Chicago is full of great food spots and places to explore. This Chicago Bucket List has some of the top things to do in the windy city.
Chicago Bucket List | Things To Do
Chicago is a city with seemingly endless amazing things to see! From museums to parks to amazing views of the city, Chicago is full of fun and festivity. If you’re planning a trip to Chicago and can’t decide what to do, here’s a bucket list of 25 must-see places all over the city. Keep in mind, due to the current status of our country, many of these tourist attractions may be closed or have limited hours/capacity. Be sure you check for updates times + procedures before planning your trip.
Chicago Bucket List
Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit! And with good reason! With so many great foodie spots and things to do, you’ll want to visit again and again! Check out this Chicago Bucket List with the top things to do in Chicago.
- Considered to be one of the greatest pieces of public art in the world, Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, also known as “The Bean,” is a large, reflective piece that distorts the city’s skyline and, on the underside, warps and multiplies reflections. It’s an iconic place to take pictures in Chicago!
- Visit the tallest building in the western hemisphere, Willis Tower, and experience the Ledge! This glass box extends 4.3 feet out from the SkyDeck (on the 103rd floor) and allows for views for up to 50 miles and of four states.
- If you love sea life, be sure to stop by Shedd Aquarium to explore the world’s oceans, lakes, rivers, and reefs all in the heart of Chicago! And don’t miss the aquatic presentation. It’s a must-see. When the boys were younger, Shedd’s was always at the top of the list when we visited Chicago.
- One of the largest natural history museums in the world, the Field Museum offers exhibits and experiences with the earliest fossils, past and current world cultures, and more.
- Millennium Park can provide almost unlimited entertainment. The park is not only home to the Bean, but it also hosts Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden, Maggie Daley Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
- One of the oldest zoos in North America, Lincoln Park Zoo is also one of the few free admission zoos in the United States AND it’s open year-round. Find more free things to do in Chicago!
- At four stories high and 43,000 square feet, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago is the largest in the world! Interactive tours are offered, so grab some delicious coffee and enjoy this beautiful building.
- If you’ll be in Chicago near Christmas, be sure to stop by the Christkindlmarket. It’s an always-free and family-friendly event. This updated list also has more things to do in Chicago for free.
- Taste of Chicago takes place in July. Admission is free to the nation’s premier outdoor food festival! I’ve been a few times and always had a great time. Due to the current status of the country, this, along with many festivals was canceled for 2020.
- Home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field opened in 1914 and is the oldest park in the National League and the second oldest park in the majors. Enjoy a 60-minute tour of this historic ballpark in the offseason.
- Originally built in 1916, Navy Pier is an iconic Chicago landmark where you can enjoy 50 acres of attractions and entertainment. Don’t miss the Centennial Wheel, along with tons of other rides, games, restaurants, and cruises.
- Take a stroll along the Magnificent Mile – 13 blocks of North Michigan Ave which boast 460 retailers, many restaurants, along with the Starbucks Reserve Roastery.
- Be sure to visit the largest science center in the western hemisphere: the Museum of Science and Industry! It’s perfect for families but has something for everyone to enjoy. And, if you are planning a trip for December, Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Lights are included in your museum entry.
- The John Hancock Center is a 100-story skyscraper located along the Magnificent Mile that offers 360-degree views of the city on the observation deck.
- Swim, eat, rent a bike, enjoy beach yoga, rent a kayak or jet skis, shop, and more at North Ave Beach, one of Chicago’s most popular beaches.
- Designated as a Chicago landmark, Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park is one of the finest ornamental fountains in America.
- See masterpieces by Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh at the Art Institute of Chicago located in Grant Park.
- At Maggie Daley Park, you can enjoy climbing walls, the play garden (which contains six different play areas), tennis courts, a picnic area, ice skating in the winter, and more!
- One of the most visited attractions in Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center is home to free music, dance and theater events, films, lectures, art exhibitions, family events, and more!
- The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a natural history museum where you can enjoy interactive exhibits, animals, workshops, classes, and many other attractions.
- Take a cruise on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan and see the city from a whole new point of view.
- Take in some nature in the city, visit the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, go kayaking, splash in the fountains, take a boat ride, go for a bike ride, or take an architecture walking tour, all on the Chicago Riverwalk.
- A formal industrial rail line, The 606 is now a 2.7 elevated park and trail equipped with biking and running paths, an observatory, street-level parks, public art, and scenic lookout points.
- Montrose Beach offers kayak and volleyball rentals, a dog-friendly beach, a non-motorized boat launch, swimming, and an ADA accessible beach walk!
- Dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics, The Adler Planetarium is a National Historic Landmark and was the first planetarium in the United States. The Adler is for all ages, so be sure to check their website for a list of current exhibits and opportunities! It is located on Chicago’s Museum Campus, along with Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum.
Whether visiting for a few days or a few weeks, be sure to grab a CityPASS to gain discounts on many of these attractions and enjoy your visit to one of the largest cities in the United States!
Keep in mind this list was prepared pre-COVID. Check with the location for updates times and procedures.