MoneyINC Logo
Years of

The 20 Best Things to do in Downtown Chicago

Chicago Magic Lounge

Are you planning a vacation but don't know where to go? Downtown Chicago could be the perfect destination. It is home to many exciting attractions, activities, and events. These attractions include the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Whether you are an indoor or an outdoor person, there is something for you to do in this vibrant city. The nightlife is also very exciting in downtown Chicago with many different bars and clubs. Here are the 20 best things to do in downtown Chicago.

Field Museum of Natural History

20. Visit the Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the world's largest museums and is worth a visit. There are a lot of different exhibits to see, and it is a great place to learn about the world's natural history. Some of the highlights of this museum include the Sue the T. rex exhibit, the Egyptian exhibits, and the Evolving Planet exhibit.

Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain

19. Experience Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain

Popularly known as the front yard of Chicago, Grant Park is one of the most iconic places in downtown Chicago. And it is located near a lot of other popular attractions such as the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Art Institute of Chicago. While at Grant park, take a moment at Buckingham Fountain, one of the world's largest fountains, which is particularly beautiful at night.

Magnificent Mile

18. Stroll down the Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile is one of the most famous streets in downtown Chicago, and it is worth a visit. This street is home to many different shops, restaurants, and hotels. Hence, you can go shopping and enjoy delicious food in some of the best eateries. In addition, the Magnificent Mile offers spectacular views of downtown Chicago. So, if you want to explore the beauty of this city, make sure you go for a stroll down the Magnificent Mile.

900 North Michigan Shops

17. Shop at the 900 North Michigan Shops

Downtown Chicago's shopping experience is not complete without a visit to the 900 North Michigan Shops. This place is home to various high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, and Nordstrom. Besides that, there are also a lot of restaurants in this place where you can enjoy a meal after a day of shopping. If you want the ultimate shopping experience, make your dreams come true by visiting the 900 North Michigan Shops.

The Bean

16. Take a picture with The Bean

The Bean is one of downtown Chicago's most iconic landmarks and is worth visiting. It was a creation of an Indian-American artist named Anish Kapoor. And this sculpture is made out of stainless steel. It reflects the skyline of Chicago, which is one of the qualities that makes it fascinating. This place is located in Millennium Park and is a great place to take pictures with friends or family. In addition, The Bean is also a great place to people-watch, and it is one of the must-see attractions in downtown Chicago.

Willis Tower

15. Enjoy the views from the Willis Tower

Would you love to experience one of the tallest buildings in the world? If so, Willis tower should be part of your itinerary in downtown Chicago. This place offers stunning views of the city, and you can also chow down finger-licking meals at one of their restaurants. The Willis Tower is a must-visit place when you are in downtown Chicago. The highlights of the Willi tower are the Skydeck, the Ledge, and the restaurants.

Summer Street Fest

14. Attend a Summer Street Fest

If you visit Chicago during the summer, make sure you attend one of their street festivals. There are a lot of different street festivals that take place in downtown Chicago, and they are a lot of fun. Some popular street festivals include the Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the Chicago Jazz Festival. These events provide a great opportunity to try different food from the various vendors and enjoy live music. And even make some new friends while you are at it.

the Tribune Tower

13. Admire the architecture of the Tribune Tower

The Tribune Tower is an architectural masterpiece and is a must-see attraction when visiting when you are in downtown Chicago. It is a skyscraper about 463 feet tall and was completed in 1925. Also, it is home to the Chicago Tribune newspaper's various shops and restaurants. This building offers stunning views of the city. For this reason, carry a camera and capture the beautiful Gothic architecture of the Tribune Tower.

Chicago Theatre

12. Visit the Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre is one of the most popular attractions in downtown Chicago, and it is worth a visit. This theatre has been around since 1921 and hosts various events such as concerts, musicals, and stand-up comedy. According to Msg, the Chicago theatre was the first movie palace in the United States. Architecturally, its design is French Baroque. And with a capacity of about 3000 people, it ranks among the largest theatres in Chicago. So, to enjoy a night of entertainment, check out the events at the Chicago Theatre.

River Cruise

11. Go on a River Cruise

One of the best ways to see the skyline of Chicago is by going on a river cruise. The most popular river cruise in Chicago is the Architecture River Cruise which lasts for about an hour and a half. On this voyage, you will get to see more than 50 different buildings along the river. And this provides a different and unique view of downtown Chicago. Apart from the fun, this cruise is also an educational experience.

Art Institute of Chicago

10. Experience the Finest Art at the Art Institute of Chicago

According to Artic, the Art Institue of Chicago is home to over 300,000 works of art. Its rich collection features some of the world's most famous and well-known paintings. These include works by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet. The museum also has an extensive collection of African and Native American art. If you are an art lover, you will relish the opportunity to explore this world-renowned museum. Also, it could be a source of inspiration to create your masterpiece. The best sections of this museum are the Impressionist paintings and the modern art section.

Navy Pier

9. Watch the Fireworks Shows at Navy Pier

Navy Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chicago. It is also the city's number one spot to watch fireworks. The pier hosts several fireworks throughout the year, but the sought-after one is the Fourth of July show. You can also watch the fireworks while enjoying a ride on the Centennial Wheel, the pier's iconic Ferris wheel. And as you create beautiful memories, record several videos with your phone or camera to show your friends and family back home.

Garfield Park Conservatory

8. Enjoy Tranquility at the Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory is located on the west side of Chicago. This park opened its doors to the public in 1906 and has been a popular spot among nature lovers ever since. It is one of the largest conservatories in the United States. The Conservatory comprises six greenhouses filled with different species of plants from all over the world. The best time to visit the Conservatory is during the spring when the flowers are in full bloom. But it is still enjoyable to visit during the summer and fall. The Fern Room is one of the most beautiful rooms in the park as it recreates a tropical forest. If you need a break from downtown Chicago's hustle and bustle, this is the perfect place to recollect your thoughts and relax.

Roof Top Happy Hours

7. Take Advantage of the Roof Top Happy Hours

A summer happy hour on a rooftop bar is one of the best ways to enjoy the warm weather while enjoying Chicago's skyline. There are several bars located in downtown Chicago with rooftop decks. These bars include the Chicago Athletic Association, the Virgin Hotels Chicago, and Morgan's on Fulton. You can also find rooftop bars with views of the river and Lake Michigan. Sip on your favorite summer cocktail while soaking up the rays and enjoying the stunning views.

Chicago Water Taxi

6. Ride on the Famous Chicago Water Taxi

The Chicago Water Taxi provides a unique way to see the city from a different perspective. The boat tour takes you on a ride down the Chicago River. And there is someone to entertain you with interesting commentary about the city's architecture. You will also get amazing views of some of Chicago's most famous landmarks, including the Willis Tower and the Wrigley Building. The tour lasts about an hour, but it is worth it.

Artistic Giant Lego Sculptures at the Museum of Science and Art

5. See the Artistic Giant Lego Sculptures at the Museum of Science and Art

The Museum of Science and Art is one of the unique museums in downtown Chicago. It is home to a wide variety of Lego sculptures. These sculptures are created by a local artist, Nathan Sawaya. And they are made out of over 1 million Legos. The museum also has interactive exhibits that will keep you entertained for hours. Part of these sculptures includes a life-size replica of the Venus de Milo and the Statue of Liberty. But the highlight is the imitations of Michaelangelo's David and the Mona Lisa. According to Cbsnews, the lego sculpture collection at this museum is the largest display of its kind in North America.

Chicago Cultural Centre

4. Visit the Chicago Cultural Centre

The Chicago cultural center is a state-of-the-art facility that was built in 1897. It is the city's former central public library. And it features two magnificent stained-glass domes. The cultural center is now home to the Visitor Information Centre, art galleries, and performance venues. You can also take a free architectural tour of the building. The tour lasts for about an hour, and it is a great way to learn more about the city's history and culture.

Frank Floyd Wright Outstanding Architecture at Robie House

3. Marvel at Frank Floyd Wright Outstanding Architecture at Robie House

Frank Floyd Wright was one of the most famous architects of the 20th century. And the Robie House is one of his most iconic creations. The house is in Hyde Park and is now a National Historic Landmark. It is open to the public for tours. And it is definitely worth a visit if you are interested in architecture or history. You can get some great photos to frame and hang on your wall during your visit.

Intrigues of China Town

2. Experience the Intrigues of China Town

China Town is located on the south side of downtown Chicago. It is one of the largest China Towns in the United States. And it is a great place to experience Chinese culture without traveling to China. You can find Chinese restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries. There are also cultural events held throughout the year. The best time to visit Chinatown is during the Chinese New Year, when the streets are filled with lion dances and fireworks.

Chicago Magic Lounge

1. Visit the Famous Chicago Magic Lounge

The Magic Lounge is located at 5050 N. Clark St., and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in downtown Chicago. And it has been operational for over two decades. If you have never had the opportunity to experience a magic show, the Chicago Magic Lounge is the perfect place to start. It showcases some of the best magicians in the world. And it is also a great place to learn about the history of magic. According to Splashmags, the intimate theatre provides a unique experience that will leave you amazed. The shows are suitable for all ages, and they are family-friendly. You can purchase tickets online in advance or at the door.


These are just a few of the best things to do in downtown Chicago. There is so much to see and do in this fantastic city. You could spend weeks here and still not see everything. Be it a couple, a family, or a group of friends. Downtown Chicago is a worthy destination a visit. But these 20 activities are a great way to start your exploration of downtown Chicago. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

Related Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with our most recent guides and articles on , freshly curated by our diligent editorial team for your immediate perusal.
As featured on:

Wealth Insight!
Subscribe to our Exclusive Newsletter

Dive into the world of wealth and extravagance with Money Inc! Discover stock tips, businesses, luxury items, and travel experiences curated for the affluent observer.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram