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.

The airy, bright atmosphere of Greektown’s Atropolis is a welcome respite from the concrete of the city.

A distinguished independent research institution with over 1.5 million books, the stately Newberry Library holds free exhibitions and lectures, all open to the public. Whether or not you’re in the mood to crack some spines, the magnificence of the building itself is worth the visit.

Specializing in artisanal cheese, bread, and wine, Pastoral is a neighborhood favorite. Its sandwiches, made with crusty bread from beloved Bennison’s Bakery and stacked with top-quality meats and cheeses, are some of the best in the city.

Founded by two Polish brothers, Gene’s boasts 40 varieties of artisan smoked meats and naturally cased sausages, prepared in-house, as well as an equally impressive assortment of imported beers and wines, and European candies, condiments, and foodstuffs for picnicking.

Experience downtown at your own pace with Chicago’s Hop On Hop Off Tours. Tours leave from 14 downtown locations every 20-30 minutes. Visitors can buy tickets at various locations, including the Park Shop below the Bean in Millennium Park or online.

Located at the south end of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, the Chicago History Museum features exhibitions about the city’s compelling past.

Owned by a mother and daughter team, Tula sells a well-edited collection of European and contemporary designs in a charming vintage brownstone. Find the perfect open back sweater, linen scarf, and beaded clutch in this welcoming boutique.

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.