Chicago—my home city—is such a fun place to explore and visit. There are so many things to do and so many places to see, which is why it can be hard to narrow down that Chicago bucket list, especially if you’re just visiting for a little while. To help you figure out the places you want to hit, here are seven of the best and most unique spots in Chicago that you absolutely need to go to, whether you live there or not!
This experience is completely free, and it can make for a beautiful morning or afternoon no matter the weather. If you’re visiting on a nice day, exploring the ground outside can make for a lovely walk. If it happens to be rainy or cold outside, fear not! The indoor conservatory is beautiful and expansive, and you can take your time exploring all of the gorgeous rooms and plants.
In the city, it can be hard to get that bit of nature sometimes. This is a great place to go if you’re searching for some greenery or for a nice area to take a walk around. Whether you’re alone, with young kids, or with friends, you can find things to enjoy here and snap some very cute photos along the way!
Address: 300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624
I discovered this place one night with some friends, and after paying a small entry fee, we found ourselves seated in a cozy, dimly lit room in front of a small stage. A live jazz band was playing, and the featured singer came on after a little while and sang absolutely spectacularly.
There is a drink minimum of about ten dollars, and they have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. In total, this night out isn’t too expensive and it’s totally worth your money. The service, atmosphere, and music is all so incredible, and if you’re looking for a classy night out on the town, get dressed up and head to Winter’s Jazz Club!
Address: 465 N McClurg Ct, Chicago, IL 60611
This is a classic Chicago tourist destination, but there really is a lot here to enjoy and explore! Depending on the time of year, the enormous Centennial Wheel is worth every penny; it boasts an incredible view of the city and the lake, and it’s an iconic Chicago landmark. There are other rides and attractions outside, and there’s even a pass you can purchase to gain access to all of these attractions, as well as other destinations around Chicago.
Inside, there are dozens of restaurants unique spots to grab a bite to eat, as well as to shop. There is a children’s museum and a greenhouse area here, as well, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is also located in Navy Pier. In the winter, you can go ice skating here and enjoy some seasonal festivities, and in the summer, there are fireworks every weekend! No matter when you visit, there are fun things going on at Navy Pier and you simply can’t come to Chicago without at least checking this place out.
Address: Navy Pier, Streeterville, Chicago, IL
Located at the top of the Hancock building, the 360 Chicago Observation Deck boasts an incredible view of the city. While it does require the purchase of tickets, you gain access to TILT, a tilting platform that lets you experience the city view in a thrilling way from over one thousand feet above it.
You can then hit the lounge and bar on the same floor; it’s a classy, relaxing area with some delicious concoctions, and you can keep enjoying the gorgeous view from up above as the sun sets.
Address: 875 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
While this is another big tourist attraction, this gigantic aquarium can fill an entire day. There are so many creatures and awesome exhibits to see, and you can even see shows where dolphins and whales perform tricks! The tickets can be a little pricey, but it’s totally worth it, especially if you’ve never been or are looking to fill an afternoon. Plus, if you’re an Illinois resident, there are multiple free days and discounts every month!
There’s something for everyone here, and no matter what age you are, you’ll have a blast and find so much to enjoy.
Address: 1200 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
This iconic Chicago comedy club has been an improv and stand-up hotspot for years. Many of the SNL greats trained and performed here, and it’s known for some of the most incredibly comedy in the city! If you’re looking for a laugh or a fun night out, this is definitely the place to be.
You can find a large selection of tickets on shows online, depending on what type of performance you’d like to see. They have family-friendly and adult shows, and a range of prices! You can’t say you’re a comedy fan until you’ve been here, and it’s worth putting near the top of your Chicago bucket list!
Address: 1616 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60614
Completely free and open to the public, the Lincoln Park Zoo is a beautiful place to wander around for a while. In the warmer, nicer months, this is the perfect place to some fresh air and exercise, all while seeing tons of adorable and interesting creatures!
This place is enjoyable for all ages, and it’s a fun, free outing that will get you exploring Chicago and the gorgeous Lincoln Park area. During the wintertime, around Christmas, you can visit the Zoo Lights—an amazing display of color and light throughout the whole zoo at nighttime. This is an absolute must-see, and it’s one of the best free zoos around!
Address: 2400 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
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