Chicago

Chicago Travel Guide

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.

One of Chicago’s oldest used bookstores and a Wicker Park institution, Myopic Books offers bibliophiles more than 80,000 editions, including some collectibles.

A stellar bourbon list and a thoughtful craft beer selection make this vintage tin-ceilinged tavern worth the trip off the beaten path. Dim lighting and cool jazz set a chilled-out, retro mood. The closest thing to sports action is the free shuffleboard game in the back.

A friendly neighborhood hangout, Café Marianao serves sandwiches and café con leche in a bustling, bilingual atmosphere. Even if your Spanish is rusty, the satiating effect of a cubano doble will break down any language barriers.

Chicago Gallery News provides free tours of River North’s many galleries on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet the guide on the corner of Franklin and Chicago (in front of the Starbucks) for a tour of four art galleries.

Founded on the principle of supporting local farmers and artisans, the Chicago French Market houses a collection of vendors selling anything from olive oil soap to grass-fed beef. Shop for artisanal goods and grab a snack at one of the several prepared-food purveyors.

A Lakeview institution, Schubas Tavern has featured nightly live music for more than 20 years. The building itself, constructed by the Schlitz Brewery more than 100 years ago, is a Chicago Historic Landmark, and on the exterior two old Schlitz globe logos are still visible.

Always wished you could play the washboard? The Old Town School can help. They also offer lessons in playing the guitar, saxophone, or djembe drums, as well as gospel singing and Flamenco and hip-hop dancing, to name a few.

It’s only fitting that Chicago—home to the second-largest Mexican population in the United States—would have a world-class museum dedicated to Latino arts.

Several distinguished stages make up the Loop’s theater district. Goodman, Chicago’s oldest and largest nonprofit theater, has entertained locals and visitors for more than 80 years. Catch a production in Goodman’s landmark building. Check the website for upcoming performances.

Started in the mid-seventies in a church basement by Jeff Perry, Terry Kinney, and Gary Sinise, the famed Steppenwolf Theater Company now has 43 ensemble members, including John Malkovich, Joan Allen, and John Mahoney, and puts on early 700 performances, annually.

Specializing in outsider and contemporary pop art, Mars Gallery is said to possess a special energy due to its location atop a purported vortex within the earth. Whether you’re a believer of the energetic vortex or not, the regular exhibitions are worth a visit to this one-of-a-kind gallery.

The ultimate shopping experience, 900 North Michigan boasts six floors of more than 70 luxury retailers, comprised of both national brands and boutiques, including Gucci, Michael Kors, and Bloomingdale’s.