Chicago

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.

Why It’s Cool: Beneath the Gothic Chicago Tribune Tower, Art Deco NBC Tower, and bling Trump Tower, a garden of hot-pink and purple flowers attracts monarch butterflies to the south bank of the Chicago River.

Think of it as the world’s tallest recycling effort. Or maybe it’s just an exceptionally ambitious retrofit.

In Lakeview off Southport Avenue, bright red lights illuminate the sign above an old-fashioned marquee at this retro theater.

Whether you want a pair of skinny jeans or a black cocktail dress, visit sister stores Veruca Salt Fun and Veruca Salt Fancy. For basics like Grassroot T-shirts and Collective Clothing dresses, head to Veruca Salt Fun.

Quality over quantity is the rule of thumb at this small, independently owned bookstore in Lincoln Square. Behind a glass storefront brightened by flower-filled planters, the shop’s interior is adorned with light hardwood floors, burgundy walls, and plush armchairs beneath a row of windows.

This Lakeview shop is ideal for women who want the unique selection of a boutique but with more affordable price tags.

Located in Wicker Park, this Mexican bar and café is known for its well-balanced margaritas and its guacamole, which is prepared tableside and often hailed as the best in Chicago.

Eleven months out of the year, this unassuming River North storefront goes unadorned, with no signage, no merchandise displays and a hard-to-find entrance that requires visitors to be buzzed in.

The Water Tower and Pumping Station were the only public buildings left standing after Miss O’Leary’s cow allegedly knocked over a lantern and ignited the greatest fire in Chicago history in 1871.

An homage to Swedish-American history and culture, this three-story museum is located in Andersonville, one of the country's most concentrated areas of Swedish culture.

Home baker turned professional pastry chef Cindy Levine opened this Lincoln Park sweet shop in 2002. Located on Webster Avenue, the bakery's exterior is marked by a yellow and white striped awning and a stained glass cupcake surrounded by pastel color blocks.

One of the first fashion boutiques in Bucktown, p.45 was founded by Tricia Tunstall and Jessica Darrow in 1997. Since the day it opened, the shop has offered cutting-edge women's clothing and accessories from both established and up-and-coming designers.

Started in the 1930’s and now the city’s oldest continually operating tour boat company, Mercury is all about fun, laid-back sightseeing.