Exploring the Windy City for the first time? No worries. Whether you’re a foodie or a fitness fiend, Chicago has it all. Here are some must-see and do Chicago attractions!
Binge on Chicago-style deep-dish pizza:
Flickr photo via Sara B.
You won’t be able to stop at one slice. Similar to the way Chicagoans argue over which of its two baseball teams is better, it’s hard to find a unanimous deep-dish favorite. The three best known Chicago-style deep-dish pies come from Lou Malnati’s, Gino’s East and Giordano’s, but there are plenty of other contenders who Chicagoans will avidly root for. For all sausage lovers, you can’t lose with Lou’s. If you crave a stuffed pie, head to Giordano’s. Check out Gino’s for a unique dining ambiance – you’ll find their walls decorated with graffiti. No matter which venue you choose, be sure to indulge in the pizza that defines Chicago.
Drink a cocktail in the sky:
Flickr photo via lobstar28
Towering over downtown Chicago on Michigan Ave., the views from the Signature Lounge do not disappoint. You’ll ride the elevator of the John Hancock building to the 96th floor free of charge, as opposed to a $20 fee to reach the Skydeck at the Willis Tower. Once you reach the top and your ears stop popping, it’s time to order a cocktail, relax on the plush furniture, and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Hungry? Venture one floor lower for a truly lavish dining experience. The views are just as epic.
Get physical in the concrete jungle:
Flickr photo via Daniel X. O’Neil
You don’t have to leave the city to experience the outdoors. Chicago is so much more than brick and mortar – it’s a playground. The newly renovated Maggie Daley Park hosts two 40-foot rock-climbing walls. Surrounding these structures is an ice skating loop, providing an “alpine in the city” experience. And if you’re more into water sports, you can rent a kayak and paddle down the Chicago River, which takes you through the heart of downtown. You’ll escape the bustle but still enjoy Chicago’s architectural grandeur.
Explore the lakeshore:
Flickr photo via Rachel Kramer
Chicago sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes, and it would be a shame not to enjoy the scenery. Rent a Divvy, one of those blue bicycles found at bike share stations across the city, and cruise down the lakefront path from north to south. Be sure to take breaks at Montrose and North Ave. beaches. Then, ride all the way to Navy Pier and lock your bike into a nearby station. Can’t get enough of Lake Michigan’s vast expanse? Hop on a Seadog speedboat tour for a different, adrenaline-packed perspective of Chicago’s great lake.
Go out to a ball game:
Flickr photo via Joe Penniston
Pick a game, any game: Chicago’s full of them. Sit in the bleachers at iconic Wrigley Field, watch the Bulls or the Blackhawks at the United Center, or cheer on the Bears at Solider Field. There’s no better way to feel Chicago’s energy than through a professional sporting event. And if you’d rather play your own game, tap into Whirlyball. This one-of-a-kind “sport” combines bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball for a whirlwind of chaotic fun. One way or another, you must experience Chicago sports.