Things to Do in and Around Chicago

Chicago is a hub for art and culture, entertainment and recreation, dining, and nightlife.

No matter your age or lifestyle, there’s something for you to do in and around Chicago.

The Loop

Located south of the  Chicago River’s main stem, The Loop is Chicago’s business district and the main area of downtown.

The Loop is home to the corporate offices of Fortune 500 companies and a large variety of businesses, services, and restaurants, nesting in mind-boggling skyscrapers.

Furthermore, The Loop houses a historic district with 50 landmarks, including the Old Chicago Water Tower.

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The Willis Tower

Perhaps the best way to appreciate Chicago is by enjoying the view from the best seat in the house.

The Willis Tower, the tallest building in the western hemisphere at an astounding 1,353 feet in the air.

But your view isn’t just from a tall building – it’s from a glass balcony that stretches four feet out from the building’s 103rd floor.

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The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile in The Loop is a shopper’s paradise.

Here, you’ll find an enticing collection of upscale shops, retail outlets, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and theaters tucked neatly at the feet of some of the most impressive high-rises in the world.

Millennium Park

Millennium Park, also within The Loop, is unlike any park you’ve experienced before.

On display among blankets of well-manicured grass is a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design, and visual art.

The park hosts an array of free cultural programs such as concerts, tours, exhibitions, and family activities.

Chicago River

Along the bank of the Chicago River is a 1.25-mile public path known as The Chicago Riverwalk.

Bursting with activity in the summer, the riverwalk offers myriad dining, shopping, and recreation options you can explore along your walk. Or, enjoy the view the easy way by relaxing on a riverwalk cruise.

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago,  located in Chicago’s Grant Park, is one of the city’s main attractions.

Founded in 1879 as a museum coupled with a school for the fine arts, the venue still showcases an impressive collection of visual arts from around the world and throughout history.

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Navy Pier

Chicago’s lakefront treasure is Navy Pier. Opened to the public in 1916, Navy Pier envelops over 50 acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions, exhibition facilities.

Navy Pier is Chicago’s most popular tourist destination and is one of the top destinations in the Midwestern United States, attracting almost two million visitors a year.

More than 570 parks pepper the landscape of Chicago, encompassing a total of 7,600 acres, and 220 facilities managed by the Chicago Park District. Commendably, the city commits 8.5% of its total land acreage to parkland.

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Shedd Aquarium

Chicago’s public indoor aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, opened in 1930 with a 5,000,000 gallon aquarium, which for a while ranked as the world’s largest indoor facility.

Now home to 32,000 and 15 species of animals, Shedd Aquarium was the first of its kind with a permanent collection of saltwater fish.

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The Adler Planetarium

When your sights are set on the study of astronomy and astrophysics, then a stop at The Adler Planetarium public museum is a must.

The first planetarium in the country, it was founded in 1930 by Max Adler, a business leader in Chicago.

The planetarium’s mission is to inspire curious minds to explore and understand the universe. Architect Ernest A. Grunsfield Junior, in 1931, was awarded the gold medal of the American Institute of Architects Chicago chapter.

In 1987, the Adler Planetarium was designated a National Historic Landmark. Here, you’ll find a plethora of space science exhibitions, antique instruments and print materials, and three full-size theaters.

One of the only research-active, public urban observatories, the Doane Observatory, is also housed at the Adler Planetarium.

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The Field Museum

The Field Museum not only exhibits tens of thousands of natural history artifacts and specimens but houses more than 150 scientists and researchers who set out on adventures to explore the world’s secrets and hidden treasures.

The museum also publishes groundbreaking research for the scientific community.

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Sports fanatics are right at home in the spirited vibe of Chicago. Fans can purchase tickets to see home teams like the Chicago Bears, Cubs, Bulls, White Sox, and other professional sports teams.

The Suburbs of Chicago

In Oak Park, Illinois, just 15 minutes outside of Chicago, you can visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. The historic house, fully restored to its original 1909 appearance, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Four years later, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. Floyd Lloyd Wright was an inspired architect highly acclaimed for his role in shaping the landscape of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.

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Also in the affluent historic community of Oak Park is The Oak Park Conservatory, distinguished as one of the three top historical sites in Oak Park.

Free to the public, the conservatory attracts more than 50,000 visitors a year and offers an exceptional display of flora and fauna. The Park District of Oak park owns and operates The Oak Park Conservatory.

There’s another Oak Park historic landmark that’s famous for more than one reason. One, the house was the first in Oak Park to have electricity. But, more prominently, the property is known as the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. The author was born in a bedroom nine years after his maternal grandparents built the Queen Ann style house. The writer spent his first six years living in this suburb of Chicago.

Another beloved destination in the Chicago area is the Brookfield Zoo, also called the Chicago Zoological Park. The Brookfield Zoo is located 20 minutes from the city center in the quaint village of Brookfield, Illinois.

There are about 450 species of animals at home on an area of land spanning 216 acres. The zoo gained popularity for its use of ditches and motes to separate animals rather than cages — and was the first zoo in the country to exhibit giant pandas.

Brookfield is also home to the nation’s largest video arcade, The Galloping Ghost Arcade. Boasting more than 550 video and pinball games, the arcade is a hot spot for gamers of all ages and sizes, as well as special events.

But the best part is that you can play all of the games all day long for $20 without the use of quarters or tokens.


Chicago is home to more than two and a half million people, plus the residents of the nearby suburbs and villages, not to mention the millions of visitors each year – and all of them enjoy an incredibly wide variety of things to do.

Chicago is known for its historic districts and museums, awe-inspiring sky-scrapers, upscale shopping districts, arts and culture, fine and casual dining, and thriving commerce.

No matter your lifestyle, you’ll find plenty of things to do in and around Chicago.

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Things to Do in and Around Chicago
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Things to Do in and Around Chicago
Chicago is a hub for art and culture, entertainment and recreation, dining, and nightlife. No matter your age or lifestyle, there's something for you to do in and around Chicago.
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