Must-See Chicago Tourist Attractions
There are far more top-notch tourist attractions in Chicago than you could fit into one visit, which can make planning your itinerary a daunting task! We hope this guide to our favorite Chicago tourist sites makes it a bit easier to choose the activities your family will enjoy the most. From the Willis Tower Skydeck and top-tier museums to professional sports events and four-star dining, Chicago truly has something to offer everyone!
Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago
If you only have time for one stop in downtown Chicago, be sure to snap a selfie on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower — the highest point in the entire city. Over a thousand feet up and with a view spanning up to four states, it’s a guarantee you’ll see more of the city from here than anywhere else. Search for landmarks, and enjoy kid-friendly interactive activities. Then, step out onto The Ledge, a glass box that overhangs the side of the building — and see Chicago move beneath your feet! Once you’ve had your fill of excitement, grab food near Willis Tower for a dining experience you won’t get elsewhere!
Chicago locals and visitors alike always make time for the Shedd Aquarium. This longtime favorite features seven permanent aquatic exhibits of colorful fish and exotic marine mammals from around the world. Enduring favorites include the piranhas and predator sharks, Caribbean turtles and eels, brightly-colored frogs and snakes of the Amazon, penguins, and sea lions! For a once-in-a-lifetime animal experience, you can schedule a penguin encounter to meet a real penguin, and learn more about the animal’s population.
Those interested in astronomy and astrophysics will want to put the Adler Planetarium at the top of their list, but it’s actually an out-of-world experience for anyone fascinated by the history — and future — of space travel. Complete your trip by catching an immersive light show in the Grainger Sky Theater, where multiple projectors cover the surface of the theater’s 70-foot-diameter dome and transport you to other planets, stars, and solar systems.
Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours
Like the Willis Tower Skydeck, Chicago river tours are a great way to pack a whole lot of the city into one event. Choose from multiple tours focused on expert-selected Chicago architecture highlights you can see clearly from the boat. You’ll learn about Chicago’s unique, daring, and historical architectural pursuits, as well as the people, designs, and innovative architectural ideas behind them. You can be sure you’ll be getting a solid educational experience too, because all tour guides are either architects, architecture students, or architecture historians.