Things to do in Chicago
Chicago’s diverse blend of design, art, culture, music, and architecture means you’ll never run out of things to do in Chicago. For a relaxing, loosely structured day, visit Millennium Park to take in views of the Chicago waterfront and admire Cloud Gate, Chicago’s famous reflective bean sculpture. Stimulate your artistic side with a visit to Museum Campus, which houses three museums in one, and showcases the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus skeleton, among other amazing treasures. One of the most popular things to do in Chicago is to visit the Chicago Blues Festival. Taking place over three days and across five stages, this festival, celebrating Chicago’s foundational role in the blues movement, draws more than half a million fans from around the world to celebrate the scene’s past, present and future. Created in 1984 to honor Muddy Waters, one of the progenitors of the Chicago blues style, the festival has hosted famous performers like BB King, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, and Chuck Berry. (Jazz lovers can take in the Chicago Jazz Festival, too).
More cerebral Chicago activities come courtesy of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which operates nearly 90 different tours, which you can take by boat, by bus, or on foot, and which cover everything from the city’s ultramodern skyscrapers to the historic downtown district and tours of various neighbourhoods. The foundation also organizes an Appetite for Design series, which merges culinary and architectural appreciation at some of Chicago’s top restaurants.
Ideal for those who spend more time in the air than on the ground, the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Athletic Club is actually located inside O’Hare International Airport, within walking distance of all terminals.
Bring your own bottle of wine and an appetite for gourmet Italian, and Terragusto will take it from there, creating a dining experience that is both festive and authentic.
Said to be the country’s oldest jazz club, The Green Mill has been a Chicago landmark for more than a century.
Named for the famous Grateful Dead tune, this Oak Street boutique has been a Chicago standby since it opened in 1972. Chic yet comfortable separates from Splendid, Ella Moss, and Vince fill the racks.
Established by pharmacist Peter Merz in 1875, this old-fashioned apothecary has been serving Chicago natives for more than a century. The flagship Lincoln Square location (the other is in the Loop) is set behind a wood-framed storefront lined with a row of stained-glass panels.
This self-proclaimed “liquor spa,” located in the Near North Side, combines the styling of a lounge with the “treatments” of a spa.
Proprietor Karl Sorensen travels to Europe and South America three times a year to bring back rare finds for his home and tableware shop. Whether it’s a vintage belt from the Italian army or a Victorian-era teapot, Sorenson has a flair for unearthing items that aren’t mass-produced.
Sailing on either Chicago River or Lake Michigan, the educational boat tours offered by Chicago Line Cruises are some of the city's most popular sightseeing opportunities.
The Organic Gardener, based out of Glencoe, IL, works with a range of gardening skill levels, from aspiring, novice gardeners to more experienced green thumbs hoping to integrate a more organic perspective.
Men’s and women’s accessories and bags, furniture, and ceramics sit side-by-side in this design-driven boutique. Inspired by Colette in Paris and New York City’s Takashimaya, Pamela Hewett opened Stitch in 1998 to share some of her favorite lifestyle trappings.
With overstuffed royal-purple chairs, a French oil painting, and architectural books scattered throughout, Sofitel’s Le Bar feels like a nobleman’s drawing room. Settle in and peruse the His and Hers cocktail menu; it’s divided for Venus and Mars residents and their gender-specific palates.
Established in 1971, this independent shop specializes in high-quality used, rare, and discounted books.