that runs along the south bank of the river as it winds through the downtown district offers visitors a lush green space where they can stroll and take in the sights of the city.
River cruises are available that offer visitors historical insight about the city’s most-celebrated landmarks.
7. Buckingham Fountain
The Beaux Arts-style Buckingham Fountain was designed by architect Edward Bennett after the Latona Fountain at Versailles. The font is famous for its grand size and for the height of its spray. Which can reach as high as 15 stories.
The fountain’s four water-spouting sea horse statues are said to represent the four states that surround Lake Michigan. While the fountain’s pool symbolizes the lake itself.
The fountain was donated to the city by Kate Sturges Buckingham. a patroness of the arts who inherited her family’s massive fortune at the age of 32.
Known as “Chicago’s Grandest Spinster,” she bequeathed the Buckingham Fountain to Chicago as a memorial for her brother in 1927 and established a trust fund for the fountain’s continuous operation as well.
A famous Chicago landmark. The fountain was featured in the title sequences of TV shows Married with Children and Crime Story.
8. 360 Chicago Observation Deck
While the Lakefront Trail offers up some delightful views from below. The 360 Chicago Observation Deck boasts simply unbeatable views from up high.
From the 94th floor of what was once known as the John Hancock Center, guests can gaze out over not just the city’s skyline and Michigan Lake but the Magnificent Mile too.
Beside basking in breath-taking panoramas which reach up to ninety kilometers on a clear day. You can also enjoy a drink in the supertall skyscraper’s bar.
As if the stupendous sunsets weren’t enough. Brave visitors can also try TILT – a thrill ride which tilts so you can enjoy views of the city’s streets, 300 meters directly below.
9. Shedd Aquarium
Located in the same lakeshore Museum Campus as the Field Museum, the John G. Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 1,500 species of sea life, including 32,500 fish.
As well as an array of birds, insects and amphibians. Completed in 1930. The aquarium gets more than two million visitors each year, making it one of the most-visited aquarium in the United States.
Exhibits are organized in themed areas such as the “Caribbean Reef” and the award-winning “Amazon Rising.” The Oceanarium. Which features dolphins and beluga whales, is one of the aquarium’s most popular exhibits.
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10. Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History owes its existence to the World’s Fair that was held in Chicago in 1893. Originally designed as way to showcase exhibits from the Fair. The museum quickly evolved into a collection of natural history artifacts and exhibitions.
The collection was moved to its current location in Grant Park in 1921 and is part of the Museum Campus. Exhibits range from a taxidermy collection of large animals such as African elephants to an extensive collection of Native American artifacts.
A 12 meter (40 foot) long Tyrannosaurus skeleton is the most popular exhibit out of the museum’s millions of specimens. And many visitors wouldn’t feel that their trip to Chitown is complete without viewing the dinosaur known as “Sue.”