The Chicago History Museum
Old timers may like to call this the Chicago Historical Society.
Whatever you call it, the Chicago Historical Museum is a treasure trove of Chicago history, featuring all kinds of exhibits that showcase events and people from our citys past.
Seeing that were in Illinois its no surprise they have a fairly broad range of exhibits related with Abe Lincoln, but if youve had more than your share of former Presidents, you can
Clamber aboard a vintage L car,
Gaze at lithographs of Chicago dating back to the 1860s, and
Check out restored pictures and other exhibits about the 1871 Fire.
And thats just for a start.
Feeling hungry? Visit the North And Clarke Cafe and gorge on mouthwatering Chicago-style hotdogs!
Pro tip: Parking is a bit of a walk away, NE of LaSalle. Check if you can validate your parking, itll cut down those nasty fees.
Looking for great dining options? Dont worry well explore the 5 top restaurants and cafes in Chicago in a while.
Richard H Driehaus Museum
Youll step back into Americas Gilded Age at the refined Nickerson House, built in 1883 for the banker Samuel M. Nickerson.
Close to the Magnificent Mile, on the Near North Side, the house looks a little out of place, dwarfed by the citys bold Neoclassical monuments and glass-clad skyscrapers.
In 2003 the Chicago fund manager and philanthropist turned the Nickerson house into a museum, blending the original furnishings with luxurious Art Nouveau glazed tiles, stained glass, onyx, carvings and marble all sourced from other places.
The museum is heaven if you like decorative arts.
Youll find some lovely pieces by Louis Comfort Tiffany, like a large fire screen, a set of vibrant stemware, a blown-glass humidor and a peculiar centrepiece lamp.
The ballroom has Edward Colonna furniture you can sit in, while some other exceptional pieces include Sèvres vases, a suite of George A. Schastey neo-Empire chairs, pre-Raphaelite paintings and a rare Chickering and Sons grand piano.
Outdoor Attractions In Chicago
Take a walk along Chicagos urban greenway
The trail offers some welcomed green space in the midst of the city landscape
The Bloomingdale Trail, better known as The 606, is a 2.7 mile-long walking trail that extends west from Ridgeway Ave, and then east to Ashland Ave. This trail, which was transformed from an old rail line, offers a refreshing outdoor escape and is perfect for runners, bikers, and anyone who wants to enjoy a nice stroll.
There are 12 entry-points to reach the trail from. Depending on where you stay in Chicago, the easiest way to reach the 606 is by taking the CTA Blue Line. Damen and Western stops will bring you within walking distance of the trail itself.
If youre looking to get a little exercise in while still enjoying the city, head to the 606!
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Board The Iconic Tall Ship Windy
Modeled after a traditional Great Lakes trading ship, the Tall Ship Windy is as charming as it is historic.
The majestic 148-foot schooner sets sail from Navy Pier out to the calm waters of Lake Michigan, where spectacular views of the Chicago skyline await.
The trip isnt only picturesque, but interactive as well guests assist in raising the sails and sending out the commands to the crew.
Free Things To Do In Chicago
They say the best things in life are free. Make sure you explore the following around Chicago:
Chicago Fed Visitors Center – Check if there are any special exhibitions or guided tours on at this museum.
Miró’s Chicago – Spend time here and get an insight into the artistic and cultural side of the area.
Northerly Island Park – Make time for play and add a little excitement to your escape here.
Kluczynski Building – Architecture buffs will certainly enjoy marveling at the modern design of this landmark.
– Drop by this historic site and learn something about the cultural heritage of the area.
Chicago Riverwalk – Amble along the streets and appreciate the charm and character of this favorite location.
Four Seasons – Widely recognized among those who live here, this site is worth a look.
Chicago Loop Synagogue – Inject a bit of spirituality into your trip with a stop at this holy site.
Ohio Street Beach – Read a good book or listen to some music while getting some sun.
Millennium Park – If you’re into digging around the garden, this place will delight your green thumb.
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Do All The Things At The Beach
Lake Michigan might be the city’s most lively destination in the summertime. Grab a towel, your sun hat, some SPF, and head to one of Chicagos glorious beaches, and whatever you do, dont forget to stuff a few dollars in your pocket to buy a cold, tasty paleta or other frozen beach snacks. If you’re thirsty or hungry, bars and restaurants dot the lakesides edge like Cafe Olivia off of Ohio beach, Theater on the Lake off of Fullerton beach, or Castaways off of North Avenue beach. Get sandy playing volleyball with old and new friends, or stay sandless and set off on a rented paddleboardthere are no boundaries at the lake.
See The Light Show At Buckingham Fountain
Once the sun starts to set, head over to the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain in the center of Grant Park.
Before Cloud Gate came along, this historical landmark was Chicagos most-visited attraction, thanks largely to its mesmerizing nightly light show.
The majestic attraction uses as much as 15,000 gallons of water per minute, and it all illuminates up after dusk.
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Night Time Tours In Chicago
Organized tours are an especially good thing to do for families and other Chicago visitors under 21, who wont be admitted to many of the bars and venues listed above. Believe it or not, theres a wide range of options for night time tours in the Windy City.
You can soar above the city to check out the night lights in a helicopter! You can go on a haunted Segway tour that visits several supposedly haunted spots in Chicago. You can take a dinner cruise on Lake Michigan.
Or you can join a Chicago Crimes tour that covers Chicagos mob history at spots like the Biograph Theater, where John Dillinger was famously taken down by the FBI in 1934.
Enjoy A Dinner Or Boat Cruise
From river cruises to the waters of Lake Michigan, there are multiple boat tours available to take.
One of the most popular options is to have an enjoyable lunch or dinner on the water to relax and have fun with your travel buddies or family.
These lunch and dinner cruises usually last 2 to 3 hours.
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A Scenic Drive To Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin
3 hours from Chicago
Wisconsin Dells is known for two things – its scenic Wisconsin River gorge and the high number of waterparks which has given the town its nickname as the Waterpark Capital of the World.
Although a lot of people will travel to Wisconsin Dells for the waterparks, don’t forget to go on a tour down the Wisconsin River gorge.
The Dells Boat Tours will take you through the narrow river passages – these Dells are gorges through layered rock formations that become small tall islands as the river widens.
There are 4 large waterpark resorts and around 20 in total with more being constructed. A lot of these are built indoors so you can enjoy a weekend swimming, relaxing and going down crazy slides when everything outside is frozen!
Dare To Go On The Gangsters And Ghosts Tour
Chicago has a rich but criminal history. Due to this, historical and ghost tours are popular in the city. If youre after some fun couple activities in Chicago, then going on the Gangsters and Ghosts walking tour is a must.
Youll visit a range of haunted buildings and gangster hangouts. Tales involve the citys notorious gangsters, like Al Capone, and the culture of speakeasies during prohibition.
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Spot Constellations At The Adler Planetarium
Boasting the title of the first of its kind in North America, the Adler Planetarium is an unrivaled insight into the worlds of space and astronomy.
Old telescopes, moon rocks, a Gemini Capsule, and even a section on the moon landing rover cap off an extensive list of artifacts. Likewise, the interactive exhibits and live stargazing shows are second to none.
The planetarium sits on the northeast tip of Northerly Island, a location that offers arguably the best land-based panoramic view of the citys skyline.
Holiday Shows And More Fun Things To Do In Chicago This Weekend With Kids
Looking for the best things to do in Chicago this weekend? Here are some family-friendly events and activities to add to your list for this weekend.
There are just three weekends between now and Christmas Eve, and plenty to pack in before Santa packs his sleigh. Holiday shows are starting to open and Chicago has plenty of picks this year, from the traditional favorite Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker, the avant-garde pandemic newcomer Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol , or the kid-friendly Mrs Claus! at the Beverly Art Center. Get outside and visit local businesses with winter street festivals in Hyde Park, Oak Park, or West Town. And if you didn’t get your fill of parades last weekend, there’s still one more in Tinley Park on Sunday.
It’s time to book your pictures with Santa if you don’t want to wait in line! Or jump on the CTA Holiday Train or Busyou can find one running somewhere in the city Tuesdays through Sundays in the afternoon and evening hours. There are also still 22 opportunities to see The Nutcracker from Waukegan to Frankfort this holiday season.
Here are our top picks for the best things to do in Chicago with kids this weekend.
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Oglesby And Utica Illinois
1 hour 30 minutes from Chicago
The small town of Oglesby, home to 3,600 people, is renowned for its natural beauty. Oglesby and its neighbor Utica lie nestled into a curve of the Vermilion River and is perfect for exploring some of the best outdoors in Illinois.
The main attractions are the two major parks – the Starved Rock State Park and the Matthiessen State Park.
While both parks are not as large as some, there is plenty to explore with trails going through canyons and some amazing rock formations.
You can easily do a day trip from Chicago, but if you decide to come for the weekend, you can stay over at the Starved Rock State Park Lodge that comes complete with a pool and spa to unwind after your hiking.
Make sure you grab some food at the Root beer Stand. This Mom n pop classic fast food diner has been in Oglesby since 1955 and serves top notch root beer floats and burgers.
Garden Of The Phoenix
ezellhphotography / Shutterstock
Illinois might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of cherry blossoms, but at the Garden of the Phoenix, theyre an annual event.
This beautiful, peaceful garden has been transported right out of a Japanese painting and into the heart of Chicago.
Curved bridges will lead you across ponds and streams.
Bonsai trees will provide shade from the sun.
Flower fields will offer amazingly fragrant mixes of camillas, chrysanthemums and morning glories, and birds will sing sweet songs over the sounds of babbling brooks and rustling tree leaves.
Youre probably impatient to hear about the cherry blossoms.
Thousands of visitors flock to Chicago from all over Illinois just to see them every spring.
Their lives are brief, so make sure to time your trip when theyre actually in season, but seeing them in person is just as amazing as you think.
If youre looking for attractions that you cant find anywhere else in the state of Illinois, consider the Garden of the Phoenix.
Its cherry blossoms are a rare and exotic treat, but its real appeal lies in its beauty, serenity and tranquility.
Once youre here, youll never want to leave.
Address: 6300 S Cornell Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, United States
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Three Dots And A Dash
Its never a horrible idea to pretend youre on a tropical getaway for your birthday, especially if youre a Capricorn or Aquarius in our fair city. In fact, a retreat to this tiki-themed speakeasy for a kick-you-in-the-pants, fruity beverage best served in a treasure chest with dry ice fog might be the most optimal way to ring in your new age bracket with six-eight lucky comrades.
Watch Chicagos Sports Teams In Action
Heading to one of these teams games is a super fun date idea. Even if your partner isnt a major sports fan, grabbing some drinks and cheering for the home team never disappoints.
Located in Chicagos River North neighborhood, HQ Beercade is a super cool date spot. The bar has a fun selection of over 50 arcade games, including Pac-Man and Asteroids. You can also play pinball or challenge yourself and your date to winning their trivia night.
While you explore the arcade, you can enjoy snacks, craft beers, and specialty cocktails. Beercade also has sharing cocktails, perfect for enjoying with your date.
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Devour A Delicious Brunch On The Chicago Odyssey Cruise
Captivating views of the Chicago skyscrapers are aplenty on board the luxurious Chicago Odyssey.
On a typical 2-hour cruise, guests have access to a fresh brunch buffet, offering the best of the breakfast and the lunch menu, and complemented by a gourmet coffee bar.
Cap off the journey with a mouth-watering mimosa before disembarking at the 3,300-foot-long Navy Pier.
Take A Tour With Tall Ship Windy
Alvov | Shutterstock
Entry Ticket: Starting at $17.00
Address: 600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
- Book in advance
Tall Ship Windy offers sailing tours near and around Chicago, with several options for themed, educational, and classic sailing tours.
If you want to view the spectacular skyline of Chicago from the water, you have the option to take a leisurely sail along Lake Michigan.
You can learn about the architecture during your lakefront cruise.
Additionally, for a nighttime excursion, you cant go wrong with the fireworks cruise.
Sip a cocktail and also enjoy fantastic fireworks while you glide by the city.
In the mood for some pirate-style drinking?
With the Pirates Pub Sail you will have a fun-filled time sampling beer and singing traditional pirate songs, all while floating across Lake Michigan.
A unique and special experience awaits you with Tall Ship Windy and their exceptional sailing tours.
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Fun Things To Do In Chicago
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While the state of Illinois and much of the Midwest is known for its farmland, Chicago stands out as a city of iconic architecture, world-class museums, and deep-dish pizza. There is so much to see and do in this city that you likely need to visit a few times before you understand what its all about.
Chicago is a city made up of diverse neighborhoods, local mom & pop shops, and a thriving indie arts scene. Although it only sees a couple of months of hot sunny weather each year, this is the time when locals and tourists take to the beaches of Lake Michigan to soak up some rays and get active in parks and on trails.
How you spend your time in the Windy City often depends on the weather, the season, and where youre staying. But these are some of the best things to do in Chicago to add to your travel bucket list.
What Is It? The craft beer scene has really exploded in Chicago in recent years, and there are some delicious concoctions brewing all around the city.
Why Do It? Visit a tasting room for samples and take a tour of the facilities to learn more about how craft beer is made. Some breweries in the city serve food as well and have outside seating, which is perfect for enjoying a warm day.
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Soak In The Skyline From A Lake Michigan Sightseeing Boat Tour
Get off your feet for a while sit back and relax on a boat as the captain takes you down the Chicago River, pointing out the iconic landmarks and delving into the citys rich history along the way.
If youre fed up with the crowds, take the experience to the next level by booking a private, luxury tour on your very own sailboat, or grab a two-person pontoon.
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Attend Local Comedy Shows
Stand-up comedy was created fifty years ago when a group of comedians started putting on purposefully unstructured sketches in a Chicago pub.
Although Second City continues to produce the greatest in the business, Chicago also hosts several other improv theaters that also operate on booze-fueled recommendations from the audience.
Powerhouse drama groups like Hollywood star-studded Steppenwolf and a tonne of fringey, provocative off-Loop groups, such as The Neo-Futurists are among the citys 200 theaters.