The Chicago Travel Guide

Written: The Top Thing Staff | February 9, 2023

1. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit destination and great place for art enthusiasts and culture seekers in the Windy City. Here’s why:

  • Explore Iconic Artworks: Immerse yourself in iconic masterpieces such as Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” and Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” These timeless artworks offer a glimpse into different periods of art history.
  • Diverse Collections: From ancient artifacts to contemporary installations, the museum boasts an extensive range of artistic expressions and pieces. Visitors can witness a diverse array of art forms, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, and decorative arts from around the world.
  • The museum itself is an architectural marvel. The iconic Beaux-Arts-style architecture building features grand staircases, ornate ceilings, and elegant galleries that enhance the overall experience.

In addition to these highlights, visitors can also enjoy public art installations scattered throughout Millennium Park just across from the institute. These engaging outdoor public art installations further enrich Chicago’s vibrant cultural landscape.

2. Explore the Museum of Science and Industry

Immerse yourself in interactive exhibits on science and technology at the Museum of Science and Industry. The museum in the city offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages, with hands-on activities that make learning fun.

Marvel at the historic U-505 submarine and Apollo 8 spacecraft, which are part of the museum’s permanent collection. These iconic pieces offer a glimpse into significant moments in human history and technological advancements.

The museum provides an array of engaging attractions in the city, making it an ideal destination for families, groups, or even a unique date idea. Visitors can explore various galleries showcasing different aspects of science in the city, from life sciences to human achievements in technology.

In addition to its educational value, the Museum of Science and Industry also offers shops where visitors can find souvenirs or gifts. This adds an extra dimension to the city visit by providing opportunities for shopping while exploring world-renowned exhibits.

3. Enjoy a deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s

Indulge in Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza with a buttery crust, which is an iconic culinary delight known worldwide. The thick, flaky crust is made from a secret family recipe that has been passed down through generations, giving it an unparalleled taste and texture.

At Lou Malnati’s, you can savor fresh ingredients and gooey cheese in every bite of their renowned deep-dish pizza. From the zesty tomato sauce to the generous toppings, each element complements the other perfectly. This creates an explosion of flavors that will leave your taste buds tingling for more.

Experience the authentic taste of a Chicago culinary staple when you visit Lou Malnati’s. The restaurant has been serving its legendary deep-dish pizzas since 1971 and continues to be a favorite among locals and tourists alike. With over 50 locations across Chicagoland, you can easily find this awesome pizzeria to satisfy your cravings for an unforgettable dining experience.

4. Stroll through Millennium Park and see Cloud Gate

Millennium Park is home to the famous Cloud Gate, affectionately known as “The Bean.” This iconic sculpture by Anish Kapoor offers a unique photo opportunity, with its reflective surface capturing the surrounding skyline in a mesmerizing way.

Visitors can also revel in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion‘s free outdoor concerts and events. The pavilion’s cutting-edge design and open-air layout make it an ideal spot for enjoying music and performances against Chicago’s magnificent skyline.

Lurie Garden within Millennium Park provides a peaceful retreat amidst the bustling city. Its lush greenery, vibrant blooms, and serene atmosphere offer a tranquil escape for relaxation or quiet contemplation.

For those seeking breathtaking views of Chicago, exploring rooftop venues near Millennium Park is highly recommended. These vantage points provide unparalleled vistas of the cityscape, offering visitors an unforgettable experience.

5. Catch a game or take a tour of Wrigley Field

If you’re in Chicago, catching a game or taking a tour of Wrigley Field is an absolute must. The historic ballpark has been the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916 and offers an unforgettable experience for sports enthusiasts.

  • Cheer on the Chicago Cubs: Immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere as you cheer on the iconic Chicago Cubs during an exhilarating baseball game. The energy and passion of both fans and players create an unmatched sporting spectacle.
  • Explore the historic ballpark: Embark on a guided tour to delve into the rich history and charm of Wrigley Field. Learn about its legendary moments, iconic architecture, and significant role in American sports culture.
  • Soak up the lively atmosphere: Whether it’s during a game or while exploring on a tour, embrace the vibrant ambiance that permeates every corner of this beloved sports venue. From its famous ivy-covered walls to its classic scoreboard, every facet exudes character.

Wrigley Field isn’t just about baseball; it’s an embodiment of tradition, community spirit, and timeless excitement. So whether you’re enjoying a thrilling match or discovering its captivating heritage through a guided tour, this landmark promises an experience like no other.

6. Take an architecture river cruise on the Chicago River

Immerse yourself in Chicago’s architectural marvels with a captivating river cruise. Expert guides provide intriguing insights into the city’s renowned landmarks, offering a deeper understanding of their historical and cultural significance.

Cruise along the Chicago River to witness iconic skyscrapers designed by legendary architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. This experience provides an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate these masterpieces from a unique vantage point, allowing you to grasp the grandeur of their design and construction.

Capture breathtaking views of the city’s skyline from the tranquil waters of the river, providing ideal photo opportunities for memorable keepsakes or social media posts. The juxtaposition of modern high-rises against historic architectural gems creates a stunning visual tapestry that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

The riverwalk offers an unobstructed view of some of Chicago’s most famous buildings, including Willis Tower and Tribune Tower, enriching your understanding and appreciation for the city’s rich architectural heritage.

7. Relax at the Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory offers a serene escape from the urban hustle, providing an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature’s beauty. Visitors can meander through enchanting gardens adorned with exotic flora and fauna, creating a tranquil atmosphere away from the city’s commotion.

The conservatory boasts diverse environments housed under expansive glass roofs, including tropical, desert, and fern-filled spaces. This variety allows visitors to explore distinct ecosystems within one location, offering an educational experience alongside relaxation.

Amidst the vibrant greenery and blooming flowers, guests can find solace in this oasis nestled within Chicago’s bustling streets. The conservatory serves as a peaceful retreat where individuals can unwind and rejuvenate while admiring the natural splendor surrounding them.

8. Walk or bike along the Chicago Lakefront Trail

The Chicago Lakefront Trail offers a picturesque experience, allowing visitors to revel in stunning views of Lake Michigan while strolling or cycling. The trail meanders through various beaches, providing an opportunity for leisurely walks and invigorating bike rides.

This scenic route also encompasses several parks, including Lincoln Park and Grant Park, where individuals can engage in recreational activities such as picnicking or even ice skating during winter months.

One of the highlights of this trail is its proximity to iconic landmarks like Navy Pier, adding an extra layer of charm to the journey. Visitors can easily incorporate a visit to this renowned attraction into their lakeside stroll or ride.

Furthermore, the north side of the trail presents a different ambiance compared to the south side. While both sides offer breathtaking waterfront views, each has its own unique attractions and characteristics. Exploring both sides provides a comprehensive experience of Chicago’s beautiful lakefront area.

In essence, embarking on a walk or bike ride along the Chicago Lakefront Trail not only allows for physical activity but also serves as an immersive way to appreciate nature and iconic city landmarks simultaneously.

9. Experience the nightlife at Green Mill Jazz Club

Immerse yourself in live jazz performances at the Green Mill Jazz Club, a historic and intimate venue that has hosted legendary musicians. The club’s ambiance exudes a vibrant energy, offering an unforgettable experience for music enthusiasts.

The Green Mill Jazz Club provides an opportunity to witness world-class musical talent up close, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic and memorable nightlife experience in Chicago.

Sip on expertly crafted cocktails while being serenaded by exceptional jazz artists, elevating your evening with a perfect blend of music and mixology.

10. See a comedy show at The Second City

Laugh out loud at improvisational comedy performances by talented comedians at The Second City, a renowned theater venue in Chicago’s vibrant entertainment scene. This iconic spot has been the starting point for many famous comedians, including Tina Fey and Steve Carell, making it a must-visit for comedy enthusiasts.

The Second City, located on the city’s North Side, offers an evening of wit, humor, and unforgettable entertainment. With its rich history and reputation as one of the top comedy theaters in the country, visitors can expect to witness exceptional comedic talent while enjoying a night out in this bustling cultural hub.

In addition to being entertained by seasoned performers who are masters of their craft, audience members also have the opportunity to witness up-and-coming talents honing their skills on stage. The theater’s commitment to nurturing new comedic voices ensures that every visit is filled with fresh and innovative acts.

Visitors can choose from various shows throughout the week featuring different themes and formats such as sketch revues or improv sets. Whether you’re a local looking for a fun night out or a tourist seeking authentic Chicago experiences, catching a show at The Second City promises an evening filled with laughter and memorable performances.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must-visit attractions in Chicago?

Chicago offers a wide range of attractions, but some top picks include the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park with Cloud Gate, and Wrigley Field for sports enthusiasts.

Where can I experience Chicago’s vibrant nightlife?

For an unforgettable night out, head to Green Mill Jazz Club for live jazz performances or catch a comedy show at The Second City. These iconic venues promise an entertaining and lively experience.

How can I explore Chicago’s architectural marvels?

To admire Chicago’s stunning architecture, consider taking an architecture river cruise on the Chicago River. This immersive tour provides a unique perspective on the city’s renowned skyline and historic buildings.

What is the best way to enjoy nature in Chicago?

For nature lovers, strolling or biking along the scenic Chicago Lakefront Trail offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities amidst urban surroundings.

Where should I go for authentic local cuisine in Chicago?

Indulge in a true taste of Chicago by savoring a deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. This renowned pizzeria serves up this classic dish with its signature flaky crust and generous layers of toppings.