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attractions in Chicago

7 Exciting Attractions in Chicago You Should Visit This Year

If you’re planning a trip to America’s ‘Windy City’ then why not check out some of these exciting attractions in Chicago? With all that this city has to offer, exploring even just a few of these points of interest is sure to make your visit a full-on adventure.


While Chicago has one of the highest populations in the United States, it is only the 23rd largest city in terms of square footage. However, that does not mean that it doesn’t have a ton of things to do there.


There are more things for residents to do than they could possibly experience, let alone someone visiting. To help you pick out the best places to visit, we’ve prepared this handy list of businesses, landmarks, and other attractions in Chicago for you to check out.


attractions in Chicago


Attractions in Chicago for Locals and Travelers

Sporting Events


It is no surprise that Chicago is a great place to see some sports. After all, Chicago has some of the most prolific teams in the nation, across multiple sports.


You’ve got the Chicago Blackhawks for hockey, the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs for baseball, the Chicago Bulls for basketball, and the Chicago Bears for football making sports one of the most popular attractions in Chicago.


No matter which team a person is a fan of, they can rest happy knowing that these teams have multiple wins under their belt. Visitors are undoubtedly not going to be disappointed if they check out a game or two.


attractions in Chicago


The Navy Pier


One of the most famous attractions in Chicago is the Navy Pier. Honestly, when you visit the Navy Pier, you are going to find a little bit of everything.


Heck, you don’t even have to worry about paying for some attractions, as the pier has free public programs for you to enjoy as well. In addition to that though, this nonprofit attraction has a wide variety of sights, including dining, cultural displays, shopping, and even an amusement park.


It’s the perfect place to bring your kids, and they will doubtlessly remember such a trip for years to come.


attractions in Chicago


The Art Institute of Chicago


No matter who you are or how old you are, art has a way of reaching you. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of, if not the best museum you can find in the Downtown Chicago area, and for a very good reason.


The curators of this institute know that variety of art is truly the spice of life, and have taken great care in ensuring that visitors can see beautiful artwork from all over the world, and from all walks of life.


No matter what you are into, you are surely going to find something to enjoy here making it one of the most popular attractions in Chicago.


attractions in Chicago


The Shedd Aquarium


The ocean is a beautiful thing, and places like the Shedd Aquarium seek to prove that to anyone who visits. Visiting an aquarium is not a particularly noteworthy activity, but that does not mean that the Shedd Aquarium is a mundane activity.


In fact, it is anything but. The aquarium has a number of different exhibits and creatures alike. Among the biggest and best they have available are its Giant Pacific Octopus, its adorable belugas, and the intimidating sharks, among many others.


Being surrounded by the calming blues makes this a great trip for anyone, any time, and that’s why it’s a favorite among the best attractions in Chicago.


tiger, attractions in Chicago


The Brookfield Zoo


Next on our list of attractions in Chicago is the Brookfield Zoo. When it comes to the zoo, there are a lot of ethical concerns, especially among younger generations. As such, zoos that fail to meet these standards fall, while others that meet these standards soar.


The Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo to be awarded the Humane Certified certification mark from the organization American Humane, particularly for its exemplary care and welfare of the animals it has on display.


Brookfield Zoo understands that first and foremost, they are there to conserve animals, rather than have them be there for the fun of the visitors.


attractions in Chicago


The Field Museum of Natural History


Anyone who enjoys history will have to check out the Field Museum of Natural History. Explore exhibits that celebrate Egyptian and Chinese history, and be sure to check out the Underground Adventure for kids (and the kids at heart).


Perhaps the best part of the museum, however, is the dinosaur exhibit, where you can meet the most well-preserved dinosaur, Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex, named after they were discovered in South Dakota by paleontologist Sue Hendrickson, who literally discovered them while on an expedition where she and her crew got a flat tire.


attractions in Chicago
Bobak Ha’Eri, CC BY 3.0  via Wikimedia Commons


The Galloping Ghost Arcade


For all the gamers out there, the Galloping Ghost Arcade is perhaps one of the best attractions in Chicago and possibly in the country. The Galloping Ghost Arcade, as of July 2020, has 774 arcade units, ranging from classics like Joust, Donkey Kong, and Out Run, to more modern games like Mario Kart Arcade GP, Soul Calibur II, and Ikaruga.


And for all the pinball fans out there, you can enjoy Galloping Ghost Pinball’s dozens of arcade units.


attractions in Chicago


Getting Around Chicago


Chicago is a large and bustling city, so when you arrive, be it by bus, train, or plane, your first priority should be to figure out a mode of transportation. Some visitors may be confused as to how to get a car rental in Chicago, and the best choice will ultimately depend on their circumstances.


For example, someone arriving by plane will be more well-served by a car rental service conveniently located near their airport. While others might find that local public transportation is easier and more affordable. 


It’s also mindful to mention that if you’re renting a vehicle that you should be fully aware of the best practices of road tripping in the United States. It’s important to be safe when driving. And if you’re not comfortable, perhaps try public transportation.


The Red Line train is one of the most popular trains to use. It runs north/south, through downtown, and along the coast. It stops at the most favored attractions in Chicago and runs all day, every day. 


Uber and Lyft are of course widely popular in the city and most travelers are quite familiar with using them both. Now you can even schedule rides making it convenient. 


In Closing


There are an array of attractions in Chicago for all travel types. Whether you enjoy outdoor adventure, art, history, sports, and even gaming, Chicago has a lot to offer its locals and its visitors. 

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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