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15 Places in Chicago to Visit: the Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Chicago

April 20, 2022
By
Liz Arnold

With the perfect balance of calming lakefront beaches and bustling cityscapes, a unique quality drives many to explore Chicago and all it has to offer. From all the culture a city brings with museums of all kinds and busy city streets, to beaches and parks, there's no limit to the iconic Chicago landmarks visitors need to check out.

With endless lists featuring the best places to visit in Chicago, our team at Infinity Transportation has seen it all. With unique expertise in the third-largest city, our group bus transportation company has explored all the Chicago tourist areas. After seeing it all, we’ve narrowed down the top 15 Chicago attractions you need to see on your next visit. Let’s dive right in, and have a great Chicago bus trip!

The Art Institute of Chicago

First on the list of tourists' favorite places in Chicago that are certainly worth checking out is the Art Institute of Chicago.

This world-class museum featured thousands of works of art spanning decades and even centuries. With a variety of paintings, photographs, sculptures, prints, textiles, architectural drawings, and more, there's a little something to please everyone's artistic eye.

Known for its unique collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, there are numerous paintings to see from the likes of Claude Monet, Georges Saurat, Renoir, or Grant Wood's American Gothic. Whether you are a fine arts fanatic or not, these are works that should certainly be on your bucket list.

To visit The Art Institute of Chicago, head over to 111 South Michigan Avenue.

Millennium Park

Another of Chicago's main attractions is Millenium Park. Part of the larger Grant Park, Millennium Park is located in the heart of downtown Second City. Surrounded by a bustling cityscape, it features a large sculpture, Cloud Gate, which is one of the city's most recognizable pieces of contemporary art and is also commonly referred to by locals as “the bean”. This mirrored, stainless steel surface attracts tourists from all over, reflecting the city's surroundings onto its unique shape.

Another attraction in this iconic location is the Crown Fountain. This unique modern art piece features images of Chicago citizens in which water flows from their mouths to spray passersby. This is where you can find many Chicago families on a hot summer day.

Chicago is a world-class city and offers countless cultural events, restaurants, festivals, and concerts, especially during the warmer summer months. Many of them take place at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion which is instantly recognizable thanks to its original architecture.

To visit Millennium Park, route your Google Maps to 201 East Randolph Street.

Tourist attractions in chicago

Lake Michigan North Avenue Beach

For a more nature-focused, beach getaway, head over to North Avenue Beach. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago, as it balances the busy city life with the slower pace that comes with swimming and sunbathing. Lying along Lake Michigan with skyscrapers in the backdrop is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Along the beach, you will also find many Chicagoans taking advantage of other outdoor activities. From running and cycling to rollerblading along the beach and games of volleyball, plus some outdoor bars and restaurants, there's a lot that can be done along the lakefront in warmer months.

Maggie Daley Park

Wondering “where should I go in Chicago?”. Likely, many will recommend checking out Maggie Daley Park, and we agree!

This is another scenic spot in the loop that's connected to the previously mentioned Millennium Park. Featuring everything from playgrounds, to picnic areas and beautiful green spaces, it is a great family-friendly spot to visit while you're downtown.

For kids, this park area has some elements to keep them happy and occupied. Maggie Daley Park incorporates six different play areas, including an animal-themed watering hole and walkways of the enchanted forest, all within the heart of the city. Book a bus for your family trip today!

Navy Pier

First opened on the north side of the city back in 1916, it is another of the best stops in Chicago to visit places. It features a hybrid combination of shopping, restaurants, concert venues, gardens, parks, and even a historic carousel, making it one of the most iconic Chicago things to do.

For those visiting, you can expect to find an impressive 150 ft Ferris wheel, as well as a 3D Imax Theater, performances at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and a Crystal Garden. Plus, the Chicago Children's Museum is conveniently located here, too, making it the perfect place to stop with children. Navy Pier Park may become the best choice for your school trips. Book a bus today and organize an unforgettable weekend for your class!

Lincoln Park Zoo

Did you know there's a zoo nestled in the city? Lincoln Park Zoo is home to an incredible range of animals, from penguins to tigers. Just a bit north of the loop, both locals and tourists enjoy this free zoo with a ton of animals and ecosystems to explore.

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the U.S. and was founded back in 1868, and now features over 1,100 animals within its gates. Whether you're obsessed with polar bears or curious about gorillas, you can see it all at this iconic Chicago zoo.

Best places to visit in Chicago

Museum of Science and Industry

There are tons of good places to visit in Chicago, and that includes an endless number of museums. Another one of our favorite museums is the Museum of Science and Industry in the Hyde Park neighborhood, which was founded back in 1933 and is truly one of Chicago's most impressive spots.

What makes this museum so special is that it's not just for viewing. It has a hands-on exhibit that allows visitors to interact with the exhibits. Plus, it features both permanent and changing exhibits, so no matter how many times you stop in, you can see something new.

Shedd Aquarium

Also located on the Museum Campus is the John G. Shedd Aquarium. Different from other museums in the area, the Shedd Aquarium is focused on sea life and features over 1,500 species at its museum, including 32,500 fish, birds, insects, and amphibians.

This museum is exciting for everyone of all ages to check out and features different themed areas, like the Caribbean Reef and “Amazon Rising”. Beyond fish, you can also see beluga whales and dolphins - one of the most enticing elements that make this one of the best tourist attractions in Chicago. If you are still hungry for more family-friendly Chicago tourist attractions after, head to the nearby Adler Planetarium.

The Buckingham Fountain

While visiting Grant Park, be sure to check out the Buckingham Fountain. This is one of the top iconic Chicago things to see due to its Beaux Arts-style design. The architect, Edward Bennett, modeled the fountain after the Latona Fountain in Versailles, giving this Chicago attraction a grand, elegant appeal.

The fountain features four water-spouting sea horse statues representing the states that border Lake Michigan, while the fountain pool itself is said to symbolize the lake. Due to its beauty, the fountain has been featured in a range of TV shows and draws the attention of both tourists and locals alike.

Chicago main attractions

Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum of Natural History is recognized for being one of the best natural history museums in the country. Founded back in 1893, this museum features both biological and anthropological collections. At this museum, you can find 20 million artifacts and specimens from all sorts of disciplines, including geology, zoology, anthropology, and botany.

One of the biggest attractions at this museum is the display of Ancient Egypt, as well as Sue, an immense, complete tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Plus, the museum features multiple rotating exhibits throughout the year to make frequent visits worth wild.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

Get out and explore these 18.5 miles of lakefront trails. You can walk, jog, and bike from Edgewater Beach to the South Shore. The trail follows Lake Shore Drive and goes by several of Chicago’s top attractions like Lincoln Park, Willis Tower, Wrigley Field (the Chicagoan's answer to Boston's Fenway Park and home to the Chicago Cubs), Navy Pier, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium.

Locals and tourists alike appreciate the beautiful views of the city and the rejuvenating fresh air. If you’re not up for the full 18.5 miles, don’t worry — you can hop off the trail at any point for a breather. Just be sure to fully get off so you don’t impede other visitors from exercising.

If you’re traveling by charter vehicle, have your driver drop your group off at the beginning of the trail and wait for you at the end. Got tired halfway through? No worries: just give your vehicle driver a call and they can swoop by to pick you up whenever you stop. Relax in reclining seats and a climate-controlled cabin and let your driver handle the road.

Out of Town Parks

Although the Windy City has plenty to offer in terms of green space, including Jackson Park or the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, a visit to some of the state and national parks located farther from the city is well worth it. They are usually bigger and can give the impression of being in a completely different place despite being an easy drive from downtown Chicago. Indiana Dunes National Park, Starved Rock State Park, Warren Dunes State Park, and Illinois Beach State Park are all short day trips from the city. You can also visit some of Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic buildings, many of which are located in Chicago's suburbs. Outdoorsy folks who want to hike, bike, fish, or even lay out on the beach without massive crowds will love the parks outside of Chicago.

Before planning your day trip out of Chicago, you’ll also want to inquire about entrance fees and parking options if you’ll be traveling by charter vehicle. Pack up hiking gear, fishing equipment, or beach items on your charter vehicle and leave any Chicago traffic up to your vehicle driver.

360 Chicago Observation Deck (Formerly John Hancock Center)

No visit to the Second City is complete without taking a bird’s eye view of its iconic skyline. The 360 Chicago Observation Desk is located on top of the building formerly known as the John Hancock Building on the north side. It offers head-spinning views of the Magnificent Mile, the Chicago Water Tower, the Chicago River, and Lake Michigan. You can even enjoy a delicious drink while taking in the breathtaking panorama seating at the bar. If you are not ready to travel back to the solid ground just yet and want to discover Chicago from another perspective, you will love the observation deck at the Willis Tower.

The Magnificent Mile

The Great Chicago fire wiped out a significant part of the city's business district in 1871, but Chicago was reborn from its ashes stronger than ever. Magnificent Mile on North Side was modeled after the Champs Elysees in Paris is home to luxurious department stores, glistening skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and some of Chicago's most recognizable landmarks, such as the Chicago Water tower and the Wrigley building. "Mag Mile" owes its nickname to 1940s real estate magnate Arthur Rubloff and stretches from Oak Street to the Chicago River. It is the place to be to shop till you drop or rub elbows with the rich and famous.

The Chicago River

The Chicago River is a marvel of engineering that was designed in the 1900s to reverse the course of the river through a system of canal locks so the water would empty into the flows of the Mississippi River rather than Lake Michigan. Located on Chicago's north side, it offers a mile-long pedestrian Riverwalk appreciated by both Chicagoans and tourists. Whether you choose to take an architecture cruise or walk, you will be able to admire many of the City's most beautiful buildings, such as the London Guarantee Building, Marina City, Merchandise Mart, and the Civic Opera Building.

Conclusion

From art museums and sea life attractions to bustling beaches and stately structures, there is no shortage of good places to visit in Chicago. Whether you're looking for a family-friendly destination or one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago for everyone of all ages, our list has you covered.

Not ready to explore Chicago on your own? No problem, that's what our expert guides at Infinity Transportation are for. If you want to see all Chicago has to offer with a group, get a quote for a charter bus online today, and get ready to take in all that Chicago has to offer.

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