The city boasts vibrant shopping districts, ample nightlife venues, and world-renowned museums, among other attractions. A trip to Grant Park is a must for culture enthusiasts; there, you can immerse yourself in some of the city’s most popular cultural institutions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum. For a Windy City-centric education, set sail on a Chicago River or Lake Michigan architectural boat cruise, where you’ll gain insight into the city’s iconic skyscrapers, including the Willis Tower and Tribune Tower. Explore the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, take in a concert, and marvel at the state-of-the-art sound system, which rivals that of any indoor concert hall. Savor a leisurely stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk, discover an up-and-coming neighborhood, or refine your humor at The Second City’s improv comedy show. Come experience the myriad facets of Chicago, where excitement and wonder await at every turn.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago boasts an impressive and diverse collection of nearly 300,000 works from all over the world, spanning from the Byzantine era to contemporary art. A standout is the expansive display of impressionist and post-impressionist works, showcasing the country’s most noteworthy collection. Visitors can marvel at renowned pieces such as Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Sky above Clouds IV” and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” as well as intriguing artifacts, from European armor to the Thorne Miniature Rooms, demonstrating interior design and furnishings over centuries. The Art Institute also features traveling exhibitions, showcasing an array of artists and genres. Conveniently located in downtown Chicago, accessibility is easily accessible via public transport. For a refined cultural experience, the Art Institute of Chicago is not to be missed.

Grand Park and Buckingham Fountain

Revel in nature’s green embrace at the expansive Grant Park, fondly known as “Chicago’s front yard.” This vast 313-acre patch of paradise begins at the eastern limit of the Loop and extends all the way to the northern cusp of the Near South Side. For the uninitiated, it is a must-visit destination as this urban oasis is home to several of Chicago’s top attractions, such as The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Art Institute of Chicago. (The magnificent Millennium Park is also nestled in the northwest section of Grant Park.) Take your pick from well-manicured gardens, sprawling meadows, tranquil walking trails, and even a couple of baseball diamonds. The pièce de résistance of this green expanse, however, is the regal Buckingham Fountain that punctuates its heart. This behemoth tiered water feature is one of the largest fountains globally, boasting 133 jets that cascade water up to an astonishing height of 150 feet. Catch its 20-minute, hourly colored choreographed displays that run from 8 am until 11 pm in summer (depending on weather) and end with a nighttime spectacle of music and light at 10:35 pm. A true icon of Chicago’s skyline, Grant Park is an unmissable experience for visitors and locals alike.

Millennium Park and Cloud Gate

A visit to Chicago is incomplete without a trip to the renowned Millennium Park. Located in the Loop, just north of the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago, this sprawling 25-acre space features exceptional art, stunning architecture, and exquisite landscaping, which sets the stage for countless concerts and festivals. Most visitors flock to the Park to witness the mesmerizing Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, fondly known as “The Bean”. Spanish artist Jaume Plensa created the Crown Fountain with two towering 50-foot structures, situated opposite each other on a reflective pool. These structures’ advanced LED screens project vivid imagery of over 1,000 different Chicago residents, who appear to be spitting water on passersby from their perfectly aligned spouts. This remarkable sight runs from mid-spring through mid-fall, while the faces are projected year-round. On the other hand, the British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor created Cloud Gate, a 110-ton stainless-steel sculpture, shaped like a bean. The Bean’s elliptical design reflects the magnificent Chicago skyline, making it the quintessential backdrop to capture a memorable souvenir photograph of your reflection.

Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is boasting an impressive and diverse collection of approximately 200 species, ranging from the majestic zebras to adorable sloths and formidable hippos, this enchanting sanctuary offers visitors a chance to observe these mesmerizing creatures in their natural habitats. Immerse yourself in the captivating ambiance of the sprawling Regenstein Center for African Apes, where the gregarious gorillas reign supreme. Alternatively, go for a refreshing plunge in the Kovler Seal Pool, and witness the playful antics of harbor seals up-close and personal. For the ultimate experience, ensure to catch the seal training and feeding sessions held daily at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.
Satisfied travelers have praised the impeccable grounds of the zoo and commended the absence of an entry fee, making it an accessible and enjoyable activity for all. Additionally, as the parking lot has a limited capacity, public transportation, or a taxi may be the optimal mode of transportation to undertake the memorable trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

360 Chicago Observation Deck

Chicago’s iconic skyline has long been a must-see attraction for visitors to the city, and there’s no better place to take in the stunning views than at the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Set atop the John Hancock Center (also known as 875 North Michigan Avenue), this remarkable structure looms 1,000 feet high above The Magnificent Mile. With its expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, the 360 CHICAGO offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city – on a clear day, you can even see four states. Interactive screens help visitors identify different landmarks, while the TILT room provides an adrenaline-pumping experience that has you tilting towards the lively North Michigan Avenue below. For another unforgettable perspective, 3D art experience CloudWalk, opened in 2022, transports visitors onto a crane platform up in the clouds. For those seeking a more relaxed visit, the cafe and bar offer a chance to sip coffee or wine and take in the view. And don’t miss the gift shop to snag a souvenir of this spectacular experience.