The second most visited city in the United States after New York, Chicago has its own identity. But where to start? Chicago is most famous for their Chicago-style hot dogs, deep dish pizza, jazz music, Al Capone, impressive architecture and very loyal sports fans. Here are the best things to do in Chicago that will make you feel like a local.
1. Have you tried Chicago Pizza Tours?
If you have not tried this, you do not know what you are missing. The Chicago Pizza Tours is a gluttonous journey through time. Walk, eat pizza and hear about Chicago’s history. A fantastic foodie adventure takes you on a bus to Chicago’s most famous pizza joints. You will visit 4 iconic neighborhood pizza parlors of the beaten path. You will walk away with an appreciation for the chemistry behind pizza making and its rich history.
2. Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory
Among the best things to do in Chicago that ranks highly in Chicago attractions, is visiting the Garfield Park Conservatory. This is one of the largest and most impressive observatories in all of the United States. It encompasses two acres of public greenhouse space to come and enjoy nature plus 10 acres of outdoor garden. The glass-enclosed architecture is well worth the trek. Come breathe some fresh air in the summer and especially in the winter as it is kept nice and toasty inside. Located in Chicago’s westside, Garfield Park–and Conservatory–borders two other great parks: Humboldt and Douglas.
3. The Bloomingdale Trail
The Bloomingdale Trail, or famously known as The 606, is a three-mile-long elevated greenway that runs from east to west in northwest Chicago. You can cycle, walk or run this former rail line turned impressive path in the heart of the city. Reminiscent of New York’s high line, you can see beautiful public art installations, different gardens and activities for the whole family. , of course, gardens. When the weather is more appealing, the trail can hold various of your family activities even with young children.
4. Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit
A must visit institution for the culture enthusiast is Chicago’s Art Institute of Chicago. Located in Chicago’s Grant Park and founded in 1879, it is the largest and oldest art museum in the United States. The museum delights over 1.5 million visitors annually with a collection of over 300,000 art pieces. Want to see a Buddah, a knight and horse in armor? How about Van Gogh, Monet, Grant Wood, Picasso, or Hokusai in the same place? The Art Institute of Chicago has it all.
5. Spend a few hours strolling the Chicago Riverwalk
The Chicago Riverwalk is a 3 mile trail in the heart of Chicago and along the river. It is a welcome respite from the noisy city streets. Come enjoy the walk or run and marvel at the view and the grandeur of Chicago’s skyscrapers. You can also have a meal or drink and people watch. It is cooler in the summer and during the winter many establishments have heaters setup so come relax and breathe in Chicago.
6. No night out in Chicago is complete without tamales
Claudio Velez has spent two decades delivering tamales from his red and white cooler to bars around town. He is a fixture in Chicago’s night scene and people often cheer when they see him. Don’t know which bars have his tamales, now you can visit his restaurant in Ukraine Village. Whether you opt for the corn husk or banana leaf tamales you will surely remember the true flavors of Mexico that he carefully crafts.
7. Public art at Millennium Park?
Located in Grant Park, Millennium Park covers 24 acres and displays incredible public art exhibits. Opened in 2004, the free admission park features Cloud Gate “The Bean”, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Lurie Garden, and the Crown Fountain . The park is conveniently located atop a huge parking garage and the commuter rail station, Millennium Station, so it is technically the world’s largest rooftop garden. This is the top tourist destination in Chicago so do not leave Chicago without visiting Millennium Park.
8. Hop aboard the First Lady and admire architecture
The best way to get an architectural overview of Chicago is to take the First Lady boat cruise. For 90 minutes you can sit back, relax, and have a drink as you drift down river. The tour is licensed by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and gives you a fantastic overview of the history and architecture of Chicago’s most famous skyscrapers. The volunteers receive hours of training, speak several languages and will share some in depth knowledge of 50 skyscrapers on the tour.
9. Get delighted at the Willis Tower Skydeck
Do you like your heart to beat a little faster? Not afraid of heights? Well we got the stop for you. On the 103rd floor of the former Sears Tower you can step into a glass observation box and dare to look below. At the Willies Tower Skydeck you will have an amazing view of the city and on a clear day you can see all the way to four states. Remember to tell you friends that you were taking selfies from 1,353 meters above sea level.
10. See the animals at Lincoln Park Zoo for free
Lincoln Park Zoo is a 35-acre zoo in Lincoln Park. The fourth oldest zoo in North America, the Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868. It is the only privately managed, free zoo in the country. There are hundreds of animals from around the world that live in Lincoln Park Zoo, including extinct and endangered species. You can get up close and personal and feed: goats, cows and chickens, but don’t forget to check out seal training, polar bear training, penguin encounters, and ape and monkey care and cognition, where you understand how primates learn. Children can ride a Lionel Trains 28-passenger train crossed over a bridge through a forest and back to the red brick station. There is even a Wednesday and Fridays sing along with Mr. Singer so be sure to check out the website for a list of activities.