Chicago is the second industrial city in the US, just after New York, which makes it one of the biggest city in the United States. But not a lot of people knows about this city, especially in Europe. I totally feel in love with Chicago 2 years ago. It’s a big city, with a lot to offer, between the river, Lake Michigan, the Loop, its architecture or its beautiful parks. Here’s my favorite things to do in the city if you’re planning a trip there.
Chicago has a lot to offer all year long but if you really want to enjoy the city I would recommend to go between April and October. You can also go in March for Saint Patrick’s day when they dye the river or in August for Lollapalooza.
Sky Deck – Sears/Willis Tower
Let’s start with my all time favorite thing to do in Chicago. The Sears Tower (now Willis Tower but people still use the old name) is the tallest building in Chicago and it has one of the best and most impressive view of the city. But my favorite part is the Ledge, a small platform with glass floor. It looks like you’re just walking in the air, so impressive especially if you’re afraid of heights.
Price : 24$
Shoreline Sightseen – Architecture River Tour
Chicago has a very unique and beautiful architecture, so one of the most famous attraction IN THE UNITED STATES is the river boat tour. I had the opportunity to experience the tour of Shoreline Sightseen, and I’ve learned so much about the city! It’s very interesting and you’re outside cruising and discovering the city. Can’t think of a best experience to get a good vibe of the Windy City.
Price : 37$ to 43$ for 75 minutes tour starts at Michigan Avenue or Navy Pier
The Cloud Gate or better known as The Bean is the most famous sculpture of Chicago. It was design by Anish Kapoor in 2006 and is located in Millenium Park. The sculpture is a huge mirror reflecting the sky and skyline of the city, that’s why we call it Cloud Gate. It’s such a fun sculpture to take pictures with. I had to go around 6:30 am to take a pictures without the crowd but it was so worth it.
Millenium Park is located in the Loop, the heart of the city and it’s where you can find most of the beautiful events that Chicago as to offer. You have the Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, and a huge scene where you can see movies every Tuesday, free concerts, food festivals and more. There’s always somethings happening in the park so be sure to check the schedule here.
This is where you’ll find the famous festival Lollapalooza every August, and every year the line up is just freaking INCREDIBLE!!
If you want to catch a baseball game, you need to go to Wrigley Field and see a Cubs Game. Even if the team wasn’t that good during 107 years, the all city is very attached to this team. And even more now that they’ve won the World Series in 2016. You’ll see people with Cubs hats and jersey all the time in Chicago.
Tickets can be around 30$
North Beach Avenue
Many people don’t know that but yes you also have the beach in Chicago. North Beach Avenue is the perfect place to hang and enjoy a sunny day. You can also play volleyball there, rent some kayak or paddle, etc.. You will totally forget that you’re in the city for a few hours.
It’s the biggest park of Chicago and it’s my favorite. You can find the Zoo there, and a lot of beautiful spots to take pictures and enjoy the view.
Signature Room – John Hancock
The John Hancock is the second most famous tower to get a view of Chicago. You can go to the Observatory Chicago360 but I’ve found a better deal for you.
On the 93rd floor there’s a bar called the Signature Room where you can go enjoy a drink or have dinner, and you also get a view of the all city. It’s cheaper than the entry for Chicago360 (well it depends on your drink but still). And the view from the ladies restrooms is pretty amazing too.
But if you still want to go to the Observatory, I DO NOT recommend doing the Tilt. It’s the new attraction where the wall glass is falling. It’s 8$ for a 10 seconds attraction that isn’t really good. For me it’s a waste of your time and your money.
Price for Chicago 360 : 20$
The Navy Pier is the perfect place to just walk around and have fun. That’s where you have the Ferris wheel, and others attractions. But you also have a wonderful view of the skyline from there. You really should stop there if you’re spending a day in the Loop.
It’s the Champs Elysees or the 5th avenue of Chicago. Magnificent Mile is the name of Michigan Avenue where you can find all the shops from Forever 21 to Burburry, every one is here. My advice if you have time is to stop at TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Racks, you can find everything there (makeup, bags, shoes, decorations, clothes) from brands like Calvin Klein or Free People or Michael Kors at very small prices. You just have to look through all the racks but at this price I don’t mind.
And you also need to stop at the Cubs Store to get yourself a hat or a jersey obviously.
You can also purchase a CityPASS for 106$ and it will give you a fast pass access to : the SkyDeck, the John Hancock Observatory, The Art Institute, The Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, and more.
HI Chicago Hostel
If you have a small budget, I really recommend this hostel. The place is clean, they have a lot of events so you can meet other people. You have the choice of a dorm room with bunks bed for girls or boys, or your own private room. You have a little shower, toilets, and it’s everything is clean. And the best thing is the location, you’re next to Millenium Park, so it’s very easy for you to make to the Loop. Breakfast is also included, it’s just coffee, bagels and bread but it’s always good if you’re trying to save money.
Price : from 34$ for dorm room / 119$ for a private room
Hotel EMC2 Autograph Collection
This boutique hotel is close to Michigan Avenue, so very nice if you want to go outside to get dinner, or shopping, etc.. The Emc2 hotel has a lot of incredible feature as it’s inspired by art and science. You can find a lot of books everywhere for decoration (but you can also read them), and mostly a lot of technologies. You have the Amazon Alexa in your room to ask anything you want, and they also have little robots to bring you shampoo, or towels to your room, so fun right! Breakfast is not included unfortunately but you can always enjoy the buffet of the restaurant for 19$.
Price : around 170$ per night
The Loews Hotel was my first stop in the city and this hotel is just gorgeous. Located close to the river, you can easily walk to Millenium park or around the Riverwalk.
My favorite part was that there’s a Starbucks inside the hotel. Yeah I don’t need much haha.
Price : around 190$ per night
Marriott Magnificent Mile
Just on the most famous avenue of Chicago, the Marriott has the perfect location. I had the opportunity to stay there on the 48th floor and the view was just gorgeous, it really was my favorite hotel during my stay.
Price : around 200$ per night
I’m saying “around” for the prices because it can change depending of the time you’re going there.
As everywhere in the US, you can use Uber or Lyft, it’s very cheap (compare to the price that we have in France at least). You can count around 6-8$ for a 20 minutes ride. Taxi are good too but the price isn’t fixed, so it can be expensive if you’re stuck in traffic.
You can also use the L train (the subway) but it’s only good if you want to go in the Loop, because most of the stops and lines are there. You can also take the Blue line from O’Hare to go downtown.