The Magnificent Mile

#4 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
The Magnificent Mile picture1 of 3
The Magnificent Mile2 of 3
Christopher.F Photography/Getty Images

Key Info

North Michigan Avenue

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.7scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 5.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

If you can feel your credit card burning a hole through your wallet, make your way to The Magnificent Mile. This portion of Michigan Avenue – which stretches between Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago River – beckons to shopaholics with department stores and luxury retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Macy's and Lord & Taylor. Additionally, The Magnificent Mile is home to several top-notch eateries and luxury hotels, including The Drake, a Hilton Hotel the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile.

Architecture buffs will also appreciate a stroll down this street thanks to its eclectic collection of buildings. While you're walking around, turn your eyes upward for views of the Historic Water Tower, which survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and is the longest standing structure on Michigan Avenue. Other structural highlights include the Wrigley Building (once the headquarters of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr.) and Tribune Tower (home to the Chicago Tribune daily newspaper).

Shopaholics rave about The Magnificent Mile year-round, but for some of the area's best window displays, time your visit during the holiday season. And though you'll want to walk to get the best views of the street's architecture, if you start to tire, hop onto one of several buses – route Nos. 3, 26, 125, 143, 146, 147, 148 and 151 – to get around the area.

You can reach The Magnificent Mile on foot from the Loop via the DuSable Bridge, by bus, by L (the closest stations are at the Red Line's Grand and Chicago stops), by taxi or by car. Multiple parking garages are available nearby for a fee, and public restrooms are provided in the Water Tower Place shopping center. The Magnificent Mile is free to explore at any time of day or night, though stores and other facilities adhere to their own hours. To learn more about what there is to see and do along this famed thoroughfare, visit the Magnificent Mile's website.

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More Best Things To Do in Chicago

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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