Chicago is one of my favourite cities in the States. There are so many things to do in the ‘Windy City’ that 5 nights wasn’t anywhere near enough for me to see and do everything.
You can relax on the beaches around Lake Michigan, stroll through the many parks around the city, visit aquariums and museums, try the famous Chicago hot dogs and pizza, take a boat cruise along the river and head to the top of the city’s skyscrapers for spectacular views of the skyline.
I couldn’t get over how beautiful the architecture was, and the whole city is alive in the summertime. What’s more, it’s easy to find cheap flight tickets to Chicago because it is one of the major hubs.
Here are 10 fun things to do in Chicago…
1. Have a photo taken with ‘The Bean’
It’s actually called ‘Cloud Gate’ but most people refer to it as ‘The Bean’. This giant bean-shaped structure in Millennium Park was created by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor. This sculpture is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, and there are no visible seams, meaning it offers incredible reflections of the city skyline. People stand there for hours posing and taking photos of their reflections!
2. Hot Dogs and Insults at The Weiners Circle
This hot dog stand is world famous, not just for its hot dogs and cheese fries, but also because of the verbal abuse you get from the staff. When I walked in the woman behind the counter said, “What can I get you b**ch!” It’s a lot of fun to sit in there late at night and watch people try to come up with witty insults. It’s located in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood, just a short walk from where I was staying at Chicago Getaway Hostel.
3. Get out on the Ledge at Skydeck
Ride the elevator to the 103rd floor of Willis Tower and step out onto the glass ledge which extends 4.3 feet over the edge of the building. It’s really fun to have your photo taken sitting in a glass box 1,353 feet in the air! The Willis tower is the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the third tallest in the world…I am a little bit afraid of heights but it was worth it for the incredible views over the city!
4. Admire the View from The John Hancock Observatory
While the John Hancock Observatory is open all day, I recommend going up there after dusk to enjoy the view of the city lights at night. You’ll zoom up to 1,000 ft in just 40 seconds in the fastest elevators in North America. The observatory offers 360 degree views across 4 states- Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. The view from the Signature Room on the 95th floor is just as good though, and you don’t have to pay to get in. Sit with a cocktail in their cosy lounge and admire the view.
5. Try Giordano’s Chicago Stuffed Pizza
Giordano’s is a Chicago institution and you must try their stuffed pizza while you’re there. It’s so deep and stuffed with cheese it’s almost like eating a pie. You can definitely share this between friends as you’ll be full after one slice!
6. Hit the beach
Yep Chicago has 28 miles of man-made beaches! The city gets incredibly hot in the summer months, so why not cool off on the shores of Lake Michigan? I particularly liked hanging out at North Avenue Beach in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood. You can relax on the sand, dip your toes in the water and watch as people jog/rollerblade/cycle along the waterfront.
7. Watch the Aquatic show at the Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium is home to 32,500 marine animals including beluga whales, dolphins, otters, fish, jellies, sharks, lizards, rays and plenty of fish. A highlight is the Aquatic Show where trainers show you how they train their dolphins and beluga whales.
8. Cool off in the Millennium Park fountains
It’s so much fun to see kids splashing around in the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park. Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown fountain consists of a black granite reflecting pool with two 50-foot glass block towers at either end. The use LEDs to project videos images of Chicago citizens.
9. Get arty at The Art Institute of Chicago
I went to see a great Lichtenstein exhibit in the Art Institute of Chicago and I loved the collection of modern art and contemporary art. The Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest art museum in the United States after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
10. Go to the zoo, for FREE!
Entry to Lincoln Park Zoo is completely free, 365 days of the year!! Founded in 1868, it’s one of the oldest zoos in the United States, housing around 1200 animals representing 230 species.
Lincoln Park Zoo photo from Wikimedia Commons