Which Neighborhoods Should I Visit In Chicago
Chicago has an abundance of neighborhoods, all with their own culture, history and attractions. Pilsen, Hyde Park and Wicker Park are some of the best for food and culture.
- Pilsen is in the south-west of Chicago. Here you can soak up the colorful street art or catch a local act at Thalia Hall.
- Hyde Parkis just south of downtown and is home to the University of Chicago campus. If you’re there in summer, head to 57th Street Beach.
- Wicker Park is in the north-west and has been nicknamed Chicago’s hip neighborhood. Head here on an evening to enjoy the abundance of bars, clubs and music venues.
Ice Skate Under The Skyline
Not far from the Bean in Millennium Park, the McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink is a favorite for hopeless romantics in need of a good date-night activity. The skyline setting, right along Michigan Avenue, is particularly charming at night when the city is lit up. The rink only charges for rental, so bring your own skates if you happen to have starred in a Mighty Ducks film and already own a pair.
Visit The Graceland Cemetery
The Graceland Cemetery is Chicagos best low-key attraction. It is located in Chicagos Uptown neighborhood. It is one of the largest Victorian-era cemeteries and an arboretum.
Many of the tombs in this cemetery have artistic and architectural significance.
During the 19th Century, many famous Chicago politicians, athletes, and intellectuals were buried here. For visitors, a self-guided audio tour is available on the website.
Bring headphones so you can learn more about the unique history of this place.
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Take A Tour Of The Windy City
Tours arent only for tourists! They can be for tourists, but theyre also fun for locals. The most popular and unique Chicago tours involve architecture and gangsters.
During the Chicago architecture tours, youll get on a boat & cruise the Chicago River.
From there, youll learn about Chicagos history and evolution in the context of structural design and modernization.
Chicagos crime tours focus on historical events in the 1920s and 30s surrounding the Mob. Groupon is the best place to go for deals on Chicago tours.
Alternatively, you can sign up for a segway tour or a ghost tour. Weird Chicago Tours take you through Chicagos haunted houses and spooky stories.
Festivals And Street Fairs
The biggest and most popular are the Taste of Lincoln Avenue, the Taste of Randolph Street & the Taste of River North.
At each festival, restaurants from the neighborhood serve up bite-sized portions of their specialty dishes. The mother of all these festivals is the famous Taste of Chicago. The Taste of Chicago is usually held in mid-July.
Other popular festivals that take place every summer include The Lincoln Park Wine Fest, West Fest, the Old Town Art Fair, Chicago Taco & Tequila Fest, and the Chicago Food Truck Festival.
See what festival is going on in Chicago this weekend!
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Visit The Chicago Botanical Garden
The Chicago Botanical Garden is not exactly in Chicago. Youll have to drive an hour north to get there from downtown. However, this place is worth the trek.
It offers 385 acres of pristine horticultural beauty. Make sure to check the events calendar before you visit, so you can see whats in bloom.
Indoor Games & Activities For Kidsview All
When the snow is coming down sideways, head to these warm, indoor activities to renew your outlook. Kids will love the sunny conservatory. Try the following indoor activities:
- Get your green fix even on rainy days at the indoor Garfield Park Conservatory
- Stroll the famously strange American Science & Surplus for science kits, hobby tools, and lab glass
- Check out a book and listen to one at the Book Cellar during musical story time
- Get your shopping fix at the Chicago Pedway, which offers shopping, restaurants, and interesting architecture inside temperature controlled passages
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Inside A Historic Building
Chicago is where luminary architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Daniel Burnham ran their firms. Sure, you can see their work from the outside, but it’s better to admire these landmark buildings from inside. You’re invited to step inside the Chicago Cultural Center , Wrights outstanding lobby inside The Rookery, and the Hogwarts-esque 2nd floor at the former Chicago Athletic Club.
What Type Of Local Tours Are Available In Downtown Chicago
The Loop is the best place to start your tour of Chicago. Here you can explore the city in some pretty quirky ways, including by walking, bus or Segway.
Some of our favorite downtown tours include:
- Sunset Segway Tour. Embark on a guided Segway tour through Grant Park and Chicago Riverwalk to catch the sun setting over the river.
- Chicago Crime Tour. Fancy yourself a detective? Explore the city’s famous crime scenes on this sightseeing bus.
- Scavenger Hunt Adventure. Follow the clues scattered around downtown as a team, with fun trivia, snapshot opportunities and compass challenges.
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Signature Room On The 95th Floor
Whether you have 36 hours in Chicago or 48 hours in Chicago, to get an unbeatable view of the city head to the Signature Room. Its on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. Dont forget to go to the bathroom where you will get the best view! We probably spent just as much time in the bathroom as we did in the lounge!
Stroll The Chicago Riverwalk
Everybody knows about Chicagos scenic lakefront, but dont forget its river. A walk along the Chicago River takes you past some of the citys biggest and best skyscrapers, as well as a number of restaurants and bars that have set up shop in recent years. Bonus tip: Dont miss Art on the Mart, an artistic video show projected along Merchandise Mart, which begins 30 minutes after sunset, Wednesday-Sunday.
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Play Volleyball On The Beach
Along North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach, there are posts set up for volleyball courts. If you are traveling with a group, you can rent a net and ball. This is also a good chance to close to doors to your reliable rental car and be active on your feet!
If you are alone, you can always ask to join an existing game. For locals, we recommend joining one of the Living Social volleyball leagues.
For only $100, youll be added to a team and be registered to play 7 matches. The matches usually take place in the evenings on weekdays. You are assigned one match per week.
Get Out On The Chicago Rooftops
Summertime is rooftop season in Chicago. Rooftops in Chicago are the best place to get together with friends, have a drink & listen to house music.
Also, you can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding skyscrapers. The most touristy rooftop is John Hancocks Signature Room.
This place doesnt have an outdoor patio. We recommend Cindys, London House, and Godfreys IO. All of these have outdoor spaces and a clubby vibe.
If youre looking for something more relaxed, try the NoMI Garden or Drumbar. The best time to visit rooftops is in the early evening before they get too crowded or start charging a cover.
If you wait until 10 or 11 PM to go out, you may have to wait in line. Some places always have a long line , so you might have to tip the bouncer if you dont feel like spending an hour waiting!
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Watch Fireworks At Navy Pier
Navy Pier is hot in the summertime. Theres always something going on! While the events are constantly changing, the fireworks are a constant you can depend upon.
You can expect to see the fireworks shows on Wednesdays at 9:30 PM and Saturdays at 10:15 PM throughout the summer.
There is a fireworks show almost every week, but you should check the schedule for more information.
Which Chicago River Tour Is Best
Some of the most highly rated river tours in Chicago include the Tall Ship Windy, Chicago Cruise Events and the Seadog Lakefront Speedboat Tour.
- Tall Ship Windy. Learn about Chicago’s architecture on this majestic sailing boat. Choose between an evening or daytime sail.
- Chicago Cruise Events. Take in the city’s skyline at night aboard a luxury yacht. Enjoy the fireworks, watch the sunset or soak up the views with a refreshing cocktail.
- Seadog Lakefront Speedboat Tour. Short on time? Catch all of Chicago’s top landmarks in 30 minutes with this speedboat tour.
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Go City Chicago Explorer Pass
This pass lets you pay one price, and grants admission to 3, 4, 5, or 7 attractions from a list of 25+ at a discounted rate.
You can save up to 40% off normal ticket prices.
This pass is flexible in that you do not need to pre-select your choices and it is valid for 30 days from your first visit, so you can take your time making your choices.
All Go City Chicago Passes have a 30-day zero risk refund policy, and you have up to 1 year from the date of purchase to activate your pass.
NOTE: Prices listed below are full retail prices. Often discounts are available.
- 2 Attraction Pass: Adults $72 | Children $41
- Price per choice: Adults $36 | Children $20.50
Before you buy:
The Go City Chicago Explorer Pass doesnt have the time pressure of the Go City All-Inclusive Pass and gives the most options for visitors looking for discounts on a wide range of attractions.
But it takes more planning and research than the All-Inclusive Go City Pass.
Kayaking On The River In Chicago
Kayaking isnt only for jungles and forests in fact, kayaking and canoeing in Illinois is a rather popular thing to do!
In Chicago, you can kayak in between glass high-rises. Recommended companies include Waterriders Kayak Tours, Urban Kayaks, and Chicago River Canoe and Kayak.
Youll meet on the Chicago River and paddle out towards Lake Michigan. Enjoy views of Trump Tower, the Marina Towers, and all the other skyscrapers.
I loved the ghost and gangsters tours with Waterriders. We got to learn about Chicagos history of crime from a unique location.
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Awesome Things To Do In Chicago In Summer
Megan Starr This site uses affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
There are many things to do in Chicago in summer. The city really has a different pulse to it than during the long, snowy winters and the green spaces and locals really take to the streets and have a lot of fun.
This is a guide of what to do in Chicago in June, July, and August. You will find so many cool activities in Chicago from kayaking to bike riding, and more!
This is a guest post from Valentina Djordjevic, a Serbian native who has lived in Chicago for a decade. You can find her blog at Valentinas Destinations.
Walk The Magnificent Mile
There’s a reason it isnt called the Unimpressive Mile. Youll see what makes the Magnificent Milea stretch of MIchigan Avenue just north of the riverworthy of its name right at the beginning, where the spectacular Spanish-influenced Wrigley Building and the cathedral-esque Tribune Tower make a grand entrance. For the next mile, you can shop at the citys most luxurious shops, highlighted by the Water Tower Place Mall.
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Things To Do With Kids In Chicago
Chi-Town: the birthplace of deep dish pizza, Route 66, and every year on St. Patricks Day, home to the green-for-a-day Chicago River. Perfect for a family-friendly trip, this spirited city is packed with unforgettable activities for sports fans, history buffs, and hipsters of all ages. Here are things for kids to do in the Windy City that will have you well on your way to a memorable family trip.
Chicago Style Hot Dog
Next on the list of tasty things to do in Chicago is to eat a Chicago style hot dog from any of the cheap eats around the city! I didnt even realize before my trip that Chicago had their own unique style of hot dog. This dog is windy city favorite.
Topped with yellow mustard, green pickle relish, tomato, a slice of dill pickle, sport pepper and celery salt. Most important is whats not on the hot dog ketchup! The kiosk where I picked up my dog even had a sign that said if you want ketchup you have to dance for it!
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Go To A Museum On A Free Day
No matter your interest, theres a museum in Chicago for you. And if youre lucky, you can visit one of them for free. Each major museum offers a free day for Illinois residents: the Field Museum often offers Wednesday admission for free, the Chicago History Museum is free after 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, and the famed Art Institute is free from 58 p.m. on Thursday evenings. That means free Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh. Score!
Have A Picnic In The Park
Skip the servers and formal wear. Have a picnic in the park! If you are looking for a cozy neighborhood vibe, head to Oz Park.
Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Oz Park is a local favorite with Wizard of Oz themed sculptures throughout.
If you want to be in the heart of the city, check out the Art Institute of Chicagos South Garden. South Garden is a natural oasis in the middle of city commotion. Its the perfect place to bring a brown-bag lunch.
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Listen To Music At The Mca
The MCA is Chicagos Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a relatively small museum located in Chicagos Gold Coast neighborhood. In recent years, this museum has become famous for its main staircase.
The staircases wide base, granite sheen, and opposing lines create a unique design when looked at from above. Tuesdays are the best days to visit the MCA and it is renowned for being one of the best art museums in Chicago .
On Tuesdays, the MCA is free for Illinois residents and open late. Also, theres Tuesdays on the Terrace a free musical event series that takes place during summer.
Chicago Top 3 Attractions Pass
This pass is actually offered by Tiqets, and it includes admission to 3 of the most popular locations in Chicago.
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Field Museum of Natural History
- 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
- 10% Discount on Additional Activities
Each of these attractions is also included with the Chicago CityPASS, but this pass is somewhat less expensive. If you’re not interested in the other 2 activities included with that pass, this is an excellent alternative.
- Architecture River Cruise
- And more!
If you’re interested in any of these activities and you want to visit the top 3 attractions included, this pass might be worth considering!
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Sites Like Groupon For Hotels
Does anybody here use sites like Groupon or any other online methods of hotel bookings other than TripAdvisor and a hotel’s website? I like to see what kind of sites have deals going on with hotels and sometimes you can get some really good rates! I’ve had friends who have vacationed in Wisconsin Dells that bought their hotel stay on groupon but I just wondered if there are others like that that people go to for deals?
Also consider Hotwire and Priceline.
Groupon and LivingSocial tend to have Chicago hotel deals frequently.
groupon hotel deals are not great deals, travelzoo is better
you really have to try all the websites to find the best deal, orbitz, hotels.com, the hotels own website
Normally I find the deals on the hotels site as good as orbitz, hotels.com, etc. Usually but not always. I find travelzoo good for finding deals but usually end up booking direct from the hotel.
If you really want a deal use priceline or hotwire but it’s a blind booking so you have to be flexible what hotel you get.
Best Things To Do With Kids In Chicagoview All
Chicago is known for its frigid winters, balmy summers, and gorgeous fall seasons. But whether the temperatures rest in the breezy 80s or the chilling -20s, this city is packed with family-friendly deals to enjoy. Here are some of Chicagos most popular attractions:
- Spend a day at The Field Museum checking out the Antarctic Dinosaurs Exhibit
- Amaze the kids and test the limits of your perception inside the Amazing Chicago Funhouse Maze
- Relax and soak up the sunshine at Family Aquatic Centers
- Rent a kayak and zip across the rolling waves of Lake Michigan
- Drop the kids off at FunFlatables for hours of endless bounce house excitement
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Free Things To Do In Chicago
With one of the worlds most impressive skylines, a number of superb museums, and a gut-busting menu of classic foodstuffs, Chicago naturally lands on many cities to visit lists. Thankfully, even if youre on a tight budget, the Windy City is an easy destination to fully experience, thanks in part to the many free things to do in Chicago. Below, weve highlighted 13 of our favorite Chicago activities that dont cost a penny.