The Chicago Theatre

#12 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
The Chicago Theatre picture1 of 3
The Chicago Theatre2 of 3
VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Getty Images

Key Info

175 N. State St.

Price & Hours

Tours cost $15 for adults; $10 for kids 12 and...
Hours and showtimes vary

Details

Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.1scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Aside from Cloud Gate and Buckingham Fountain, The Chicago Theatre's red and yellow marquee is perhaps one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. Illuminating North State Street at the northern edge of the Loop, The Chicago Theatre first opened its doors in 1921 as an extravagant movie theater and performance venue. Throughout its history, the theater has hosted such big names as Duke Ellington, Diana Ross and Lewis Black in addition to screening blockbuster flicks. Though the theater fell into disarray in the '70s, new management and a full renovation in the '80s helped return the venue to its former glory. Today, the theater is still used for a variety of comedic, theatrical and musical performances.

According to past patrons, the theater's historic appearance enhances the overall experience of catching an event here. If you're unable to score tickets to an event, travelers recommend participating in a one-hour theater tour, which are offered daily at noon (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and select event days) and take you through the lobby, into the theater and backstage. And remember, cameras and video cameras, including those on cell phones, cannot be used during tours or performances.

The Chicago Theatre is situated a block south of the Chicago River and a few blocks northwest of Millennium Park. The Lake and State/Lake L stations sit within walking distance of the venue, and a parking garage is located at the corner of North Wabash Avenue and East Randolph Street. Fees apply for parking in the garage; showtimes and ticket prices vary by day and performer. Theater tours cost $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. (Tour rates are covered for visitors with Go Chicago Cards.) Venue facilities include restrooms, concessions stands and merchandise booths. For a detailed schedule of upcoming performances and tour times, visit The Chicago Theatre's website.

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Millennium Park1 of 20
Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain2 of 20
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Millennium Park

A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.

There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.

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