It’s known as the Windy City, and the entertainment and sights here are certainly a breath of fresh air. Everyone knows this is the home to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring skyscrapers, but there’s plenty of fun stuff to do in Chicago beyond going up in the world, including world-class shopping, fascinating museums and exciting attractions too.
1) 360 Chicago
Okay, let’s tick this one off the list first. You’ll feel a mile high as you look out from the 94th floor of the John Hancock Observatory onto the city streets below. Or the city streets 55 miles away, because you can actually see that far. Don’t miss the Tilt while you’re here – it's a tilting glass box that leans its passengers 35 degrees outside the building. Not for the fainthearted!
2) Navy Pier
This is where Chicagoans come to take the air. There’s a real party atmosphere going on, with a 200-foot high 'Centennial' ferris wheel, lots of rides and attractions, and plenty of places to eat and drink too. You can also catch boats from here to take a sightseeing tour along Lake Michigan.
3) Art Institute of Chicago
Now bear with us. You don’t have to be an arts aficionado to like this place. That’s because there’s so much more than just traditional painting and sculpture on display. Check out the pieces of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture. Or the Japanese prints collection. Or the Egyptian mummies. And if you do like art, it doesn’t get much better than this – it’s the second largest gallery in the USA.
4) Lakefront Speedboat Tour
Want to make some waves while taking in the sights? Charge across Lake Michigan on a speedboat, and hear the history from your on-board guide. Get your camera at the ready as you cruise along Chicago's impressive skyline, including Soldier Field and Buckingham Fountain – one of the largest and most impressive fountains in the world.
5) The Magnificent Mile
There’s no mistaking why this place got its name. The shopping really is a cut above. Every big-name fashion house is here. Every department store. Every eatery, café and bar. These 13 blocks are home to around 460 world-class stores. And the view’s pretty spectacular too, with some of the tallest buildings in the US lining the route.
6) Millennium Park
This is how Chicago marked the new millennium. By creating one of the world’s most vibrant and happening public places. There’s live music, interactive public art, sculptures and plenty of places just to kick back and relax. Why not just grab an ice cream and watch the world go by?
7) Michigan Avenue Bridge
This is one for the photo album. Michigan Avenue Bridge was the world’s first ever double-decker bridge, and it’s now one of Chicago’s most photographed landmarks. If you’re very lucky you might be visiting the city when the bridge is raised to let sailboats pass through to the boat yards from Lake Michigan.
8) Adler Planetarium
Go beyond the stars to galaxies far, far away in what was America’s first planetarium and is now a National Historic Landmark. Explore permanent exhibits featuring fascinating artefacts, such as a telescope made in 1529 and the restored Gemini 12 spacecraft. Lie back and journey through the solar system in the Definiti Space Theater. Or experience the thrills and dangers of space travel as you fly over lunar craters in the Shoot for the Moon Exhibition.
9) The Chicago Theatre
The first movie palace in the country and where acting legends Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin shared center stage – the Chicago Theater boasts an incredibly glamorous history. It was first constructed in 1921, and it’s easy to see the influence the Royal Chapel at Versailles had on its lavish, five-story design. Book yourself on the Legendary Marquee Theatre Tour and you’ll learn even more about this famous venue. You’ll also get a peek at the autographs scribbled on the backstage walls by the incredible artists who’ve performed here.
10) Architectural River Cruise
Board one of Shoreline Sightseeing's Architecture River Tours for fantastic views of some of Chicago's most interesting architectural and engineering masterpieces, and gain insight into how these fantastic structures came to be while gently cruising through the city's waterways. River cruises depart from Shoreline Sightseeing's docks at Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue Bridge.