Downtown Chicago Illinois - Fun Things To Do & See
Chicago is a vibrant metropolis and a world-class city of unsurpassed beauty, attracting visitors from around the world. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in the heart of the Midwest, Chicago is famous for blues music, professional sports teams, an internationally renowned symphony orchestra, spectacular live theater, celebrated architecture, thousands of restaurants, world-class museums, and legendary shopping.
You'll also find the nation's largest convention center, Wrigley Field, Sears Tower, delicious deep-dish Chicago pizza, and fun family activities. The most popular Chicago attractions and things to do are located minutes from BEST WESTERN PLUS River North.
Chicago Attractions, including Willis Tower and Shedd Aquarium
Navy Pier Chicago
Located on Lake Michigan, east of downtown Chicago, Navy Pier has been an unmistakable Chicago landmark since 1916. Once used for shipping and recreation, Navy Pier today showcases a unique collection of restaurants, shops, entertainment, and exhibition facilities.
You'll find the Chicago Children's Museum, an IMAX theater, Crystal Gardens (an indoor botanical park), the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. Navy Pier also features a Ferris wheel, musical carousel, 18-hole miniature golf course, and exciting boat rides and dinner cruises on Lake Michigan. Call 312-791-7000.
For visitors on the go, the Go Chicago Card and Chicago Explorer Pass offer unsurpassed access to the best Chicago attractions. The Go Chicago Card is a multi-attraction pass that gives you the most choices at Chicago's top attractions all for the best value. Attractions include Navy Pier, Sears Tower, our legendary museums and more! Or, create your own itinerary with the Chicago Explorer Pass. The Explorer Pass includes admission to five exciting Chicago attractions for one low price!
Chicago Willis Tower
Chicago's famous Willis Tower (formerly Sears tower), is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to the famous observation deck that offers stunning views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan (not to mention a see-through glass floor section!), Willis Tower features more than 3.5 million square feet of office and retail space, seven restaurants, and a multimedia exhibit of Chicago, murals, and educational displays for kids. Visit http://www.willistower.com
Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum was the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. Adler fuels the imagination with state-of-the-art computer technology in the world's first StarRider Theater, while showcasing a renowned collection of historical astronomy artifacts. The first Friday of every month is Far Out Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Visit www.adlerplanetarium.org
Field Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1893, the Field Museum in Chicago displays 20 million biological and anthropological specimens, complemented by a natural history library. Discover Sue, the largest and most complete T-Rex ever found. Get a bug's-eye view in Underground Adventure. Descend into an Egyptian tomb or watch a glowing lava flow. Be dazzled by sparkling gems and come nose-to-nose with the man-eating lions of Tsavo. You can learn about the world's cultures and environments. The Field Museum offers opportunities for research and learning through exhibits and innovative educational programs. Visit www.fieldmuseum.org
Experience the world's largest indoor aquarium featuring 19,000 aquatic animals from around the world! Exciting exhibits at this Chicago attraction include: Wild Reef, Caribbean Dive, Marine Mammal Presentations, Habitat Chats & Animal Encounters, and Sea Star Quest. See all that the Shedd has to offer with the All Access Pass that includes access to the original aquarium building, Wild Reef, Amazon Rising and the Oceanarium for the dolphin show. Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekends and summer weekdays. Call 312-939-2438.
Art Institute of Chicago
One of the world's greatest art museums and schools, the Art Institute of Chicago features 300,000 works of art (including 30 by Claude Monet) and 10 departments. The Museum collections, dating from 3,000 B.C. through the present, include world-famous French Impressionist paintings and drawings; fine and decorative arts from America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America; collections of 20th-century art; Old Master drawings; Chinese jades; photography, textiles, and architectural drawings; and medieval armor, all representing art of the world's diverse cultures. Visit www.artic.edu
Museum of Science and Industry Chicago -
The Museum of Science and Industry (known as "MSI"), is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, and is literally humongous, featuring 14 acres of hands-on exhibits.
Explore a real World War II German submarine; see your blood running through your veins; manipulate a live 40-foot tornado; and much more! MSI is not a place you walk around quietly and observe. No way! You get involved in the fun and learn by doing. Located only a few miles from downtown, the museum is easily accessible via public transportation (CTA trains or buses) or there is convenient underground parking. MSI is open every day from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. with extended hours until 5:30 p.m. during summer months, winter holidays, and spring breaks. Visit www.msichicago.org
for more info.
McCormick Place Convention Center
McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago is North America's premier convention facility, comprising the state-of-the-art South and North buildings and the Lakeside Center. The epicenter of business in Chicago, McCormick Place features 2.2 million sq. ft. of exhibit halls, 112 meeting rooms, assembly seating for 10,000 people, three 345-seat theaters, the largest ballroom in Chicago, and the Arie Crown Theater. McCormick Place Convention Center is also the nation's largest convention space. McCormick Place is linked by a 50,000 square-foot pedestrian promenade, and the Grand Concourse containing retail shops, restaurants/food service and Chicago attractions. Visit www.mccormick.com
or call 312-791-7000.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Just steps from Michigan Avenue and the historic Water Tower in downtown Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art highlights today's innovative and exciting artists. Take a free guided tour; stroll through the grand, barrel-vaulted galleries overlooking Lake Michigan; enjoy lunch at the museum's Wolfgang Puck Café; and shop in the fun-filled MCA Store. There is a ton to see and do at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. Visit www.mcachicago.org
Chicago Children's Museum
The anchor of Navy Pier, the Children's Museum features engaging interactive exhibits and fun things to do for kids. Dig deep in the Dinosaur Expedition, get wet at WaterWays, or climb to the crow's nest on the Kovler Family Climbing Schooner. Younger kids can have fun in Playmaze and Treehouse Trails. Hourly art workshops happen in the Kraft Artabounds Studio, and Members and children under 1 are free. Permanent exhibits include Design Your Dreams and Play it Safe. Visit www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org
Things to do in Chicago - Helpful Links