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The Top 10 Things to Do and See in Chicago
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The Top 10 Things to Do and See in Chicago

Picture of Benjamin Smith
Updated: 9 February 2017
Despite its daunting size, Chicago remains one of the most tourist-friendly cities in the United States, reporting almost 50 million visitors last year alone. And while the metro area is home to much-trodden meccas like the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum, there are hosts of other attractions peppering the town to keep visitors on their toes.
Chicago Reflection
Chicago Reflection | © Roman Boed/Flickr
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Go To The Lincoln Park Zoo

Nothing tops a free attraction, especially when it’s a world-class zoo! The Lincoln Park Zoo offers a real kick-start to any trip through the Windy City, with exhibits and animal houses from all corners of the world. There’s the Regenstein Center for African Apes and the Kovier Lion House, along with flamingos and alligators and lizards and amphibians galore; perfect for all ages and just divine on a summer’s day!

Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark St, Chicago IL, USA, +1 312-742-2000

Mahatma Gandhi and Che Guevara, Mural in Wicker Park
Mahatma Gandhi and Che Guevara, Mural in Wicker Park | © Holly Penny/Flickr

See Art At Acclaimed Museums

Home to some of the most famous masterworks in the world, every culture-hungry visitor to Chicago should be sure to make a beeline for the Art Institute of Chicago, where Grant Wood’s classic American Gothic and Edward Hopper’s famous Nighthawks adorn the walls. For an alternative glimpse of the city’s art, consider hitting the National Museum of Mexican Art and its sprawling rooms of ancient Mesoamerican pieces and contemporary Mexican and Mexican-American works.

Dia De Muertos XXV, National Museum of Mexican Art
Dia De Muertos XXV, National Museum of Mexican Art | © Jacinto Ariza/Flickr

Take In A Show

Chicago is home to some of the best comedy troupes in the nation. Since opening in 1959 in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, The Second City has delivered high-octane improvisational comedy that rarely fails to get the room laughing out loud. And if you’re here for long enough, why not consider improving your comedic timing with a performance class in the city, or head to the iO Chicago theater, which offers cheaper and more varied shows at multiple venues throughout town.

Walk Around Pilsen

Visit this Southside neighborhood for an adventure away from the traditional tourist meccas of Chicago. Named after the Bohemian city in Czechoslavakia, Pilsen is home to a thriving Mexican-American community and is primed as one of the metropolis‘ up-and-coming neighborhoods. Consider hitting the Skylark bar for a drink off-the-beaten-track, and don’t leave without sampling some of the area’s super-tasty, inexpensive Mexican food.

Buildings in Chicago, Illinois
Buildings in Chicago, Illinois | © Sam Howzit/Flickr
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Get A Room With A View

The Chicago skyline is one of the most iconic in all of America, so get up high and get a view.Every tourist in Chicago should visit the Willis Tower at some point in their trip, as the panoramas from this 442-meter-tall skyscraper are unparalleled in the city. Look to visit The Signature Room on the 95th floor for cocktails to match the tremendous skyline outside.

Willis Tower, 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago IL, USA, +1 312-875-0066

Catch A Game

Proceed with caution: Chicago sports fans are amongst the most passionate in the country. With sports teams like the Cubs, the Bulls, and the Blackhawks, Chicago possess a franchise team at any point of the season. However, if a professional sporting match isn’t quite your scene, look to the bocce ball courts in Little Italy, where neighborly competition between local regulars rages on during the day.

Chicago's Only Blues Bus
Chicago’s Only Blues Bus | © goatling/Flickr

Listen To The Blues

Perhaps Chicago’s biggest contribution to American popular history is its take on the Blues. Legendary bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon all hailed from these parts, and are most famous for inventing a new Chicago-style electric blues sound that took the charts by storm. When in town, be sure to visit Rosa’s Lounge on the near Northwest Side, or Lee’s Unleaded Blues on the Southside for some authentic Chicago tunes.

Eat Pizza

There is nothing better after a long day of sightseeing than a Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza. This crusty, saucy, cheese-filled mass can quench the hunger of any visitor who can bring themselves to accept such an over-the-top rendition of the traditional Italian dish. We recommend Pequod’s Pizza in Lincoln Park for their great interpretation of the staple, and, if you’re not quite into the heavy Chicago-style, try Piece Brewery & Pizzeria in Wicker Park for more traditional pan-baked pizzas. But yea: Just make sure you eat pizza in Chicago.

Visit A Cultural Hub Museum

As the third largest city in the USA, Chicago has an impressive list of museums within its limits. From more traditional museums like the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium, to more alternative museums like the Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Broadcast Communications, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago has an exhibition to suit virtually any traveler.

Take A Tour

For two unparalleled Chicago tours, look no further than the Chicago Film Tour and the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust tour. Visiting filming spots from the likes of The Dark Knight, Road to Perdition, and The Blues Brothers, the Chicago Film Tour is a fun bus ride whose charismatic guides will ensure your enjoyment. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust tour on the other hand, explores various structures designed by the late architect and gives short histories of the famous man’s life and work.