A city that is always changing, it’s not easy naming the best things to do in Chicago. Luckily, Covid-19 hasn’t stopped the city’s pulse, innovation and creativity. Rest assured that there are plenty of things to do in Chicago no matter where your interests lie! From the Magnificent Mile to local hidden gems, here are the best things to do in Chicago.
1. Grant Park
If you’re a first-time visitor, expect to spend lots of time in Grant Park, Chicago’s “front yard”. This is home to some of the top attractions in Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, The Field Museum and more. The northwest corner of the park is Millennium Park, a contiguous area with a variety of artistic features by architects and artists. Your first stop has to be Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, one of the city’s most iconic sculptures. Next, splash about at the interactive Crown Fountain and catch a concert at Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
2. Garfield Park Conservatory
Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most stunning botanical conservatories in America. Best of all, it’s completely free! Through eight indoor display gardens, the Conservatory presents thousands of plant species from habitats around the world. Year-round, visitors can enjoy the lush flora and tropical temperatures indoors, more than 10 acres of outdoor gardens, nature play spaces for children, water lily pond, and much more. Before you come to get your dose of the urban oasis, make sure to make a reservation online.
3. Chicago River Architecture Tour
See Chicago’s legendary architecture from the best seat in the house – the Chicago River! Hop on the Chicago’s First Lady where expert volunteers lead the river cruise and share fascinating stories behind more than 50 buildings along the river. In just 90 minutes, you’ll get the best overview of Chicago’s architecture and hear how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the largest cities in less than 100 years. The tour is also available in the evenings, where the architecture takes on a whole new life in the setting sun.
4. 360 CHICAGO
You’ll never get sick of the view at 360 CHICAGO, whether you’re a local or first-timer. Explore the interactive exhibits and stick around to enjoy a cocktail at BAR 94. Adrenaline junkies should definitely check out 360 CHICAGO’s most terrifying attraction: TILT. Guests enter a room with a glass mechanical platform and hold on to handlebars as the top of the room’s windows extend outward, tilting you 30 degrees towards the ground down below.
5. The Magnificent Mile
Stretching between Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago River, The Magnificent Mile beckons to shopaholics with over 450 department stores and luxury retailers. Additionally, the shopping street is home to several luxury hotels, such as Waldorf Astoria Chicago and InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile. While you’re here, Aster Hall is a foodie oasis, and check out NoMI Kitchen for contemporary French cuisine with views of the historic Water Tower and Lake Michigan.
6. Bloomingdale Trail (The 606)
What was once an abandoned rail line is now The 606. Running east and west on the city’s North Side, the elevated walkway brings together art, history, trails, event spaces and green, open spaces. The path has multiple access points across four of Chicago’s hippest neighborhoods — Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park. It is a favorite spot for locals and you can check it out too. Nearby Divvy stations provide bike sharing rentals!
7. International Museum of Surgical Science
When we talk about things to do in Chicago and local museums, this one may not immediately jump to mind. But we love ourselves a museum that educates us about the history and industries outside of art. The International Museum of Surgical Science displays an exquisite collection of art and artifacts from the history of Medicine, along with medical-themed exhibitions and programs. This is not just a place for future nurses, doctors and surgeons, but anyone who is insatiably curious!