Chicago Travel Tips: Attractions To Include In Your Travel Bucket List

Chicago is usually listed amongst the most attractive American cities for tourists. Friendly locals, miles of beaches and world-class museums seduce visitors and create a combination of attractions that is difficult to resist.

Chicago is a bustling cosmopolitan city that is proud of its thriving commercial, industrial and cultural ventures. Its impressive geographical extension sometimes makes it hard for a first time visitor to summarize its several attractions and choose the ones that are definitely worth visiting first. One of the best ways to explore the Windy City at your own pace is to rent a car. If you didn't come in your own car that is. Having your own car is perfect for taking in the whole city. Picking up insurance from a good car rental insurance company is also great to have in the event that anything happens.

Here you’ll find an interesting and varied assortment of things to do and see that everybody will find enjoyable. Whether you like spending time outdoors, at cultural venues or shopping, or whether you are travelling alone, with friends or with your family.

Art Institute of Chicago
Located in Grant Park, it is one of the city’s most well known cultural institutions and it is definitely one of the must-go places for art lovers. It is the home of more than 300 thousand artworks! You can see classic paintings such as A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat or explore its ever-growing collection of contemporary works. 

Lincoln Park Zoo
From cute African penguins to majestic wild lions and tigers or impressive reptiles, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the places you can’t miss if you’re spending time in the Windy City with children. It is in the middle of Lincoln Park and it surprises visitors with more than 1000 animals. Make sure you have enough time to explore it!

Museum of Contemporary Art
The Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art hosts one of the largest collections of works of art from great artists of our time. It is known for surprising visitors with its cutting-edge temporary exhibitions and stunning permanent exhibits. Art welcomes and embraces visitors right from the entrance hall and the front plaza steps, spread about the sculpture garden and in every room. There are free tours offered daily but, of course, you can go through the different areas by yourself.

Ah! You can also try some innovative and tasty flavors at the museum's restaurant and bar!

Adler Planetarium
Interested in astronomy? Do you want to learn more about the U.S. space exploration adventure? Then you’ll definitely enjoy visiting the Adler Planetarium! It is at the outermost tip of Museum Campus and it surprises visitors with great views of the famous skyline of Chicago.

At Adler Planetarium you can learn about the history of the American space exploration, peek inside the Gemini 12 capsule and visit the Grainger Sky Theater to appreciate immersive films on its 70-foot-diameter dome. 

Attractions For Adrenaline Seekers
Adventure lovers, adrenaline seekers or simply those expecting to enjoy impressive and unique views of the city can take advantage of visiting some of the tallest buildings of the Windy City.

The 360 Chicago Observation deck sits atop one of the tallest buildings on Michigan Avenue. It’s an observatory that places you 1000 feet in the air. Guests can lean over the side of the building, see four different states on a clear day and, of course, look down at the busy streets below.

The Observation Deck used to be known as the John Hancock Observatory. Interactive screens help visitors identify the different landmarks that appear. It’s a mechanized room and visitors hold on to handlebars as the top of the room’s windows extend outward tilting you towards North Michigan Avenue down below. You can catch your breath again with a cup of coffee at the bar or as you shop for a souvenir at the gift shop.

If you haven’t had enough adrenaline rushes in Chicago, give your heart another chance to skip a beat at the Ledge and the Skydeck in Willis Tower. The Ledge is a platform that extends beyond the building’s exterior. As it is entirely made of glass (yeah! The floor too), the views will definitely take your breath away. And, it goes without saying, it’s THE place for the most perfect and original selfie you can take in Chicago!

Millennium Park
If this is your first time in Chicago, Millennium Park needs to make it to your bucket list. It’s a great place to spend time outdoors. It’s in the Loop, just north of the Art Institute of Chicago. Tourists and locals gather there to enjoy concerts, festivals, and cutting-edge architecture and art. The Crown Fountain and “The Bean” are its most popular (and most photographed) attractions. The Crown Fountain seems to spit passers-by and the shiny, smooth surface of The Bean reflects the beautiful skyline of the city.

If you like sculptures, don’t miss the Boeing Galleries! It displays contemporary sculptures outdoors!

Millenium Park is open daily from 6 in the morning to 11 at night and it’s free to visit. It can be easily reached on foot, by bike, car or metro.

Attractions for Nature Lovers
Plant lovers or visitors looking for a close contact with nature will love visiting the giant greenhouse in Garfield Park: the Garfield Park Conservatory. It is the home to over 600 species of plants. Trees in the Palm Room are gigantic and the collection of cacti and succulent in the Desert Room is stunning.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, in Lincoln Park, invites you to take a break from the noisy city and connect deeply with nature. There are plenty of hands-on interactive displays on river ecosystems and marshes that will keep children engaged. The stunning Judy Istock Butterfly Haven will have the kids in awe at the thousands of butterflies flying around.

The Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world and it is the home to over 24 million objects. It’s definitely a fascinating museum that will feed everybody’s interest for nature. Its Neoclassical halls house fossils, precious gemstones and animal and plant specimens. There’s also anthropology specimens from Tibet, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Americas, China and cultures from Africa and the Pacific Islands. But the star of the museum is the 37-meter Titanosaur in the Stanley Field Hall. 

Chicago Riverwalk
The Riverwalk hugs the banks of the main branch of the Chicago River. It’s a pedestrian path that offers locals and visitors alike the opportunity of enjoying Chicago’s skyline from a new perspective and have something to eat or drink at any of the multiple restaurants and bars available.

Museum of Science and Industry
Young children, teens, and adults will have a blast at the Museum of Science and Industry. Educational, interactive, engaging and fun exhibitions take visitors through a mirror maze, a simulated tornado, and a WWII-era U-505 German submarine. There’s also an impressive model railroad that depicts the 2,200-mile journey from Seattle to Chicago!

More Family Attractions in Chicago
Chicago is a destination that all the family can enjoy. Apart from the ones mentioned above, here you’ll find an assortment of attractions with the family in mind.

Navy Pier is one of them. An impressive Ferris wheel, Chicago Children Museum, an IMAX screen or taking a boat tour are some of the activities you can enjoy there. The Centennial Wheel, with 200 feet high offers 360-degree views of the city from enclosed gondolas!

The Chicago Children Museum surprises children and adults with impressive educational displays that are packed with knowledge and fun. Babies, toddlers, and older children can enjoy their visit and they can become explorers in the era of the dinosaurs, drivers of a fire engine or captains of their own boat!

The Kohl Children’s Museum offers 17 permanent exhibits. You can find it just 30 minutes outside of the Loop and it is definitely worth a visit. The waterworks station, the pet vet center or the Whole Foods Market will keep your children busy for hours.

Cruise Your Way In Chicago
Lake Michigan and the Chicago River invite tourists to see the city and its famous skyline from a totally different point of view. There’s an interesting selection of cruises to cater to all interests: from gentle tours to exciting speedboat rides!

The Classic Lake Tour takes you through a 40-minute sightseeing trip while at the Old Navy Training Center on Navy Pier you can jet off on a speedboat for an exciting Architecture Cruise that starts on the lake and heads as far as the Willis Tower. Similarly, the Chicago River Architecture Cruise has a more calm pace and helps you to view over 40 landmarks!

Ready For Shopping?
The Magnificent Mile takes up eight blocks of Michigan Avenue and it welcomes visitors with a whole world of shopping, dining, entertainment and stunning architecture. With more than 460 retailers and stores such as Disney, Zara, Rolex, Burberry or Nike you’ll find plenty of different products and brands to choose from.

Chicago is a wonderful city and should be included in anyone's US bucket list. What are your favorite cities in the US?

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