27 Famous Things Chicago Is Known For

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Chicago is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, and for good reason. Chicago is known for many things from festivals to music to culture. There’s so much to see and do in this city that it would take weeks or even months to explore it all.

What Is Chicago Known For?

Whether you’re looking for fine dining, great music, famous architecture, or exciting sporting events, there is something for everyone in Chicago. With its rich history and vibrant culture, there are many reasons that make Chicago unique and special.

From the city vibes to cultural and historical elements, they all reflect the different interesting and fun facts about Chicago. While some require deliberate exploration and planning, others become immediately obvious as you roam around the city.

Here are some popular and famous things that Chicago is known for.

Famous Food In Chicago

Chicago is somewhat of a food paradise in the United States and there are many foods that Chicago is known for. Below are a few of the iconic ones to try. One of the best ways to get a peek into the thriving food scene is via a walking food tour in Chicago.


Deep-dish Pizza

Chicago is known for its delicious and iconic deep-dish pizza, a type of pizza that features a thick crust and layers of flavorful toppings.

The origins of deep-dish pizza can be traced back to the 1940s when Ike Sewell opened the first pizzeria in Chicago that specialized in this style of pizza. Since then, deep-dish pizza has become one of Chicago’s most popular and well-known dishes.

You can even join pizza tours that takes you to all the best pizzerias in the city! This is a very popular activity for foodies.

Chicago- Italian Beef Sandwich

Italian beef sandwiches are another popular dish in Chicago that you simply can’t miss if you’re visiting. This sandwich is made with thin slices of roast beef that are dipped in cooking juices and served on an Italian roll. It’s then topped with Giardiniera, which is a mix of pickled vegetables and can also be served with sweet peppers or spicy peppers.

Featuring a pile of succulent meat drenched in flavorful broth and a combination of tangy taste from the toppings, this is one of the famous foods from Chicago.


Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

A visit to Chicago is not complete without eating a classic Chicago-style hot dog. This type of hot dog is typically served on a poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, sport peppers, and celery salt. Each of these ingredients gives the hot dog a unique flavor and texture that is unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else.

Almost all Chicago food tours will encompass this dish because it’s such a typical day to day food for the locals.


Chicago is known for its iconic deep-dish pizza, but donuts are just as popular with locals and visitors alike! So how about some sweet desserts after a savory pizza meal.

From classic glazed donuts to more inventive creations, the city’s donut scene is not to be overlooked. Whether you’re craving a traditional deluxe honey dip or something more unusual like a cream-filled blackberry brioche, Chicago has it all!

And if you’re looking for something a little bit healthier, there are plenty of vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free options available. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Chicago’s donut scene has it all!

For all the donut lovers, there is even an Underground Donut Tour to sample all the tastiest donuts in the windy city.

Festivals In Chicago

Taste of Chicago Food Festival

The Taste of Chicago is an annual food festival held in Chicago’s Grant Park. The festival features a wide variety of food from some of the city’s best restaurants, as well as live music and other entertainment. The Taste of Chicago is one of the largest and most popular food festivals in the United States, attracting tons of visitors each year.

Riot Fest

Riot Fest is an annual music festival that takes place in Chicago. The festival features a wide variety of genres, including punk rock, alternative rock, hip hop, and electronic music. Riot Fest is also known for its carnival rides and games, as well as its on-site camping. This is held every September in Douglas Park.

Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival is an annual music and arts festival held in Chicago in July. The festival features a wide array of independent artists, including rock, hip hop, electronic, experimental, and more.

Pitchfork Music Festival has been recognized as one of the best festivals in the country by several media outlets and draws thousands of visitors from around the world each year.

Other notable festivals in Chicago include the Chicago Blues Festival, which is the largest free blues festival in the world, and Lollapalooza, an annual music festival that features some of the biggest names in rock, pop, EDM, and hip hop.

Photo credit: Bmwmunk/Depositphotos.com

History, Culture, And Traditions

With its rich history, vibrant culture, and many celebrated attractions, it’s no wonder Chicago is one of the most popular cities in the world. Here are some History, culture, and traditions Chicago is known for

Windy City

The nickname “Windy City” is one of the most well-known things about Chicago. There are a few different stories about how Chicago got this nickname, but the most popular one is that it was given to the city because of the high winds that blow off Lake Michigan. Another theory is that the nickname was given to Chicago by New York journalists who were trying to make fun of the city.

Fine Dining

Chicago is known for its fine dining scene, and there are many Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, including Alinea, Grace, and L2O. Chicago is also home to many James Beard Award-winning chefs, such as Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless, and Charlie Trotter. If you’re looking for a truly luxurious and indulgent dining experience, then Chicago is one place to explore this in the United States.

Second City

Chicago is known as the “Second City” because it used to have the second-largest population in the United States after New York. However, as other cities like Los Angeles and Houston began to grow, Chicago lost its place as the second most populated city in the country. Despite this change, the nickname “Second City” is still widely used to refer to Chicago today.



Chicago is home to some of the most iconic skyscrapers and architecture in the United States.

The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, is one of the most well-known buildings in Chicago. It also is one of the tallest building in the U.S., and has been a popular tourist destination since it was built in 1974. This is in no small part due to the stunning view you can get from the 103rd floor Skydeck.

Other notable skyscrapers in Chicago include the John Hancock Center, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the Aon Center. You can also head up to John Hancock Observatory for a panoramic view of the city.


In addition to its skyscrapers, Chicago is also known for its architecture. The impressive skyscrapers certainly form part of the distinct skyline but those are just part of it. The city has a number of architecturally significant buildings, including the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, and the Rookery Building.

There are many historical events that contributes to the architectural style in Chicago today. One of the best avenue to check out the important buildings is through an Architecture River Cruise. It is a relaxing way to not just see the river front, architectural wonders and learn about the related history.

Gangsters and Crime

Chicago has a long history of gangsters and crime. Some of the most famous gangsters in American history, such as Al Capone and John Dillinger, called Chicago home. While crime rates have fallen significantly in recent years, Chicago still has a reputation for being a city with a high crime rate.

In fact one of the most popular activities for visitors to understand about this past is the Gangsters and Ghosts Tour.

Music Scene

Beyond its iconic food, music, and architecture, Chicago is also known for its rich history and vibrant culture. From blues to jazz to hip hop, there is something for everyone in the Windy City’s thriving music scene.

Whether you are looking for live performances at one of the many renowned venues or want to explore some of the city’s lesser-known underground clubs, there is something for everyone in Chicago’s dynamic music scene.

Sports Teams In Chicago

Being a sports-crazy city, with fans of both local and national teams. The Chicago Bears football team is one of the most beloved sports franchises in the country, while the Chicago Bulls are considered to be one of the greatest basketball teams of all time.

Photo credit: alexeynovikov/Depositphotos.com


An iconic symbol of Chicago is the beloved football team, the Bears. The Bears have a long and storied history, dating back to 1919. They are one of the oldest and most successful franchises in NFL history, winning nine Championships, including one Super Bowl.

The Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are one of the most successful basketball teams in history. They won six Championships in the 1990s, led by legendary players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. The Bulls are one of the most popular teams in the NBA and have a large global following.

The Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are one of the most iconic baseball teams in America.

They have a long history dating back to the 1870s and have won two World Series titles in their history. While the Cubs had an incredible drought between 1908 and 2016 without winning a single World Series title, they continue to be one of America’s most beloved sports teams.

Other notable local sports teams include the Blackhawks hockey team and the Fire soccer club.

Famous People From Chicago

Photo credit: everett225/Depositphotos.com

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is one of the most well-known and respected women in the world.

She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and spent most of her childhood in the city. After attending Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she began her career as a lawyer. Michelle Obama was the First Lady of the United States, and is a celebrated public figure and advocate for various causes.

Derrick Rose

Another famous person from Chicago is basketball player Derrick Rose.

Rose was born and raised in Chicago, and he attended Simeon Career Academy High School. He went on to play for the University of Memphis Tigers as well as the Chicago Bulls NBA team. In 2015, he won the NBA MVP award and helped lead the Bulls to victory in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Robin Williams

Perhaps one of the most beloved actors in history, Robin Williams was born and raised in Chicago. After gaining fame for his work on the TV show Mork & Mindy, Williams went on to star in a number of successful films, such as Dead Poet’s Society, Good Will Hunting, and Mrs. Doubtfire. He was a much-loved actor and comedian, and his death in 2014 left the world in mourning.

Photo credit: Featureflash/Depositphotos.com

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford is another one of the most well-known and celebrated actors in Hollywood history that hails from Chicago. He is best known for his roles as Han Solo in the “Star Wars” movies, Indiana Jones in the “Indiana Jones” franchise, and Rick Deckard in the cult classic film “Blade Runner.”

Architecture And Landmarks

From world-renowned museums and historical sights to trendy neighborhoods, there are many travel attractions and landmarks Chicago is famous for. Here are a few iconic ones.

Cloud Gate (The Bean) at Millennium Park

One of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks is Cloud Gate, more commonly known as “The Bean.” The Bean is a sculpture in Millennium Park that was designed by British artist Anish Kapoor. The sculpture is made up of 168 stainless steel plates that are welded together and polished to create a smooth, reflective surface.

Navy Pier

Along Lake Michigan, you will find Navy Pier, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. This 3,300-foot-long pier was built in 1916 and is a fun day out with friends and families.

It is home to many restaurants and shops, as well as several family-friendly rides and entertainment options. The iconic ferris wheel is a popular attraction that gives you a great view of the lake and surrounding city.


Chicago Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalks are a network of pedestrian paths along the banks of the Chicago River. The paths offer beautiful views of the city, and they feature numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops. They are popular spots for locals to enjoy a stroll or relax with a drink or meal in the sunshine.

The Willis Tower

Another famous landmark in Chicago is the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower. At 1,451 feet tall, it was the tallest building in the world for nearly 25 years.

The Willis Tower features incredible views of Chicago from its Skydeck, which is a popular attraction among tourists and locals alike. You can get a ticket up and access the glass balcony that gives you a straight view down to the street. It is still one of the tallest buildings in North America.

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field is a baseball stadium that is home to the Chicago Cubs. It is located on the North Side of Chicago, and it first opened its doors in 1914. Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic stadiums in baseball, and well-known for its ivy-covered brick outfield wall.


The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile is a section of Michigan Avenue that is home to some of the best shops, restaurants, and hotels in Chicago.

This is the shopper’s paradise, particularly for high-end, luxury brands. Regardless, it is a popular spot for to hang out and enjoy the city vibe, as it is always bustling with activity.

There are many other notable landmarks in Chicago including Lincoln Park, Garfield Park Conservatory, and the Chicago Loop. Chicago is also home to some of the country’s most prestigious museums and historical sites.

Many More Things Chicago Is Known And Famous For

These are just a few of the things that Chicago is famous for. From its food and architecture to its sports and landmarks, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. Whether you are visiting or living here, be sure to explore all that Chicago has to offer. You will discover many more things that Chicago is known for.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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