As a city rich in history and culture, there are plenty of sights and landmarks in Chicago to keep visitors busy. From the iconic Bean to Navy Pier, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.
There are also plenty of things to do in Chicago, so you’ll never be bored. If you’re looking for a challenge, try climbing the stairs to the top of the Willis Tower or taking a tour of Wrigley Field. For something a little more relaxed, take a stroll through Millennium Park or enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants on Michigan Avenue.
Chicago is a city full of landmarks and attractions that are perfect for tourists. From bustling districts to relaxing nature, here are some of the top sights and landmarks in Chicago that you won’t want to miss.
Visiting Chicago – Useful City Passes
If you’re planning a trip to Chicago, then you might be wondering what city passes are available and which ones offer the best value. Here are some to check out and save some time and cost depending on your itinerary.
- Chicago CityPASS: Popular CityPASS in US cities, this includes 5 top attractions from a list of your choice with cost savings.
- Go City All-Inclusive Pass: 1-5 day pass that includes admission to over 25 attractions, savings up to 45%
- Go City Explorer Pass: Choose between 2-7 attractions with up to 40% savings.
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus: Open top hop-on hop-off bus to tour the city’s sights and architecture.
- Private Airport Transfer: If you are coming in or leaving by flight, the most convenient option to travel between O’Hare airport and city center.
Most Famous Attraction and Landmark in Chicago
Millennium Park and Cloud Gate
The most famous landmark in Chicago has to be the Cloud Gate, commonly known as “The Bean.” which is in Millennium Park.
Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor, completed in 2006. It is one of the most photographed landmarks in Chicago– and for good reason. The Bean is a unique piece of public art that offers a fun, interactive experience for visitors. Be sure to walk around it and take in the different reflections from all angles.
The 110-ton steel sculpture is the centerpiece of Millennium Park. This is a public park located in the Loop community area of Chicago in Illinois, US. Millennium Park was originally intended to celebrate the third millennium and is now one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.
Landmarks in Chicago – Museums
Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world. With over 35,000 artifacts on display, there’s plenty to see and do here.
The museum has fourteen permanent exhibitions, including a coal mine, a WWII German submarine, and a mirror maze. They also have rotating temporary exhibitions– past examples include “The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” and “Genetics: Decoding Life.”
The Field Museum
If you’re looking to learn more about the natural history of our planet, a visit to The Field Museum is a must.
Home to Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil in the world, as well as ancient Egyptian artifacts, Native American exhibits, and mummies from every continent, The Field Museum will take you on a journey through time.
Plan to spend at least a few hours here– there’s a lot to see!
The Art Institute of Chicago
Founded in 1879, The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. With a collection that spans centuries and includes works by Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and more, there’s something for everyone at this iconic institution.
Don’t miss the institute’s popular temporary exhibitions, which rotate throughout the year and always draw large crowds. Whether you’re an art lover or not, a visit to The Art Institute of Chicago is a must-do when in the Windy City.
LANDMARKS IN USA
Landmarks in Chicago – Parks
Maggie Daley Park
If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago, take a walk or a bike ride over to Maggie Daley Park. This park offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan as well as the city skyline.
There are plenty of things to do here whether you want to go rock climbing, ice skating, or take a stroll down the winding path. The park also hosts events throughout the year like free yoga classes, concerts, and farmers’ markets.
Lincoln Park and Zoo
Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s largest, spanning nearly 1400 acres from Lake Michigan all the way to Diversey Parkway. It’s home to a free zoo, a huge nature museum, plenty of green space for picnics and games, a conservatory full of exotic plants, and much more.
The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the country’s only free zoos and it’s also one of the oldest. It first opened in 1868 with a handful of animals donated from New York City’s Central Park Zoo. These days, the zoo is home to over 1200 animals across 200 different species. You can see everything from chimpanzees and gorillas to snakes and sharks.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg– there’s so much to do in Lincoln Park, you could easily spend an entire day (or two) exploring everything it has to offer.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Just west of downtown, Garfield Park is one of the largest in Chicago at 300-acre. It is home to a number of landmarks in Chicago, including the Garfield Park Conservatory.
The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance operates the facility, which features 12 display houses that showcase various types of plants from around the world. One section includes a plantarium where you can see the stars and planets among the greenery.
The conservatory is free to enter, making it a great activity for budget travelers, and it’s open every day of the week.
Landmarks in Chicago – Districts
Chicago River and Riverwalk
The Chicago River is one of the defining landmarks of the city– it flows through downtown, dividing it into the North Side and South Side.
You can take a cruise on the river to get views of some of Chicago’s most famous buildings or walk along the Riverwalk for a different perspective. The Riverwalk is a pedestrian path that winds along the river, lined with cafes, restaurants, and parks. It’s the perfect place to take a break from sightseeing and relax in the sun.
The Magnificent Mile
The Magnificent Mile is Chicago’s most famous shopping street, and it lives up to its name. This mile-long section of Michigan Avenue hosts high-end shops like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Cartier, Gucci, and The Lego Store, intermingled with department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom.
Even if you don’t plan on spending any money, it’s worth window-shopping and people-watching along the Mag Mile. You might even spot a celebrity or two– this is one of the most popular streets in Chicago for celebrities to do some shopping when they’re in town.
The Loop is the central business district of Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the city’s 77 designated community areas. The Loop is home to Chicago’s commercial core, City Hall, and the seat of Cook County.
Bounded on the west and north by the Chicago River, on the east by Lake Michigan, and on the south by Roosevelt Road, it is the second largest commercial business district in the United States after Midtown Manhattan and contains the headquarters of many locally and globally important businesses as well as several landmarks.
Natural Landmark in Chicago
You can’t come to Chicago without spending some time by the water. Stretching for miles along Chicago’s shoreline is Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America.
In the summer, people sunbathe on the beach, paddleboard and kayak in the waves, and play volleyball on the sand. When it’s cold out, the lake freezes over and becomes a giant playground for ice skating, hockey, and cross-country skiing.
There are also many landmarks along the lake, like Navy Pier– a former military docking area that’s now full of rides, restaurants, and shops –and the Ferris wheel there gives riders a great view of the city and the lake.
Other Famous Sights and Landmarks in Chicago
Another popular landmark in Chicago is Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, a tour of this historic ballpark is worth your time; it first opened in 1914 and is the second oldest stadium in Major League Baseball.
If you are a baseball fan, come during game season and catch a game– just be warned that tickets are hard to come by and quite pricey. You can also try your luck at one of the many sports bars in the area that show Cubs games.
The Willis Tower
An icon of the Chicago skyline, Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is one of the tallest buildings in North America. You can buy a ticket to go to the top for an incredible view of the cityscape from 103 stories above street level. On a clear day, you can see up to 50 miles away! The glass balcony that extends out of the tower’s facade makes for a thrilling yet safe experience to test your fear of heights.
Apart from Architecture, there are many other things that Chicago is known for and you can find many themed tours catering to these history and culture of Chicago.
One of the most fun landmarks in Chicago is Navy Pier. This is a must-see for first-time visitors to the city, especially families with young children.
The 50-acre pier was originally built in 1916 as a delivery port for goods and materials, but it has since been transformed into an entertainment complex with rides, restaurants, shops, and gardens.
Navy Pier is a leisure and entertainment destination with something for everyone. Highlights include the 150-foot Ferris wheel, Shakespeare Theater, musical performances at the Polk Brothers Park stage, and fireworks on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer.
Navy Pier is also a great place to take in views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.
Last but not least is Buckingham Fountain, located in Grant Park. This beautiful fountain is one of the largest in the world, and it’s truly a sight to see. Water shoots up 150 feet into the air, and it’s especially pretty at night when the fountain is illuminated with colored lights.
Discovering Famous Sights and Landmarks in Chicago
These are just a few of the landmarks you can find in Chicago – there are many more waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, be sure to check out these popular attractions to get a better feel of the city. You are bound to uncover more amazing sights and landmarks in Chicago on your exploration.