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

Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain1 of 20
Millennium Park2 of 20
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain

Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.

At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.

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