Chicago is our laboratory, our playground, and our muse. While visiting the Forum, we encourage you to spend some time exploring the city. To learn more about the city that feels like home, visit ChooseChicago.com and discover your “Chicago Style”.
There a number of locations that downtown Chicago is known for—certain skyscrapers, museums, theatre (signs), or art installations. Here is a short guide and a pointer to more resources.
Chicago Theatre’s glowing sign is well known. Visit the theatre in the center of the Loop, and browse through upcoming shows. The Theatre hosts performances ranging from pop and rock groups to progressive theatrics. To find more theatres, see Choose Chicago’s website.
Cloud Gate in Millennium Park | The Bean
Chicagoans and visitors like to post one picture in particular— them, staring happily into their reflection in what looks like a 20 foot tall reflective silver bean. This art installation, “Cloud Gate,” is one of many works in Millenium Park. Visit the park for a winter ice rink, summer dancing, occasional concerts, and year-round dining.
The Magnificent Mile
If you enjoy shopping or people watching, the Magnificent Mile, north of the river along Michigan Ave, is not to be missed. It features a well-lined street of famous brands to boutique shops, restaurants and bars.
Navy Pier is Chicago’s amusement park. Located between the Loop and the Magnificent Mile, the Pier hosts Cirque du Soliel shows, fireworks, an IMAX theater, carnival games, and a number of dining and shopping locations.
Willis Tower Skydeck | 103rd Floor
Willis Tower, previously named the Sears Tower, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The Skydeck and The Ledge are on the 103rd floor, 1353 feet straight down. Tickets range from $11 for children to $16 for adults.
The Second City | Improv Comedy Club
The Second City, founded by University of Chicago alumni, is Chicago’s most popular improv comedy club. You may have seen their videos online, but visit their location to see a show in person, or try an improv workshop in their training center.
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute both a museum and a school, features collectures of art from ancient to classical to modern, and hosts classes for the everyday artist. The museum is surrounded by gardens on the North and South side, and has a fine dining cafe on the 3rd floor. Admission is $18 for adults, $12 for students, and free for UofC students.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Shedd Aquarium features aquatic exhibits from all over the world, including jellies, penguins, sharks, and a variety of tropical fish. Admission starts at $8, but ranges from $25 to $35 (adults) for more shows and zones. A Chicago CityPass may be a good choice, as it includes all of Shedd’s areas, as well four other major attractions. Shedd, Field, and Alder are all located at Museum Campus.
Field Museum | Zoology, Botany & Geology
If you’re done exploring the waters, visit the Field Museum to learn everything about the land. The Museum combines the disciplines of Anthropology, Zoology, Botany, Geology, and Paleontology, to engage visitors in exhibits ranging in scale from dinosaurs to ants.
After exploring all of earth, explore the galaxy and beyond. The Adler Planetarium overviews our own solar system and how we took off into it, and features a number of dome IMAX-like films about the skies.
Lincoln Park Zoo | FREE
Just north of downtown Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo is free (though there are meters for parking). The Zoo offers a whole host of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
In addition to the comprehensive collection of science and art museums, Chicago is also home to a number of cultural museums. These may focus on the story of the Chicago River, African American history, Mexican history, broadcast communication, and beyond. Visit UChicago Chicago Studies or the Chicago tourism website for more.