5 Must-See Chicago Attractions
Second only to New York in size, there’s a lot of ground to cover if you plan to visit Chicago. With so much to see, it’s not a matter of what to do when you’re in Chicago, but rather what do you have time to see when you’re in the Second City. We’ve boiled it down to a list of five must-see Chicago destinations, designed to guide you to some of Chicago’s high points (in some cases, literally).
1. The Skydeck at Willis Tower
What’s even more impressive than seeing America’s tallest building? How about standing on top of America’s tallest building, 103 stories above the Windy City? Considered one of the “Seven Wonders of Chicago,” the Skydeck, located in the historic Willis Tower, affords visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of Chicago, its suburbs, and (depending on where you stand) states that border on Illinois. This view from the top sees visitors safely surrounded by the building’s massive glass walls. If your schedule permits, make an effort to visit Skydeck at either sunrise or sunset for a 360-degree view that combines the best of both worlds: nature’s light show alongside the finest of man-made architectural ingenuity. When you’ve had your fill, come down from “The Ledge” to check out the Tower’s interactive exhibits that will walk you through the building’s history, chronicling its days as the Sears Tower all the way to the present.
2. The Art Institute of Chicago
Home to such great works of art as Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic and van Gogh’s haunting self-portrait, the Art Institute of Chicago offers art lovers a comprehensive walk through art history. Visitors will have the opportunity to view a number of distinct art styles under one roof. In addition to classic paintings by Monet, Manet, and El Greco, the Art Institute also has a Modern Wing featuring eye-popping works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock, as well as exhibits devoted to African American and Asian art. Guarded by two massive bronze lion statues, you can’t miss the Art Institute of Chicago — nor would you want to!
3. Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park
If you’re a fan of Married… With Children, you might recognize Buckingham Fountain from the show’s opening credits. A landmark in the heart of urban Grant Park, this gorgeous, oversized fountain includes striking pink marble in its construction and was inspired in-part by the grand fountains at the Palace of Versailles. The ornate fountain is more than just a beautiful — and humongous — piece of public art; it’s a subtle homage to Lake Michigan with each of its four seahorse sculptures representing the states that border the body of water. Between mid-April and mid-October, the fountain plays host to extravagant water shows — every hour on the hour — with water gushing up to 150 feet in the air. At night, lights are used to give the illusion of spectacular colors on the water. Even if you’re not able to see the fountain during its peak show season, during the winter months, the fountain is festooned with festive lights that make it a must-see among the places to visit in Chicago.
4. Lincoln Park Zoo
One of the last free-admission zoos in the country, the Lincoln Park Zoo is open year-round and is home to all manner of wildlife. The beautifully landscaped zoo offers nature lovers a chance to enjoy the outdoors and witness exotic animals in carefully cultivated enclosures designed to resemble their natural environment. Visit the Helen Brach Primate House for a look at a white-cheeked gibbon or see a large-eared fennec fox in the Regenstein Small Mammal and Reptile House. In addition to offering a family-friendly atmosphere, the Lincoln Park Zoo also regularly holds events such as gardening classes or an adult tour in which patrons can enjoy wine and beer while walking through the park — great for gatherings of friends or an unusual and fun date!
5. A Dinosaur Named “Sue” at The Field Museum
The City of Big Shoulders also happens to be home to a creature with some pretty big shoulders herself. Case in point, observe Sue, a 13-foot high, 42-feet long skeleton of a tyrannosaurus rex who is housed at the Field Museum. Sue was named for paleontologist Sue Hendrickson who found what is the largest, most complete and best-preserved relic of our planet’s ancient past. A trip to the Field Museum lets you get up close and personal with one of these mammoth creatures thanks to this display. If you feel the need to further your Flintstones’ fix, the Field Museum has several other Stone Age exhibits, including replicas of cave paintings. If your love of natural history extends far beyond the Stone Age, not to worry. The Field Museum has plenty of other attractions including Egyptian mummies, beautiful botanical collections, and anthropological exhibits studying cultures from around the world.
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This article was provided by Dan Patterson, Director of Internet Marketing for CityPASS. CityPASS includes admission to the must-see attractions in 11 top destinations at up to 50% off combined attraction admission prices. Plus, skip most ticket lines. Valid for nine days, starting with the day of first use (14 days in Southern California).