This post has information on the best things to do in Chicago. Use this guide to find information and inspiration about what to do in Chicago at night, by month, and plan a budget or kid-friendly visit.
Planning a visit to Chicago can be overwhelming with the sheer number of world-class attractions. Our suggestions for the top things to do in Chicago are listed below.
For more ideas on top popular attractions, check out our comparison guide on tourist discount passes, which could help you save money on entry fees.
(1) Take a Sightseeing Tour
The best introduction to Chicago is to take a tour. Free Tours by Foot offers walking tours of Chicago of various neighborhoods, including the Loop, the Riverwalk, and specialty tours like an evening Chicago Ghost Tour.
If you’re looking for something a bit more exciting than walking, there are many ways to explore the city:
One of the top things Chicago is known for is the diverse and impressive architecture you’ll find around the city. Learn about the different styles and time periods on a guided Architecture Tour of Chicago.
Just as there are many diverse bridges, buildings, and structures, there are diverse ways of seeing it all and learning about the architects. Architecture tours come in multiple forms like river tours, which give an interesting perspective, as well as free walking tours.
The biggest architecture enthusiasts will enjoy the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s over 3-hour bus tour.
(3) See a Concert
There are an abundance of great venues where you can find live music in Chicago. The city has a wealth of local bands and also frequently attracts big-name artists.
If you’re interested in going to a concert, make sure to check and see what’s on at the following venues:
One of the most well-known attractions in Chicago is the Navy Pier. It is a highlight of visitors’ visits to the Lake Michigan shore at any time of year, thanks to Winter Wonderland when it’s cold out and fireworks in the summer.
Here you’ll find boat tours (it’s an actual pier), the Chicago Children’s Museum, restaurants, and entertainment.
There’s something thrilling and peaceful at the same time about being so high above the ground. If you’re a fan of heights, you should definitely try out at least one. They’re included for free on at least a few of the tourist discount passes.
One of the most popular options is to have an enjoyable lunch or dinner on the water to relax and have fun with your travel buddies or family. These lunch and dinner cruises usually last 2 to 3 hours. Many of them are family-friendly.
(9) See the Most Popular Attractions in the City
From interesting architecture and museums to public art and sports stadiums, Chicago has plenty of popular attractions to see.
Below is a list of many of the best things to see and places to visit in Chicago. For in-depth information on how to visit these attractions, simply click on the site’s name and you will find ticket prices, tips on getting discounts, and what you can see while there.
Temperatures in Chicago tend to be mostly comfortable with warm afternoons, especially during the second half of the month. Afternoon high temperatures tend to be in the mid-70s F (23 C) early in the month warming into the low 80s F (28 C) nearing the end of the month. A few of the warmer afternoons can reach up near 90 F (about 32C), especially during the second half of the month. On average, about 3 days in June will see a high temperature of 90F (32 C) or more. The all-time highest temperature in Chicago during June is 104 F (40 C).
Late night and early morning lows tend to be in the mid to upper 50s F (13-15C) early in June, warming into the mid-60s F (17-19C) towards the end of this month. A few of the colder mornings, early in June can dip down to near 50 F (about 10C). The all-time coldest temperature recorded in Chicago during June is 36F (2.2C).
May in Chicago tends to range from cool to comfortable with a few cold mornings, mostly early in the month. Daily afternoon high temperatures are mostly in the lower 60s F (16C-17C) early in the month but warm into the lower 70s F (21C-22C) near the end on the month. A few of the warmer days near the end of the month can reach up into the low to mid 80s F (28C-29C). The record high temperature in Chicago during May is 93 F (33.9C).
December in Chicago tends to be very cold and is often below freezing. On average, about 26 days record temperature dipping below freezing with 1-2 of these falling to 0 F (-18C) or below.
Early in the month, daytime high temperatures tend to be in the low to mid 40s F (5C to 6C) with a few of the warmer afternoons can reach up into the mid-50s F (12C to 13C). By the end of this month, however, afternoon temperatures will more likely be in the low to mid 30s F (0C to1C). The all-time record high temperature in Chicago during December is 71 F (21.7 C).
This post is an overview of the August weather in Chicago, including snow and precipitation forecasts, as well as tips on how to dress and things to do. Be sure to look into the weather in July and September as well.
This post is an overview of the July weather in Chicago, including snow and precipitation forecasts, as well as tips on how to dress and things to do. Be sure to look into the weather in July and August as well.
These tickets include General Admission access plus one, two, or three additional ticketed experiences including Wired to Wear, Makers United, Giant Dome Theatre Films, Coal Mine Tours, Fab Lab, WOW! Tour, and Future Energy Chicago.
The Museum of Science and Industry was originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 by Charles B. Atwood of D.H. Burnham and Company.
It is the only structure from the World’s Fair that was built to last while the remainder of the White City fell to ruins.
The MSI has many temporary exhibits as well as several permanent exhibits. The permanent exhibits include:
The U-505 Submarine
At this exhibit you can step inside the U-505—a German submarine that terrorized the ocean during World War I and World War II.
The United States caught and captured the sub on June 4th, 1944 and now it is a national memorial to the 55,000 American sailors who gave their lives on the high seas in WWI and WWII.
The Chick Hatchery
The entire exhibit is about the complex world of genetics but everyone is crowded around the baby chicks. Watch as the baby chicks emerge from their shells and peck their way into the world.
The Coal Mine
Every resident in Chicago has visited this exhibit at least once as a student on a field trip- it’s the Coal Mine! A coal-miner takes you below the surface to experience hands-on what it would be like to a coal-miner.
Brick By Brick
This exhibit is an impressive use of Lego bricks to create massive reproductions of world famous structures.
Kids will love to see the 60-foot Golden Gate Bridge and the International Space Station made entirely of Legos.
This exhibit is included in your entry fee and really connects you to the farm-life of America.
The farmers of America have come a long way. Learn how your food gets to your plate. A visitor’s favorite is the milking competition.
This section includes the various discounts available for Adler Planetarium tickets. Don’t pay full price when you don’t have to.
Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
General admission to the Adler Planetarium is included in all of Chicago’s tourist passes. These passes work by combining tickets to popular attractions and tours into one discounted price, up to 55% off.
You can also save time by skipping the ticket line at select locations, which really can be a blessing in the summer.