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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

This neighborhood favorite offers a selection of delicacies. Choose from a variety of savory pies from the deli: lamp and potato; spinach and feta; parsley, olive, and cheese; and many more. Opt for pistachio, walnut, and almond baklava for dessert.

Founded by two Chicago women designers, Wolfbait & B-girls sells the wares of more than 170 local artisans.

Wrigleyville is the primary destination for many travelers to Chicago. Cubs fans flock to Wrigley Field on game day despite their beloved team’s infamous defeats. Experience the Cubbies’ home field up close in the daily tours offered at Wrigley.

Visit this urban ecosystem at Lincoln Park Zoo, where birds, fish, frogs, turtles, and insects frolic among native plants. Visitors enjoy free admission and a truly restful lull from the bustling city. For the curious, the park’s website offers a field guide.

At the south end of Andersonville, Hopleaf features a variety of craft brews and Belgian beers on draft, as well as more than 250 bottled beers. Come for the beer, but stay for the mussels, steamed Belgium-style in Whittekerke white ale and served with frites and aioli.