Fun things to do in Chicago

  • Chicago River Cruise
    Chicago River Cruise
    by riorich55
  • The Bean in Millennium Park
    The Bean in Millennium Park
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  • Serpentine bridge
    Serpentine bridge
    by leics

Most Viewed Things to Do in Chicago

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    If you want to make crime pay, do it in Chicago.

    by etfromnc Written Nov 13, 2012

    My parents, and other elders, always taught me that crime does not pay. At least since the days of Al Capone, many people in Chicago have been trying to prove that this old saying is not true. I am not accusing any single individual of committing a crime but the former senator from Illinois seems to have been set on proving that a life of crime was not all bad, especially if you get caught.
    Who was that US Senator from Illinois who helped arrange the funds to build this beautiful "punishment center," where you can even order your meals from a menu?

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    Amazing Grace(land)

    by goodfish Updated Oct 17, 2012

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    I like to wander a cemetery in every city we visit as they're great escapes from the noise and bustle and often offer a few interesting history lessons besides. Graceland is the resting place of many of Chicago's most notable architects as well as a few mayors, industrialists, philanthropists, inventors and developers. Established in 1860, it was also the relocation site for some of the remains disinterred from City Cemetery - previously located in what is now Lincoln Park - when fear of ground water contamination and disease from overcrowding closed that burial ground shortly after the Great Fire.

    Some of the more famous of Graceland's inhabitants include: Marshall Field (retail); William Kimball (pianos); Louis Sullivan, John Root and Daniel Burnham (architects); George Pullman (sleeper cars); Phillip Armour (meat packing); Cyrus McCormick (industrialist); Allan Pinkerton (private investigation); and Charles Dickens' brother, Augustus.

    Gates are open daily from 8:00 - 4:30, and free maps can be picked up at the office during operating hours (vary - see website.) Note that only still photography is permitted: no filming, tripods or bipods allowed, and please keep a respectful distance from burial services occurring during your visit.

    If you have time, take a stroll through smaller but equally as old Wunder's German Lutheran cemetery just across the street from Graceland's gates.

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    Take a boat trip.....

    by leics Updated Oct 16, 2012

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    ....of course.

    Seeing the city by boat really is worthwhile, and was a much more interesting experience than I had expected. You get some excellent architectural and shoreline views

    On the recommendation of local Vt-er Riorich I took the Wendella cruise, which leaves from base of the Wrigley building, on the Chicago river where it meets N Michigan Avenue. I decided on the combined river + lake cruise, as I wanted to experience both lots of water.

    I decided the 1030 am cruise might not be so full, though I was wrong. It didn't matter though: it's easy to see everything and easy to walk around the upper deck.

    The cruise took 90 minutes, first going down the Chicago river into the city (we were lucky enough to see one of the bridges rising) before turning round and heading out into the lake. The guide was very good, offering lots of interesting snippets about the architecture. 26USD (about 16GBP) seemed a pretty reasonable price.

    I particularly liked the fact that I didn't have to trek down to Navy Pier for this tour: the Wendella base is in easy walking distance of central Chicago. Access to the boat is fairly easy but does involve a few steps from the docking point.

    Do take an extra layer or two of clothes: it's always colder on the water, and it was pretty windy once we got out onto the lake!

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    Look for little things...and go into lobbies

    by leics Written Oct 14, 2012

    As well as looking at the architecture itself, keep your eyes open for small details.

    Chicago has a reasonable number of older buildings in its centre, many of which have intricate twiddles and fiddles. And if you can get into the lobby (as you very often can) to have a look around, you may be amazed at what you see.

    I'll be making tips about some specific buildings, but let's just say for now that you might come across a wealth of shimmering golden swirls, detailed Art Nouveau or Art Deco sculptures or fitments, walls covered in quotes, or a series of carved plaques telling the story of a famous Chicagoan....

    So....remember to look for, and appreciate, the smaller details. :-)

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    Enjoy the architecture

    by leics Written Oct 14, 2012

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    I must admit that Chicago had more interesting architectural bits & pieces than I had expected.

    I'm not much into modern architecture (by which i mean anything much later than 1800 or so!) but when there is no other choice I can amuse myself by looking at the twiddles and embellishments on buildings.

    I especially liked the earlier 'skyscrapers' I saw along Michegan Avenue, some with faux-Gothic windows and turrets...but, oddly, I also liked the rather strange 'corn-cob' buildings of 'Marina City' on the Chicago river.

    And I very much enjoyed taking photographs of buildings reflected in the glass of buildings. You can see some of my photos in my travelogue here

    So...make sure you look up as you wander!

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    CityPass

    by grayfo Written Sep 16, 2012

    The Chicago CityPass is booklet of admission tickets designed to fit in a pocket – contains admission to Chicago’s most-visited attractions and landmarks at a 50% saving. Included in the booklet are the tickets with attraction information, transportation directions, a map and best times to visit. With a CityPass, you will not have to wait in queues at most of the attractions.
    The attractions included are: -

    1. Shedd Aquarium
    2. SkyDeck Chicago
    3. Field Museum
    4. John Hancock Observatory or Museum of Science and Industry
    5. Adler Planetarium or Art Institute of Chicago

    Cost as of September 2012

    Adult (Over 12): $84.00
    Children (3-11): $69.00

    CityPass booklets are valid for nine consecutive days beginning with the first day of use.

    email info@citypass.com

    +1 (208) 787-4300

    www.citypass.com/chicago

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    Chicago Public Art Guide

    by riorich55 Updated Aug 22, 2012

    During a 4 day span in August, 2012 I spent 2 full days in Chicago. Now this may not seem like much for visitors or people who actually live and work in Chicago, but as someone from the suburbs of Chicago about 30 miles away this is unique.

    The first day I was in town was on a Saturday for the annual Chicago Air and Water Show. The second day was 3 days later when VT member Leics was in town. On Saturday I drove my bike into town and did some biking along the lakeshore and on Tuesday I biked from my house to the train station in Naperville, took a 30 minute express train and then spent the day showing Leics some familiar and unfamiliar locations in Chicago.

    As I started researching some things I had seen in Chicago that I had never seen before I came across this guide on the internet called the "Chicago Public Arts Guide" that is a very comprehensive 92 page guide that one can use to help interpret and find some very famous Chicago works of art and some art that is hidden away in various buildings or parts of Chicago that many visitors or locals never get to.

    Here is the link to the guide that I am going to personally use on my next trip downtown.

    http://www.explorechicago.org/etc/medialib/explore_chicago/tourism/
    pdfs_guides_and_maps/public_art_guide.Par.57923.File.dat/ENTIRE_PA_WEB.pdf

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    Chicago Air and Water Show

    by riorich55 Written Aug 19, 2012

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    In August, 2012 I attended the Chicago Air and Water Show for the second time in my life.

    The 2 day (same show both days) show is held along the Lake Michigan shore of Chicago. The prime viewing spot is at North Avenue Beach just north of downtown Chicago, but just about anywhere a couple of miles on each side of the beach up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline is a great viewing area.

    Be prepared for crowds as about 1 million people each day attend the event. If you want really good seats in the sand arrive early in the morning for the show that goes from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the 3rd weekend of the month.

    The first time I attended was back in the late 1990's with 2 of my 3 sons. On that day we arrived around 9:00 a.m. and dug our seats in the sand and hung out for the next 6 hours. This time I arrived at 9:30 a.m. with my bike in the car and actually pedaled a bit up and down the lakeshore and met up with a friend for the last couple of hours of the show.

    The pictures will give you some idea of the crowds and a couple of the fast flying plane shots I was able to capture

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    Smith Stained Glass Museum

    by rmjiv Written Jul 17, 2012

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    Located on Navy Pier is the Smith Stained Glass Museum. The Smith contains a number of stained glass works salvaged from various locations around Chicago. It isn't your typical museum - the exhibits are just located along the halls of one of the exhibition halls on the pier. There is no admission fee and a careful viewing off all the works takes only about an hour. Featured among the works are a number of windows by Tiffany & Co. and Frank Lloyd Wright

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    Chicago Remembers Vietnam Memorial

    by yvgr Updated Apr 24, 2012

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    Chicago's Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, located on the Riverwalk between Wabash Avenue and State Street, is one of the largest in the nation outside of Washington, D.C. It features a fountain and a black granite block with the names of Illinois soldiers either killed or missing in action.

    Also known as: Wabash Plaza
    Construction completed: 2005

    Designed by: Ross Barney & Jankowski Architects

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    Chicago for less

    by goodfish Updated Apr 20, 2012

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    I'm not a fan of passes as they often require cramming a lot into limited time frames to make them worthwhile, and a lot of that is stuff we really don't want to see. We did spring for this one as it was good for nine days, covered sightseeing of interest to us, and included entrance to some special exhibits plus "fast line" privileges. You may either purchase one in advance or at any of the attractions it lists.

    To know if a pass is worth the price you need to do the math: look at the attractions it covers, go to the websites of those attractions that interest you, jot down the comparative entrance fees (i.e. fast pass entrance; museum +Omni theater, etc.) and then compare the total against the cost of the pass. CityPASS offers admission to a choice of five hot spots:

    Shedd Aquarium
    Skydeck and The Ledge
    The Field Museum
    John Hancock Observatory OR Museum of Science and Industry
    Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago

    Our five picks would have totaled $152 individually so the $76 (adult) passes saved us $76 apiece: 50% off non-pass entry fees PLUS gave us line-skipping privileges. Sweet! See the website for current prices, children's passes and purchase details.

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  • Chicago Things to Do

    by victor60614 Written Mar 7, 2012

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    There are tons of things to do in Chicago. Considering the weekend trip, you can enjoy the great nightlife as well.

    Top Attractions in Chicago
    Millennium Park - Metal Bean
    Sky Deck at Willis Tower formerly known as Sear Tower
    Navy Pier
    Field Museum of Natural History

    During summer days you might want to take one of the boat tour or at least water-taxi from Chicago downtown to Navy Pier. That will take you through Chicago downtown's skyscraper buildings.

    Chicago city also offers great nightlife and fine dining options. If you want to have few drinks at top notched bars then I would recommend you to visit Signature Lounge , located on 97th floor on John Hancock tower. Also, for sizzling Yuppi crowd you might want to check out the wit roof top. This place is great to chill.

    You can get more information about things to do in Chicago at http://www.chicagovacationstoday.com

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    You Never Know What You'll Find at Pioneer Court

    by riorich55 Written Mar 6, 2012

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    Pioneer Court is an open space which is the start of Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Located on the east side of North Michigan Avenue just north of the Chicago River and just south of the Tribune Tower.

    The area of Pioneer Court is a nice open space where during the summer you may find some street musicians, possibly a social gathering and a place to look up the Magnificent Mile or down the Chicago River toward Lake Michigan.

    It is also believed to be where Chicago's 1st Permanent Resident, Jean Baptiste Pont du Sable had his residence and trading post (see picture 2).

    For the past couple of years it has also been the place for some very interesting sculpture. A few years ago the American Gothic Farm Couple (the one with the guy with the pitchfork) stood larger then life here. Since the summer of 2011 a little more controversial temporary sculpture of Marilyn Monroe (Playboy's First Centerfold - Hugh Hefner is from Chicago) in her wind blow skirt (it is the Windy City) have adorned the site.

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    Art for All

    by goodfish Updated Feb 16, 2012

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    I love street art: it's alternately amusing, startling, majestic, beautiful or just plain baffling but almost always engaging. From plazas to parks, Chicago has simply oodles of this stuff by artisans both famous (Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, etc.) and obscure, and from utilitarian to commemorative. Here are just a few of the works you may see:

    "Four Seasons": Marc Chagall, 1974
    Exelon Plaza at Dearborn and Monroe streets.
    This is a favorite of mine! Thousands of colorful tesserae illustrate Chicago places and the turn of seasons both spiritual and physical.

    "The Picasso": Pablo Picasso, 1967
    Richard Daley Civic Center Plaza, 50 W Washington
    Colossal and controversial

    "Defense, Regeneration, The Pioneers and The Discoverers"
    James Earle Fraser and and Henry Hering, 1928
    Michigan Avenue Bridge/Chicago River
    Four bridge houses illustrate early events in Chicago's story

    "Cow", Nathan Mason, 2001
    Chicago Cultural Center,
    Corner of Washington Street and Michigan Ave.
    A prime opportunity for the Stupid Tourist Photo Op. With time to kill before a walking tour, Goodfish cheerfully mounted the metal moo for one of those.

    The URL below provides a printable guide to the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) works about town.

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    St. Michael of Old Town

    by goodfish Updated Feb 15, 2012

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    This is an interesting Romanesque-style Roman Catholic church; particularly so because it's one of the few structures to partially survive the Great Fire of 1871. Located in Old Town - on the city's north side - it was established by German immigrants and the 200-ft. spire was the tallest in Chicago until 1885. Stepping through the doors of the sturdy, red-brick exterior, you're immediately transported into an airy world glimmering with gold, silver and delicate pastels, and illuminated by jewel-toned windows. Five ornately hand-carved and painted altars serve the devotions of St. Mike's faithful under a gracefully arching ceiling supported by slender, gilt-embellished columns: lovely. This is a highly recommended stop for visitors of any faith during a tour of the historic Old Town neighborhood.

    See the website for hours, masses and musical programs by the church's choirs and guest musicians. The church is free but donations are gratefully accepted.

    Special note: a family of peregrine falcons has been nesting for years behind the statue of St. Michael over the front doors so keep an eye out for the icon's feathered friends!

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Comments (1)

  • riorich55's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    As I was writing some tips for a city just west of where I live this morning I found out about this interesting event happening in June this year.

    I wanted to let anyone who lives in the United States and any visitors to the U.S. this summer that there is a very unique event going on. Lincoln Highway is not as well known as its other old U.S. Highway (Route 66), but is actually older (1913 vs 1926) then its road cousin and actually does travel through the middle of the country from coast to coast (New York to San Francisco). Route 66 actually starts in my hometown of Chicago and heads to California.

    Anyway here is a link and a bit of a description for anybody who is interested. www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/tour/2013.com

    "Join fellow historians and tourists for the Official Lincoln Highway Centennial Tours, headed for Kearney, Nebraska from each coast, for the centennial of America’s first paved transcontinental road: the Lincoln Highway. Antique cars, Classics, muscle cars, ’50s cars, trucks, motorcycles, street rods, and modern cars are welcome to participate.

    You will travel the original alignments of the Lincoln Highway covering many miles of two-lane history, four-lane progress, and even gravel scenic beauty. Travel from America’s urban centers, through pastoral farm lands, over breathtaking mountains and rolling prairies.

    Travelers from the East will start at Times Square, the heart of America’s most vibrant city. You will travel through ivy-covered college towns such as Princeton, New Jersey, and the Amish country of Pennsylvania. From Pittsburgh’s steel and beer brewing industrial history, you will travel through Ohio’s diverse agricultural and commercial mix. Indiana takes you through more Amish farm land, South Bend’s Notre Dame and automotive history and on to Illinois. From Illinois you will travel to Iowa’s farmland across the Mississippi River into the prairies of Nebraska and on to the Centennial celebration in Kearney at the Great Platte River Arch Museum.

    Western travelers enjoy beginning their journey in the urban centers of San Francisco and Oakland, California. After traveling through the state’s agricultural Central Valley you are exposed to the magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountains and Donner Pass before dropping into the deserts of Nevada and the Great Salt Lake of Utah. Climbing the mountains out of Salt Lake City, you will enter the wide open spaces of Wyoming and on to historic Cheyenne for an overnight stop. This is followed by your easterly trek into Nebraska and eventually joining the rest of the travelers from the east for the grand parade of cars into Kearney on opening day."

Chicago Things to Do

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The quintessential American city, Chicago offers world-class culture with zero attitude. You'll see Chicago at its best if you visit during the summer or fall. Summer offers a nonstop selection...

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