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Top 20 Tourist Attractions of Chicago

Chicago is not only one of the largest and most populous cities in the US, it is also a major center for architecture, culture, and commerce. This vibrant city has numerous attractions to entertain the whole family. Although the major attractions of Chicago can be covered in a weekend, you would need almost a week if you want to soak in the charm of this metropolis. Here is our pick of some of the top tourist attractions that the city of Chicago has to offer.

 

  1. Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field is the famous baseball stadium that is home to the Chicago Cubs, a Major League Baseball team. The stadium was completed in 1914 and was originally called Weeghman Park. Chewing gum company Wrigley took ownership in 1916 and renamed it Cubs Park before giving it the present name in 1927. The Wrigley Field, with a capacity of over 41,000, still holds major league matches, making it one of the oldest major league stadiums in the country. Even if you do not have a chance to catch a game, you can take a guided tour to have a behind-the-scenes view of this legendary stadium.

 

  1. Chicago Water Tower
Chicago Water Tower
Chicago Water Tower

The Chicago Water Tower stands proudly amidst the swanky skyscrapers and modern architecture in the Magnificent Mile on North Michigan Avenue. It was built in 1869, making it one of the oldest surviving water towers in the US. The tower was made of Lemont limestone and stands at a height of 154 meters. It was intended to draw water from lake Michigan and supply it to the city for drinking as well as for fire fighting. The tower stands today as a symbol of resilience after it became one of the few survivors of the drastic fire of 1871 which razed most of the buildings in the financial district. It is now home to the City Gallery.

 

  1. Civic Opera House
Civic Opera House
Civic Opera House

The Civic Opera House is located on Wacker Drive, less than a mile west of the Millennium Park. It is on the lower level of a 45-story office tower. The opera house was built in 1929 in an Art Deco style of architecture. With its seating capacity of 3563 people, the theater is the 2nd largest in North America. Since 1954, the Civic Opera House has been the permanent home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, one of the leading opera houses in the US. The interior of the opera house was renamed the Ardis Krainik Theatre in honor of the person responsible for its major renovation in the 1990-s.

 

  1. Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is the official reception venue for state guests. It is located on Millennium Avenue, just across the street from Millennium Park. It was built in 1893 in a fusion of neo classical and Italian Renaissance styles of architecture. One of the highlights of the building is the twin stained-glass Tiffany domes. The building was originally home to the central library but was converted to a cultural center in 1977. It hosts over 1000 cultural events every year, ranging from visual and literary arts to performing arts.

 

  1. Field Museum of Natural History
Field Museum of Natural History
Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum of Natural History was established in 1893 and is considered to be one of the largest museums of natural history in the world. It moved to its present location in Chicago Park from Jackson Park in 1921. The museum has a collection of over 24 million specimens, a fraction of which are put in display. There are several permanent and temporary exhibitions in this museum. One of the most popular exhibits of the museum is Sue, the 67-million year old, 40-feet long skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

 

  1. Oriental Institute
Oriental Institute
Oriental Institute

Oriental Institute is an archaeology museum located in the University of Chicago campus. The museum is dedicated to archaeological findings, excavations, antiquities, and conservation efforts associated with Near East. As opposed to Far East, Near East covers present=day nations like Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Israel. It was founded in 1919 with funding from John D. Rockefeller, the prominent business magnate and philanthropist. The museum has free admission, although a donation of $10 is encouraged.

 

  1. Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo was founded on 1st July 1934. Also known as Chicago Zoological Park, it has animals from over 450 species. The zoo has gained worldwide recognition for using ditches and moats instead of cages. These ditches and moats are used for separating the visitors from the animals. The Brookfield Zoo was the first American zoo to display Giant Pandas. In the year 1960, the zoo built the country’s first dolphin exhibit. In the 1980s, this zoo was again the first to build an indoor rain forest in America.

 

  1. Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest of its kind in the US. This greenhouse conservatory was established in the late 19th century, but the present structure dates back to 1908. It was designed by Jens Jensen in a Prairie School of architecture and is often fondly called ‘landscape art under glass’. It is spread over an area of 4.5 acres. The conservatory is home to various trees and plant species from all over the world. Of special mention is the Palm Room with its 7 dozen varieties of palm trees!

 

  1. The Rookery Building
The Rookery Building
The Rookery Building

The Rookery Building is an architectural landmark and historic building of Chicago. This 12-floor structure was completed in 1886 and is considered to be the oldest high rise still standing in the city. Rookery Building is famous for its interior light court and patio made of a steel frame. It was redesigned in the early 20th century and has since been a landmark of this city. The façade of the building was shown as the toy store in the hit Hollywood movie Home Alone 2.

 

  1. Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain

Located right at the center of Grant Park, the Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world. The design of the fountain was inspired by the Latona Fountain in the Palace of Versailles. It was built in 1927 in a style of a Rococo wedding cake. The fountain operates between April and October. In the winter months, it is decorated with festival lights. If you are visiting Chicago in summer, don’t miss out this grand fountain which sprouts water to a height of 15 meters.

 

  1. Adler Planetarium
Adler Planetarium
Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium is located to the south of Grant Park, in Lake Michigan. It was founded in 1930 making it the first planetarium in the US. The planetarium is housed in a building that was built in an Art Deco style of architecture. It is named after Max Adler, a prominent philanthropist. The Adler Planetarium has 3 full size theaters, a large exhibition space, and a collection of scientific prints and antique instruments. It is also home to the Doane Observatory. The view of the Chicago skyline from the Adler Planetarium is considered to be the best in the city.

 

  1. Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is not only one of the largest but also one of the oldest museums in the US. It was founded in 1879 and moved to its present location at Grant Park in 1893. It has collection of over 300,000 art works, including some of the most globally acclaimed iconic pieces. The Art Institute of Chicago is visited by more than 1.5 million art lovers annually. Some of the most famous artworks that are exhibited in this museum include Water Lilies (1906) by Claude Monet, Self Portrait (1887) by Van Gogh, The Basket of Apples by Paul Cezzane, The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso, and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte – 1884 by Georges Seurat.

 

  1. Magnificent Mile
Magnificent Mile
Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile is an upscale section of Michigan Avenue. It stretches from the Chicago River in the south to Oak Street in the north. You can get to the Mag Mile, as it is fondly called, by crossing the DuSable Bridge to the north of Grant Park. So what is it that makes the magnificent Mile so magnificent? The neighborhood is said to be one of the most expensive in the US and is home to several upscale stores and fine dining restaurants. The Mag Mile is also home to some of the tallest buildings in the US, like the Trump International Hotel and Tower and the John Hancock Center. You will also find the famous Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building in the Mag Mile.

 

  1. Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry
Transportation Gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is located on the northern end of Jackson Park, just west of the University of Chicago, on the western bank of Lake Michigan. It is undoubtedly one of the most prominent and must-visit attractions in Chicago. The museum was established in 1933 and was one of the first to have interactive hands-on exhibits for the visitors. The museum has 75 major halls with an exhibit count of over 2000. One of the most popular exhibits is the German submarine U 505 which was captured during World War II. The Apollo 8 spacecraft and the Pioneer Zephyr – the first diesel-powered stainless steel passenger train – are also popular with the visitors.

 

  1. Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is located just south of Grant Park, on the bank of Lake Michigan. This indoor public aquarium is home to over 32,000 marine animals in its 5 million gallons of water. It used to be the largest indoor aquarium in the world when it opened in 1930. The museum is visited by over 2 million people every year, making it the most-visited aquarium in the US. It has over 1500 species on display. The Shedd Aquarium has a number of award-winning exhibits like the Wild Reef, Rising, and Seahorse Symphony.

 

  1. Wills Tower Skydeck
Wills Tower Skydeck
Willis Tower Skydeck

The Skydeck is an observation platform on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. Formerly known as the Sears Tower, Willis Tower was completed in 1973 and remained the tallest building in the world for the next 25 years. It is now the 2nd tallest in the US, surpassed by the newly built One World Trade Center in New York City. The deck was opened in 1974 and is at a height of 1353 feet from ground level. With over a million annual visitors, the Skydeck is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. In 2009, a glass-capsule balcony was added to enhance the thrill of the Skydeck.

 

  1. Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park

Stretching 6 miles, the Lincoln Park is the largest park in the city of Chicago. It is located on the bank of Lake Michigan. The park is not only beautifully landscaped with lawns and flowering plants, it is also home to a number of attractions. Some of the popular attractions inside the Lincoln Park include the Lincoln Park Zoo, an outdoor theater, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, North Avenue Beach, Chicago History Museum, and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. You can visit any of these attractions or simply take stroll or bicycle around this park. Lincoln Park is also sprinkled with a number of statues, the most significant being the Standing Statue of Lincoln by Augustus Saint Gaudens.

 

  1. John Hancock Center
John Hancock Center
Viewing deck at the John Hancock Center

The John Hancock Center is an iconic skyscraper that is located on the northern end of the Magnificent Mile. This 100-floor building was completed in 1969 and was once the 2nd tallest in the world. Its black metallic finish with its two devil-horn like antennas make it easily identifiable in the Chicago skyline. The observation deck on the 94th floor of this skyscraper is a major attraction for tourists. It has a 360 degree view covering 4 states! It also has a thrilling open-air Skywalk. There is a restaurant on the 95th floor which also offers stunning views of the city and Lake Michigan.

 

  1. Millennium Park
Millennium Park
Cloud Gate at the Millennium Park

Millennium Park is located on the north western side of Grant Park. It is a popular hangout place for tourists and locals alike. With an annual footfall of over 25 million people, this public urban park is one of the most visited attractions in the US. The park was created in 2004 to celebrate the turn of the 2nd millennium. It is spread over 24.5 acres and has 4 sections – the Crown Fountain, the Cloud Gate, the Lurie Garden, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Since 2015, this has been the venue for annual Christmas tree of Chicago. The park is home to the very popular annual Grant park Music Festival.

 

  1. Navy Pier
Navy Pier
Navy Pier

The Navy Pier is one of the major tourist attractions in this part of the US. It was built in 1916 and is a 3300 feet long pier with an abundance of entertainment for the whole family. The pier is just 2 blocks west of the Magnificent Mile  jutting into Lake Michigan. Attractions of Navy Pier include the Navy Pier Park with several rides and a carousel. There is Funhouse Maze with 4000 square feet of maze and tunnels. There is a 6-story glass atrium – Crystal Garden – spread over 1 acre. Navy Pier is also home to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Children’s Museum, an IMAX theater, and  a 1500-capacity stage for live events. A new Ferris Wheel was opened to the public for the pier in 2016.

Originally posted 2017-08-22 06:04:51.

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