Start planning your trip to Chicago with this must-have guide that covers the city’s best attractions and sightseeing. Plus, discover Chicago’s great hotels and decide where to rest your head during your trip to one of the world’s greatest destinations.
We’ve put together a checklist of Classic Chicago activities that demonstrate the breadth of activities in Chicago. So let the fun begin!
Visit the tallest building in North America at the Willis Tower and step out onto The Ledge, a suspended glass box at Skydeck Chicago more than 1,000 feet in the sky.
Submerge yourself in the U-505 German submarine at the Museum of Science & Industry, the largest science museum in the western hemisphere.
Find yourself Deep in Space at the Adler Planetarium’s Grainger Sky Theater. As the world’s most advanced digital theater, the Grainger boasts images that are eight times sharper than your digital cinema.
Dive in to a coastal environment of Beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, and seals at the Shedd Aquarium’s 3-million-gallon saltwater Oceanarium, the largest indoor marine mammal habitat in the world.
Pay a visit to the largest, most complete, best-preserved T. rex ever discovered. You can meet the T. rex named Sue at The Field Museum. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite.
Take pleasure in one of the world’s finest and largest collections of French Impressionist art at The Art Institute of Chicago. And while you’re there, explore the architecturally stunning Modern Wing, which allows the Art Institute to house great collections of modern and contemporary art.
Look up at the world’s largest Tiffany Art Glass Dome in the Chicago Cultural Center for a sparkling masterpiece created with nearly 30,000 pieces of stained glass.
Roar with the lions at one of the nation’s last free Zoos. Offering an unforgettable wildlife experience amid a stunning skyline, the Lincoln Park Zoo is open to the public for free every day of the year.
Ford the Chicago River by boat tour and explore Chicago’s architectural wonders on the Only River in the World that Flows Backwards. The reversal of the Chicago River was a pioneering, massive public works effort that saved the Chicago region from waterborne diseases in the early 1900s.
Feel the power of Chicago’s dazzling, knee-slapping, and thought-provoking theater scene. As the nation’s only city to have five Regional Tony award-winning theater companies, Chicago delivers unforgettable performances every day of the week.
Ride on the ferris wheel at Navy Pier. It’s modeled after the very first ferris wheel built for Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Rides, shops, restaurants and boat tours abound at the Midwest’s number one attraction.
Explore Chicago’s lush Millennium Park that is home to the famous Cloud Gate or “Bean” sculpture, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Lurie Garden, and the Crown Fountain that spouts water from its digital faces. Millennium Park is constructed on top of a railroad yard and expansive parking garages—making it one of the largest green roofs in the world.
Indulge in some cheesy goodness at one of Chicago’s famous pizzerias that serve up our award-winning deep-dish pizzas. Who serves up the best pies? That’s for you to decide!
Visit “Da Coach” at Ditka’s Steakhouse for a mouth-watering selection of signature cut steaks and sustainable seafood. “You never know who or what you’ll see at my place,” says Mike Ditka, one of the most notable NFL coaches in history.
Smell the wonders of Chicago’s famous Chicago Mix before you even reach the storefront door at Garrett Popcorn Shops. While you might feel like it’s the Longest Line in the world for popcorn, the intriguing blend of caramel and cheese popcorn is well worth the wait.
Chicago has something in store for fun all year long. From a spectacular winter wonderland to great days at the beach, you’ll find four seasons of fun and beauty.
Winters in Chicago come with snow, wintertime temps, and lots of opportunities for snowy adventures. The average annual snowfall amount is 37 inches (949 mm). Average daily highs are around 30 – 38°F (-1°C – 3°C).
Springtime in Chicago means blooming flowers and a lively lakefront. Temperatures really start to warm up with April typically in the 50s °F (10-15°C) and May up to around 70°F (21°C). Rainfall averages 3.5 – 3.8 inches (92 – 94mm).
Summers in Chicago are warm with average daytime temperatures around 78°F to 92°F (26°C – 33°C). Rainfall averages range from 3.7 – 4.3 inches (94 to 109mm). It’s cooler near the lake, and June is typically the wettest month of the year.
Fall is beautiful in Chicago as the leaves turn and temperatures cool off. October is usually the driest month. Average temperatures start off around 70°F (21°C) and gradually drop into the mid-40s (7°C) as winter approaches. Rainfall is about 2.7 – 3.3 inches (69 – 84 mm).
As with anything related to Mother Nature, the above are general guidelines only. It’s possible to have warm days in winter sometimes and cooler days in the summer. Be sure to check out the National Weather Service or weather.com for up-to-date weather information.
Find foreign currency exchanges in Chicago. International travelers who wish to exchange foreign currency can do so at these locations, among others:
O’Hare International Airport
Foreign currency exchange outlets are located in the lower levels of Terminal 3 and the International Terminal (Terminal 5).
Midway International Airport
Several Bureaux de Change outlets are situated in various locations.
American Express Travel Service
605 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 105 (Entrance East on Ohio St.)
Bank of America
135 S. LaSalle St.
Note: Bank of America account required to exchange foreign currency
Charter One Bank
71 S. Wacker Dr., 29th Floor
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