Growing up, I still have memories of driving to Chicago from the QCA. I remember the excitement we would feel, the moment we could see the Chicago Skyline (which back then was the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower)). Some of my favorite memories are from the Windy City!
We are lucky to live a short enough distance where we can easily do a weekend away. We compiled our 20 favorite places to check out in Chicago — so you can start planning your next getaway. This list is not comprehensive – but simply features our very favorites!
Navy Pier is where you go in Chicago for events, free public programs, attractions, culture, dining, shopping and more. It’s like a city in itself and has so much to do. You can take a sightseeing cruise – ride some rides (like the giant Centennial Wheel), there is so much to do in this iconic Chicago destination!
Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum is located at the Navy Pier. And if you have a museum membership here, they may be part of the reciprocity agreement!
Sugar Factory – Chicago and Rosemont
For my kids – the Sugar Factory is a ‘must-stop’. And it’s just what it sounds like!
The Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the US – holding over 30,000 animals!
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s great art museums, housing a collection that spans centuries and the globe.
The Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and a premiere resource for inspiring the next generation of space explorers.
The Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. World-renowned items on display include Egyptian mummies, the man-eating lions of Tsavo, and SUE, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered—and there is so much more in the research collections.
The Millennium Park Campus is the heart of Chicago. People gather here to picnic in the grass, cool off in the fountain, catch free concerts and movie screenings… and be sure to grab a photo by the big ‘bean’!
Maggie Daley Park
Another MUST STOP — Maggie Daley Park is a 20-acre public park in the Loop community area of Chicago. It has mini golf, climbing wall, a giant playground and more!
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo has FREE admission – making it a must-stop.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most stunning botanical conservatories in the nation. Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” the Conservatory showcases thousands of plant species from around the world throughout eight indoor display gardens.
Chicago Botanic Garden
Chicago Botanic Garden features 385 acres of landscaped gardens displaying millions of plants & flowers in a variety of settings.
Formerly known as the Sears Tower – the Willis Tower offers spectacular views spanning up to four states, a one-stop Chicago experience full of interactive exhibits and the famous glass ledge… we dare you to look down…!
360 Chicago is an observatory on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building with a tilting glass lookout 1000 feet up!
Blue Man Group Chicago
Blue Man Group Chicago is a comic musical & artistic show featuring lots of audience interaction with the blue-painted cast.
American Girl Store
Located in Water Tower Plaza – it is the largest American Girl store in the US. Not only does it offer a wide selection of American Girl dolls and accessories, but children can have tea with their dolls and have their pictures taken with them.
Nothing says iconic Chicago, like a Cubs game at Wrigley Field!
iFLY Indoor Skydiving
You can experience the sensation of flying in the state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnels. Safe for all ages, experience levels and abilities!
Urban Adventure Quest
It’s an urban Scavenger Hunt. It’s a 3-hour Amazing Race. It’s an interactive Adventure Tour, guided from any Smart Phone.
Comedy Sportz Chicago
Comedy Sportz Chicago is an all-ages comedy-as-a-sport, complete with referee, with two improv teams competing for applause!
Other Museums worth Noting
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
- Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
- Bronzeville Children’s Museum
- Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration
- Busy Beaver Button Museum
- Museum of Illusions
- WNDR Museum
- National Museum of Mexican Art
- Chicago History Museum
- American Writers Museum
- Chicago Sports Museum
- Chicago Architecture Center