chicago tours

Top Tourist Attractions in Downtown Chicago

Whether a business traveler with some downtime on your hands or a leisure traveler with friends or family, Chicago offers dozens of fun and interesting attractions to check out. See below for some very popular destinations to explore while visiting Chicago.

For travelers who enjoy the thrill of heights, Chicago offers two of the most exciting vertical experiences one can have – Skydeck Chicago and 360 Chicago.

Located in Willis Tower (the former Sears Tower), which opened to the public in 1974, visitors to Skydeck Chicago travel to the 103rd floor where they can enjoy views from the clear observation deck as well as the “Ledge.” Jutting out from the Skydeck, which is 1,353 feet above the ground, the Ledge is a box that provides visitors the opportunity to stand and look directly down at the city below them. And on a clear day, views extend to four surrounding states.

On the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, visitors to 360 Chicago can view as far as the eye can see. And those who enjoy the exhilaration of thrilling heights should give the “Tilt” a whirl – a glass lookout that is tipped on an outward angle 1,000 feet above the ground.


Navy Pier

Originally named the Municipal Pier when it opened in 1916 as an amusement attraction and shipping facility, it was renamed the Navy Pier in 1927 to honor the Navy veterans of World War I. Today it is one of Chicago’s most popular year-round tourist attractions. From a 150-foot Ferris wheel to 50 acres of shops, restaurants, attractions, concert venues, a 3D Imax movie theater, a six-story indoor botanical garden, and the Chicago Children’s Museum, visitors of all ages will enjoy!

Grant Park

An expansive 319-acre public space of gardens, event venues, recreational facilities, and museums, Grant Park houses many of Chicago’s finest and most beautiful tourist attractions.

Within Grant Park, you can find Millennium Park, a 24.5-acre green space town square that is home to the mirrored “Bean” sculpture created by British artist Anish Kapoor. The “Bean” as it is affectionately called is 66 feet long, 33 feet high, and weighs more than 110 tons.

Connected to Millennium Park is Maggie Daley Park, a stunningly beautiful green space that features mini-golf, picnic groves, a “Skating Ribbon” and magical “Play Garden.” The “Garden” is the first of its kind in Chicago and is in the theme of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. At the “Ribbon” skaters can experience “alpine in the city” as they travel a path twice the length of a traditional skating rink.

A highlighted feature on the National Register of Historic Places within the Grant Park listing is the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain. Its design was inspired by the fountains of the Palace of Versailles in France. With the use of up to 15,000 gallons of water per minute, and choreographed water shows every 20 minutes, it is among the largest fountains in the world.

Grant Park Museum Campus

Interested in seeing the largest dinosaur ever discovered? Or the most complete T-Rex ever discovered? Then check out The Field Museum. Identified for its historical significance, and in existence for more than 100 years, the museum is on the US National Register of Historic Places.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a complex of 400,000 square feet, including the main building, which was built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge. Among the many pieces of art housed within the Institute, it is most well-known for its impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings collection, including Renoir and Monet.

Another feature of Museum Campus is the Shedd Aquarium. One of the world’s largest indoor aquariums and built-in 1930, it houses approximately 32,000 aquatic animals and marine life from around the world. With a multitude of ways to interact, from hands-on exhibits to daily shows and behind-the-scene tours, young and old will enjoy their day here.

Opened in 1930 to the public, the Adler Planetarium was the first planetarium in the western hemisphere. Yet another National Historic Landmark, the Adler offers extensive exhibits on astronomy and astrophysics, offers a variety of shows in its three theaters and houses the Doane Observatory.

Built-in 1914 and home to the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field is one of the oldest major league baseball parks in the U.S. and is named after William Wrigley Jr., the gum manufacturer who bought the Cubs in the early 1920s. Visitors to the stadium can enjoy a seasonal baseball game as well as a 90-minute historical tour and learn about items such as the stadium’s art-deco marquis as well as the inspiration behind the boomerang bleacher section.


With these and many of Chicago’s other attractions, you are sure to enjoy your time – day or night – in the Windy City!