The Ultimate Guide To Downtown Chicago

The Ultimate Guide To Downtown Chicago

Illinois
Willis Tower Chicago | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

Chicago is one of the largest cities in the US, located on Lake Michigan in Illinois. The melting pot of different cultures, Chicago has a lot to offer – skyscrapers, bold architecture, world-class museums, shopping districts, restaurants, and ample nightlife. Chicago downtown is one of the must-see downtowns in the US. I have been to Chicago several times, taking my time to explore every bit of what Chicago has to offer.

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Best Way To Explore Chicago

Illinois Travel Guide | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

I recommend that you avoid driving/renting a car in Chicago. If possible, stay in the downtown, my favorite being the River Walk area in Chicago. The best way to explore Chicago is by joining the Big Bus Tours and purchasing a multi-attraction discounted pass from CityPASS or Go City. You don’t have to buy separate tickets for the Big Bus Tours as it’s one of the attractions included in the Go City pass. There is a lot to see in Chicago, below, I am going to highlight my favorite places and a must-see in Chicago.

Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

You could start your Big Bus Tour right from here. The Chicago Riverwalk is a pedestrian-friendly waterfront area located in downtown Chicago, offering some spectacular views of the Chicago skyline, several restaurants, boat rentals, and the starting point of the famous Architecture River Tour.

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Willis Tower

Willis Tower | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

The Willis Tower is a 110-story skyscraper in Chicago, built in 1973, was known as “The world’s tallest building” for 25 years. It’s currently the third-tallest building in US and the Western hemisphere and the 23rd-tallest building in the world. Skydeck is an observation deck in Willis Tower, which is known to be the highest observation tower in the entire US. At such height, it offers some spectacular views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. I highly recommend visiting the observation deck at the Willis Tower or The 360 Chicago / John Hancock Observatory, to experience Chicago from the top.

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Millennium Park

Millennium Park | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

Located in the heart of Chicago downtown, Millenium Park is home to Chicago’s most iconic landmark – “The Bean,” the reflective steel sculpture where you can see the city’s skyline along with your reflection. The park also features The Crown Fountain – 50-foot glass brick towers that display faces of Chicago residents, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and the Maggie Daley Park – a fun playground for kids.

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The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

The Art Institute in Chicago is one of the oldest art museums in the US. It is home to several thousand artworks from around the globe, including European armors, Miniature Rooms, pieces of furniture, and a lot more.

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Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

Adler Planetarium is known to be the first planetarium in the entire Western Hemisphere! It’s located along Lake Michigan, on the Museum Campus. The planetarium offers several interesting exhibits – including Our Solar System, The Universe – A Walk Through Space and Time, Mission Moon, Astronomy in Culture, and much more. They also offer some spectacular shows, including Planet Nine, Imagine the Moon, One World, One Sky, Destination Solar System, Welcome to the Universe, and Skywatch Live.

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Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

Shedd Aquarium is a large indoor aquarium and home to several ocean creatures from all around the world. It’s very popular amongst the kids and will recommend arriving early in the day to avoid massive queues.

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The Field Museum

Field Museum | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

The Field Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum in Chicago. It features several amazing exhibits, to name a few – Sue the T. Rex, the largest, most complete T. Rex ever discovered; the man-eating lions of Tsavo, in the taxidermied mammals of Africa in the Rice Gallery section; ancient Egyptian mummies and so much more. It’s enormous, and there is so much to explore, you will need an entire day if you want to see everything. 

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Navy Pier

Navy Pier | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is one of the most happening places in Chicago. There’s a lot to do in Navy Pier – Navy Pier Centennial Wheel & Rides, Architecture River Cruise, Chicago Children’s Museum, restaurants, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Crystal Gardens, and so much more.

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Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Chicago Architecture River Cruise | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

This is a must-do in Chicago, see some famous architectural landmarks and Aqua skyscraper, all onboard on a well narrated and historical river cruise. The architecture river cruises depart from two places – River Walk and Navy Pier.

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Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain

Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

Called Chicago’s “front yard,” Grant Park is a public park located in the central business district. Grant Park’s most famous attraction is the Buckingham Fountain. The Buckingham Memorial Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world, runs from 8 AM to 11 PM, from mid-May through October, while operational, the Fountain produces some spectacular water displays for 20 minutes every hour. 

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360 Chicago

360 Chicago | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

360 Chicago Observation Deck is one of the best places to explore Chicago’s skyline. I highly recommend visiting the observation deck either at the 360 Chicago or Willis Tower, to experience Chicago from the top.

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The Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

The red and yellow marquee of Chicago Theater is a recognizable landmark of the city. The theatre first opened its doors in 1921, and since then, it has hosted several big names like Duke Ellington, Diana Ross, and many others. The theater is still in use for a variety of performances, including comedy shows, musicals, and various concerts.

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Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry | Downtown Chicago Travel Guide

The Museum of Science and Industry is a science museum located on Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. It’s home to several exhibits demonstrating some technological, scientific, and industrial achievements of modern times.

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Willis Tower Chicago | Downtown Chicago Travel GuideI hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Downtown Chicago, and I expect this will help you plan your trip to Downtown Chicago.

Happy feeding your soul!
Shreyashi

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