There are so many things to explore in Chicago that it's difficult to know where to begin. You may want to start with an overview of the city, and then check out the world-famous museums, the local gallery districts or the performing arts scene. Luxury shopping along the Magnificent Mile, thousands of restaurants, as well as Chicago's position as global architectural capital attract millions of tourists every year. The city is also a convention hub, being the United States' third largest city for conventions, after Las Vegas and Orlando.
Some of the city's top choices for visitors include:
Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605
312 922 7827
Located on Lake Michigan, the facility was voted "Best View of Chicago's Skyline". The museum's centerpiece is the fully-restored Gemini 12 spacecraft flown by NASA astronauts Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin. It is part of the new permanent exhibit Shoot for the Moon, which highlights the exciting stories of space exploration and America's bold plans to return to the Moon. At the museum, you can either explore Chicago's night sky and the mysteries of the constellations in the historic Sky Theater or launch into the outer reaches of space in the all-digital StarRider Theater. The museum also features one of the world's oldest telescopes, real meteorites and over 400 sundials.
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614
Lincoln Park Zoo, located in Chicago, is among the oldest zoological gardens in the country (established in 1868) and is also among the most modern. You can also enjoy a ride on the Endangered Species Carousel located next to the Lion House, a Chicago landmark. The Great Ape House has one of the best assemblages of gorillas and chimpanzees in the world. The Zoo stands as one of the last free major cultural institutions in the United States and the only one left in Chicago. The Zoo is open 365 days a year.
Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637
The Museum of Science and Industry offers fourteen acres of hands-on exhibits to see and experience the wonders of science. You can walk through a replica of a human heart, explore a WWII German submarine or sample perfect acoustics at the Whispering Gallery. The museum also has the world's first permanent exhibit on AIDS and HIV. Or, you can explore the technologies on a 727 jet and discover the scientific principles behind air travel. You can also, descend 50 feet in a real hoist to the bottom of the mineshaft, in the Coal Mine, or travel to far-away places in the Museum's Omnimax theatre.
South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605
Shedd Aquarium is the world's largest aquarium, boasting underwater viewing areas for dolphins and whales along with exhibits for river otters, electric eels, piranhas, and scores of other aquatic wonders. The aquarium has more than 22,000 animals representing 1,500 species. The recreated environments of the Amazon River and Philippine coral reefs at the Shedd Aquarium are only outdone by its newest exhibit, "Wild Reef - Sharks at Shedd," one of the largest and most diverse shark exhibits in North America.
55 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60602
Millennium Park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago. Millennium Park has evolved over the years into the most significant millennium project in the world and is definitely a landmark in Chicago. The park is open daily from 6am - 11pm. Admission is always free.
1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496
312 922 9410
You have the chance to explore cultures and environments from around the world within six acres of exhibits at this facility funded by retailer Marshall Field. The Museum's permanent exhibits include topics such as bird habitats, African culture, animal biology, sea mammals, gems, fossils, eskimos, Native American cultures, and much, much more.
600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
Located on Lake Michigan, just East of Chicago's Downtown, Navy Pier has been a Chicago landmark since it first opened in 1916. The Navy Pier is home to many attractions, some may vary depending on the season. It offers 50 acres of parks, gardens (beer and botanical), shops, restaurants, cultural attractions and a 150-foot Ferris wheel. Navy Pier Park also includes the 1,500-seat Skyline Stage, which features musical performances ranging from classical to pop, blues and jazz to eclectic, rock and reggae, as well as dance, theater, comedy and film. It also houses the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows and offers the city's best view of the spectacular skyline and lakefront.
More exciting things to visit while you're in Chicago include The Tribune Tower, John Hancock Center, Chicago History Museum, American Girl Place, the Magnificent Mile and the Chicago Cultural Center.