1-day Itinerary in Chicago
Explore the best things to do in Paris in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.
- 1#7View all Photos...Read More »
Home to one of the country's most impressive collections of impressionist and post-impressionist art (plus works from numerous other genres), the expansive Art Institute of Chicago features more than 300,000 works from all over the world in its permanent collection. You'll find pieces created in the Byzantine era, as well as paintings done just a few decades ago. The Art Institute's exhibits also include all sorts of intriguing artifacts, from European armor to the Thorne Miniature Rooms, which showcase interior design and furnishings in Europe and America from the late 13th to early 20th centuries. In addition to the permanent collection, the Art Institute hosts traveling exhibitions covering a variety of subjects and showcasing a diverse array of artists and genres.
The Art Institute of Chicago earns high praise from recent visitors, thanks in part to its impressive collection. Art enthusiasts particularly commend the museum's impressionist collection, which features pieces from famous artists like van Gogh, Monet and Renoir.
The Art Institute of Chicago sits just south of Millennium Park and next to Grant Park in downtown Chicago. The property is easily accessible via the Adams/Wabash, Monroe and Jackson L stations, or travelers can take one of several buses to a nearby bus stop. Driving to the Art Institute is not recommended due to the limited number of parking options available within walking distance. The museum is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Thursdays, the museum stays open until 8 p.m. General admission – which includes entry to special exhibitions, participation in guided tours and access to restrooms, several eateries and a gift shop – is $25 for adults and $19 for seniors and children between 14 and 17. If you have a Go Chicago Card or a CityPASS, admission into the museum is included with your pass. Learn more about the Art Institute of Chicago's exhibits, special events and facilities by visiting the property's website.10 minute walk
- 2#1View all Photos...Read More »
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.
On a gorgeous spring, summer or fall day, grab a blanket and picnic basket to enjoy on the park's grounds. Overall, former visitors said their time in the park was relaxing and worthwhile, though some mention that you'll likely encounter a few solicitors and homeless people.
Millennium Park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The park and its exhibits are free to visit, and complimentary guided garden and architecture tours are available on select days between May and September or October. Free audio tours can also be downloaded from the City of Chicago's website. You can also download free smartphone apps from the Google Play or iTunes stores for walking tour ideas, event listings and maps. Additional fees apply for items purchased at the park's concessions stands and restaurant. Restrooms and a bike parking area are offered on-site. To get to the park, travelers can bike, drive and park in one of several adjacent garages, walk from the Loop or take the L to the Lake, Randolph/Wabash, Monroe or Adams/Wabash subway stations.15-25 minute walk
- 3#11View all Photos#11 in ChicagoSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
A visit to 360 CHICAGO or Skydeck Chicago will give you a good overview of the city's layout. But if you want to learn more about Chicago's sky-high buildings, tag along on an architecture river cruise. During a river cruise, you'll gain great views and historical insight about well-known structures like The Wrigley Building, the Leo Burnett Building and the Fulton House.
Though several companies, including Wendella Sightseeing Co. and Chicago Line Cruises, offer architecture river cruises, most travelers recommend climbing aboard a Chicago's First Lady Cruises boat with a Chicago Architecture Foundation docent. You'll learn tons of information about the area's architecture, plus catch superb skyline photo ops.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago Line Cruises offer tours throughout the year, although they are not as frequent during the winter. (Chicago Line Cruises, Chicago's First Lady Cruises and Wendella Sightseeing Co. do not schedule any tours from December through February.) Architecture cruises from Wendella Sightseeing – which last roughly 75 or 90 minutes and are provided multiple times a day – start at $39 per person. Go Chicago Cards include 75-minute architecture river cruises provided by Shoreline Sightseeing. Tickets can be purchased online or at boat docks by DuSable Bridge or Ogden Slip. Docks at DuSable Bridge are within walking distance of The Magnificent Mile, several bus stops and the Grand L station, while Ogden Slip sits alongside Navy Pier and a few bus stops. A limited number of parking garages are also available in the area. Seats and restrooms are provided on all river cruises, and some boats feature food and beverage concessions stands.15-25 minute walk
- 4#4View all Photos...Read More »
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.5-15 minute walk
- 5#9View all Photos...Read More »
One of Chicago's most notable attractions is its skyline, and one of the best places to experience it is at the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, 360 CHICAGO towers 1,000 feet over The Magnificent Mile from its location on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center. Encased by floor-to-ceiling windows, 360 CHICAGO boasts expansive views of the city; on a clear day, you can see for 55 miles in any direction. Meanwhile, the interactive screens will help you identify different landmarks that appear in your panorama.
For a different point of view (and an adrenaline rush), test out 360 CHICAGO's TILT. In this mechanized room, visitors hold on to handlebars as the top of the room's windows extend outward, tilting you toward bustling North Michigan Avenue down below. Should you prefer to experience the view without feeling your heart skip a beat, grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a snack at the cafe and bar or look for souvenirs in the gift shop.
Past visitors say 360 CHICAGO's shorter lines, abundance of windows and better views make this attraction worth visiting over its more famous counterpart, Willis Tower's Skydeck Chicago. Some travelers bemoan the 360 CHICAGO's high ticket prices, however, if you have a Go Chicago Card or a Chicago CityPASS, your entrance fees are covered by your attractions pass.
Parking garages are situated nearby, but the easiest way to get to 360 CHICAGO is to take the L's Red Line to the Chicago subway station or one of several bus routes to the Michigan & Chestnut or Chestnut & Mies Van Der Rohe bus stops. The property is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., but keep in mind that last entry is at 10:30 p.m. Tickets cost $21 for adults and $14 for children between 3 and 11, and you'll have to fork over an additional fee to experience TILT. To learn more, visit the 360 CHICAGO website.
Explore More of Chicago
Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019
Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019
Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019
Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019
Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019
Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019
Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019
Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019
Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019