Chicago is the quintessential Mid-Western city. Having been born and raised in central Wisconsin, Chicago was often the place my family would take off to when we wanted a weekend full of shopping, delicious food and touristy things to do in the “big city”.
I’m not the type of traveler who sticks my nose up at tourist areas or attractions. More times than not tourist attractions are heavily visited because they’e pretty impressive and worth seeing at least once. Chicago is by no means in the same category as New York City when it comes to tourist attractions but there definitely is a handful of things I think every person should do at least once when visiting The Windy City.
Take a picture by The Bean
Located in Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, or “The Bean” as it’s most commonly known as, is one of Chicago’s most photographed landmarks. The Bean is a relatively new tourist attraction to Chicago and is only 10 years old. Never the less, at all hours of the day you will find people hovered around this shiny display of art looking to snap the perfect picture.
Visit the Skydeck at the Willis Tower
The Skydeck at The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is one of the best ways to get an all encompassing view of the entire city from 103 floors up. The Skydeck officially opened to the public in 1974, but in 2009 the Tower debuted a brand new attraction called The Ledge, glass boxes that hang out 4.3 feet over the Skydeck to give you a truly unique (and somewhat terrifying) view of the city.
Eat deep-dish Chicago style pizza
Chicagoan’s have a fierce love for their iconic deep-dish Chicago style pizza. Many pizza joints in the city claim to have “the best” or be “the first” to make the incredible culinary creation. Luckily for you I know exactly where to find the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago.
Shop the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Ave.
Every big city in America has that one road famed for having the best shopping in the entire city. New York City has 5th Ave, LA has Rodeo Drive, and Chicago has Michigan Ave., or the Magnificent Mile. Not only does this 13-block stretch of road contain some of the best shopping in the mid-west but it’s also home to some of the best hotels, best dining, and best entertainment as well.
Take a picture by the famous Chicago sign
Did you even go to Chicago if you didn’t take a picture of the sign? No, definitely not. Located in the heart of the city’s theatre district, The Chicago Theatre is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. The outside of this building is beautiful by itself, but the inside is really where the building comes alive. If you have time, buy tickets to see a show there, or even schedule a tour of this iconic building.
Explore the Chicago Riverwalk
I know what you’re thinking, you’ve seen one riverwalk, you’ve seen them all. You couldn’t be more wrong. Chicago’s Riverwalk is one of my favorite things about the city. Some of the best views of Chicago can be found on the city’s riverwalk. Not only that, but in the summertime, it’s a great place to hop on a river cruise and see the city from a different vantage point. The Riverwalk is currently in the process of being expanded 9 blocks, which is scheduled for completion later this year.
Go Museum crazy
Chicago nearly gives NYC a run for its money in the Museum department. The Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum of Natural History, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art are just the beginning. Add in the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium and you’ve got something for everyone. The best part about the museums in Chicago is that nearly every one has set days that are “free days” where admission to the museum is free. This site had a great line-up of all the free days for Chicago Museums.
See the sights at Navy Pier
Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. Since its construction in 1916, the pier has had many uses including being a Navy Training Center and then a college classroom for the University of Illinois. Nowadays the pier is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, Pier Park, an IMAX theatre, and hosts some of Chicago’s biggest events including the city’s 4th of July and New Years fireworks displays.
Take in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
Nothing says, Chicago quite like the Cubs. At 102 years old, Wrigley Field is one of the oldest fields in Major League Baseball, second only to Boston’s Fenway Park (104 years old). If baseball history is something you’re interested in, book a tour of the field. If just taking in a game is more what you’re looking for, head to Wrigleyville well in advance of game time. Grab yourself a sandwich from Lucky’s and explore the area. One of the best ways to get to know a city is to become a fan of their most loved sports team for a day.