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Top 10 Things to do in Chicago

This Midwestern metropolis really has it all with impressive steel skyscrapers standing next to vast parks and golden beaches. Spend the morning exploring the Art Institute and doing some serious shopping on the Magnificent Mile before catching a comedy show at Second City.

1. Millennium Park

Built as a celebration of the new millennium, the park has quickly become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. Filled with architecture, sculptures, fountains and landscape design, the 99,000 square metre park by the lakefront is the perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon strolling around. The most famous sculpture in the park is Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate, also known as ‘The Bean.’ Tourists can usually be found hanging around the 110-ton, smooth silver structure taking photos of their reflection. During summertime, Millennium Park plays host to various free events including concerts, yoga and walking tours.

Metro: Madison/Wabash or Randolph/Wabash

2. John Hancock Observatory

Located more than 300m above The Magnificent Mile, visitors go up the John Hancock Center for floor-to-ceiling windows with 360 degree views of four states - Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. The observatory is located on the 94th floor but visitors can also go up to the 96th floor Lounge, where the view is free if you buy a drink. Views can be enjoyed at during the day, at sunset or in the evenings all-year round.

Metro: Chicago-Red

3. Wrigley Field

Nicknamed ‘The Friendly Confines,’ the Wrigley Field baseball park in Lakeview is the second-oldest baseball park in the major leagues. It was built in 1914 and named after Chicago Cubs team owner and chewing gum mogul, William Wrigley, Jr. The Cubs may not have won a championship since 1908 (legend has it the team is cursed), but Chicagoans love their team and the ballpark too. 

Metro: Addison-Red

4. Art Institute of Chicago

Located in Chicago's Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago is the second-largest art museum in the country. Founded in 1879, the Art Institute has approximately 300,000 works of art in its permanent collection plus 30 special exhibitions and hundreds of gallery talks, lectures, performances, and events every year. The museum is most famous for its collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and American art but also contains art from the last 5,000 years and from all around the world.

Metro: Adams/Wabash

5. Lake Michigan

One of the five Great Lakes, Lake Michigan is where Chicagoans go to cool off in the summertime. The golden beaches of Lake Michigan are free and open from late May to early September. Popular activities include swimming, sailing and kayaking but with more than 20 beaches to choose from, there’s something here for everyone! Along the shore, visitors enjoy cycling, rollerblading and strolling around the many parks. 

6. Second City

The Second City comedy club and school of improvisation has been the starting point for comedic legends like John Belushi, Joan Rivers, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Located in the Chicago’s Old Town, Second City has been making audiences laugh for more than 50 years. Visitors can enjoy comedy shows seven nights a week with cocktails and food available throughout the show.

Metro: Sedgwick

7. Navy Pier

A short walk from the Millennium Park lies the Navy Pier - a 1,010 m long pier on the shoreline of Lake Michigan and a favourite Chicago attraction since it opened in 1916. The Pier features restaurants, shops and plenty of entertainment including a 15-story tall Ferris wheel and an IMAX theatre. The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and indoor botanical park Crystal Gardens are also popular attractions.

Metro: Grand-Red

8. The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile is the stretch of North Michigan Avenue that runs from the Chicago River and up 13 blocks to Oak Street. With more than 460 stores, 275 restaurants and 60 hotels, The Magnificent Mile is Chicago’s biggest shopping district. From big department stores and high-end luxury brands to more affordable retailers and local shops, ‘The Mag Mile’ is a shopaholic’s dream. 

Metro: Grand-Red

9. The Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum on Lake Shore Drive is part of the Museum Campus Chicago, a massive museum park by Lake Michigan. The museum is home to Sue, the world’s largest T-rex, and more than 35 exhibitions. Highlights of the museum include ‘Underground Adventure’, where visitors "shrink" to explore an underground world where everything is one hundred times its normal size and the Grainger Hall of Gems that contains one of the largest collections of gems and stones in the world.

Metro: Roosevelt

10. Sears Tower

When the Sears Tower was built in 1974, it was the world’s tallest building - a title it held on to until the Petronas twin towers were constructed in Kuala Lumpur in 1997. But the Sears tower is still the tallest Chicago skyscraper, and visitors can head up to the skydeck at 412 m for breath taking views of the city. The building’s name was changed to the Willis Tower in 2009, but it still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower.

Metro: Quincy/Wells

If you are planning to take a trip don’t forget to browse through our fun and friendly hostels in Chicago and find your perfect stay.