15 Best Tourist Attractions in Chicago | 2024 (with Photos)

Ana Dimic

Ana Dimic - Travel Writer

Published: June 30, 2023

Hey! How’s it going? I’m Ana, an avid traveler and adventure seeker. In this article, I'm excited to share with you the 15 top tourist attractions in Chicago for 2024, complete with captivating photos and insider tips to make your trip memorable. Happy exploring!


Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, is home to world-class museums, iconic skyscrapers, and the Chicago River.

With its stunning architecture, contemporary art, and picturesque waterfront, the Windy City offers visitors numerous tourist attractions and an unforgettable experience.

So, let's look at the top 15 tourist attractions in Chicago by the Travel-Lingual team, whilst we provide insider tips about the city's most celebrated landmarks.

Grab a deep-dish pizza and get ready to explore the best of Chicago.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

Marriott Marquis Chicago

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Spring and fall offer pleasant weather in Chicago.

Average Temperature

Can vary greatly depending on the season.

Transportation Options

Trains, buses, taxis, rideshares: Chicago's diverse transportation options.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Take a leisurely stroll along the Magnificent Mile, where tall skyscrapers surround you while you shop for designer brands and enjoy delicious meals at the city's finest restaurants.

Immerse yourself in the city's rich culture by visiting the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, where you can indulge in breathtaking masterpieces by famous artists such as Van Gogh and Monet. Don't forget to take a boat tour along the Chicago River and witness the stunning architecture that defines this city's skyline, or catch a live jazz show at one of the vibrant clubs in the historic neighborhoods.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Valid identification (passport, driver's license)
  2. Comfortable walking shoes
  3. Weather-appropriate clothing

What Not to Miss

  1. Millennium Park
  2. Navy Pier
  3. Art Institute of Chicago
  4. Willis Tower Skydeck
  5. The Magnificent Mile

What to Avoid

  1. Rush hour traffic
  2. Walking alone in certain neighborhoods at night
  3. Overpriced tourist traps

1. The Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most renowned museums in the world.

Located near Millennium Park, it features a collection of over 300,000 works of art. Notable highlights include Grant Wood's "American Gothic" and "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper.

The Art Institute also offers a range of exhibitions throughout the year - from iconic works by artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso to lesser-known works by emerging and underrepresented artists, providing a diverse and inclusive perspective on art history.

Additionally, the museum's central location in downtown Chicago makes it a convenient and accessible destination for anyone visiting the city.

Overall, the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art and culture and an essential part of any trip to Chicago.

Hot tip: Art lovers might also consider visiting the City Gallery in the historic Chicago Water Tower, which showcases a diverse range of contemporary art and photography. It is open daily and admission is free.

2. Grant Park

Grant Park

Grant Park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago.

One of the most well-known areas within Grant Park is Millennium Park, where you can see the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a stunning outdoor concert venue, and the iconic Cloud Gate Sculpture ("The Bean"), which reflects the city skyline in a unique and captivating way.

Buckingham Fountain, also located in Grant Park, is among the must-see tourist attractions. It puts on a water display every hour, complete with music and colorful lights. The four sea horse statues are said to represent the four states that surround Lake Michigan.

Another highlight of Grant Park is the Museum Campus, with world-renowned museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium.

If you want to get more in touch with local comings and goings, head for the ornate and opulent Chicago Cultural Center. Located just across from Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center offers free concerts and art exhibitions.

If you’re visiting Chicago in the winter, be sure to check out the ice skating in Millennium Park, which is a cherished Chicago tradition. The McCormick Tribune ice rink accommodates skaters from mid-November until mid-March - over 100,000 skaters annually.

Another scenic and family-friendly spot to spend some time is Maggie Daley Park which lies within the Loop and is connected to Millennium Park by a pedestrian bridge.

Related Article: Best Hotels in Chicago

3. Navy Pier and Lake Michigan

Navy Pier and Lake Michigan

Navy Pier is a historic landmark on the shores of Lake Michigan, offering some of the best tourist attractions in Chicago.

The pier features numerous shops and bars, as well as family-friendly Chicago attractions such as the Ferris wheel and the Chicago Children's Museum.

Visitors can also take a boat tour along the Chicago River or Lake Michigan from the pier. With its breathtaking views of the lakefront, Navy Pier is an essential part of any trip to Chicago.

Located on Navy Pier, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a vibrant cultural hub that showcases a range of productions, from Shakespearean classics to modern works. Arrive early and enjoy a pre-show cocktail with stunning views of Lake Michigan from their terrace.

The Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier can be another great alternative when the weather is bad.

Finally, be sure to check out the Navy Pier’s historic carousel. Designed exclusively for Navy Pier, the whimsical historic carousel recreates the pier’s golden age of the 1920s.

4. The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile

Michigan Avenue is probably one of the most attractive boulevards in America. The Magnificent Mile is a mile-long stretch of Michigan Avenue.

Featuring over 460 stores, ranging from luxury boutiques to popular department stores, as well as restaurants, luxury hotels, and entertainment venues, the Magnificent Mile is considered one of the best shopping districts in the world.

There's an eclectic rush of buildings here, including the Chicago Water Tower, the Tribune Tower, and the Wrigley Building.

The Tribune Tower is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Chicago and the former home of the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

Fortunately, the Magnificent Mile is conveniently located near other tourist attractions in Chicago, such as Navy Pier and Millennium Park, making it a great starting point for exploring all that Chicago has to offer.

5. The Willis Tower Skydeck

The Willis Tower Skydeck

The Loop - a bustling business district in downtown Chicago, is home to some of the tallest skyscrapers in the United States and serves as the economic engine of the city.

Willis Tower (or the Sears Tower), is a 110-story skyscraper, where visitors can take an elevator up to the Skydeck for breathtaking views of the city and Lake Michigan.

The Skydeck also features The Ledge, a glass balcony that extends four feet outside the Willis Tower, offering a unique and thrilling perspective.

The Sears Tower remains a testament to the city's architectural prowess and one of the most popular tourist destinations.

6. The Chicago Riverwalk and Chicago River Cruises

Chicago River Cruises

The Chicago Riverwalk is a pedestrian waterfront promenade that runs along the south bank of the Chicago River in the downtown district.

The Riverwalk stretching for 1.25 miles as it winds through the downtown district offers visitors a lush green space where they can stroll and take in the sights of the city.

Visitors can take a stroll along the river, enjoy a meal at one of the many outdoor restaurants or take a water taxi to explore the city. River cruises are among the best Chicago attractions for tourists and provide a unique perspective of the city skyline from the water.

Hot tip: Looking for more ways to stretch your legs? Just like the Chicago Riverwalk, the Lakefront Trail is equally loved for walks, hikes, and exploration.

7. Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

The second-oldest ballpark in the US after Boston's Fenway Park, Wrigley Field is an iconic baseball stadium and home of the Chicago Cubs team.

Its classic architecture, including the famous ivy-covered outfield walls, makes it a symbol of the city's rich baseball history.

Visitors can take a tour of the stadium, visit the Chicago Cubs team store, and enjoy a game during the baseball season.

Wrigley Field is a must-visit for sports fans and anyone who wants to experience the excitement of a Cubs game in one of the best sports cities in America.

8. The Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum in Chicago is one of the largest natural history museums in the world, with an impressive collection of over 40 million specimens and artifacts.

From ancient fossils to interactive exhibits on science and nature, the museum offers an unparalleled learning experience for visitors of all ages.

One of its famous exhibits is Sue, the world's largest and best-preserved T-Rex fossil.

The Field Museum and the Oriental Institute Museum, dedicated to the archeology and art of the Near East, complement each other perfectly, providing visitors with an understanding of human culture from ancient times to the present, also, check out our guide on the Best Best Museums in Chicago here.

9. Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is a world-renowned zoo located in the heart of Chicago. With over 1,100 animals representing nearly 200 different species, the green space provides a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo also features a botanical garden, paddleboat rentals, and a carousel. As a free-admission zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the most affordable Chicago attractions.

Also located in Lincoln Park are the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the Chicago History Museum.

Hot tips: Another popular tourist destination with free admission and green space where visitors can connect to nature is the Garfield Park Conservatory**.** Make sure to stop and admire Palm House here - a tropical oasis in the heart of the city.

A visit to Jackson Park or Hyde Park also offers a respite from the bustling city and a range of activities including hiking, biking, and picnicking, while North Avenue beach with its golden sands located within Lincoln Park is considered to be Chicago's best beach for swimming and sunbathing.

10. Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Tours

Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright was a revolutionary architect whose designs are celebrated worldwide. He is considered one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, and his legacy is particularly strong in Chicago.

Wright's designs are notable for their clean lines and geometric shapes, which create a sense of simplicity and elegance. A great way to appreciate his genius is by taking an architecture tour with the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust in the Windy City, where many of his iconic structures stand to this day.

Some of Wright's most iconic buildings in Chicago include the Frederick C. Robie House in Hyde Park, the Unity Temple in Oak Park, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture also represents a significant chapter in the history of American architecture, and visitors can learn about the social, cultural, and technological context of the time.

11. The Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is one of the largest science museums in the world and home to over 2,000 exhibits that showcase the wonders of space exploration, renewable energy, genetics, and transportation, among many others.

One of the museum's most popular exhibits is the U-505 submarine, which visitors can board and explore. The museum also hosts interactive displays and hands-on activities that are perfect for kids.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago offers a unique and engaging way to learn about science and technology.

Its location in Hyde Park neighborhood makes it easily accessible for tourists and locals alike, so it's a great place in Chicago to spend a day with family or friends.

12. The John Hancock Center

The John Hancock Center

The famous John Hancock Center is Chicago's fourth-tallest building, located on the shore of Lake Michigan.

On the 94th floor of the towering 875 North Michigan Avenue building (formerly the John Hancock building), you can find 360 Chicago - an observation deck offering panoramic views of the entire city.

Visitors can also explore TILT, a thrilling attraction that allows them to lean out over the city from a glass-enclosed platform.

For those looking for a dining experience with a view, the Signature Room restaurant is located on the 95th floor and offers a menu of contemporary American cuisine with stunning views of the city below.

Overall, the John Hancock Center is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Chicago, offering breathtaking views, unique experiences, and a prime location in the heart of the city.

13. The Chicago Theater

The Chicago Theater

The Chicago Theater is a historic landmark in the heart of downtown Chicago and the city's premier venue for live entertainment.

The theater's ornate design, including its iconic marquee and grand lobby, make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting Chicago.

The theater's grand architecture and décor, including its famous murals and intricate ceiling designs, are sure to impress visitors of all ages.

Additionally, the Chicago Theater hosts a variety of shows and events, from comedy acts to Broadway productions.

Overall, the Chicago Theater is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the arts, and history, or simply wants to experience a unique and memorable night out in Chicago.

14. The Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium, located on Chicago's Museum Campus, offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the wonders of the universe through interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, and educational programs.

With state-of-the-art technology and knowledgeable staff, the planetarium provides an engaging and informative experience for visitors of all ages.

From exploring the planets in our solar system to learning about the latest discoveries in astrophysics, the planetarium's shows are both educational and entertaining.

In addition to the planetarium, the museum also features a wide range of exhibits on space and astronomy, including hands-on displays and artifacts from space exploration missions.

15. Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium, located in the same lakeshore Museum Campus as the Field Museum, is home to more than 1,500 species of sea life, making it one of the most beloved tourist spots.

Visitors can see beluga whales, sea otters, sharks, dolphins, and many other species up close. The aquarium also has several exhibits that recreate different aquatic habitats, such as the Amazon River and the Great Lakes.

Shedd Aquarium also offers a variety of educational programs and exhibits that are designed to teach visitors about the importance of protecting aquatic environments and the animals that live within them.

The exhibits are both educational and entertaining, and the dolphin show is a must-see experience for anyone visiting the aquarium.

FAQs Relating to Tourist Attractions in Chicago

Let's take a look at the most frequently asked questions about tourist attractions in Chicago.

What is the number one tourist attraction in Chicago?

While there are many popular tourist attractions in Chicago, such as the Willis Tower, Navy Pier, the Wrigley Building, John Hancock Center, and Grant Park, the number one tourist attraction in Chicago is often considered to be the Chicago River. It offers a scenic path for walking, biking, and dining along the water.

What is Chicago famous for?

Among the many diverse Chicago attractions are the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, North Avenue Beach, Willis Tower, the Cloud Gate sculpture, the John Hancock Center, the Chicago Theater*the Lakefront Trail, the fine arts, cultural events, and luxury hotels.

What is the most fun thing in Chicago?

The most fun things to do in Chicago are visit and get to know its architecture, museums, fine arts, cultural events, bustling city center, the Chicago River, and food, among other things.

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a popular food item that originated in the city and has turned into one of the popular tourist attractions. The best deep-dish pizza in downtown Chicago can be found at Lou Malnati's and Giordano's.

What is the number one tourist attraction in Illinois?

The top tourist attraction in Illinois is the Navy Pier in Chicago. It offers scenic views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan and is one of the most popular Chicago tourist attractions.

Summing Up: 10 Best Tourist Attractions in Chicago

The Windy City embodies a rich history and cultural life.

Its most celebrated landmarks include the iconic Willis Tower, Michigan Avenue, Cloud Gate, John Hancock Building, Chicago River and Navy Pier, Grant Park, Millennium Park, Jackson Park, Lincoln Park, the Garfield Park Conservatory, Shedd Aquarium, and Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago and Museum Campus.

Whether you are a contemporary art lover, a shopaholic tempted by department stores and luxury retailers, or just looking to experience the city's memorable skyline and unique charm through walking tours or river cruises, Chicago has it all.

Plan your visit and explore the top tourist attractions in Chicago.