The 10 best things to do in Chicago in 2024

Chicago is a vibrant city with a plethora of exciting activities to offer in 2024. From exploring iconic landmarks to indulging in delicious deep dish pizza, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Here are the key takeaways from the 10 best things to do in Chicago in 2024:

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Millennium Park and marvel at the Cloud Gate sculpture
  • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago and admire famous artworks
  • Indulge in Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s
  • Take an architectural boat tour and admire the stunning skyline
  • Catch a game at Wrigley Field and experience the lively atmosphere

Explore Millennium Park

Marvel at the Cloud Gate sculpture

Cloud Gate, more commonly referred to as “The Bean,” is Chicago’s most identifiable landmark. This giant structure is located in downtown’s Millennium Park. The Bean is best known for its mirror-like surface, which reflects images of the Chicago skyline above. The Bean is a fun experience for first-time visitors and I recommend stopping by for a quick picture. Visit in the winter to go ice skating just below the Bean or at the nearby Maggie Daley ice skating ribbon. In the summer, enjoy outdoor concerts and Chicago festivals. Favorites include the Chicago Blues Festival and Millennium Park Summer Music Series, which take place at Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Enjoy a concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is not only a stunning architectural masterpiece but also a hub for live music in Chicago. Located in Millennium Park, this outdoor venue hosts a variety of concerts and music festivals throughout the year. One of the highlights is the Grant Park Music Festival, which takes place at the Pavilion. With 10 weeks of free concerts and 30 performances, it’s a must-visit for music lovers. The festival features an orchestra that rivals the CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and a chorus that is considered the finest in the country. The Sound of Summer in Chicago, the Grant Park Music Festival showcases the best of classical music in a beautiful setting. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the magic of live music at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Take a stroll through Lurie Garden

Lurie Garden is a hidden gem in the heart of Chicago’s Millennium Park. Designed by landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, this peaceful oasis is meant to resemble a Midwestern prairie. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a moment of tranquility. Take a leisurely walk through the garden and admire the beautiful native plants and flowers. Concerts are occasionally held in the garden, adding a touch of music to the serene atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a unique outdoor concert experience, Lurie Garden is a must-visit destination in Chicago.

Visit the Art Institute of Chicago

Admire famous artworks like Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’

When visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, make sure to spend some time admiring the famous artworks on display. One of the highlights is Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’, a iconic painting that depicts a farmer and his daughter standing in front of a farmhouse. This painting has become an enduring symbol of American culture and is a must-see for art enthusiasts. In addition to ‘American Gothic’, the museum houses a vast collection of artworks by renowned artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh. Plan to spend at least a few hours exploring the museum’s four levels and numerous exhibitions. Tickets can be purchased online or on-site. Pro Tip: Start your visit on the top floor and work your way down to make the most of your time at the museum.

Discover ancient artifacts in the Egyptian collection

The Egyptian collection at the Art Institute of Chicago is a treasure trove of ancient artifacts that offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of ancient Egypt. From intricately carved statues to beautifully painted sarcophagi, the collection showcases the artistry and craftsmanship of this ancient civilization. One highlight of the collection is the example page. This beautifully preserved papyrus provides valuable insights into the daily life and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. Another fascinating artifact is the example page, a stunning piece of jewelry that was believed to offer protection and bring good fortune to its wearer. The Egyptian collection also includes a variety of example page, such as pottery, tools, and household items, which provide a fascinating look into the daily lives of the ancient Egyptians. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about ancient civilizations, a visit to the Egyptian collection at the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-see.

Explore contemporary art in the Modern Wing

Located in the neighborhood of Pilsen, the National Museum of Mexican Art is home to one of the largest collections of Mexican art in the country. This museum, which first opened in 1987, features both permanent and rotating art exhibitions, as well as cultural performances, films, and programs. Although the museum may be especially appreciated by members of the Mexican community, it is open to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Visiting this museum is a great way to learn, support, and appreciate Mexico’s rich history and vibrant culture.

Indulge in Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

Try the classic deep dish at Lou Malnati’s

When it comes to food, deep-dish pizza is a distinctly Chicagoan thing. This style of pizza is sometimes referred to as “Chicago-style pizza” and is made with a thick crust, and stacked with layers of sauce, cheese, and toppings. The layers are even placed on the dough backward, with cheese placed first and sauce topped off last. If you’re looking to taste a classic deep dish, then head to Lou Malnati’s. They have multiple locations and are one of the oldest deep-dish pizzerias in Chicago. Their pizzas are known for their made-from-scratch, flaky, buttery crusts, and fresh ingredients. This is a great option that’s both casual and family-friendly. 👉 Pro Tip: Deep dish pizza can take a while to bake, so plan for a little extra time.

Experience unique flavors at Pequod’s Pizza

When it comes to experiencing unique flavors in Chicago, Pequod’s Pizza is a must-visit. Known for their famous deep dish pizza, Pequod’s offers a one-of-a-kind culinary experience that will leave your taste buds craving for more. Their classic deep dish is a true delight, with a thick and buttery crust that perfectly complements the rich and flavorful toppings. But what sets Pequod’s apart is their signature caramelized crust, which adds a unique sweetness and crunch to every bite. Whether you’re a fan of traditional toppings like pepperoni and sausage or prefer more adventurous options like BBQ chicken or spinach and feta, Pequod’s has something for everyone. Don’t miss the opportunity to try their famous Willis Tower pizza, topped with a combination of sausage, pepperoni, and bacon.

Savor a slice at Giordano’s

Giordano’s is a must-visit for pizza lovers in Chicago. Known for their famous deep-dish pizza, Giordano’s offers a unique and delicious dining experience. Their pizzas are made with a thick crust and stacked with layers of sauce, cheese, and toppings. The layers are even placed on the dough backward, with cheese placed first and sauce topped off last. The result is a mouthwatering combination of flavors and textures. Giordano’s is a vibrant and bustling restaurant, perfect for enjoying a slice with friends or family. The atmosphere is lively and the staff is friendly and attentive. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to try their signature stuffed pizza, a true Chicago classic!

Take an Architectural Boat Tour

Cruise along the Chicago River and learn about iconic buildings

An architecture cruise is one of the best things to do in Chicago. Sit back, relax, and let a guide take you through Chicago’s history and the iconic buildings that line the Chicago River. You can expect to learn fascinating facts about the city’s architecture and snap pictures from the comfort of your seat. It’s a great way to gain a better understanding of the city, its history, and its architectural marvels. The tours last about an hour, giving you plenty of time to soak in the sights and capture memorable moments. Don’t miss out on this unique experience during your visit to Chicago!

Admire the stunning skyline from the water

Paddle down the Chicago River and take in the city from a new perspective. The Chicago River offers a unique vantage point to appreciate the magnificent skyline of the city. As you glide along the river, you’ll be surrounded by iconic buildings and architectural landmarks that define Chicago’s skyline. The combination of modern skyscrapers and historic structures creates a breathtaking panorama that will leave you in awe. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, experiencing the skyline from the water is a must-do activity in Chicago. It’s a chance to see the city in a whole new light and appreciate its beauty from a different angle.

Discover the history behind famous architectural landmarks

Chicago architect Frank Lloyd Wright had his hand in redesigning the lobby in 1905. You don’t have to be a lover of architecture and design to appreciate how beautiful the Rookery Building is. The spiral Oriel Staircase is the top highlight for most people. It’s stunning. The Light Court lobby is beautiful, too.

Catch a Game at Wrigley Field

Cheer on the Chicago Cubs in their historic stadium

In the neighborhood of Wrigleyville, this famous stadium is the second oldest Major League baseball field in America. Throughout its history, the ballpark has witnessed so many historic moments, from Babe Ruth “calling his shot” in 1932, to “reversing the curse” in 2016. Not to mention, the Cubs have won three World Series titles and longstanding traditions are a key part of the experience. The stadium itself has brick walls covered in ivy, as well as a beloved red marquee on display out front. As an ode to the beginnings of baseball, the scoreboard is manually operated, too. Order some snacks or Chicago-style hot dogs if that’s your style. Although, to avoid some craziness, plan on getting lunch and drinks before your game. How to Get There: Parking can be a nightmare so a better option is to use the CTA Red Line or rideshare options for transportation. Just note that the train will most likely still be packed and rideshares can get pricey around game time.

Experience the lively atmosphere of a baseball game

In the neighborhood of Wrigleyville, this famous stadium is the second oldest Major League baseball field in America. Throughout its history, the ballpark has witnessed so many historic moments, from Babe Ruth “calling his shot” in 1932, to “reversing the curse” in 2016. Not to mention, the Cubs have won three World Series titles and longstanding traditions are a key part of the experience. The stadium itself has brick walls covered in ivy, as well as a beloved red marquee on display out front. As an ode to the beginnings of baseball, the scoreboard is manually operated, too. Order some snacks or Chicago-style hot dogs if that’s your style. Although, to avoid some craziness, plan on getting lunch and drinks before your game. How to Get There: Parking can be a nightmare so a better option is to use the CTA Red Line or rideshare options for transportation. Just note that the train will most likely still be packed and rideshares can get pricey around game time.

Enjoy classic ballpark snacks like hot dogs and peanuts

Wrigley Field, located in the neighborhood of Wrigleyville, is the second oldest Major League baseball field in America. Throughout its history, the ballpark has witnessed so many historic moments, from Babe Ruth “calling his shot” in 1932, to “reversing the curse” in 2016. Not to mention, the Cubs have won three World Series titles and longstanding traditions are a key part of the experience. The stadium itself has brick walls covered in ivy, as well as a beloved red marquee on display out front. As an ode to the beginnings of baseball, the scoreboard is manually operated, too. Order some snacks or Chicago-style hot dogs if that’s your style. Although, to avoid some craziness, plan on getting lunch and drinks before your game.

Explore Navy Pier

Ride the Ferris wheel for panoramic views of the city

One of the must-do activities at Navy Pier is to take a ride on the 200-foot Centennial Wheel. This iconic Ferris wheel offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, lake, and surrounding areas. As you ascend to the top, you’ll be treated to a bird’s-eye view of Chicago’s stunning skyline and the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. The gondolas are fully enclosed and heated, so you can enjoy the experience in any weather. It’s a fun and thrilling way to see the city from a different perspective. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the incredible views!

Visit the Chicago Children’s Museum for family-friendly fun

The Chicago Children’s Museum is a must-visit destination for families looking for a fun and educational experience. Located on Navy Pier, the museum offers a wide range of exhibits and activities that cater to children of all ages. From the Tinkering Lab, where kids can unleash their creativity and problem-solving skills, to the Skyline exhibit, where they can build their own mini-skyscrapers, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Dinosaur Expedition exhibit, where children can dig for fossils and learn about the fascinating world of dinosaurs. The museum also features exhibits like Kids Town and Michael’s Museum, where kids can take on roles and learn valuable life skills. And for some overall fun, there are tons of exhibits for your little ones to climb, play, explore, and learn.

If you’re planning a visit, make sure to check the museum’s website for the most up-to-date information on hours and admission fees. The Chicago Children’s Museum is a place where kids can play, learn, and explore to their hearts’ content, making it a must-see attraction for families visiting Chicago.

Indulge in delicious food at the Pier’s restaurants

Navy Pier is a lively hub along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Hop on the massive Ferris Wheel to see beautiful city views from the top. The streets of the pier are packed with shops, restaurants, and amusements with classic and modern rides for families and thrill-seekers alike. Chicago Shakespeare adds to the sophistication of the pier, making it a dynamic destination that captures Chicago’s lakeside charm. Navy Pier offers a wide variety of dining options to satisfy every craving. From international cuisine to Chicagoan staples like deep-dish pizza and hot dogs, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in the local flavors and experience the vibrant food scene of Chicago. And if you want to explore the city’s culinary delights in a unique way, consider booking a food tour like the popular “Deep Roots to Deep Dish” Chicago food tour. It’s a fun and delicious way to discover the best of Chicago’s food culture.

Shop on the Magnificent Mile

Browse high-end designer stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton

If you’re in the mood for some luxury shopping and want to explore big-name stores, then a visit to the Magnificent Mile is a must. Located on North Michigan Avenue, this mile-long stretch is packed with shops, restaurants, and luxury hotels. It’s a shopper’s paradise! While you browse the Magnificent Mile, be sure to take in the historic buildings along the way, such as the Chicago Water Tower, Tribune Tower, and Wrigley Building. You’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time as you admire these architectural gems. And if you’re a history buff, you might want to consider taking a Magnificent Mile Walking Tour to learn even more about the area’s fascinating past.

Discover unique boutiques and local shops

When exploring Chicago, don’t miss the opportunity to discover unique boutiques and local shops. These hidden gems offer a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, where you can find unique and handcrafted items that you won’t find anywhere else. From trendy fashion boutiques to artisanal craft stores, there’s something for everyone’s taste and style. Take your time to browse through the carefully curated collections and immerse yourself in the local culture and creativity. Whether you’re looking for a special souvenir or a statement piece for your wardrobe, these boutiques and shops are sure to delight.

Enjoy a shopping spree at the famous Water Tower Place

If you’re looking to do some luxury shopping and hit up those big-name stores, then pay a visit to the Magnificent Mile. Technically named North Michigan Avenue, this mile-long stretch is packed with shops, restaurants, luxury hotels, and more. Although a bit touristy, it’s worth visiting for anyone with an itch to shop. Not to mention, it’s close to the lakefront and only a short walk to the Chicago River and River North neighborhood for some more shopping. While you browse the Magnificent Mile, be sure to take in some of the historic buildings along the way like the Chicago Water Tower, Tribune Tower, and Wrigley Building.

In Conclusion

Chicago in 2024 is a city bursting with excitement and endless possibilities. From exploring world-class museums and art exhibitions to indulging in the vibrant food scene, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The city’s rich history and cultural diversity provide a unique charm that captivates visitors and locals alike. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Chicago has it all. So, mark your calendars and get ready to experience the 10 best things to do in Chicago in 2024!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top attractions in Chicago?

Some of the top attractions in Chicago include Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, and Wrigley Field.

Where can I try Chicago-style deep dish pizza?

You can try Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s, Pequod’s Pizza, and Giordano’s.

What is the best time to visit Chicago?

The best time to visit Chicago is during the summer months of June, July, and August when the weather is warm and there are many outdoor festivals and events.

How can I get around Chicago?

You can get around Chicago by using public transportation such as the L trains and buses, or by walking or biking in the downtown area.

Some popular museums in Chicago include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Shedd Aquarium.

What are some family-friendly activities in Chicago?

Some family-friendly activities in Chicago include visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo, exploring the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, and taking a boat tour on the Chicago River.

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