Things to do in
Chicago

The Mecca of the Midwest is famous for its architectural beauty, vibrant culture, and colorful past.

Enter your dates to find available activities

Get free cancellation up to 24 hours before your activity starts for a full refund.

Our most recommended things to do in Chicago

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

1. Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Located on the Historic Navy Pier, see the Centennial Wheel suspended over Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Enjoy views of the iconic Chicago skyline, the many attractions on Navy Pier, and the famous parks and world-class attractions located along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Choose between two options: With the Regular Barcoded ticket, skip the ticket line and enter the line to board the wheel. The Fastpass Express ticket allows you to skip both lines, and gives you VIP access. Both tickets allow you to visit within 7 days of your scheduled ticket date. Enjoy the Centennial Wheel, which was built in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Navy Pier opening. Featuring 42 gondolas, each holding 8 people, it operates year-round. They also feature LED lighting, padded seats, TV screens, and speakers, as well as panoramic windows on all 4 sides. A ride on the wheel gives you plenty of time to enjoy these panoramic views of Chicago as they unfold around you, and allows you to visit the top three times. Relax and take in the view, or get your camera out to snap pictures of the ever-changing Chicago landscape.

...
360 Chicago Observation Deck Admission: Skip the Ticket Desk

2. 360 Chicago Observation Deck Admission: Skip the Ticket Desk

Soaring 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue, 360 CHICAGO is one of the city’s most unique attractions. Located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, 360 CHICAGO (formerly John Hancock Observatory) offers breathtaking views of Chicago’s lakefront, magnificent skyline and four neighboring states. After only a 40-second ride in North America's fastest elevators to the observation deck, you can experience what Travel & Leisure Magazine voted one of the best views in America. No other tower gets you closer to the heart of Chicago. Located on the Magnificent Mile and close to Navy Pier, 360 Chicago provides easy access to Chicago’s premier shopping and dining districts.   360 CHICAGO is also the only place where locals and visitors alike can enjoy TILT, Chicago’s tallest and most thrilling attraction. The first of its kind in the world, this one-of-a-kind marvel literally tilts you out and over the Magnificent Mile an Chicago’s famous skyline from the 94th floor observation deck. TILT gives you unique, downward facing views from over 1,000 feet up for up to 8 travelers at a time. Upgrade and include TILT and forever change the way you see Chicago!   360 CHICAGO also offers an interactive exhibit on the Ground Floor highlighting Chicago’s rich history and showcasing nine of the city’s culturally unique neighborhoods. Then, on the 94th floor, audio tours in 5 languages allow you to further explore the history and architecture of the magnificent city stretched out before you.  By pre-purchasing your timed ticket today, you get to skip the ticket desk and present your barcoded voucher to security to be scanned - you may have to wait in a short line at security, then head directly into the Ground Floor Exhibits, and then on to Elevator Line.

...
Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

3. Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Experience more of Chicago by boat than on any other architectural cruise. See architectural highlights and enjoy an open-air deck or climate-controlled interior as you travel the main River and its north and south branches. View all of Chicago's architectural highlights during this comprehensive sightseeing tour. Be entertained by the expert and friendly tour guides as they explain the 130 year-long history behind the skyline, while bartenders and staff keep you comfortable with refreshments.  Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. The tour starts at the Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and goes up the main branch of the Chicago River past Wolf Point. It then cruises along the north and south branches of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. On the way, learn about ornate, historic early skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the imposing art deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building. Don't miss the circular Marina City Towers, the majestic Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower and the tallest building in Chicago) the soaring AON Center, and more modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the new Vista Tower. During your cruise, have the opportunity to enjoy a full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits, and Garrett’s Popcorn. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Grand Staircase at the front of the boat or pose for photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.

...
Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History Ticket or VIP Tour

4. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History Ticket or VIP Tour

Visit the Field Museum of Natural History, one of Chicago's great museums. With more than 35 world-renowned natural history exhibitions, there's something for everyone. Visit the Field Museum of Natural History, which holds over 35 world-renowned natural history exhibitions. Explore subterranean life in the Underground Adventure exhibit. Admire gemstones in the Hall of Gems and one of the largest collections of Chinese jade in North America in the Hall of Jades. Next, follow the stories of the Ice Age mammoth hunters and the temples of the Inca and Aztecs. Visit the Dinosaur Hall Evolving Planet exhibit to mingle with giant sloths, woolly mammoths, Sue, and Maximo. Upgrade to the All-Access Pass to see a 3-D movie and all 3 ticketed special exhibitions. Choose the Early Access VIP Tour option for a one-hour VIP tour of the museum's dinosaurs before the museum opens to the general public. Take pictures with Sue or Maximo without the crowds. Then explore the rest of the museum with an all-access ticket including a 3D movie titled "Waking the T-Rex."

...
Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

5. Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

Enjoy an unrivaled view over the city of Chicago on a trip up the city's Willis Tower. This famous building, once known as the Sears Tower, is not only home to a Skydeck on the 103rd floor, but it also features The Ledge, a series of 4 glass-paneled boxes that extend out from the building's facade to give visitors a view straight down. As you wind through the ground levels of the Willis Tower, you will be surrounded by museum-quality exhibits highlighting the iconic tower. Learn about Chicago's rich history and culture through these informative visuals. Watch a video presentation, "Reaching for the Sky," where you will be briefed on the history of the building and of architecture in Chicago. Then step into your elevator and you will be amazed at how quickly it ascends. As you travel, your multimedia-equipped elevator will inform you about your vertical progress. Upon reaching the 103rd floor, step out onto the Skydeck, which offers views spanning over 50 miles and across 4 states. Then summon your courage to step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony that hangs over the edge, for vertigo-inducing views 1,353 feet (about 412 meters) straight down to the city below! Download the Skydeck Mobile App for a free viewfinder which points out many of Chicago’s notable landmarks. Learn more about sights like Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, Grant Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum of Natural History.

...
Chicago River: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture Cruise

6. Chicago River: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture Cruise

Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture from a unique perspective aboard a 45-minute cruise sailing down the Chicago River, which features a full-service cash bar and live commentary tailored to entertain the whole family. Experience the best of the Chicago River from Lakeshore Drive to the Willis Tower, navigating along the South branch of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan. Be entertained by the fun and experienced tour guides as they explain the history behind Chicago’s buildings along the river and the exceptional architects who created this ever-changing skyline. Enjoy the most relaxing way to sightsee in Chicago- a perfect way to explore the city free of traffic noise and congestion. Make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Explore the open-air decks that allow you to feel the cooling river breeze and see the city from many vantage points that provide perfect photo opportunities.

...
Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

7. Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

Skip the lines at the ticket office and climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise for a 60- or 75-minute cruise of all 3 branches of the Chicago River, and marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Get an insight into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. Your expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building, Trump Tower, Marina City, Willis Tower, and more. Relax with a glass of something cold from the cash bar, as you cruise the Windy City’s waterway, and learn its status as a modern metropolis and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. End your tour in the same place where you boarded the boat.

...
Chicago: 90-Minute Mob and Crime Bus Tour

8. Chicago: 90-Minute Mob and Crime Bus Tour

Experience Chicago’s underworld of criminals and gangsters on a luxury 90-minute bus tour. Find out how some of the world’s most famous criminals, mobsters, and gangsters conned their way through the city. Ride comfortably in luxury, on a climate-controlled bus, as you see famous Chicago crime scenes that range from the 19th century through modern times. Unlike Chicago walking tours, this Mob and Crime Tour isn’t affected by the Windy City weather. Learn from a local expert tour guide giving interactive live commentary about Al Capone, the Untouchables, the Chicago Mob, John Dillinger, Terrible Tommy O'Connor, H. H. Holmes, the Chicago Black Sox, Leopold and Loeb, bank heists, Cap George Streeter, and more. Grab your camera for a drive-by shooting of the historic criminal courthouse, a Chicago architectural landmark where some of Chicago's most notorious cases were tried. You'll also view historic video footage, receive an informative pamphlet with photos, and can even take part in a crime quiz. Stake out crime scenes like the Biograph Theatre, Holy Name Cathedral, Clark Street Bridge, and other Chicago landmarks. See the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, one of Chicago's most notorious murder scenes. Get off the bus and walk the path that notorious Chicago gangsters John Dillinger and Hymie Weiss followed just before their deaths. Travel into the criminal past of Chicago's River North, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Loop, and Magnificent Mile neighborhoods.

...
360 Chicago: Observation Deck Entry with a Drink at Bar 94

9. 360 Chicago: Observation Deck Entry with a Drink at Bar 94

Take your cocktail hour to a whole different level at Bar 94, 360 Chicago's own inviting bar located 1,000 feet over Chicago’s spectacular Magnificent Mile. Part observation deck, part cocktail and beer destination, Bar 94 combines breathtaking views and taste-tempting cocktail combinations. Featuring locally crafted beers from Revolution Brewing and locally inspired spirits from KOVAL Distillery, Bar 94 combines amazing 360-degree views with premium beer, wine, and spirits to give you a taste of Chicago you can’t find anywhere else. Your admission includes access to 360 Chicago, formerly The John Hancock Observatory, which combines superior lake views with close-ups of Chicago’s monumental landmarks. With views consistently rated as Chicago’s best, no other tower gets you closer to the heart of Chicago. Located on the Magnificent Mile and close to Navy Pier, 360 Chicago also provides easy access to Chicago’s premier shopping and dining districts. Choose from a select drink menu as follows: • Cocktails: Tequila Sunrise: house tequila, orange juice, grenadine, served with a cherry Appleseed: house apple whiskey, lemonade, cranberry juice, a splash of soda, served with a cherry Vodka Spritzer: house citrus vodka, sour mix, soda water, and a splash of cranberry juice, served with a lemon Summer Punch: Rumhaven coconut rum, cranberry juice, orange juice, served with an orange Team Captain: Captain Morgan white rum, orange juice, Sierra Mist, served with a lime • Wine: White (Chardonnay), red (Cabernet Sauvignon), or rosé • Beer: Revolution Cross of Gold, Miller Lite, Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft

...
Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Skip-the-Line Ticket

10. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Skip-the-Line Ticket

Pre-book and skip the lines to enter the Art Institute of Chicago, a world-class museum with hundreds of thousands of artworks. Here you can get an intimate view of some of the world's most famous art, from iconic contemporary and modern paintings to medieval masterpieces.  Experience the Institute’s vast collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, the largest outside The Louvre in Paris. See masterpieces such as Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte," Renoir's "Two Sisters (on the Terrace)”, and numerous paintings by Claude Monet first-hand. In the “Modern Art” collection, see iconic pieces such as Matisse's “Bathers by a River”, Brâncusi's “Golden Bird”, Magritte's “Time Transfixed”, O'Keeffe's “Black Cross, New Mexico”, Orozco's “Zapata”, Ivan Albright's “Picture of Dorian Gray”, and Lachaise's “Woman (Elevation)”. The “American Art” collection will show you work by renowned artists such as John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, and Winslow Homer, as well as iconic Modernist holdings from Georgia O'Keeffe to the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. In the “Contemporary Art” section, you will see ground-breaking works by Willem de Kooning, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell, Bruce Nauman, Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, and Cy Twombly. Use your pass to the full and browse the Institute’s other collections, including “European Painting and Sculpture Collection”, “Asian Collection”, “African Collection”, and “Medieval Collections”. As you walk through the halls, admire the museum’s architecture by Pritzker Prize-winning Renzo Piano, complementing the museum's original 1893 building, which was built for the World's Columbian Exposition of the same year.

...

Frequently asked questions about Chicago

What top attractions are a must-see in Chicago?

Planning Your Visit

  • Chicago Children's Museum tickets and hours

    Admission: $14
    Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday from 10:00AM-5:00PM; Thursdays from 10:00AM-8:00PM; Fridays from 10:00AM-6:00PM; Weekends from 10:00AM-7:00PM. Thursdays from 5:00PM-8:00PM is Family Night and free.
    Location: Navy Pier

  • Chicago History Museum tickets and hours

    Admission: $14 with two audio tours. Kids 12 and under are free.
    Opening hours: daily from 9:30AM-4:30PM
    Location: Lincoln Park

  • Science and Industry Museum

    Admission: $18 (adults), $11 (kids 3-11). Three different ticket packages are also available for $27, $32, and $36. Depending on the selected package, visitors may choose up to three extra museum features, such as the Omnimax Theater, which are not included in the general admission price.

    Opening hours: daily from 9:30AM-5:30PM
    Location: 5700 Lake Shore Drive

  • When should I go?

    April through May and September through October are great months to visit. The weather is nice, prices are reasonable, and there are plenty of festivals to enjoy. Plus, the crowds are less than in the peak summer season.

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    USD ($)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-06:00)
  • Country Code
    +1
  • Best time to visit
    Early summer and early fall tend to have pleasant temperatures, fewer crowds, and a great selection of events on offer.

Other Sightseeing Options in Chicago

Want to discover all there is to do in Chicago? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Chicago

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 11,416 reviews

We ended up going at dusk and enjoyed amazing views as the lighting changed the three times the wheel spun before we exited. My family had a gondola too ourselves so we were more comfortable with covid.

Es un paseo muy bonito, bien explicado, las bebidas a bordo deliciosas, y las fotos que se pueden tomar en el paseo de las 5pm son increíbles, Chicago de noche se ve hermoso.

It was lovely and different and nice and convenient and all involved was very nice easy to navigate the web site too.

We had beautiful clear skies and really enjoyed the views and listening to the tour guide.

Very short ride for the amount of money. Nice view.