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Best Things To Do In Illinois Outside Of Chicago

Fun Things To Do Near Chicago Il: Best Places To Visit Nearby

10 BEST Things to Do in Chicago, Illinois
  • Christina Rado

Sure, Chicago has a lot to offer travelers, but there plenty of amazing locations in the surrounding area as well.

If you are looking for a new adventure, check out this list of fun things to do near Chicago, IL.

Our carefully selected locations include exciting zoos, beautiful lakes, national parks, and much more.

Whether you are a couple, solo traveler, or accompanied by your squad, these locations will add more thrill to your vacation.

Illinois Top 20 Attractions

When most people think of visiting Illinois, they picture Chicago, but the state offers much more than just the Windy City.

From flowing cornfields to metropolitan cities to historic sites, there are a wide variety of attractions in Illinois visitors can look forward to.

Heading outside of Chicago will show you gorgeous state parks, and staying in the metropolitan area offers plenty of activities revolving around Lake Michigan.

There are large malls for shopping, plenty of headlining sports teams, historical reenactments, gorgeous architecture, museums and other cultural attractions in the Land of Lincoln.

To start planning your visit, consider beginning with some of these top Illinois attractions.

Gebhard Woods State Park

Editor’s Note: There’s no photo available at the time of writing

If youre thinking about what to do in Morris, IL, that can be enjoyed by the family, heres one you should really consider. As one of the most popular state parks in Illinois, Gebhard Woods State Park offers a wide variety of fun and relaxing activities for outdoor enthusiasts. This 30-acre land of natural beauty is bordered on the south by the Illinois and Michigan Canal and Nettle Creek to the north. The park also features a wooded area with walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn, and cottonwood trees providing ample shade for hikers.

Outdoor recreation enthusiasts will also love it here as there are plenty of fun things to do here including fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, birdwatching, and more.

Gebhard Woods State Park

Opening hours: 5am – 7pm

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Water Works Indoor Water Park

Water Works Indoor Water Park

There are many places to see water slides in Illinois, but the Water Works Indoor Water Park is one of the rare destinations thats entirely indoors, so you dont have to worry about cold or rainy weather worrying your trip.

Features of the park include tunnels, whirlpools, playgrounds, diving lanes, rapid water channels and more.

The whole family can splash around there are designated areas for the littlest swimmers in your family, and adults can hop on the bigger slides just like the kids.

Theres also water-based playground equipment for traditional fun with an aquatic twist.

Have you ever crossed monkey bars over a swimming pool?

Do a butterfly stroke to the Water Works Indoor Water Park if youre looking for clean, all-ages attractions that everyone in your family can enjoy.

Address: 505 N Springinsguth Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60194, United States

Chicago Air & Water Show

Top 16 Things To Do In Chicago, Illinois

To round the whole thing off, heres another big event that the city lays on for free.

The Chicago Air & Water Show goes back to 1959 and remains the citys second favourite festival, as well as the largest free show of its kind in the United States.

Across a weekend in mid-August more than two million people line Lake Michigan, particularly the North Avenue Beach, for an exhibition of supersonic jets, formation flying, sky-diving and skywriting.

These are normally Army and Air Force groups, like the Golden Knights parachute team and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Theres no better time to visit 360 Chicago, the Skydeck or take a cruise on the lake, while shore-side restaurants and bars put on viewing parties, though tickets will sell out months in advance.

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Visit The Blaum Bros Distilling Co

Blaum Bros Distilling Co. was founded in 2013 by two brothers who found the only way they could avoid arguing was by drinking together.

They started creating new and unique whiskey blends.

This has now extended into other liquors, such as gin and vodka.

Visiting the company is a great activity as the staff offer friendly, laidback tours that feel more like visiting a friend than a business.

Its possible to see all parts of the distillery, including the barrel room, and at the end of the 45-minute tour is a guided tasting.

The tour is a unique and enjoyable experience, but visiting the Blaum Bros Distilling Co. is also great for those who just want to enjoy a drink on vacation.

With their distinguished cocktail bar, Blaum Bros is a great place to relax.

Giant City State Park

MakandaFrom guided moonlit hikes and winter birding opportunities to multiple public art displays, Giant City State Park is home to all sorts of seasonal fun. Nearly a dozen miles of equestrian trails makes this southern Illinois park special for every type of recreational outdoors-person. Particularly noteworthy, however, are the “Giant City Streets” along the main nature trailcolossal sandstone bluffs formed some 12,000 years ago. And as soon as early February rolls around , treat yourself to a cozy cabin at the historic Giant City Lodge and bask in the rustic grandeur thats enticed visitors for decades.

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Grab Some Ice Cream At Original Rainbow Cone

This longstanding Chicago ice creamery hibernates in the winter, but in the summer theyre teeming with elated customers and ice cream fanatics.

Visit the Original Rainbow Cone, choose from cones, milkshakes, sundaes, or banana splits, then burn off the calories with a pleasant stroll through the parks of Dan Ryan Woods.

Dare To Explore The Medieval Torture Museum

Top 8 Things to do in Chicago Illinois

Want to take a lighter look at the Medieval torture process? Chicago has a museum dedicated to just this.

Explore over a hundred gruesome tools and devices from the darkest times of human history. Witness multiple executions and pain-inducing techniques demonstrated with historic torture mechanism, if you dare.

The museum is not recommended under 18. No one will be admitted without an adult!

Visitors can download a ghost hunting app to detect spirits of the tortured victims which haunt the museum.

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Dave’s Down To Earth Rock Shop

Not too far from the Bahá’í Temple, were stopping into a quaint little storefront that boasts much more than meets the eye. Located in the Evanstown area, Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop has been around for over 40 years, providing a quirky mix of materials of geological materials such gemstones, fossils, and crystals, with friendly information via books or Dave himself on offer to explain it all.

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What tends to take visitors by surprise is the dinosaur-themed museum hidden down in the basement. It offers informative fun for all ages and is touted as a worthy stop for anyone looking to get out of the chaos of Chicago and venture into other areas.

Feed A Giraffe At Brookfield Zoo

Catch the kangaroos at Australia House, feed the giraffes at Habitat Africa, admire the alligators at The Swamp, and wander through plenty more exhibits at the renowned Brookfield Zoo.

With so many cute animal ambassadors ready for a meet-and-greet, Brookfield Zoo promises to be a great day out for the whole family.

Take the experience to the next level by competing in a zoo-wide scavenger hunt!

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Enjoy The Chicago Riverwalk And Cruise

If youre looking for breathtaking views of some of Chicagos most gorgeous architecture, you have to take a stroll along the Riverwalk. A series of public walkways offer access to boats and water taxis as well as waterfront cafes and restaurants. Chicago has some of the best Architecture and you have to go on a walking tour or boat tour to appreciate it better.

River CruiseDid you know Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper! Partly destroyed by the Great Fire in 1871, the city of Chicago was inspired to entrust the reconstruction of its center to its Institute for Architecture and Urbanism. By equipping the new buildings with steel frames and glass façades.

One of the best ways to learn more about the citys architecture is to join a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. You can admire the city skyline while slowly cruising along the river as the expert guides interpret over 50 buildings nestled along the Chicago River.

Known as the L The Chicago MetroTrains are a great way to get around the city, they serve over 140 stations located throughout the city and nearby suburbs. They run on elevated railways, in subways, or on the ground. There are places in the downtown area where you can see the metro train tilt as it turns on the elevated tracks.

Other family friendly things to do in Chicago that we didnt have time for

Buffalo Rock State Park Illinois

Pin on Outdoor Fun in the Chicagoland Area

Located on top of a bluff which used to be an island in the Illinois River, Buffalo Rock State Park offers visitors a magnificent view of the beautiful Illinois River. Consisting of 298 acres, the park was formerly used by the Illinois Indians as a “blind canyon” to capture buffalo.

Today, the park features a herd of American Bison, a children’s playground, a baseball diamond, and five animal sculptures built out of earth as a tribute to Native American culture. Two picnic shelters can also be found in the park, one of which includes a stone fireplace.

1300 N 27th Rd, Ottawa, Illinois 61350, Phone: 815-433-2224

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Embrace Your Inner Homer Simpson On An Original Donut Walking Tour

Chicagoans have long adored the donut. Taste the very best the city has to offer with a dedicated desert tour, stopping into a hand-picked selection of the Chicago Loops top donut shops.

The tastings are all included , while vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free options are also available.

For anyone with a sweet tooth, this tour should headline your bucket list of things to do in Chicago.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library And Museum

If youre venturing through Americas Midwest and suddenly have an urge to learn everything there is to learn about the 16th President of the United States, then the town of Springfield has got you covered. This is actually Lincolns hometown, so its not hard to put two and two together and realize why its the chosen site for the museum.

History buffs will go nuts for the signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the original copy of the Gettysburg Address. Aside from the countless intriguing artefacts, its also considered as one of the first experience museums, combining history with innovation and interaction, unlike most other museums.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Home And Studio

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio was officially declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, just two years after it was established as a trust to preserve his home and studio. The space holds special meaning as it is where Frank Wright developed his design principles.

It now serves as a place for future generations to learn his design techniques, interpret them, and implement them in their own visions. There are several educational programs and workshops for all ages as well as access to some of Wrights materials, collections, and archives. Guests also have the opportunity to participate in the more than 10 tours featuring his work.

209 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 118, Chicago, IL, Phone: 312-994-4000

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The Art Institute Of Chicago

Best Things to Do in Chicago, Illinois
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 24,057 reviews

See why the Art Institute of Chicago is the only museum in the world to be top-ranked by TripAdvisor four years in a row! Experience the greatest Impressionist collection outside Paris, and view contemporary masterpieces in the spectacular Modern Wing. Stand before classics like Nighthawks, and travel the globe through galleries devoted to the art of ancient Greece, Japan, Africa, and the Americas.

Reviewed By nemeshek – Mexico City, Mexico

This is the best Chicago Museum for me.All the classical paints such as Francesco de Mura, Peter Paul Rubens, El Greco, Luca Cambiaso, Tintoretto, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Edvard Munch, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh are incredible.This is a must to visit in Chicago.

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Kayaking On The Chicago River

The Chicago River runs through downtown. Many enjoy the river from the Chicago Riverwalk -its made up of 6 coves lined with a variety of restaurants and community art projects. Most famously, Art on theMART can be seen from the Chicago Riverwalk.

But, for those who want to get in the river, kayaking is the best way!

You can rent kayaks from several companies in Chicago. Or, sign up for an exciting kayaking tour so that you can get better acquainted with the city.

Kayaking tours are great for tourists and locals alike. You can learn about history, architecture or gangsters from the water in the comfort of a kayak.

There are also kayaking opportunities that allow you to watch the Navy Pier fireworks.

Fun & Unusual Things To Do In Chicago

Nestled inland in the MidWest, the Windy City is throwing its hat in the ring for the title of the premier American tourist destination. Chicago welcomes some 57.6 million tourists per year, and with such a diverse range of attractions, theres an itinerary perfect for each and every one of them.

Art lovers, rejoice foodies, celebrate and history geeks, get excited because there truly is something for everyone in this sprawling Illinois metropolis youll be spoiled for choice when it comes to fun things to do in Chicago.

Admire the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan from 1000 feet high, or sail across them in divine luxury. Learn about the history of the mob or tour world-famous museums. Dig into a slice of deep-dish pizza or dine at multi-Michelin starred restaurants. Whatever you choose to do, you wont leave disappointed.

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Wet Your Whistle On The Barrel Run

With a thriving craft beer scene thats only advancing with every passing year, it would be a sin to visit the Windy City without sampling a few local brews.

But this isnt your average barhopping walking tour thirsty travelers whiz around town in the one-of-a-kind Barrel Bus, sampling plenty of cold beer from start to finish.

Richard H Driehaus Museum

49 Amazing Things To Do In Chicago In August


Youll step back into Americas Gilded Age at the refined Nickerson House, built in 1883 for the banker Samuel M. Nickerson.

Close to the Magnificent Mile, on the Near North Side, the house looks a little out of place, dwarfed by the citys bold Neoclassical monuments and glass-clad skyscrapers.

In 2003 the Chicago fund manager and philanthropist turned the Nickerson house into a museum, blending the original furnishings with luxurious Art Nouveau glazed tiles, stained glass, onyx, carvings and marble all sourced from other places.

The museum is heaven if you like decorative arts.

Youll find some lovely pieces by Louis Comfort Tiffany, like a large fire screen, a set of vibrant stemware, a blown-glass humidor and a peculiar centrepiece lamp.

The ballroom has Edward Colonna furniture you can sit in, while some other exceptional pieces include Sèvres vases, a suite of George A. Schastey neo-Empire chairs, pre-Raphaelite paintings and a rare Chickering and Sons grand piano.

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Things To See Near Me: Discovery Center Museum Illinois

Located on the Riverfront Museum Park campus, the Discovery Center Museum is one of the top family attractions in Illinois. With more than 300 hands-on science and arts exhibits, the center has something for children of all ages.

Highlights include a two-story maze, a play area aimed at babies and toddlers, and an exciting planetarium. The museum is open seven days a week, but is closed on select holidays. Admission is free for children under the age of two, and affordable memberships are available that provide members with a variety of perks including unlimited access to the museum.

711 N Main St, Rockford, Illinois 61103, Phone: 815-963-6769

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