Things to do in

The Mecca of the Midwest is famous for its architectural beauty, vibrant culture, and colorful past.

Top activities

Top sights in Chicago

All activities

Our most recommended things to do in Chicago

Chicago: 360 Chicago Observation Deck General Admission

Chicago: 360 Chicago Observation Deck General Admission

Marvel at the views from 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue with this ticket to the 360 CHICAGO observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center. Save time with skip-the-line access to this popular attraction. Head up to the 360 CHICAGO observation deck to take in breathtaking views of Chicago’s lakefront and view the city skyline from above. Take a peek at 4 neighboring states from this height. Feel the thrill of a 40-second ride in one of North America's fastest elevators to the observation deck to experience what 'Travel & Leisure Magazine' voted one of the best views in America. Enjoy an interactive exhibit on the Ground Floor that highlights Chicago’s rich history and showcases 9 of the city’s culturally unique neighborhoods. On the 94th floor, explore the history and architecture of the magnificent city stretched out before you. To enhance your experience, download the Magnicity App for a guided tour right from your smartphone. The App includes an interactive viewfinder, unique facts, stories and recommendations. Enjoy a thrilling photo opportunity at CloudWalk, a breathtaking 3D mural with the optical illusion of walking in the clouds. Relax and take in the view at the 94th floor’s Cloud Bar which serves up iconic Chicago snacks, neighborhood-inspired Cocktails, and a local brew, Moody Tongue, on tap. By purchasing this timed ticket, you get to skip the ticket desk and present your barcoded voucher to security to be scanned - you may have to wait in a short line at security, then head directly into the Ground Floor Exhibits, and then on to the Elevator Line.

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Experience the views from the Centennial Wheel at the Historic Navy Pier in Chicago with this attraction ticket. Be suspended over Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Marvel at the Chicago skyline and gaze out over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Choose between two options: With the Regular Barcoded ticket, skip the ticket line and enter the line to board the wheel. The Fastpass Express ticket allows you to skip both lines, and gives you VIP access. Both tickets allow you to visit within 7 days of your scheduled ticket date. Enjoy the Centennial Wheel, which was built in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Navy Pier opening. Featuring 42 gondolas, each holding 8 people, it operates year-round. They also feature LED lighting, padded seats, TV screens, and speakers, as well as panoramic windows on all 4 sides. A ride on the wheel gives you plenty of time to enjoy these panoramic views of Chicago as they unfold around you, and allows you to visit the top three times. Relax and take in the view, or get your camera out to snap pictures of the ever-changing Chicago landscape.

Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

Enjoy an unrivaled view over the city of Chicago on a trip up the city's Willis Tower. This famous building, once known as the Sears Tower, is not only home to a Skydeck on the 103rd floor, but it also features The Ledge, a series of 4 glass-paneled boxes that extend out from the building's facade to give visitors a view straight down. As you wind through the ground levels of the Willis Tower, you will be surrounded by museum-quality exhibits highlighting the iconic tower. Learn about Chicago's rich history and culture through these informative visuals. Watch a video presentation, "Reaching for the Sky," where you will be briefed on the history of the building and of architecture in Chicago. Then step into your elevator and you will be amazed at how quickly it ascends. As you travel, your multimedia-equipped elevator will inform you about your vertical progress. Upon reaching the 103rd floor, step out onto the Skydeck, which offers views spanning over 50 miles and across 4 states. Then summon your courage to step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony that hangs over the edge, for vertigo-inducing views 1,353 feet (about 412 meters) straight down to the city below! Download the Skydeck Mobile App for a free viewfinder which points out many of Chicago’s notable landmarks. Learn more about sights like Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, Grant Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum of Natural History.

Chicago: Architecture River Cruise Skip-the-Ticket Line

Chicago: Architecture River Cruise Skip-the-Ticket Line

Skip the lines at the ticket office and climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise for a 75-minute cruise of all 3 branches of the Chicago River, and marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Get an insight into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. Your expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building, Trump Tower, Marina City, Willis Tower, and more. Relax with a glass of something cold from the cash bar, as you cruise the Windy City’s waterway, and learn its status as a modern metropolis and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. End your tour in the same place where you boarded the boat.

Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts Guided Walking Tour

Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts Guided Walking Tour

Discover a different side of Chicago on a family-friendly guided tour and hear the tales of the ghosts, and gangsters, that haunt the city. Explore the Chicago South Loop district with your historian guide, uncovering the many mysteries hidden behind every turn. Meet your guide in the heart of the Chicago South Loop, known as a notorious vice district during the 1920s and 30s. Stroll through his now upmarket area of the city which was once home to underground speakeasies, secret tunnels, and bootleggers. Hear the true stories of Chicago's bloody past and the gangsters who caused havoc in the city. See the places notorious figures such as Al Capone used to party, make deals, and carry out "business". You will also enjoy a short rest stop at a famous former gangster hangout. Discover the legends of the ghosts that are said to lure along the Chicago Riverwalk and the aptly named Death Alley. Stop at haunted locations including Palmer House, and the Chicago Theatre, before finishing with a visit to the Congress Hotel, one of the most haunted places in Illinois.

Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour by Open-top Bus

Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour by Open-top Bus

Experience the best of Chicago at your own pace from the unique vantage point of a Big Bus tour. Board our open-top, double-decker bus as you take a relaxing ride through the city's most iconic landmarks, from the Magnificent Mile to Millennium Park. Hop on and off at our convenient stops throughout the city to discover Chicago's vibrant neighborhoods and world-famous attractions including 360 CHICAGO, Willis Tower, the Chicago Riverwalk, Museum Campus, The Bean, and more. Spend your day shopping on Magnificent Mile, riding the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, or sampling authentic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. With our flexible and convenient tour, create your own itinerary and explore the city at your own pace. Track bus arrivals in real time with our free downloadable app so you always know when the next bus is coming. Marvel at the stunning skyline as you enjoy professional digital commentary in multiple languages, with earbuds provided. Hear expert insight into Chicago's rich history and culture, as well as tips on the best places to eat, drink, and shop. With comfortable seating and panoramic views, our Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour is the perfect way to see the city. Hop off the tour as many times as you like within the validity period of your ticket and simply hop on again when you're ready to keep exploring.

Chicago: CityPASS® with Tickets to 5 Top Attractions

Chicago: CityPASS® with Tickets to 5 Top Attractions

Visiting Chicago? Experience 5 must-see attractions, handpicked and packaged together at a 48% savings, with Chicago CityPASS® tickets. Spend less time planning and more time exploring. Visit the attractions at your own pace, in any order. Valid for 9 consecutive days including the first day of use. Get admission to 5 attractions. Includes: •Shedd Aquarium- All-access admission, including all habitats, Animal Spotlights and exhibits, including seasonal Stingray Touch, plus a 4-D Experience (subject to availability) •Skydeck Chicago- Expedited Entry Plus choose 3 of the following: •Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour- Architecture River Tour •Field Museum- All-Access Pass, including admission to all permanent and regularly priced ticketed exhibitions (specially ticketed exhibitions outside of All-Access Pass may be subject to additional charges) •360 CHICAGO Observation Deck- Express Entry Admission •Museum of Science and Industry- Museum entry (Science Storms, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, YOU! The Experience, The Blue Paradox, and much more), plus one timed-entry experience (Giant Dome Theater film or Motion Ride) •Art Institute of Chicago - Fast Pass Admission to permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions •Adler Planetarium - All Exhibitions + Two Sky Shows

Chicago: Griffin Museum of Science and Industry Ticket

Chicago: Griffin Museum of Science and Industry Ticket

Enjoy hands-on activities and live science experiments with this ticket to the Griffin Museum of Science and Industry. Be inspired to innovate as you explore this museum that is housed in the only remaining building from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Discover 14 acres of fun hands-on exhibits allow you to learn by doing. Take a closer look at the science behind the weather with recreations of natures most powerful phenomena: tornados, lightning, fire, tsunamis, sunlight, avalanches and atoms. See a giant Tesla coil that zaps 1.2 million volts of lightning above your head. Take a tour of your digestive system. Go on a run in a human sized hamster wheel. Board a 727 hanging from the ceiling and tour a fully-functioning eco-home. Visit a real toy factory staffed by 12 moving robots and a 2,000 sq ft assembly line. Descend into an Illinois Coal mine. Learn about both the history and the future of space travel at the Henry Crown Space Center. Embark on an exhilarating journey where science meets fiction at the 007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond exhibition! Discover the captivating blend of real-world science and imaginative storytelling behind the iconic cars, gadgets, and props from the James Bond film series. Step into the world of "Q" and test your spy skills as you design spy vehicles, dangle from a steel beam, and create daring stunts. Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to explore the science and technology that have shaped the world's most famous spy. Open through October 27, 2024, this exhibition is not included in general admission and requires an additional ticket. Located just a few miles South of Downtown Chicago, with convenient underground parking, this is the place to discover the joys of science through interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, live science experiments, special events, and 3-D movie screenings.

Chicago: Mob and Crime Bus Tour

Chicago: Mob and Crime Bus Tour

Experience Chicago’s underworld of criminals and gangsters on a luxury bus tour. Find out how some of the world’s most famous criminals, mobsters, and gangsters conned their way through the city. Ride comfortably in an enclosed, climate-controlled bus, as you see famous Chicago crime scenes that range from the 19th century through modern times. Unlike Chicago walking tours, this Mob and Crime Tour isn’t affected by the Windy City weather. Learn from a local expert tour guide giving interactive live commentary about Al Capone, the Untouchables, the Chicago Mob, John Dillinger, Terrible Tommy O'Connor, H. H. Holmes, the Chicago Black Sox, Leopold and Loeb, bank heists, Cap George Streeter, and more. Grab your camera for a drive-by shooting of the historic criminal courthouse, a Chicago architectural landmark where some of Chicago's most notorious cases were tried. You'll also view historic video footage, receive an informative pamphlet with photos, and can even take part in a crime quiz. Stake out crime scenes like the Biograph Theatre, Holy Name Cathedral, Clark Street Bridge, and other Chicago landmarks. See the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, one of Chicago's most notorious murder scenes. Get off the bus and walk the path that notorious Chicago gangsters John Dillinger and Hymie Weiss followed just before their deaths. Travel into the criminal past of Chicago's River North, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Loop, and Magnificent Mile neighborhoods.

Chicago: American Writers Museum Flexible Date Entry Ticket

Chicago: American Writers Museum Flexible Date Entry Ticket

Learn about the history of writing and how it has shaped American culture with a ticket to the American Writers Museum in Chicago. Stroll through exhibits that appeal to all 5 senses, explore the intricacies of language through games, and write your own story on a vintage typewriter. Enter the museum on any day within 14 days of your chosen date. Connect with your favorite authors and writings from more than 5 centuries while exploring and discovering works of every type, including poetry, lyrics, speeches, drama, fiction, nonfiction, and journalism. Explore the permanent exhibits of the museum. Start with the Nation of Writers Gallery and follow the interactive timeline. Stop at the surprise bookshelf and engage all 5 of your scenes. Watch videos, see dioramas, and marvel at the Word Waterfall. Next, head to the Mind of a Writer Gallery for insights into how writers think. Learn about the daily discipline and habits necessary to get the work done and the deep understanding of the language required to make the writing sing. Continue to the Chicago Gallery honoring Chicago poets, novelists, journalists, and writers who found inspiration from the Windy City. Next, bring your kids to the Children's Gallery and relax in one of the cozy reading areas or the interactive reading space.

Frequently asked questions about Chicago

What top attractions are a must-see in Chicago?

The must-see attractions in Chicago are:

See all must-see sights in Chicago

Insider tips: Explore Chicago like a local

Megan & Aram is a travel blog that focuses mostly on travel in the Nordics and Eastern Europe with the occasional trip beyond those regions. We love coffee, promoting small businesses, and sports.

What should I do on my first trip to Chicago?

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and there is an endless number of things to do for every type of visitor. If you're visiting Chicago for the first time, start your day at Milennium Park and The Bean - which has, over time, become a symbol of the city. If you're lucky, you may even get to experience a free concert or gathering there during your trip! Don't leave the area before heading out onto Navy Pier for a few photos.

You can't visit Chicago as a first-timer without heading to The Skydeck at Willis Tower. What was previously known as the Sears Tower is now the Willis Tower and is one of the tallest buildings in the Americas! You can step out onto the glass-bottom Skydeck for an epic view of the city and since you'll be 1,353 into the air, you will be able to see everything!

Some museums worth checking out are the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.

If you need an escape from the city, there are plenty of day trips from Chicago that will give you the downtime you need.

What are some hidden gems to see in Chicago?

Chicago is teeming with hidden gems and one of the best places to visit to experience one of the city's most underrated places is the 606 - a park and trail system that has been transformed from its days as an old railroad line. The 2.7-mile trail goes through the city connecting various neighborhoods. Another hidden gem is Promontory Point which is located in Burnham Park. This man-made peninsula offers some of the top views in the city - and you can see the skyline and Lake Michigan while sitting in a relaxing spot. Chicago also has some of the coolest neighborhoods and districts of any US city! And, many of these neighborhoods have large concentrations of different ethnic groups, making it like a trip around the globe without ever leaving the Midwest city.

How much time should I spend in Chicago?

You can see the best of Chicago on a long weekend trip, but a week is an ideal amount of time if you're really wanting to explore the city deeper. You can see the main highlights on a long weekend trip, though. To maximize your time, sign up for city tours and utilize the 'L', or metro system.

What food is Chicago known for?

It would be remiss of me to mention the food of Chicago and not start off with deep-dish pizza! Originating at Pizzeria Uno in 1943, this style of pizza is beloved by residents of the Windy City and it has become Chicago's most iconic dish! Some other foods to try when visiting are Chicago style hot dogs (made famous during the Great Depression), Italian beef, and Chicago BBQ. You can also dive into the city's Eastern European history with some tasty perogies and potato pancakes.

What is the best way to get around Chicago?

While renting a car may be the most ideal option for those looking to take day trips, Chicago is a very well-connected city that lends itself to walking and public transportation!

You will find plenty of taxis, public buses, and bike sharing options within Chicago. The city is also home to the L-train, or the city's metro operated by the Chicago Transit Authority. The L-train stands for 'elevated train' and it serves over 140 stations on its 8 train lines.

What are the best months to visit Chicago?

Winter can be brutally cold in Chicago (and snowy), making the best time to visit the city summer (or the shoulder season). The summers in Chicago are never exceptionally hot and the greenery makes the area pleasant and inviting. Lake Michigan also offers plenty of opportunities during the summer months, as well. You can swim on its beaches or take a boat out into the lake.

What are the best neighborhoods to visit in Chicago?

Chicago has some of the most dynamic neighborhoods of any city I have ever been in! Every one has something interesting and unique to offer! Some of the most popular neighborhoods are Wicker Park (lots of cool bars and cafes), Logan Square (young professionals and hip establishments), Andersonville (known for its Swedish history and Midsommarfest), Pilsen (known for its art scene), Ukrainian Village (lots of Ukrainian history, art museums, and businesses), Lincoln Square (German history with many Bavarian bakeries, etc), and more.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

Lincoln Park is a favorite Chicago district for food lovers! One thing that the neighborhood is famous for is its brunch options! You can find many international restaurants here - but brunch is a big deal in Lincoln Park and you can find everything from vegetarian brunch options to French toast flights and DIY mimosas!

Another area of the city known for its trend-setting food options is the West Loop. The West Loop is located in the former meatpacking district and now has so much to offer food lovers - from fine dining restaurants to celebrity chefs opening up new concepts to Chicago residents.

If you love Mexican food - head to Pilsen and indulge in some of the city's best Mexican restaurants.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

Chicago is a shopper's paradise and you will find delightful shopping everywhere! Michigan Avenue is the city's most famous shopping thoroughfare - with shops lining the streets and mega malls located along one of the city's busiest streets. The Shops at North Bridge and the 900 North Michigan Shops are some of the places to check out when there. Beyond Michigan Avenue, you can find great shopping on Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park and cool vintage finds on Belmont Avenue at The Belmont Army. There are also many other second-hand shops and indie stores if you head east on Belmont.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Chicago?

If you're a first-time visitor to Chicago, you will want to stay downtown and near many of the main sights and museums. Other good and safe options are Lakeview, The Loop, and Lincoln Park. All are well connected by public transportation. However, if you're looking for a more 'local' experience, check out hotel options in Logan Square, Lincoln Square, and Wicker Park. There are plenty of food options and hip bars and hang out in!

What's are 4 best tips for a person traveling to Chicago?

1) Don't let yourself get overwhelmed. This is the US' third most populous city and it is a lot to take in! Plan your trip ahead and then try to stay in one area and explore it deeply. You can save additional sights and areas for a future trip.

2) Heading to Chicago in winter? Bundle up! They don't call it the Windy City for nothing! It is cold, windy, and snowy! But, you will still find plenty to do in the city during the winter months that it is always worth a visit!

3) If you're visiting different neighborhoods, research the history of the place and find pieces of those history throughout. For example, if you're visiting Andersonville, you will quickly realize that it has extensive Swedish history. Stop into Swedish bakeries and shops and see how this culture has meshed together with Chicago's throughout the years. It truly is one of the things that makes the Midwest city so unique!

4) Take the L-train! This transport option is cheap, efficient, and the best way to get around the city. You can save so much money by avoiding driving around and parking and just taking the L around.

What should people avoid doing in Chicago?

Avoid thinking that this city is similar to Los Angeles and New York. Chicago retains that Midwestern 'down-to-earth' charm that can get lost a bit on the coasts. The city is sports-centric and bars are super social and friendly. Be sure to go in ready to meet people and make some new friends along the way!

Another thing to avoid is eating at the chain restaurants. While these places are predictable and offer a 'secure' experience - Chicago has some insanely good food options and there is no better way to learn about the city than through its food!

What are your top 5 favourite GetYourGuide experiences in Chicago?

1) Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

2) Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

3) Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour

4) Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

5) Chicago: Favorite Foods Guided Walking Tour

What is one thing that surprised you about Chicago?

I have been to Chicago more times than I can count, but the one thing that always surprises me is how friendly everyone is! Big cities tend to be a little unfriendly but Chicago is the absolute opposite. Every time I head there, I meet new people and make new connections and it is difficult to leave. I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up moving there one day and calling the Windy City my home.

What are the best annual events in Chicago?

Chicago has several events annually and one of the city's most popular is the Taste of Chicago, the largest food festival in the world! You'll find a lot of live music, food, and more! It is a must-visit summer festival in Chicago. The city also has several music festivals not only dedicated to popular bands, but also different genres of music. You can head to the Chicago Jazz Festival or the Chicago Blues Festival and see how both styles of music have made an impact on Illinois' largest city.

Top Attractions in Chicago

Things to Do in Chicago

Cities in United States

Explore Chicago

Read our complete guide to Chicago, or discover the city's best experiences.

What people are saying about Chicago

Overall rating

(16,697 reviews)

Baylor was awesome, we had a good time and seemed like an easy walking tour didn’t feel the almost 2 hrs., felt it was a big group in the beginning but our tour guide made sure we heard everything. Thanks Baylor!

Avery was amazing! Great storyteller, great comedic timing and enthusiastic. I appreciate his energy.

Love Fields, one of the best Natural history museum, if not the best, in the world!

seeing the things that pass by regularly from a different perspective

An absolute must when visiting Chicago. Do first thing.