Top 10 Best Things to Do in Downtown Chicago

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Chicago, a vibrant and lively region

Chicago is a bustling and bustling area located in the heart of the city. It is home to iconic attractions such as the Willis Tower, Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. The region is known for its impressive skyscrapers that dominate the skyline, its rich history and culture. Downtown Chicago is also famous for its diverse restaurants, shopping options, and entertainment venues, making it a popular destination for visitors and locals alike.

Millennium Park and Cloud Gate

Millennium Park is one of the most iconic places to visit in Illinois. Even if you've never been there, you've seen it in countless movies and TV shows. The famous silver Bean is anchored in the public consciousness. There are other things to do besides sightseeing, of course. You can kick off your shoes and splash in the Crown Fountain, attend an outdoor concert at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, or enjoy a moment of zen in the beautiful, colorful Lurie Garden.

The Chicago Cruise

One of the best ways to enjoy views of the Loop's skyline, day or night, is to cruise on the water. Board a boat at Navy Pier and prepare to be awed by the sights of downtown Chicago as you sail. Whether you float down the Chicago River or cruise across Lake Michigan, you'll enjoy breathtaking and unforgettable panoramic views of the loop's iconic buildings and prominent landmarks. Boat tours and thrill rides will get your heart pumping as you glide through the water at 45 miles per hour.

Willis Tower Skydeck

The 108-story Willis Tower is best known for its observatory. It is not only the highest observatory in the country, but also one of Chicago's most popular attractions. Here, visitors can enter retractable glass balconies, essentially glass boxes with a glass floor extending more than a meter from the building. Not only can you look down 1,300 feet above the streets below, but you can also enjoy 360-degree views of Lake Michigan and four states on a clear, sunny day.

Lakefront Trail

The Lakefront Trail is a 19-mile-long asphalt and concrete trail along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Part of the trail crosses the loop and it's a great place to get some fresh air and exercise. Renting a bike or a pair of inline skates is fun if you don't want to walk or run. You can access the trail from Grant Park or East Monroe Street, as well as other points throughout the loop.

Lake Michigan

The largest of the five Great Lakes, Lake Michigan attracts thousands of visitors each year, who come here primarily for water sports such as sea kayaking, kitesurfing and yachting. Several wide, bustling beaches line the shoreline, with Ohio Street Beach providing convenience and plenty of open space for relaxing. Winter visitors often stop to observe the fascinating phenomenon of ice volcanoes forming on the lake.

Buckingham Fountain

The Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain, to give it its full name, is not only the centerpiece of Grant Park and the symbol of the city of Chicago, but it is also one of the largest fountains in the world. The fountain is tiered pink marble, surrounded by eight sea horses, and has a central jet that spews water to a phenomenal height of 150 feet. Watch hourly water shows from April to mid-October, or evening performances where the jets dance to the rhythm of lights and music.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier is one of the most famous places in the Midwest. Its silhouette is printed on countless postcards and its activities range from restaurants and shops to glass gardens and amusement park rides. Spanning over 3,300 feet, it's a walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline filled with interesting things to see and do. The most famous attraction is the Ferris wheel that lights up at night, but there are also games, cruises, carousels, art exhibits, haunted house mazes, remote-controlled boats and much more .

Lincoln Park Zoo

North of the Loop in the Lincoln Park neighborhood is the Lincoln Park Zoo, home to nearly 200 species such as zebras, sloths and hippos. See the gorillas at the expansive and award-winning Regenstein Center for African Apes or head to the Copper Seal Pool to get up close and interact with the seals. Seal training and feeding sessions take place daily at 11:30 a.m.

Shedd Aquarium

This Chicago public aquarium has been open since May 1930 and is home to more than 8,000 aquatic animals. Top attractions include the Wild Reef, which lets you see dozens of sharks up close, and the Oceanarium, which is home to rescued sea otters. The oceanarium has recently attracted controversy for keeping whales and white-sided dolphins in captivity. Sharks live in the Wild Reef exhibit alongside stingrays, zebra dragonets and white-spotted guitar rays.

Grant Park

Grant Park is the 319-acre green space that borders Lake Michigan and surrounds the Loop. Its wide walkways are perfect for strolling, and there are numerous flower gardens, fountains and monuments, as well as a three-acre skate park. Within its boundaries, Grant Park encompasses three other parks: Millennium, Maggie Daley and Hutchinson Field. These parks provide visitors with access to sports facilities and artwork, as well as marinas, a college campus, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In conclusion, downtown Chicago is full of interesting things to see and do. Whether it's visiting iconic attractions like Millennium Park and Willis Tower, enjoying the natural beauty of Lake Michigan and the Lakefront Trail, or discovering exotic animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo or Aquarium Shedd, there's something for everyone. Plan your trip now to experience everything this beautiful city has to offer.

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Clara & Danny

For several years, we have been traveling the world together in search of new experiences, cultures, and different landscapes.

Our passion for travel has led us to create our own blog, where we share our adventures, tips, and tricks for traveling authentically and responsibly.

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