Chicago Tourist Attractions

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Chicago is the largest city in the state of Illinois, and it’s also the cultural capital of the Midwest. From world-class music performances to record-breaking skyscrapers, Chicago is an exciting city to visit. One of the top ten global financial centers, Chicago offers some of the finest shopping, dining and entertainment in the United States; below are some of Chicago’s most important places, historical points of interest and special events.

Adler PlanetariumThe first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere and the oldest planetarium still open today, Adler Planetarium is a favorite attractions for both locals and tourists. Learn about our solar system and galaxies light years away at the Planetarium, which also has three full—size theatres. Adler Planetarium forms part of what is called the Museum Campus: Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History are located nearby.

Shedd AquariumThis famous aquarium opened in 1930, and is home to over 25,000 fish. Shedd Aquarium is the most visited aquarium in the United States, and has received the distinction of being the most—visited tourist attraction in Chicago; an estimated two million people visit Shedd every year. Check out the Wild Reef exhibit, which features a coral reef, colorful fish, sharks and rays.

Shoreline Sightseeing River CruiseThis innovative cruise combines architectural sightseeing with a leisurely trip down the river. See some of Chicago’s most famous and historic buildings from the comfort of a Shoreline vessel. The Willis (Sears) Tower, The Wrigley Building and Marina City are just a few of the sights that you will enjoy during the excursion.

Sears Tower Willis TowerWhen it was built, the tower was the largest building in the world. Today, it is still the tallest building in the United States and the 5th largest building in the world. Even though it was renamed Willis Tower in 2009, it is still commonly referred to as Sears Tower. Chicago’s most famous lookout point, The Skydeck, can be found on the 103rd floor.

Hancock ObservatoryFrom this high—altitude vantage point, you can see four different states! Open every day of the year, the Hancock Observatory boasts the fastest elevators in North America and arguably one of the best coffee shop views in the United States— enjoy the incredible Midwest skyline with a hot cup of Italian coffee.

Tyrannosaurus Sue / Tyrannosaurus RexField MuseumWith 21 million specimens, you’ll never run out of new things to see at the Field Museum of Natural History. One of the three museums that make up the Museum Campus, you can learn about anient Egypt and man—eating tigers before heading to the nearby Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium.

Navy PierA quintessential Chicago attraction, Navy Pier is a fun destination for kids of all ages. Even if you’re 70, you’ll feel like you’re 7 again, as you soar through the air on the Pier’s enormous Ferris wheel. In addition to its own IMAX theatre, the pier also has an unusual museum, the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, in addition to a carousel, and aeroballoon ride.

Art Institute of ChicagoLocated in Chicago’s Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago features a diverse collection of art from around the world. The museum is enormous: at one million square feet, it’s the second—largest museum in the United States. Don’t forget to see Vincent Van Gogh’s Self— portraitand Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. An added bonus: children under 14 get free admission!

Museum of Science and IndustryIf you’ve ever wondered about what goes into making a space suit, the Museum of Science and Industry has a fascinating exhibit that teaches visitors about the history and construction of astronaut apparel. See Suited for Space and other intriguing exhibits like YOU! The Experience, which explores the connection between mind, body and spirit.

Frank Lloyd wright houseBuilt by one of the most famous architects in the United States, the Robie House (popularly known as The Frank Lloyd Wright House) is a national historic landmark. Built in Wright’s Prairie Style, every aspect of the house, from the curtains to the furniture, were painstakingly chosen by Wright. Called ‘The House of the Century’ in a 1957 House and Home magazine, the Robie House is a fascinating sight for both its history and aesthetic innovation.

Millennium ParkAlthough the Park was set to open in 2000, it missed the millennium by four years. Called the Front Lawn of Chicago, the Park features a skating rink, a theatre, and the Prtizger Pavilion, home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The Grant Park Music Festival has taken place here every year in the Park since 1931; the festival is the only free, public classical music series in the United States.

Wrigley FieldBuilt in 1914, Wrigley Field is one of the oldest ballparks in current use. The famous Chicago institution is home to the Chicago Cubs. The stadium was actually called ‘Cubs Park’ from 1920 to 1926, until it was renamed after chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley Jr. purchased it. In the spring, ivy begins to grow up the stadium walls. By summer, the stadium is covered in scenic foliage. It’s pretty, but it also poses an obstacle to the game: many a baseball has been lost within the thick forest of vines and leaves.

Michigan Ave/Magnificent MileMichigan Ave/Magnificent Mile: The portion of Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River is called the Magnificent Mile. Also called the Mag Mile, there is a great deal of grandeur packed within a short distance. In addition to five of the tallest buildings in the world, the Magnificent Mile has some of the best shopping in the world. It’s also home to the local newspaper, The Chicago Daily Tribune.

Tall Ship Windy: Sail on an authentic Tall Ship, the 148 foot four masted schooner. Get a unique view of the city skyline on the largest schooner on lake Michigan. Departs from the Navy Pier.

Brookfield Zoo: Over 200 acres of habitat with thousand of animals. The Chicago Zoological Society runs the zoo and it’s expanded education and conservation programs. Don’t miss the Dolphin show, motor safari, and behind the scenes tours.

Chicago Architectural Tours: Chicago is known for it’s architectural heritage and the Chicago Architecture Foundation is the place to see it all. With over 90 different tours offered, there is something for everyone. The Loop walking tour is one the most popular. Tours are offered year round but vary by the day so call ahead.

Chicago Children’s Museum: Hand on learning focused on fun with fifteen permanent exhibitions and rotating add ons should keep curious kids happy. The dinosaur expedition is a big hit as well as the water ways. Babies and toddlers will have a great time at the Pritzker Playspace.

Hop On Hop Off Trolley: See the best sights at your own pace, Some people use the trolley as transportation around the city. Some people just use it as a tour itself as the trolleys have full narration.

Legoland Discovery Center: Kids ages, 3 to 10 will find a wonderland of toys, fun and learning. See a lego model of the Chicago skyline, tour the lego factory. Parents have a lot to do as the center is located in the Woodfield Mall.

Lincoln Park Zoo: The word zoo and free rarely happen in the same sentence. Though not as big as other zoos, it holds a special place among zoo lovers as it is very accessible from the city, it’s free, and one of the oldest zoos in the country.

Museum of Contemporary Art: One of the largest and most unique facilities dedicated to contemporary art, the MCA is also a cultural center for performance in downtown Chicago.

GrayLine Inside Chicago Tour: See Chicago’s famous neighborhoods, attractions and haunts. Grayline offers a choice of tours that include historic, north end and south end tours.

Chicago History Museum: See the past and present of Chicago in the recently renovated museum. It strives to be an educator to all about the city and has unique entertainment for adults as well as their children.

  • Robert Singiser

    Hi: I’ve been trying to find the show times at the Field Museum for the “Great White Sharks – 3D”, but I can’t find it posted anywhere. Any help would be appreciated (or a phone number). Thanks

    • admin

      The showtimes vary a little bit from day to day. Generally the first show of the day is either at 10:40 or 10:50 am. You can find the showtimes on the website. Just click the “Tickets” link at the top of any page on the site. On the left side of the page, look for the “Quick Buy” box. Choose the show, then choose the date, then you can see what the show times are for that day. I think the show runs through Sept 8th. Have a good visit to the Field Museum.