Chicago General Attractions
Chicago general attractions are highlighted by Cloudgate in Millennium Park, Grant Park, shops on Michigan Avenue and State Street, Harold Washington Library, Willis Tower Skydeck, John Hancock Observatory, Riverwalk Gateway and River Cruises, Chicago Board of Trade, House of Blues and Chicago History Museum.
DESCRIPTION: This park of art and architecture built over a commuter train station, is a masterpiece of urban design and imagination. Wrigley Square and Millennium Park Monument feature a full-sized replica of the original peristyle built in this location in 1917. A peristyle consists of a series of columns enclosing a court and tree-lined quiet area to relax and reflect. McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink provides 16,000-square-feet of FREE ice skating November through February, other events populate the rest of the calendar. Park Grill opens early, closes late for fast food and refreshments. The giant Cloudgate, often called the “Bean”, is 66 feet long by 33 feet high is a crowd pleaser. Crown Fountain will steal your kids attention and spare your wallet. They will have so much free fun here its ridiculous. Chase Promenade is often lined with outdoor art and special exhibits. The spectacular Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavillion features partially covered seating and lawn seating for outdoor concerts. A good place to meet friends is the Welcome Center located at 201 East Randolph Street.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 6a-11p
ADDRESS: 55 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garage underneath
TRANSIT: CTA Randolph-Wabash Station, CTA Madison-Wabash Station, Metra Chicago-Randolph Station
WEBSITE: http://www.millenniumpark.orgGrant Park
DESCRIPTION: Built during the 1920s, this park was built on 220 acres lining Lake Michigan per the plans of internationally renown landscape architect, Daniel Burnham. Flora and fauna lovers appreciate the largest collection of elm trees in an urban park and two distinctive rose gardens. On good weather days, views of the lake are spectacular. Families appreciate large expanses of open areas for picnics, softball and other games. The Chicago Bulls and Chicago Black Hawks held Championship celebrations here. The Jazz, Blues, Gospel and Taste of Chicago festivals draw from 100,000 to 1 million people. You can also find the world famous Buckingham Fountain here. Look to the southwest corner of the park and you see Johnson Publishing Building of Ebony magazine fame.
ADDRESS: Michigan Ave, Randolph Street, Chicago Harbor, Chicago, IL MAP
TRANSIT: Metra Millennium Park Station
DESCRIPTION: Although this avenue traverses the Near Northside to the deep Southside, the Heart of Chicago lies between Balbo Avenue on South Michigan Avenue and Oak Street on North Michigan Avenue; in this stretch a visitor finds one of the top ten hospitality, fine dining and retail districts in the world complimented by Chicago River, parks, museums, cultural centers, publishers, great architecture colleges, transit centers, historic sites and landmark attractions. The landscaped median, mature trees and mini-gardens make for plenty of inviting photos in what the city calls The Magnificent Mile. This urban gem did not happen by accident. It is part of Daniel Burnham’s master plan for a great Chicago. Hop off Chicago Trolley and Double Decker sightseeing tour buses when you reach the Historic Water Tower, the oldest standing structure on Michigan Avenue.
ADDRESS: Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
TRANSIT: Metra Millennium Park Station
John Hancock Observatory
DESCRIPTION: Located in the architecturally robust John Hancock Center, newly renovated and still meeting elevated expectations. Views span up to 80 miles and 4 states so bring your zoom lens cameras and camcorders. Tripods are not permitted in the observatory. When shooting at night, set your camera exposure to 800 ISO or higher
ADMISSION: Adults $9.50, Ages 62+ $7.50, Ages 5-12 $6, Age 4 and under FREE
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9a-11p with last ticket sold at 10:45p
ADDRESS: 875 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid garages on premises
TRANSIT: CTA Chicago-Red Station
Harold Washington Library
DESCRIPTION: America’s largest central library is a befitting monument to the (1922-1987) Mayor Harold Washington. Born in Chicago, Harold was a scholar athlete who frequented the Chicago Public Library before graduating from DuSable High School. He became a sergeant during WWII, then got a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University and a law degree from Northwestern University. In 1982 he became the first African American elected mayor of Chicago. Tragically, he died of a heart attack while in office. Harold’s personal effects and memorabilia are featured, as well as a notable Jubilee Showcase Gospel Music Video Collection of more than 100 programs.
DAYS & HOURS: daily, call for hours
ADDRESS: 400 South State Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid lots and garages nearby
TRANSIT: CTA Library Station
WEBSITE: Harold Washington Library
Sears Tower Skydeck
DESCRIPTION: After 1974 and until recently, this skyscraper with towers was America’s tallest building. It has 100 elevators. Take one to the 103rd floor for a spectacular view of the city and region. The experience is best enjoyed at non-peak hours after 4p.
ADMISSION: Adults $9.50, 3-11 $6.75, Children under 3 FREE
DAYS & HOURS: daily May-September 10a-10p, Oct-Apr 10a-8p
ADDRESS: 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid garages nearby
TRANSIT: CTA Quincy-Wells Station and Metra Chicago-LaSalle Station
Riverwalk Gateway and River Cruises
DESCRIPTION: Public art tells the history of Chicago and its river in a 336-foot long wall of sixteen narrative panels. Cruise the Chicago River year-round, if its not frozen. One of the best aspects of the Riverwalk is dining at several places along the way. Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) also hosts 90-minute tours of Chicago’s riverfront architecture aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises from here. Tour docents are CAF-certified volunteers who provide insight into the built environment.
DAYS & HOURS: daily dawn to dusk
ADDRESS: Michigan Ave at Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid garage nearby
TRANSIT: CTA Randolph-Wabash Station and Metra Chicago-Randolph Station
PHONE: CAF 847-358-1330 and toll-free 800-982-2787
Chicago Board of Trade
DESCRIPTION: This monument to futures investments was founded in 1848 to stabilize grain prices. Built in 1930, this art deco structure features fine architectural details that are most evident up close. The top is crowned with Ceres, the Roman Goddess of grain. Take the 30-minute tour view this exciting trading floor where the price of your grits and bacon are likely determined. Don’t be alarmed by the high security measures which are required here for your safety. This building appeared in both the Batman Dark Knight movies.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 9a-2p
ADDRESS: 141 West Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garages nearby
TRANSIT: CTA Quincy-Wells Station, CTA LaSalle-Van Buren Station, Metra Chicago-LaSalle Station
House of Blues
DESCRIPTION: HOB stays on the cutting edge of upbeat urban entertainment by featuring a heavy dose of blues, Hip-Hop and R&B concerts. It does not exclusively feature those genres, so call ahead for the calendar of events and make a reservation for those delicious Sunday Gospel Brunches. This is a smoke-free restaurant and NO cameras are permitted.
ADMISSION: reasonable prices for most concerts at 10pm; free entry for lunch or dinner
DAYS & HOURS: daily for lunch and dinner; concerts start at 7p
ADDRESS: 329 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garages on premises and nearby
TRANSIT: CTA Clark-Lake Station
Hard Rock Café
DESCRIPTION: Check of a sample of the 70,000 guitars, drums, pianos, harmonicas, microphones, shirts, pants, scarves, shoes, handwritten lyrics, cars, bikes, a bus and assorted rock memorabilia that exist in the Hard Rock Cafes around the world; get a burger and your own memorabilia in the gift shop.
ADMISSION: $10-18 for entrees
DAYS & HOURS: Sun-Thu 11a-11p, Fri-Sat 11a-12p
ADDRESS: 63 West Ontario Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid lots nearby
TRANSIT: CTA Grand-Red Station
Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
DESCRIPTION: Explore the multifaceted Jewish experience through an ongoing exhibit on Jewish Chicago, public programs, collections, research facilities and decorative art. View contemporary art from Spertus collections and learn about this Silver-LEED certified building’s unique architecture in a free self-guided tour of its artwork.
DAYS & HOURS: Thu-Sun 10a-5p
ADDRESS: 618 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: many lots nearby
TRANSIT: CTA Harrison CTA Station, Metra Van Buren Station
Chicago History Museum
DESCRIPTION: The museum’s collection of 22 million artifacts and documents is a rich source for the study and fun reflection on the history of Chicago. With that many artifacts and exhibits, you’ll be pleased to know its collection is organized in 5 major areas: Living in the Metropolitan Area, Working in the Metropolitan Area, Governing the Metropolitan Area, The Built Environment, Individuals and Ideas in the Metropolitan Area. The museum’s research institute has a well cataloged list of manuscripts and artifacts for study. The most visitors however, simply enjoy the large multidimensional displays that change each season. Visit North and Clark Café for breakfast or lunch via soups, salads, sandwiches, items from the grill or a cup of coffee on their family-budget menu and enjoy Free WiFi.
ADMISSION: audio tours included, Adults $14, Age 65+ and Age 13-22 w/Student ID $12, Free for Age 12 and younger without the audio tour; FREE on Mondays
DAYS & HOURS: Mon–Sat 9:30a–4:30p, Sun Noon–5p
ADDRESS: 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: corner of Stockton and LaSalle Streets
TRANSIT: CTA Segwick Station
Clarke House Museum
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1836 for Henry B. Clarke, the Clarke House Museum is Chicago’s oldest house. It features admission-based and free tours. It began at a time when family members could see the campfires of Native Americans in the distance and shows you an example of early Midwest middle-class life style.
ADMISSION: Adults $10, Students with ID & Seniors $9, Ages 5-12 $6, Ages 5 and under enter Free
DAYS & HOURS: guided tours Wed-Sun Noon and 2p
ADDRESS: 1827 South Indiana Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: on street
TRANSIT: Metra 18th Street Station
Oak Street Beach
DESCRIPTION: This park-beach provides the view most often seen on post cards, Chicago’s Gold Coast. Within the park is Oak Street Beach, which in warm months features lots of beautiful people, jogging biking, volleyball and other sports activity. The beach is overlooked by the Playboy Building and the 100-story John Hancock Building. A perfect outing, if you are staying at a Near North hotel.
ADDRESS: Oak Street and Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, IL MAP