Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Chicago

North America

By Meagan Drillinger

Chicago, often called the “Windy City,” is one of the most vibrant and culturally rich destinations in the United States. Known for its stunning architecture, iconic skyline, and diverse neighborhoods, the city offers a plethora of attractions for tourists of all interests.

One of the must-visit attractions in Chicago is Millennium Park. This urban oasis is home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as “The Bean,” which has become an iconic symbol of the city. Visitors can marvel at the mesmerizing reflections and take unique selfies with the stunning skyline as the backdrop.

The Art Institute of Chicago is another world-renowned attraction that should not be missed. With its extensive collection of over 300,000 artworks, including masterpieces from renowned artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh, the museum is a paradise for art lovers. From ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces, the Art Institute offers a comprehensive exploration of various art forms.

No visit to Chicago is complete without experiencing the breathtaking views from the Willis Tower Skydeck. Located on the 103rd floor of the building, the observation deck provides panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan. Brave visitors can step onto The Ledge, a glass balcony that extends out from the building, allowing for a thrilling experience with nothing but clear glass beneath their feet.

The Navy Pier is another popular attraction that offers a wide range of entertainment options. From amusement park rides to fireworks displays, this iconic landmark has something for everyone. Take a leisurely stroll along the pier, enjoy a ride on the Ferris wheel, or catch a performance at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

These are just a few of the top-rated tourist attractions in Chicago. Whether you’re interested in art, architecture, or simply exploring the vibrant neighborhoods, the city has something to offer every visitor. So, pack your bags and get ready to experience the wonders of the Windy City!

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. It is located in Grant Park, Chicago’s central park, and houses a world-class collection of artworks.

The museum’s collection spans thousands of years and includes pieces from various art mediums, such as paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and decorative arts. Visitors can explore artworks from different cultures and time periods, including ancient Egyptian, European, American, African, Asian, and contemporary art.

One of the most famous artworks in the collection is Grant Wood’s iconic painting, “American Gothic.” This masterpiece portrays a farmer and his daughter standing solemnly in front of their farmhouse and has become an enduring symbol of American culture.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Art Institute of Chicago hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing works by renowned artists from around the world. These exhibitions provide visitors with the opportunity to discover new artists and explore different art movements.

Another notable feature of the museum is its architectural significance. The Art Institute’s main building, designed by the architectural firm Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, is a Beaux-Arts style building that is considered a historic landmark. The building’s iconic bronze lion statues, guarding the entrance, are also a popular symbol of the museum.

Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago is a must for art enthusiasts and anyone interested in exploring the world of art. The museum offers guided tours, audio guides, and interactive experiences to enhance visitors’ understanding and appreciation of the artworks on display.

With its rich collection, engaging exhibitions, and stunning architecture, the Art Institute of Chicago continues to be a top-rated tourist attraction that offers a truly immersive and enlightening art experience.

Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. Located in the beautiful Hyde Park neighborhood, this museum is a must-visit for those interested in science, technology, and history. It is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere.

The Museum of Science and Industry offers a wide range of exhibits and interactive displays that cater to visitors of all ages. Visitors can explore the wonders of space in the Henry Crown Space Center, where they can see a replica of the Apollo 8 spacecraft and learn about the history of space exploration.

Another highlight of the museum is the Coal Mine exhibit, where visitors can experience what it’s like to work in a coal mine. They can descend into a replica mine shaft and learn about the science and technology behind mining.

For those interested in aviation, the museum has a fantastic exhibit called “Above and Beyond.” This exhibit explores the history of aviation and allows visitors to pilot a simulated space shuttle or fly a virtual reality drone.

The Museum of Science and Industry also has a variety of hands-on exhibits that engage visitors in scientific experiments and demonstrations. The Science Storms exhibit features larger-than-life displays that demonstrate the principles of physics, chemistry, and meteorology.

In addition to its impressive exhibits, the museum also offers educational programs and workshops for students and teachers. These programs are designed to inspire curiosity and engage students in the wonders of science and industry.

With its diverse range of exhibits and educational programs, the Museum of Science and Industry is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in science, technology, and history. It offers a unique and interactive learning experience that is both informative and entertaining.

Millennium Park

Millennium Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. With its stunning architecture and beautiful landscapes, it offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy.

The park is home to the famous Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean”. This iconic sculpture crafted by artist Anish Kapoor is a must-see in Chicago. Its mirrored surface reflects the surrounding cityscape, creating unique photo opportunities.

Another popular feature of Millennium Park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. This outdoor concert venue hosts a variety of performances, including live music, theater productions, and film screenings. The unique design of the pavilion, created by renowned architect Frank Gehry, provides excellent acoustics and can hold up to 11,000 people.

For those who appreciate art, the Lurie Garden is a must-visit attraction in Millennium Park. The garden is designed to reflect Chicago’s diverse ecosystems and features a variety of beautiful flowers and plants. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the winding paths or relax on one of the garden’s many benches.

In addition to these attractions, Millennium Park also offers various seasonal events and activities, including ice skating in the winter and outdoor concerts and film screenings in the summer. The park is a vibrant hub of activity throughout the year, attracting both locals and tourists alike.

Overall, Millennium Park is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Chicago. Its stunning architecture, beautiful landscapes, and diverse range of attractions make it a top-rated tourist spot in the city.

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the aquarium houses over 32,000 aquatic animals. It is home to a variety of species including dolphins, whales, sea turtles, penguins, and colorful fish from around the world.

Visitors can explore the different exhibits and learn about various marine ecosystems. The Polar Play Zone allows children to interact with beluga whales and penguins, while the Amazon Rising exhibit educates guests about the diverse wildlife found in the Amazon Rainforest.

One of the highlights of the Shedd Aquarium is the Abbott Oceanarium, where visitors can witness marine mammal shows featuring dolphins, beluga whales, and sea lions. The show provides an educational and entertaining experience for both children and adults.

For those looking to dive deeper into marine life, the Shedd Aquarium offers various animal encounters and programs. Guests can participate in a penguin encounter or even go behind the scenes to meet the trainers and learn about animal care and conservation efforts.

With its impressive collection of marine life and engaging exhibits, the Shedd Aquarium offers a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. Whether you are a marine enthusiast or simply looking to have a fun day out, the aquarium is definitely worth a visit.

Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium, located on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan, is one of the top tourist attractions in Chicago. It is America’s first planetarium and a premier public learning resource since it opened to the public in 1930. The planetarium offers a unique opportunity to explore the wonders of the universe and learn about astronomy in a fun and interactive way.

At the Adler Planetarium, visitors can enjoy a variety of exhibits and shows that cover topics such as space exploration, the solar system, and the stars. One of the most popular attractions is the Grainger Sky Theater, which features a state-of-the-art projection system that takes visitors on a journey through the cosmos.

Another highlight of the Adler Planetarium is the Doane Observatory, which houses one of the largest aperture telescopes in the world. Visitors can participate in stargazing events and observe celestial objects up close. The planetarium also offers workshops, educational programs, and special events for both children and adults.

For those interested in the history of astronomy, the Adler Planetarium has a fascinating collection of artifacts, including historical instruments and telescopes. Visitors can learn about the advancements in astronomy and the contributions made by astronomers throughout history.

With its stunning views of the Chicago skyline and its array of educational and entertaining exhibits, the Adler Planetarium is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in space and astronomy.

Field Museum

The Field Museum, located in Grant Park, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. Founded in 1893, it is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. The museum is named after its first major benefactor, Marshall Field.

The Field Museum is home to an extensive collection of over 300,000 artifacts and specimens, ranging from Egyptian mummies to dinosaur fossils. Visitors can explore the museum’s various exhibits, including the Grainger Hall of Gems, the Hall of Jades, and the Evolving Planet exhibit, which showcases the history of life on Earth.

One of the most famous exhibits at the Field Museum is Sue, the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered. Sue is a must-see for dinosaur enthusiasts of all ages.

In addition to its impressive exhibits, the Field Museum also offers educational programs, workshops, and special events for children and adults. Visitors can participate in hands-on activities, watch live demonstrations, and attend lectures by experts in various fields of science and history.

With its fascinating exhibits and educational opportunities, the Field Museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in natural history and science. It offers a unique and memorable experience that will leave visitors with a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

Navy Pier is a popular tourist destination in Chicago. Located on Lake Michigan, the pier offers beautiful views of the city skyline and the lake. It is known for its variety of entertainment options and attractions for all ages.

One of the highlights of Navy Pier is the Centennial Wheel, a giant ferris wheel that provides panoramic views of the city. Visitors can take a ride on the wheel and enjoy the breathtaking scenery from the top. The pier also has a variety of other rides and attractions, including a carousel and a Children’s Museum.

In addition to rides, Navy Pier offers a wide range of dining options. Visitors can choose from casual eateries to upscale restaurants, offering cuisines from around the world. There are also several bars and lounges where visitors can enjoy a drink while taking in the view.

For those interested in shopping, Navy Pier has a selection of boutiques and specialty shops. Visitors can find unique souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, and more. The pier also hosts various events and shows throughout the year, including fireworks displays, live performances, and art exhibitions.

Navy Pier is easily accessible by public transportation and has parking available for visitors who prefer to drive. Whether you are looking for a fun day out with the family, a romantic date night, or just a place to relax and enjoy the view, Navy Pier has something for everyone.

Willis Tower Skydeck

The Willis Tower Skydeck is one of the top tourist attractions in Chicago. Located in the heart of downtown, this iconic skyscraper offers stunning views of the city and its surroundings.

Visitors can experience the thrill of stepping out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony that extends four feet outside the 103rd floor. From here, you can admire panoramic views of Chicago’s skyline, Lake Michigan, and even glimpse neighboring states. The Ledge provides a unique and exhilarating experience that is not to be missed.

In addition to the breathtaking views, the Willis Tower Skydeck offers interactive exhibits that provide insight into the history and architecture of the building. Visitors can learn about the construction of the tower and its impact on the city’s skyline.

For those seeking an extra thrill, the Skydeck also offers an experience called “Chicago from the Top,” which allows guests to soar above the city in a 4D theater. This immersive and sensory experience takes you on a virtual helicopter ride over Chicago’s most iconic landmarks.

Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor to Chicago, the Willis Tower Skydeck is a must-see attraction that offers breathtaking views and a unique perspective on the city’s history and architecture.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Located in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest and most beloved zoos in the country. With its beautiful grounds and diverse animal collection, this free zoo is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists.

Established in 1868, the Lincoln Park Zoo is home to over 1,100 animals from around the world. Visitors can explore a variety of exhibits that showcase animals such as lions, giraffes, zebras, gorillas, and polar bears. The zoo also has a farm-in-the-zoo area where visitors can see and learn about domestic animals.

One of the highlights of the Lincoln Park Zoo is the Kovler Lion House, a historic landmark that houses a pride of African lions. The lion house offers visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, with a viewing area that allows for an intimate viewing experience.

In addition to its animal exhibits, the Lincoln Park Zoo offers a range of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. From summer camps and classes to lectures and workshops, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation and the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity.

Overall, the Lincoln Park Zoo is a must-visit destination for animal lovers and families alike. With its beautiful setting, diverse animal collection, and educational programs, it provides a unique and memorable experience for everyone who visits.

Chicago Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk is a scenic pedestrian path along the Chicago River. Stretching for 1.25 miles, it offers stunning views of the city’s iconic skyscrapers, beautiful parks, and bustling river traffic.

The Riverwalk is divided into several sections, each with its own unique features and attractions. One of the most popular sections is the Marina, where visitors can rent kayaks, paddleboards, or boats to explore the river themselves. The Marina also offers dining options, with several waterfront restaurants serving delicious food and drinks.

Another notable section is the Jetty, which provides a tranquil spot to relax and enjoy the river atmosphere. Here, you can find seating areas, planters with colorful flowers, and even fishing areas. It’s the perfect place to unwind and take in the sights and sounds of the city.

The Riverwalk also features the Cove, an area dedicated to educational and cultural experiences. Visitors can learn about the city’s history and architecture at the various exhibits and installations. There are also spaces for performances and art displays, making it a vibrant and lively area.

Throughout the Riverwalk, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to grab a bite to eat or drink. From casual food stalls and cafés to upscale restaurants, there’s something for everyone’s taste. Many establishments offer outdoor seating, allowing visitors to enjoy their meal while taking in the stunning views.

The Chicago Riverwalk is not just a tourist attraction; it’s also a hub of activity for locals. Whether you’re looking for a place to exercise, have a picnic, or simply relax by the water, the Riverwalk offers a perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Overall, the Chicago Riverwalk is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city. With its picturesque views, diverse attractions, and vibrant atmosphere, it’s no wonder it’s considered one of the top-rated tourist attractions in Chicago.

Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile

Michigan Avenue, also known as the Magnificent Mile, is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, this vibrant street is lined with luxury boutiques, department stores, and restaurants, making it a must-visit for both tourists and locals.

With its stunning architecture and lively atmosphere, Michigan Avenue offers a unique shopping experience. You can explore a wide range of high-end fashion brands, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry, as well as popular department stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

In addition to shopping, Michigan Avenue is also home to many iconic landmarks and cultural attractions. The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, is located just steps away from the Magnificent Mile. Visitors can admire famous works of art, including Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom”.

For those who enjoy architecture, Michigan Avenue is a feast for the eyes. The street boasts a diverse range of architectural styles, from the historic Tribune Tower to the modern John Hancock Center. You can also take a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk and enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline.

Whether you’re looking to shop till you drop or soak in the city’s history and culture, Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile have something for everyone. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the many top-notch restaurants and cafes along the way!

FAQs

What are some of the top tourist attractions in Chicago?

Some of the top tourist attractions in Chicago include the Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, and the Willis Tower Skydeck.

What can I do at Navy Pier in Chicago?

At Navy Pier, you can enjoy various attractions, such as the Centennial Wheel, the Chicago Children’s Museum, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, boat cruises, shopping, and dining.

What is special about Millennium Park in Chicago?

Millennium Park is known for its iconic “Cloud Gate” sculpture, also known as “The Bean.” The park also features beautiful gardens, art installations, outdoor concerts, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, where you can enjoy free summer concerts.

What can I see at the Art Institute of Chicago?

The Art Institute of Chicago is home to a vast collection of artworks, including famous pieces like Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” You can also explore exhibits of ancient Egyptian and Greek art, Asian art, and modern art.

What exhibits can I see at the Field Museum?

The Field Museum is known for its natural history exhibits, including Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered. You can also explore exhibits on ancient civilizations, fossils, gemstones, and the natural world.

What are some top-rated tourist attractions in Chicago?

Some top-rated tourist attractions in Chicago include Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, Willis Tower Skydeck, and Shedd Aquarium.

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5 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Chicago

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Meagan Drillinger

Meagan Drillinger, an avid travel writer with a passion ignited in 2009. Having explored over 30 countries, Mexico holds a special place in her heart due to its captivating cultural tapestry, delectable cuisine, diverse landscapes, and warm-hearted people. A proud alumnus of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, when she isn’t uncovering the wonders of New York City, Meagan is eagerly planning her next exhilarating escapade.

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