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chicago attractions

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:

chicago attractions

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:

chicago attractions

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.

What amazing Chicago attractions did we miss?

I’ll admit, I do not have a green thumb. I’ve killed nearly every plant I’ve ever bought and have even managed to mangle every fake plant I’ve been handed. 

Some people just aren’t destined for the delicate gene. However, even those who should steer clear of being a “plant mom” know that when you’re staying on your friends’ couch in the woods of Naperville (there are woods in Naperville and they somehow found the raddest house tucked away in them) and they say they want to take you to their favorite greenhouse, you say “of course.”

Located in Villa Park, Orchids by Hausermann, Inc is the largest orchid grower in the Midwest. Walking into the (giant) greenhouse, my nostrils were intoxicated by the naturally, wonderful smell of orchids.

Honestly, most of my senses were on overload. My eyes were seeing color upon color of orchids (some I didn’t even think possible) and I felt completely relaxed. While I may not have a green thumb, I’m pretty certain I do have a green heart.

Orchids By Hausermann

Flickr photo via yooperann

Orchids by Hausermann was founded by Carl Hausermann during the 1920’s. During that time, he started to grow sweet peas, roses and gardenias under glass. In 1935, his son Edwin brought orchid plants into the picture. The orchids rapidly replaced all the roses and gardenias. Today, approximately 400,000 Cattleya, one of the more beautiful varieties of blooms are produced annually by the Hausermann’s. 

Over the years the demand for orchids has grown wildly and allowed for the growth of the firm. At Hausermann’s they strive to produce all variety of orchids, even those that are near extinction.


Flickr photo via H. Michael Miley

The next time you’re on the hunt for a crazy, unique destination to visit while wondering around the suburbs of Chicago, give your nostrils a vacation and visit Orchids by Hausermann.

Who knows, you may plant a seed to grow some orchids of your own.

Or you’ll just decide to leave that to the professionals and place an order for some beautiful orchids from Hausermann’s once you get back home.

Have you visited Orchids by Hausermann?


Chicago summers are said to make you fall in love with Chicago and forgive it for the winter it made you suffer though. With an abundance of festivals and concerts, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself with an empty weekend in the Windy City during the warmer months. Still, you might find yourself a little fested out, and while you’re not quite ready for hibernation all over again, you could use a little peace and relaxation.

A visit to the Baha’i Temple could be just what you need. Located in Wilmette, Illinois, (about an hour drive from Chicago,) the temple is a breathtaking architectural wonder that overlooks Lake Michigan. With its 140ft high dome, nine magnificent pillars, and breathtakingly intricate lace-style detailing, the Baha’i House of Worship stands brilliantly in a landscape of serene fountains and pristine gardens lush with over 20,000 tulips and 24 different flower species.

bahai temple


Flickr photo via Adib Roy


Clad with two different kinds of quartz, the temple is a dazzling site at any time of day and is tucked away just enough to provide you with a sense of private restoration. The Baha’i House of Worship is one of seven surviving Baha’i temples in the entire world and is the only one left in North America, lending it an additional magnificence through its uniqueness.

bahai temple


Flickr photo via Hernan Seoane

When you arrive, stop by the visitor’s center to learn about the history of the temple and the architectural symbolism, such as how so many features of the temple and gardens appear in nines to signify completeness. Pack a picnic, bike there in the early evening to catch the sunset and wander the grounds, watch as the full serenity of the temple washes over you.



Flickr photo via aa440

Entrance is free and the temple is open every day from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM. The temple is a short walk off the purple line and offers free parking.

Have you visited the Baha’i Temple?


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