Visitors could spend days exploring all the Windy City has to offer. Heck, even locals have bucket lists of places they’ve never been.
There’s plenty to keep you busy in Chicago year-round, but if you’re visiting for the weekend, are short on time or are narrowing your list of what to do during your visit, we’ve got you covered. Take our tips and start planning your trip.
There’s a museum to suit any taste. You may not make it to multiple museums in one weekend, but your visit should include at least one. The Art Institute was named Trip Advisor’s top museum in the world in 2014, but there’s also the museum campus, which clusters the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. The Museum of Science and Industry is close, a short drive south on Lake Shore Drive.
See the city
There are countless city tours, but few offer the view you’ll get from the Willis Tower Skydeck. The skydeck is a glass balcony that extends four feet outside the 103rd floor of the tower – the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The views from 1,300 feet above give you glimpses of four different states.
New York may be known for its pizza, but there’s nothing like Chicago deep-dish. There’s debate on who serves the best pie in town, but there’s options all across town. Check out our pizza guide here.
Get the blues
Hit one of the city’s famous live jazz and blues clubs. We suggest Kingston Mines – which is open until at least4 a.m. every night. For jazz, check out The Green Mill, a century-old cocktail lounge once frequented by Al Capone.
Down a dog
Taste of Chicago tradition. The Chicago dog comes sans ketchup, but you won’t miss it. Instead, it’s topped with pickles, tomatoes, onions, bright green relish, sport peppers and mustard – all held inside a poppyseed bun. For suggestions on where to get a dog, click here.
Take a second
No other comedy club has the list of distinguished alumni that Second City does. Everyone from Bill Murray to John Belushi to Tina Fey and Steve Carell got their start here. With live shows every night, see some of the comedy world’s up-and-coming faces.
Take a stroll through the city’s famous parks. Downtown, there’s Millennium Park, dotted with art and architecture such as the famous Bean statue. Farther south, there’s Grant Park – be sure to pose for a photo in front of Buckingham Fountain. North of downtown, along Lake Michigan, visit Lincoln Park, which has walking paths, as well as the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Lincoln Park Zoo.
Walk the Mile
Exercise your legs and your debit card by walking – and shopping – North Michigan Avenue, or the Mag Mile. Shops range from economical chains to high-end boutiques. There’s coffee shops, restaurants and cafes to pop into along the way.
Mix it up
Chicago mix popcorn is another Windy City original. The snack blends caramel and cheese corns in one bag for a sweet and savory flavor. Garrett Popcorn, which can be found along Michigan Avenue, is perhaps the most well-known.
Get your game on
Chicagoans love sports. Join the fan club by taking in a pro game. During the spring and summer, watch theCubs or Sox play ball. In the winter, head to the United Center to see the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks take the ice, or see the Bulls play basketball. Football fans can head to Solider Field to see Da Bears on their home turf.