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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While wandering down Milwaukee Avenue, be sure to stop at the indie-minded startup Shop 1021, which sells a selection of well-edited gifts such as Fred glassware.
Enjoy great wines and knowledgeable, friendly service in this former warehouse/current wine bar. The warmly lit, romantic ambience, stunning views of the Chicago skyline, delicious cheeses and charcuterie, and, of course, wine make The Tasting Room a fashionable destination.
Identified as a National Historic Landmark, Macy’s on State occupies the extraordinary Marshal Field & Company Building. Shopping is a grand experience here. Don’t forget to go to the fifth floor and look up—you’ll be dazzled by the magnificent Tiffany Favrile glass ceiling.
On Friday and Saturday nights, indulge in the decadent Chocolate Bar at The Lobby on the fifth floor of The Peninsula Chicago.
Shopping on Halsted is plentiful, but MOI Boutique stands out. Occupying a cozy space on the trendy street, the shop features feminine clothes at moderate prices. Pick up a flutter-sleeved dress and white blazer.
Vintage furniture, local art, grilled sandwiches, and locally roasted Metropolis coffee beans are the stars of this hipster hangout, which dominates the corner of Logan and Milwaukee.
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.