Visit Chicago: Your Travel Guide

Chicago’s got it all – Lollapalooza, Oprah and hot dogs Chi-style sans ketchup, with pickles and tomatoes instead. This Midwestern monolith has a thriving art scene, tons of public spaces, and 1,001 reasons for some high-end shopping. It's not windy every day, but definitely check the weather!

Things to Do in Chicago
Millennium Park
3,2,1, happy millennium! Although its grand opening was 2004, Millennium Park has quickly become the city’s theatre for public sculptures, video exhibitions, DJ sets and general weekend mooching and merriment. See the “big bean” (Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture), walk by flowerbeds of purple meadow sage in the Lurie Garden, or find out what events are coming up.
201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602
Open Sunday-Saturday 06:00-23:00
Art Institute of Chicago
Broad strokes of colour, light and artistic vision. Works like Monet’s impressionist ‘Water Lilies’ and Grant Wood’s mid-century realist work ‘American Gothic’ are highlights, as is Seurat’s pointillist ‘Sunday Afternoon …’, with its series of concurrent dots that build to a crescendo of light and colour. Byzantine bare bellies, Renaissance royals, Baroque babies - this gallery has it all!
111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Open Sunday-Wednesday 10:30-17:00, Thursday 10:30-20:00, Friday-Saturday 10:30-17:00
Grant Park
If you’ve seen images of Chicago, you’ve seen Grant Park. It’s so big that it swallows Millennium Park and a cluster of campuses. Around 1835, it was enshrined in law that waterfront views of Lake Michigan would be unimpeded by commercial buildings. Today, It’s the city’s prime spot to run, jog, lounge, relax, flail - or people-watch around Buckingham Fountain.
337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601
Open Sunday-Saturday 06:00-23:00
Willis Tower (formerly ‘Sears Tower’)
See Chicago with God’s eyes. America’s second tallest building, Willis Tower, is a 110-storey icon – and from here you can look down on a totally different Chicago. On the Skydeck, watch the videos and engage with the interactive games to find out about the city’s meteoric rise to prominence. For the best views, step onto the “Ledge” – don’t be scared, it’s enclosed with glass.
233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606
Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-20:00. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
Shedd Aquarium
Ever seen a dolphin up close? Now’s your chance. Watch them jump through hoops, devour a fish or loll about for your general amusement at Shedd Aquarium. Introduce your family to aquatic life at the park’s themed areas that mimic the world’s great lakes and oceans. Stingrays, beluga whales, penguins, sea lions, sharks and more – the gang’s all here, so bring a camera!
1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
Open Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00, Saturday-Sunday 09:00-18:00
360 Chicago
Afraid of heights? Don’t let that put you off visiting 360 Chicago’s observatory. At 94 storeys above ground, it’s a steep climb (thank heavens for elevators!). Interactive touch panels are set up around the dome - simply tap through to learn a bit about the buildings in Chicago's skyline. Late afternoon is the best time to visit when Lake Michigan blazes in the sunset.
875 N Michigan Avenue, 94th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611
Open Sunday-Saturday 09:00-23:00
Navy Pier
There’s more to ‘Navy Pier’ than sailors and old sea dogs. Come here for family-friendly fun-rides and carnival games galore. The Wave Swinger ride will swing you up and down, while the 15-storey Ferris wheel will whirl you round and round! After being thrilled senseless, jump aboard a tour boat to see the fireworks explode over Lake Michigan and light up the night sky.
600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Open Monday-Thursday 10:00-20:00, Friday-Saturday 10:00-22:00, Sunday 10:00-19:00
Soldier Field
There are dozens of reasons to march over to Soldier Field for Chicago's biggest events. If you're not enticed by the prospect of seeing skiers blast off from 13-storeys high - or divas and divos belting libretto - you might catch your favourite musician on tour. If not, watch the NFL’s Chicago Bears own the gridiron during football season – and bear down on their opponents.
1410 Museum Campus Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
Lincoln Park Zoo
Worth braying about. Lincoln Park Zoo spans thousands of species with the regular stars – giraffes, hippos, apes, lions, tigers and bears – plus odd supporting players, like the oriental fire-bellied toad and the hooting white-faced saki monkey. Forge your own path across 35 acres of wildlife to see animalia and mammalia in eco-systems that mimic their natural environments.
2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Open Sunday-Saturday 10:00-16:30
Wrigley Field
Psst! The 'Curse of Wrigley Field' goes something like this. Decades ago, a man named Sianis brought his goat, Murphy, to a Cubs game. Mr. Wrigley himself kicked Sianis and his smelly friend from the field. Legend has it that the curse dooms the Cubs to failure! If you're not superstitious, visit during game season - but beware Lake Michigan's blustering gales!
1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613
Willis Tower
Once known as the Sears Tower, this monster of a building used to hold the title of the world’s tallest. Though it’s now been outstripped, it still takes the breath away. Soaring a mighty 442 metres into the sky, it makes other skyscrapers look decidedly dinky in comparison.
Trump Tower
Like him or loathe him, Donald Trump’s tower in Chicago is an impressive sight from any angle. It’s also one of the most desirable and prestigious addresses in the city, with its condos selling at eye-watering prices. Aside from bank-breaking housing space, it holds a hotel and a posh restaurant, Sixteen.
Aon Center
The Aon Center doesn’t mess about. No flashy curves, no pointy aerials and no funky colours for this skyscraper – just one no-nonsense 350-metre cuboid. Inside you’ll find oodles of office space spread over 83 storeys, primarily taken up by two multinational insurance and oil firms – just what you’d expect from a building this matter-of-fact.
John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center is all about the views. From the outside, it’s an impressive dark silhouette, prodding at the sky with its twin-horn aerials. But it’s from the inside that things get really amazing. Head up to the 95th-floor restaurant for a slap-up meal served with a side helping of mind-boggling city panoramas.
The Franklin
Benjamin, Aretha, Delano Roosevelt… America has had some pretty famous Franklins down the years. This building is just one more to add to the list. Standing tall at 307 metres, The Franklin looms large in the Chicago skyline. For the best views of the whole panorama, head out to North Avenue Beach Pier at dusk.

Weather

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
32 ℉ 19 ℉
31 ℉ 19 ℉
45 ℉ 32 ℉
56 ℉ 42 ℉
69 ℉ 54 ℉
76 ℉ 62 ℉
80 ℉ 68 ℉
80 ℉ 67 ℉
75 ℉ 61 ℉
61 ℉ 49 ℉
48 ℉ 35 ℉
40 ℉ 30 ℉

Traveler's Reviews & Photos

10
Exceptional
They have a lot of nice restaurants, lots of selection of food you'd definitely love to check out such as Chicago Pizza, hotdogs, cupcakes, porks. They have THE MOST amazing night seen, and a few skyscrapers have the sky lounge you can visit.
Jeehye
South Korea
March 22, 2017
10
Exceptional
Great public transportation to a wide range of attractions. Easy to get around and lots of friendly people around who are so very helpful. Excellent restaurants for every taste and budget. Art attractions are everywhere.
Margaret
United States of America
March 24, 2017
10
Exceptional
Chicago has great food, great art and it's just all around great fun. My favourite is the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cultural Centre. Super easy to get around via the L train.
R27S
Canada
March 24, 2017
10
Exceptional
Do the Citypass, it's worth it! All attractions included in it are a MUST. Don't leave without trying the famous deep dish pizza (Giordano's is great).
Nicole
Panama
March 25, 2017
10
Exceptional
Great city! Beautiful architecture and art. Friendly people all around, Can definitely tell it's in the midwest!
Hayley
United States of America
March 24, 2017

Accommodations and Hotels in Chicago

Congress Plaza Hotel

7.3 Good

Score from 6,970 reviews

$89

Average price per night
  • “location was great”
    1243 related reviews
  • “wonderful staff”
    495 related reviews
  • “beautiful building”
    481 related reviews
Raffaello Hotel

8.5 Very Good

Score from 2,214 reviews

$127

Average price per night
  • “location was great”
    328 related reviews
  • “wonderful staff”
    192 related reviews
  • “very clean”
    176 related reviews
Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront

8.8 Excellent

Score from 3,546 reviews

$110

Average price per night
  • “location was great”
    574 related reviews
  • “amazing views”
    459 related reviews
  • “wonderful staff”
    437 related reviews
The Langham Chicago

9.5 Exceptional

Score from 530 reviews

$344

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    80 related reviews
  • “beautiful building”
    57 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    43 related reviews
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

8.6 Excellent

Score from 2,163 reviews

$104

Average price per night
  • “location was great”
    200 related reviews
  • “wonderful staff”
    169 related reviews
  • “very clean”
    126 related reviews
Comfort Suites Michigan Avenue

8.4 Very Good

Score from 1,507 reviews

$98

Average price per night
  • “location was great”
    297 related reviews
  • “wonderful staff”
    169 related reviews
  • “very clean”
    130 related reviews
Virgin Hotels Chicago

9.4 Wonderful

Score from 1,571 reviews

$162

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    195 related reviews
  • “beautiful building”
    176 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    141 related reviews
Dewitt Hotel and Suites

8.3 Very Good

Score from 2,665 reviews

$99

Average price per night
  • “location was great”
    639 related reviews
  • “wonderful staff”
    299 related reviews
  • “very clean”
    166 related reviews
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago

9 Wonderful

Score from 1,346 reviews

$143

Average price per night
  • “wonderful staff”
    157 related reviews
  • “location was great”
    109 related reviews
  • “beautiful building”
    100 related reviews
Discover Chicago

Popular Neighborhoods in Chicago

Downtown Chicago

199 properties

Fly by the 9-5ers and straight to the Chicago Cultural Centre. Visceral, inspirational – look up at the triumphant Tiffany Dome – this building’s visitor centre is a plum resource for what’s hip and happening in the windy city. The Art Institute of Chicago’s elite collection is an essential stop, as is Magnificent Mile for shops-a-plenty.

Chicago Loop

102 properties

Go loopdy-loop on ‘The Loop’ with bakers, bankers and holiday-makers. Downtown is a jostle-fest day in and day out because it’s home to the city’s top spots. Skip the skyscrapers, but see The Rookery’s ‘light court’ – architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnum opus. Dine with the ladies who lunch on Rush Street, or museum-hop ‘til the sun drops.

Magnificent Mile

74 properties

The name says it all, darling. Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth, Neiman Marcus, Apple’s svelte flagship store and designer brands-a-go-go. Spare a dollar for the bucket-drumming street musicians, have drinks at the John Hancock Center’s Signature Lounge (95th floor, views galore) … or crown yourself King (or Queen) shop-a-lot.

River North

39 properties

Everyone’s an art critic. Especially round Superior and Franklin. Fall head over feet with art galleries here, with loft after loft lined with works by the USA’s prime talent. Mix your media at David Weinberg Photography, take a free art tour (usually 11:00 at 750 N. Franklin Street, Saturdays) or dine chic at chef Rick Bayliss’ fab Topolobampo.

Near North Side

35 properties

Boom - you’ve found the fabled land of fun! Shop ‘til the credit stops along Magnificent Mile, a street with every commercial bell and whistle. Go on a kid-friendly jaunt to Navy Pier for fun rides and thrills on the giant Ferris wheel, or just walk around the Water Tower, a listed building that’s a stark contrast to the skyscrapers around it.

Lincoln Park

31 properties

Lincoln Park – historic, conservative and thriving. Home to Ivy League alumni and ladies lovingly referred to as ‘Trixies’, it’s a hubbub of activity day ‘n night. Find a foodie scene for any budget (try “Wiener Circle” for hot-dogs, Chicago style), stroll-worthy Lincoln Park Conservatory for orchids galore, and shows at the Steppenwolf Theatre.

Wicker Park

17 properties

Get ready to lick your lips. Wicker Park packs in pancake joints, pizzerias and patio bars galore. Start the day with Irazu’s famous oatmeal shake, or try raspberry-and-Oreo flapjacks at Bongo Room. Stroll past the Victorian mansions of Hoyne Street, a.k.a “Beer Baron Row”, then sample trendy craft ales and thin-crust pizza at Piece Brewery.

Gold Coast

9 properties

Wealth meets privilege on the Upper East Side! Come here to stroll, unless you’re one of the lucky few buying in one of the USA’s most elite zip codes. You’ll see mansions in a litany of styles from Norman Gothic to Tudor. Michelin-star eateries abound. The area’s flanked by Lake Michigan and Oak Street (for all your spa and couture needs).

Local Tips for Chicago

Afternoon Tea - The Drake Hotel
Stephanie by Stephanie

Socialite Stephanie says good food and good friends are the keys to happiness.

Afternoon Tea at the historic Drake hotel is the perfect excuse to get dressed up and enjoy some close company in a classy atmosphere. I highly recommend the finger sandwich selection – it’s so cute and delicious! Be sure to make reservations, otherwise you don’t stand a chance of getting a seat.

  • 140 E Walton Pl, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Open Sunday-Saturday 13:00-17:00
North Avenue Beach
David by David

After 2 years, David is certain Chicago’s best spots are on the coast ofLake Michigan.

North Avenue Beach is a favourite local hangout, the perfect spot for a walk along the beach or to relax by the waves. There are also tons of activities – rent a jet ski, jump into a game of sand volleyball or give paddle boarding a try.

Green City Market
Sanja by Sanja

4 years in, Sanja has become a certified foodie who loves Chicago’s diverse dining options.

You’ll find me at the Green City Market on Saturday mornings during the summer. Check out this farmers' market for some fresh organic fruit and veg, and other speciality items. My favourites are the tinned beetroot from Bushel & Peck's and the croissants at Bennison's Bakery.

  • 2732 N Clark St #302, Chicago, IL 60614
  • greencitymarket.org
  • Open Saturday 07:00-13:00, Wednesday 07:00-13:00
Picnic - Museum Campus
Toriann by Toriann

Tori is a laidback adventurer who seeks out quiet retreats in the urban jungle.

If you want to enjoy a picnic with an iconic view of the city in the background, head to the stretch of greenery between the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium. Sprawl out and bask in the breeze coming off the lake. Hop on the ‘L’ to dodge the traffic congestions in this area!

  • E Solidarity Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
Steppenwolf Theatre
Veronica by Veronica

For 10 years, Veronica has been biking to Chicago’s best kept secrets.

There are no hit-or-miss productions at the Steppenwolf Theatre. Each performance is compelling and powerful, and you’ll witness ground-breaking productions like ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘August: Osage County’. This Tony Award-winning theatre is driven by artists who pursue on-stage innovation.

Architecture River Tour
Patrick by Patrick

From lounging on the shore to partying on rooftop bars, Patrick’s 8 years in Chicago have been a blast.

Hop on a Chicago’s First Lady Architecture Tour to see all of Chicago’s architectural wonders. These riverboats run between April and November and will take you all around the city while your tour guide explains all the sights. Grab a drink from the full-service bar on board and take in some of the city’s best sights.

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
Matthew by Matthew

An outdoor enthusiast at heart, Matt still appreciates an exceptional cocktail and good food.

Al Capone and his mobsters once made their lair in the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge – today, it’s the best place to hear Chicago’s famous jazz music. The music goes late into the night and the bartenders serve legendary cocktails. Beneath the floor, Capone’s underground tunnel network still exists…

  • 4802 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640
  • greenmilljazz.com
  • Open Monday-Friday 12:00-04:00, Saturday 12:00-05:00, Sunday 11:00-04:00
State Street Shopping
Michelle by Michelle

For 3 years, Michelle's motto ‘just go with it’ has taken her to Chicago’s most unique places.

If you want to beat the swarms of tourist shoppers on Magnificent Mile, head over to State Street. You’ll find similar upscale boutiques and luxury retailers minus the crowds. Don’t miss the Great Clocks and mosaic Tiffany Ceiling at the Marshall Field and Company Building.

  • 111 N State St Chicago, IL 60602
Fashion Outlets of Chicago
Christina by Christina

Christina’s 2 years in Chicago have seen some epic shopping sprees at the most stylish shops.

I’m constantly on the lookout for unique styles that mesh with my unique personality. The Fashion Outlets of Chicago has incredible deals on loads of designer clothing. It’s located near O’Hare International Airport away from all the touristy areas. The Coach outlet has amazing deals on leather!

Southport Lanes
Ron by Ron

Ron has lived all over the US, but he’s convinced sweet home Chicago is the best.

Southport Lanes is the quintessential ‘neighbourhood bar’ with 4 vintage bowling lanes for some added excitement. Craft beer lovers will rave about the diverse selection of local Chicagoland brews and other brews from across the globe. You have to try the ‘Trendy’ – one of Chicago’s best burgers!

  • 3325 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
  • southportlanes.com
  • Open Monday-Thursday 16:00-02:00, Friday 12:00-02:00, Saturday 12:00-03:00, Sunday 12:00-01:00
Ping Tom Park
Jerome by Jerome

After 8 years of fast-paced life in Chicago, Jerome appreciates the city’s hidden gems the most.

I love this park! It was once a railway yard that has since been converted into a riverside community centre and children's playground. Hire a kayak nearby and admire the Chinese décor from the river. The best part about this park is the spectacular views of the Chicago skyline.

  • 300 W 19th St, Chicago, IL 60616
  • Open Monday-Sunday 06:00-23:00

In retrospect should have bought one of those "fast passes" after Willis tower, fine art museum, field museum, shedd aquarium, etc- would save money if you are going to all of them.

Booking.com asked travelers...

Why do you recommend Chicago for food?

So many specialties, so many restaurants, all very good. Everyone there is a foodie with high standards. Stay away from chains.

Google tapas restaurants in the area. They are all delicious and can always seat you the moment you walk in.

If your able to travel during the week it was much less busy and we hardly waited in any lines for anything

Yes! There are indie retailers a bit outside downtown and they are worth visiting.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Transportation

Chicago Transportation

Air

Chicago O'Hare International Airport is the city’s main airport. The best way to reach the city centre is by taking the CTA ‘L’ Train. Follow the signs in your terminal to reach the station. Purchase your fare (about USD 5) at the blue Ventra Vending Machines. The Blue Line runs 24 hours and takes you to the city centre in 40-45 minutes. Taxis cost around USD 35 and line up outside the terminal along the lower-level kerb. It’s at least 45 minutes’ ride to the city centre.

Air

Chicago Midway International Airport is 18 kilometres from the city centre. The best connection to the centre is provided by the CTA ‘L’ Orange Line Trains (leaving every 10 minutes from 04:30–01:00, 7 days) which take around 25 minutes. Follow the signs in your terminal to the train station. Blue Ventra Vending Machines sell tickets for USD 2.25. Taxis line up outside each terminal and take around 25-30 minutes to reach the city centre, costing about USD 30.

Train

The CTA elevated ‘L’ trains are the best way to zip around Chicago. ‘L’ stations are located all over the city centre designated by signs with names and line colour. Purchase fare cards inside at the blue Ventra Vending Machines. Single-ride tickets cost USD 3 and full day tickets are USD 10. Each train line is designated by colour and runs on a different schedule, but the Red and Blue Lines operate 24/7. Touch your ticket to the platform’s gate to pass through.

Train

Metra trains are the easiest way to travel to and from the suburbs. There are multiple stations in the city centre clearly designated by a sign. Tickets can be purchased in the station from a ticketing assistant and cost between USD 3.50 and USD 10.50. You can also buy tickets on the train, but beware – a fee of USD 3 will be added to your total if a ticketing assistant was actually on duty when you passed through the station. Check online for operating hours.

Bus

The CTA bus system is best used to access places between the major stops on the ‘L’ train. Bus stops are located 1 or 2 blocks apart and clearly designated by a ‘cta bus stop’ sign – stand near the sign so the driver sees you. You can pay your fare with exact change when you board, otherwise buy Ventra fare cards from local retailers or the blue machines in ‘L’ stations (USD 2 for a single ride or USD 10 for a day pass). Check online for your route’s operating hours.

Taxi

Taxis are an expensive option, but can easily be hailed from anywhere in the city. Yellow Cab is the most popular Chicago taxi – you can request a ride online or download the 'Curb' app for your smartphone. There is a fixed rate of USD 3.25 per ride and additional fees are tacked on for time and distance travelled. A simple journey can become an expensive endeavour. Tips are also encouraged for exceptional service.

Car

Driving in Chicago can be a nightmare. Rush hour (07:00–09:00 and 17:00–19:00) creates massive gridlocks that can exponentially delay your journey. If you must drive, car rental is easy at either major airport. Drivers with an international licence or permit can easily rent cars with a valid credit card. Beware – use of handheld devices (including mobile phones) while driving is illegal and punishable by fine. Parking becomes scarce and expensive nearer to the city centre.

Food in Chicago

Top Restaurants in Chicago

Upscale Dining
American
The Gage
Cheap Eats
Desserts
Magnolia Bakery
Cheap Eats
Latin American
Cafecito
Cheap Eats
American
Ceres Cafe
Upscale Dining
Spanish
Mercat a la planxa
Mid-Range Fare
American
Howells & Hood
Cheap Eats
Indian
Naansense
Cheap Eats
Polish
Pierogi Heaven
Mid-Range Fare
Japanese
Ajida
Cheap Eats
Mexican
Spanglish
  • 555 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605
  • Open Monday-Thursday 10:00-22:00, Friday 10:00-01:00, Saturday 11:00-00:00, Sunday 12:00-22:00
  • 001 3126631668
Mid-Range Fare
Asian
Tamarind
Cheap Eats
Bakery
Glazed & Infused
Upscale Dining
American
Michael Jordan's Steakhouse Chicago
  • 505 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Open Monday-Thursday 11:00-14:00 and 17:00-22:00, Friday-Saturday 11:00-14:00 and 17:00-23:00, Sunday 11:00-14:00 and 17:00-21:00
  • www.mjshchicago.com
  • 001 3123218823
Cheap Eats
American
Billy Goat Tavern
Mid-Range Fare
American
Hub 51
  • 51 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
  • Open Monday-Wednesday 11:00-00:00, Thursday-Friday 11:00-02:00, Saturday 10:00-03:00, Sunday 10:00-22:00
  • www.hub51chicago.com
  • 001 3128280051
Cheap Eats
Thai
Star of Siam
Cheap Eats
Middle Eastern
BenjYehuda
Cheap Eats
American
Perry's Deli
Upscale Dining
French
Everest Restaurant
Mid-Range Fare
American
Untitled
  • 111 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
  • Open Monday 16:30-00:00, Tuesday-Wednesday 16:30-01:00, Thursday 16:30-02:00, Friday 16:30-02:00, Saturday 16:30-03:00
  • untitledsupperclub.com
  • 001 3128801511
Mid-Range Fare
Mediterranean
The Purple Pig
Mid-Range Fare
American
Sable
Mid-Range Fare
American
Bandera
Mid-Range Fare
Mexican
Xoco
Cheap Eats
American
Devil Dawgs
Find accommodations in Chicago