If you are planning on getting the most out of Chicago, consider investing in a Go Chicago Card that gives you free access to up to 26 of the city’s top attractions. These are available for multiple durations, the most affordable being a one-day pass for a little less than $ 100 (a small discount is given to children under 12). Alternatively, you can purchase a Chicago CityPass for approx. $ 100, which gives you access to five selected Chicago top attractions.
If you do not want to buy a Go Chicago pass on the internet, for example, you can do so when you are in Chicago. For example, at Macy’s visitor center at 111 N State Street.
The Magnificent Mile
Chicago’s most talked about street is the so-called Magnificent Mile. This is the section of Michigan Avenue that extends in the north / south direction between the Chicago River and Oak Street. There are over 450 shops, 4 shopping centers, close to 500 restaurants and around 50 hotels, most of which are in the luxury class. As a tourist, you can immediately notice in this street.
On the 104th floor of the second tallest building in the United States, about 430 meters up, is a viewing deck where, on a clear day, you can see up to three other states. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is located at 233 South Wacker Drive, and the viewing deck is open to the public from 0900 to 2200 in the summer, closing 2000 in the winter. The entrance fee costs approx. 100 kroner for adults and there are discounts for children.
John Hancock Center
Next to WillisTower, this is Chicago’s most famous building, and one of the tallest buildings in the world. Unlike the Willis office block, Hancock Center also has apartments, shops, hotels, radio and TV stations, restaurants, post offices and even its own ice rink. The view terrace (called 360 ° Chicago) is a favorite of tourists from home and abroad, and the entrance fee here costs a meager hundred tickets, around sixty kroner for children under 12. It may not be as tall as WillisTower, but the view is actually much better. Open daily from 0900 to 2300.
On the 96th and 97th floor is the famous Signature Room restaurant, where you can have dinner or have a drink for a breathtaking view. Table reservation is recommended.
Chicago Children’s Museum
At Navy Pier, 700 E Grand Avenue, on the shores of Lake Michigan, is Chicago’s Children’s Museum, a large indoor complex with many shops, cafes and children’s attractions, including an IMAX cinema. Otherwise, there are interactive exhibits that will seem stimulating and educational for the children.
Open from 1000 to 1700, and to 2000 on Thursdays and Saturdays. The entrance fee costs about NOK 140 for both adults and children, but free for everyone after 1700 on Thursdays, and for children under 15 on the first Monday of each month.
Amazing Chicago Funhouse Maze
This huge maze is also on Navy Pier. Here you start the tour in a (seemingly) falling elevator before venturing out into the mirror forest, stomping you through rotating tunnels of psychedelic lights and trying to put out the big Chicago fire. Equally fun for big and small. Open from 1000 every day, different times close depending on the day of the week and season, but never before 1900. The entrance fee is valid for one hour.
Lincoln Park Zoo The
Lincoln Park Zoo opened as early as 1868, making it one of the nation’s oldest. The zoo then had only one poor bear kid to show off. Today you can see exotic animals from most habitats, from both tropical forests and prairies, savannas and polar areas in what is now one of the country’s most modern zoos.
This is the only zoo in the US with free admission. Open from 0900 to 1800 every day.
A few miles west of downtown is the Brookfield Zoo. This one is larger than the Lincoln Park Zoo, in fact, the entire 874,124 m², and has over 2,000 animals. Opened in 1934, Brookfield was one of the first zoos in the world to use moats and hedges to separate animals from the public, creating a more ecological alternative to cages. The zoo is open from 1000 every day, and closes 1700 or 1800 depending on the season or weekday. The entrance fee costs approx. NOK 200 for adults and 140 for children up to 11 years.
This state-of-the-art astronomy museum opened in 1930 and today has two major planetarium theaters. The museum has everything from medieval stellar binoculars to today’s high-tech equipment, and simulators that take you into the galaxies. Open every day from 0930 to 1630 in winter and to 1800 in summer. The first Friday of each month is open until 2200. The entrance fee costs about 120 NOK for adults and 100 for children. The address is 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive.
Right at the Adler Planetarium you will find the world’s largest indoor aquarium, where you can see over 8,000 creatures of over 700 species from all over the world. Here are both sharks and moors, sea turtles and electric eels, seahorses and sea lions. There is also a section where you can meet (and if you like, touch) snakes, frogs, lizards and spiders.
The price of a ticket depends on whether you have a Chicago passport and what to do at the Aquarium. The aquarium is open daily from 0900 to 1700 on weekdays, and to 1800 on weekends.
Chicago Cultural Center
This magnificent building is a landmark in Chicago and dates from 1897. Here, the mayor of the city has welcomed royals, presidents and diplomats every year. It is one of Chicago’s foremost attractions, and houses one of America’s largest art collections, with both literary and visual arts, music and performing arts. Here is also a huge domed vault of colored stone glass, and you can easily have lunch while being entertained by music or cabarets. Open all days, free admission.
In Grant Park lies one of the world’s largest fountains, the Buckingham Fountain, which was unveiled in 1927. The seahorses on each side represent the four states bordering Lake Michigan; Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. The fountain is in operation from April to October, and for 20 minutes every full hour it sprays water about 50 meters up into the air. With over 800 lights, it is a mighty sight after dark.
Tourist in Chicago
Chicago has approximately 2.7 million inhabitants and is the United States’ third largest city after New York City and Los Angeles. Chicago is located just north of the state of Illinois on Lake Michigan’s southwest shores.
Originally, the Chicago area was a trading station in the 1770s. The US Army built Fort Dearborn in 1803, but the fort was burned to the ground and its inhabitants massacred by Potawatomi Indians in 1812.
Chicago gained city status in 1837 and grew so quickly that it became a million town as early as 1890, although a major fire in 1871 turned one-third of the houses into ashes. Like many other American cities and states, Chicago’s name also derives from a Native American word, shikaakwa, which was the real name of the river that flows through the city.
In the 1920s, Chicago was the playground for gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger. These occurred during the prohibition period, the period when all the manufacture and sale of alcohol was totally banned in the United States. Chicago can also boast of being the birthplace of the nuclear bomb. It was at the University of Chicago that Robert Oppenheimer & co operated on his top secret Manhattan Project.
You’ve probably seen movies recorded in Chicago and movies like The Blues Brothers and The Immutable have long since become classics, and in the Batman movies Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Chicago plays the role of Gotham.
Tour buses, festivals and skyscrapers in Chicago
If you want to see all of Chicago’s main attractions and sights in one day, for example, take a Double Decker Bus Tour, which starts at Sears Tower. The ticket costs around 180 kroner and is valid for a whole day, where you can hop on and off the bus at your convenience. You can also take a river cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation on the Chicago River to see the grand architecture from a different angle.
It should be well done to visit Chicago while there is no festival. On the music front, the Blues Fest and Gospel Fest will be launched in June, the rockers will have their Lollapalooza in August, and in September the jazz lovers will have their Jazz Festival. And in early July, the world’s largest food festival, Taste of Chicago, will be held in Grant Park for ten days. In addition, countless smaller and narrower festivals are organized.
Chicago is perhaps best known for its many skyscrapers, and the views from Lake Michigan’s shores to the city skyline are impressive. Three of the five tallest buildings in the United States are located in Chicago, including Willis Tower, (formerly Sears Tower), the United States’ second tallest building since 2013, at 442 meters. The other two are Aon Center at 346 meters and John Hancock Center at 344 meters.
Around 42% of the city’s population is white, and 37% are of African descent. Among the largest ethnic groups in Chicago are Irish, Germans and Italians. Furthermore, Chicago has the largest gathering of Poles outside Poland’s borders.
The east side of Chicago is met by the largest lake in the United States, Lake Michigan, and along it runs one of the city’s major traffic arteries, Lake Shore Drive, past major parks such as Lincoln Park, Grant Park and Jackson Park.
Along the seafront there are also close to thirty public beaches that the city’s residents make frequent use of in the summer. It is relatively easy to orientate in Chicago, considering that most streets run either north / south or east / west, forming rectangular quarters, even if some diagonal street occurs
Chicago is otherwise roughly divided into four parts; Downtown, North Side, West Side and South Side. These are again divided into 77 districts.
Downtown in Chicago
The oldest historic part of Chicago is located in Downtown and is called The Loop. In addition to being the business district, many major cultural institutions are located here, such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Harold Washington Library Center and several theaters. In the western part of The Loop lies the town of Greektown, with many lively Greek restaurants. Architecturally, steel and glass skyscrapers dominate, with the United States tallest building, the Sears Tower, at the forefront. Here is also the Loop Retail Historic District shopping area, where you will find seven major department stores.
As a tourist, you are guaranteed to stroll around Chicago’s most famous street route, the so-called Magnificent Mile. This is the section of Michigan Avenue that extends in the north / south direction of Downtown between the Chicago River and Oak Street. There are over 450 shops, 4 shopping centers, close to 500 restaurants and approx. 50 hotels, most of these luxury class.
North Side of Chicago
The North Side is not a tourist magnet unless you are interested in modern art. Because here are more art galleries than anywhere else in the US except for Soho, the Manhattan area of New York. Here, too, several trendy clubs and restaurants have emerged in recent years. Along the shores of Lake Michigan, public parks and beaches extend north past the city limits.
On the North Side is the Lincoln Park district, which is one of the city’s richest residential areas. Here, of course, is also Lincoln Park, which is Chicago’s largest outdoor area. There you will find the city’s free zoo, a golf course, a lake where you can rent rowboats, many statues of famous personalities, History Museum and countless volleyball courts, basketball courts and baseball fields.
Nearby is the Old Town district, founded by German immigrants in the 1850s. Here you can see some Victorian houses, and even some cobblestone streets, which is quite unique in Chicago. Old Town hosts one of the oldest art markets in the United States, the Old Town Art Fair. The event usually takes place in early June.
South Side of Chicago
On the South Side is Hyde Park, which is really a suburb located between the larger parks Washington Park and Jackson Park. Former residents include well-known personalities such as Muhammad Ali, Hugh Hefner and Barrack Obama.
Hyde Park is also home to one of the district’s four universities. the prestigious University of Chicago, which is associated with over 80 Nobel laureates, more than any other university.
West Side of Chicago
The West Side does not have the major tourist attractions, but it can be interesting to look at neighborhoods like Ukrainian Village, Little Italy and Wicker Park. You might remember the latter from the movie High Fidelity?
The beer dogs of us probably want to stroll around the Pilsen district just because of the name, but it is only named after the town of Plzn in the Czech Republic by the many Czech immigrants who lived here in the late 1800s.