A Complete Guide to Chicago in the Fall

Chicago is a wonderful city to visit in the fall. There are many seasonal activities at this time of year, not to mention the great things to do all year round.

This guide highlights some of the many great things to do in Chicago in the fall. 

What to do in Chicago in Fall

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO IN FALL

This is a Top 10 list of things to do in Chicago this Fall. For more ideas on popular things to do in Chicago, check out our posts on bus tours and walking tours of the city.

Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass Read more »

Definitive Guide to Things to Do in Chicago (2019)

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.

 

 


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO

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:

Foodies can get excited about Chicago’s culinary culture on food tours, as well. You can sample your way through different neighborhoods with these self-guided food tours:


(2) Learn about Chicago Architecture

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:

Click here to find all concerts in the city. No matter the genre you’re into, we’re sure you’ll find it!  


(4) See a Pro Sports Game

Chicago has multiple well-loved professional sports teams, which means that no matter when you come to the city there will most likely be a game happening somewhere. 

 

 

Click here to see all the matches in Chicago.

Many of these teams will play evening games during their regular seasons, so this could be an excellent activity to enjoy after dark.

For more things to do in the evening, please read our nighttime activities section.


(5) Go to the Theater

Chicago’s theatre scene is a close second to New York’s Broadway (well, we think so!). The best way to see a show on a budget is during Chicago’s Theatre Week. We also recommend taking a tour of the Chicago Theatre before or after catching a show. This self guided tour of the Chicago Theatre District is perfect for theatre fans. 

 

 

The crowd-pleasing Blue Man Group has year-round shows in Chicago. If you book soon enough, you could get seats in the Splash Zone and end up covered in colorful paint! 

And comedy fans will love seeing a performance at Second City, iO, or Annoyance Theater, which all offer extremely affordable tickets! 

Find all the theatrical performances in Chicago here.


(6) Visit Chicago’s Navy Pier

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.

Find out more about how you can spend a few hours at the pier with our post about  Navy Pier Things to Do.


(7) Find an Observation Deck

Chicago has an impressive skyline day or night. And you can see it all from a birds-eye view and marvel at the architecture from one of the city’s observation decks.

 

 

The main Observation Decks in Chicago are:

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.


(8) Enjoy a Dinner or Boat Cruise

From river cruises to the waters of Lake Michigan, there are multiple boat tours available to take

 

 

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. 

 

 

Some of the Popular Attractions Include: 

For a list of even more fun attractions take a look at the section below.


(10) Save Money with a Tourist Discount Pass

Visitors can save up to 50% on retail admission prices with a Chicago tourist pass. These services provide heavy discounts at some of the most popular attractions in the city.

 

 

Here are a few of the sites you can visit with various discount passes, which include great year-round activities such as:

If you plan to visit even a few of these attractions, you could easily save quite a few dollars as well as time, since select attractions on these cards have skip-the-line passes. To find out which city pass will save you the most, read our full post

 

THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

Chicago has some exciting nightlife and entertainment to enjoy, from tours to live music and open-late attractions.

 

 

See our full post on things to do in Chicago at night for more ideas on what to do.

For more detail, take a look at our full post on things to do in Chicago at night.

 

THINGS TO DO FOR FREE

There are plenty of things to see and do while visiting Chicago on a budget!

 

 

Read our full free things to do in Chicago post for more details. Listed in this section are our top 10 free activities: 

For more budget-friendly activities, check out our full free things to do in Chicago post.

 

THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS

Visiting Chicago with the kids? Here are our top ten ideas for family-friendly activities.

 

 

Make sure you read our full family-friendly post for more trip inspiration!

For more things to do with the kids, read our family-friendly activities in Chicago post.

 

CHICAGO’S TOP ATTRACTIONS

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. 

Top Chicago Attractions:

 


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Find Chicago Events For The Month You’re Visiting

We think any time is the best time to visit Chicago and to make sure you know the best things to do while you’re in town.

Springtime (March, April, May)

Fall (Sept, Oct)

 


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Let Us do the Planning | Itineraries for Chicago

 


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What is the Weather in Chicago in June

This post is an overview of the June weather in Chicago, including precipitation forecasts, as well as tips on how to dress and things to do.


HOW HOT IS CHICAGO IN JUNE?

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).

 

Average Temps in June in Chicago

 

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).

Read more »

What is the weather in Chicago in May

This post is an overview of the May weather in Chicago, including precipitation forecasts, as well as tips on how to dress and things to do.


HOW HOT IS CHICAGO IN MAY?

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).

 

Average Temps in Chicago in May

 

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What is the Weather in December in Chicago?

This post is an overview of the December weather in Chicago, including snow and precipitation forecasts, as well as tips on how to dress and things to do.


HOW COLD IS CHICAGO IN DECEMBER?

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).

 

Average Chicago Temps in December

 

Read more »

Museum of Science and Industry Tickets

Museum of Science and Industry Tickets and Discounts

This post is about tickets to the Museum of Science and Industry, including tips for discounts, as well as tips for planning your visit. 

 


TICKET PRICES

When you purchase tickets online you’ll save $2 on each order.

But why pay full price when you can get a 50% discount? Admission is included for free with several tourist attraction discount passes.

Don’t forget to look at the discount section below for great ways to save on admission! 


General Admission

GA Tickets include entry to the museum’s permanent exhibits as well as Science Storms, Numbers in Nature, and Extreme Ice.


General Admission + Bundled Experiences

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.

GA + 1 Experience

GA + 2 Experiences

GA + 3 Experiences

 


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DISCOUNTS ON TICKETS

There are a few ways to get discounted entry – up to half off with an attraction pass! – into the Museum of Science and Industry.


Tourist Attraction Discount Pass

Go Chicago Explorer Pass

With the Chicago Explorer Pass, one card will get you into 3, 4, or 5 attractions at a discount of up to 40%.

With over 29 attractions and tours to choose from in addition to this museum, including a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, the Art Institute Chicago, and even an escape room.

You have 30 days to use the card and don’t need to pre-select your attraction choices which makes it a very flexible deal. 

 

 

Go Chicago Build-Your-Own Card

The Go Chicago Card allows you to choose 2 or more attractions from their list of 33 to get a bundled discount of 20-25% on each item.

General Admission tickets to the Museum of Science and Industry are on the list, as well as the hop-on hop-off Big Bus Chicago tour, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, and others.

Chicago CityPASS

If you purchase the Chicago CityPASS, you’ll get up to 50% off of many major attractions. This includes General Admission entry plus one ticketed experience.

If you’re a fan of educational museums in general, this is the perfect pass as it also includes entry into the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium, among others.


Active Military and Veteran Discounts

For a special promotion between Memorial Day and Labor Day, active Military personnel with valid ID and their families (up to 5 people) get free admission.

However, all active military personnel and veterans get free admission for themselves when they present a valid ID any day of the year.


Free Entry

All Chicago firefighters, police officers, and Illinois teachers get free admission for themselves when they present a valid ID at the ticket office.

Chicago residents get $5 off adult tickets and $3 off child tickets with proof of address.

Illinois Citizens get free admission to the Museum of Science and Industry on specific days throughout the year.


Coupon Sites

Make sure to check discount sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. They will periodically have a good deal on tickets. 

Pro tip: ALWAYS buy your tickets to Chicago’s Top Attractions in advance. You’ll skip lines and save money.

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

Where is the Museum of Science and Industry?

The museum is located at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637 (map).

Where is the Museum of Science and Industry

CTA:

  • Bus #2- 57th Street and Stony Island stop
  • Bus #6- 57th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard stop
  • Bus #10- Museum of Science and Industry stop

Take the Red Line or Blue Line to Jackson stop, then to transfer any of the buses above (#2,#6,#10) at the NW corner of State and Van Buren.

The L:

From “the Loop” it’s a 25-minute train ride southwards to the Hyde Park neighborhood. Take the train to the 55th/56th/57th Street station, and walk 2 blocks east to reach the museum.

Pro tip: Even the Museum admits it can be tricky to get to this attraction via transit if you are unfamiliar with the city.

We recommend looking at our article on getting around Chicago via public transit if you are new to Chicago!


Hours of Operation

  • Daily from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm
  • Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Best Times to Visit

Since the Museum of Science and Industry is popular for families, the best times to visit are weekday mornings when school is in session.

Weekend crowds aren’t unbearable, but if you want to enjoy the museum with fewer people, the first two hours after opening are the best times to visit.


How long should you stay?

According to Google and reviews, most visitors stay up to 4 hours.


Is the building accessible?

Yes. The parking lot has van-accessible parking spaces. The building has push-button automated doors in the entrance and elevators and ramps throughout.

 


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WHAT TO EXPECT

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.


Exhibits

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. 


Farm Tech 

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.

 


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Adler Planetarium Tickets and Discounts

Adler Planetarium Tickets and Discounts

This post covers how to get discounted tickets to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, including free days, tours, and exhibits. 

 

 


TICKETS

This section will give you an overview of ticket types and ticket prices. 

TIP: To get a discount of up to 50% on your tickets, check out the attraction discount passes below. 


General Admission 

This gives you access to all permanent exhibitions and collections. 


Entry + 1 

This gives you access to all exhibitions and collections plus one show ticket of your choice.


Entry +2

This gives you access to all exhibitions and collections plus two show tickets of your choice.


Anytime All Access Pass 

This gives you access to all exhibitions and collections with unlimited access to your choice of shows.

PRO TIP: The exhibits are awesome, but kids really love the Adler shows! You can see one, two, or all of them with various ticket levels.  

 


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DISCOUNTS

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.

If you want to learn more about attraction discount passes that can save you 50% on Chicago activities, check out our full post. 


Go Chicago Explorer Pass

The Chicago Explorer Pass will give you admission to 3, 4, or 5 attractions at a discount of up to 40%.

The Adler Planetarium is included in the list of 29 eligible attractions. 

NOTE: If you would like either the Discovery or All Access Passes, you need only pay the difference when you arrive.


Go Chicago Build-Your-Own Pass Card

With the Go Chicago Build-Your-Own Pass Card, if you are planning to attend any other attraction, then you will save at least 20% off the retail price.

General Admission tickets to the Adler Planetarium are included with the build your own card options.


Chicago CityPASS

The CityPass booklet is a pre-packaged discount bundle that includes 5 popular tourist attractions at a discount of 53%.

All you have to do is purchase the one ticket and make a few choices on the options they give you.

We have a full tourist attraction discount pass comparison on our blog.


Free Museum Admission Days for Illinois Residents

Free admission entitles Illinois residents with a valid state ID to the general admission to the planetarium on specific days.

Residents may upgrade to an All Access Pass at a discounted price. Check the website for specific days


Free Admission for Teachers

Illinois teachers (K-12) with ID enter free for general admission.


Military Discount

Active military personnel receive free general admission with ID.


City of Chicago Residents

City of Chicago Residents with ID receive discounts on all admission passes every day.

Adults receive $2 off their tickets and children receive $3 off their tickets. 


Coupon Sites

Check out discount sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial – they occasionally have great coupons for admission. 

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

This section will help you plan your visit including how to get there, when to go, and how long you should expect to stay.

If you’re looking for ways to get discounted tickets, check the section above.


How to Get There

Adler Planetarium is located at 1300 S Lakeshore Drive at the Museum Campus

 

Adler Planetarium Map

 

We recommend using this Google Maps link for directions to the museum.

While the Adler is within reasonable walking distance from most downtown hotels and popular attractions, there are public transportation and parking options to save time and energy. 

Bus

  • #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express/Museum Campus
  • #130 Museum Campus (mid-May through Labor Day)

Train

  • Exit the Roosevelt stop (Red, Orange, Green lines) and transfer to bus #146 at State Street and Roosevelt Road.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus


Best Times to Visit

Adler is open every day from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm, with extended summer hours to 6:00 pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day. They are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. 

 

 

The museum is most popular mid-day on Saturdays and Sundays, so we suggest trying to arrive as they open on weekends or before noon on a weekday.


How long should I stay?

In general, visitors stay at the planetarium for 2.5 to 3 hours. 


Is there somewhere to eat at the Planetarium?

Yes. Cafe Galileo offers a beautiful, uninterrupted view of Lake Michigan, with Navy Pier clearly visible in the distance.


Is there a gift shop?

Yes! The Adler Store has educational games and toys, books, souvenirs, and clothing. 


Are other attractions close to the Planetarium?

Yes! Other museums at the Museum Campus include the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. The Art Institute Chicago is also less than 2 miles away. 

 


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EXHIBITS AT ADLER PLANETARIUM 

This section lists some of the fun exhibits available to interact with.

 

 

There are over 35,000 square feet to explore within the museum and it has one of the best views of the Chicago skyline!


Mission Moon 

Launch into space with Captain Lovell as you learn about the history of America’s space race, meeting the crew of Apollo 13 and touring the Gemini 12 spacecraft!


Our Solar System

Touching space rocks!? Enough said. Feel fragments of the Moon and Mars, and get an up-close and personal view of meteorites while you learn the science behind their creation.


Community Design Lab 

 

 

You’re a scientist with your toolkit (marshmallows, popsicle sticks, bubble wrap, etc.) to problem solve, understand more about how the world works, and create space-exploring inventions!


The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time 

A history of the universe from the Big Bang right up until your visit!

This is the exhibit most people expect to see when they go to a world-renowned planetarium, and the Adler does not disappoint!


Planet Explorers 

A space-age, indoor playground! For children ages 3-8 years old. Kids can let their imagination soar as the climb, crawl, and play in this interactive jungle gym!


Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass

Examine the tools that first gave us a glimpse of the stars, from 1608 to the present day.

Marvel at the ingenuity of our fellow human beings’ inventions, including a colossal 22-foot-long antique!


Astronomy in Culture 

Explore the Medieval European and Middle Eastern history of stargazing.

The galaxy has fascinated everyone for centuries, and you’ll learn about the early theories in this exhibit that puts you in a replica medieval classroom!


What is a Planet?

Voted #1 in the British Society for the History of Science’s 2016 Exhibitions Competition, this exhibit teaches all ages what classifies an object as a planet as it travels among the stars.   

 


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