Being a midwestern girl at heart, Chicago will always have a soft spot in my heart. Chicago exemplifies the best of the midwest with its friendly, outgoing people, mixed culture, and incredible food. It was the first big cosmopolitan city I had the opportunity to visit, which ultimately led me to fall in love with city life.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit Chicago a number of times, and a few places are always on my must-visit list. I also have a list of must-eat places in Chicago, but that will be for another post. In the meantime, these are my absolute favorite attractions in Chicago.
You cannot visit Chicago without at least strolling down renowned Michigan Avenue. It is the center of the city’s commerce, and its hustle and bustle is mesmerizing. Plus, the shopping is incredible, with designers not available elsewhere in the midwest and fun spots like the Godiva Chocolatier, Garrett Popcorn, and the American Girl Place for kids.
Art Institute of Chicago
I will never tire of visiting the Art institute of Chicago. Any art fan will enjoy seeing classic pieces from artists like Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse. The museum also boasts an incredible collection of ancient Byzantine artifacts, Egyptian mummies, and medieval armor and weaponry, as well as royal European portraits from centuries past.
Millennium Park encompasses the best of summer in Chicago. It plays host to concerts all summer, and there is no better way to cool off than wading into the fountains that sit outside the ever-famous bean sculpture, which is actually entitled ‘Cloud Gate’. There are also a number of sculpture gardens and regular gardens, from which you are able to admire Chicago’s towering skyline.
I only recently visited this museum for the first time, but I would recommend it to anyone hoping to learn more about Chicago history. The museum is full of interesting historical artifacts, such as an old trolley car you can explore, Abraham Lincoln’s stagecoach, and the desk at which General Robert E. Lee surrendered, ending the Civil War. There are also models of the Great Chicago Fire and the Chicago World Fair.
The Shedd is one of the most reputable aquariums in the country, and for good reason: it is the largest indoor aquarium in the world. In fact, the aquarium boasts of being home to 32,000 animals. These include reptiles, amphibians, endless numbers of fish, and, of course, dolphins, penguins, and otters. It’s a must-visit, even for adults.
The zoo just north of Michigan Avenue is also worth a stop. If possible, visit in spring, so you are able to see not just animals, but baby animals. At my most recent visit, there were baby monkeys and camels, which, if you haven’t seen them, are both adorable. The zoo also has giraffes, rhinos, big cats, a wide array of reptiles, and fascinating birds. It is worth a visit for all animal-lovers.
This immense building used to be called the John Hancock Observatory, and was recently renamed 360 Chicago. It has 100 stories and offers incredible views. In fact, I have never been to the top of Sears/Willis Tower, but I can certainly vouch for the views this building offers. You can see the whole city, as well as the mighty lake along which it is situated.
What do you love to do in Chicago? If I’ve missed any great spots, let me know in the comments.