40 reasons why you should visit Chicago

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There are a million reasons to visit Chicago — our award-winning food scene, stunning green spaces, iconic attractions, innovative theatre, and vibrant neighborhoods. The list goes on and on. In honor of the 40th anniversary of National Travel and Tourism Week, we’re sharing just 40 of our favorite reasons why everyone should come experience Chicago.

1. See Cloud Gate aka “The Bean”, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.

2. Explore Millennium Park, filled with public art, free events, and family-friendly activities.

3. Get lost exploring our 77 vibrant neighborhoods, each with its own unique vibe and history.

4. Go to SkyDeck Chicago, home to The Ledge and spectacular views inside one of the tallest buildings in the world.

5. Admire jaw-dropping views at 360 CHICAGO, where you can try a one-of-a-kind thrill ride located high above the city.

6. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage site at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Hyde Park.

7. Stroll The Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, one of the world’s most famous shopping districts.

8. Soak in the sun on our lakefront, home to the 18-mile Lakefront Trail and more than two dozen free sandy beaches.

9. Catch the fireworks or go for a spin on the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier, one of the Midwest’s top attractions.

10. Grab a seat for our exhilarating live theatre scene, with everything from Broadway in Chicago to cutting-edge storefront theatres.

11. Paddle a kayak, dine outdoors, or just admire the view on the bustling Chicago Riverwalk.

12. Admire the world’s greatest Impressionist masterpieces in the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago.

13. Get hands-on at the immersive Museum of Science and Industry, one of the largest science museums in the world.

14. Meet a penguin, touch a stingray, and feed a shark at the Shedd Aquarium.

15. Travel through space and time at America’s first planetarium, the Adler Planetarium.

16. Meet SUE, the world’s most complete T.rex, and more wonders of natural history at the Field Museum.

17. Dive into African American culture, history, and art at DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

18. Feel the pride in the country’s oldest official LGBTQ+ neighborhood, home to the exuberant Pride parade each June.

19. Discover an innovative dance scene that includes groups like the Joffrey Ballet, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and Ballet 5:8.

20. Hop on a boat ride, from a dinner cruise to an architecture tour to a water taxi, on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan.

21. Attend one of our incredible festivals, from neighborhood street fairs with local talent to major festivals featuring the biggest names in music.

22. Find zen at the soaring Garfield Park Conservatory, named the best garden in North America.

23. Discover accessibility resources and amenities all over the city, from our public transit to renowned museums and venues.

24. Run wild in one of the oldest free zoos in the country, the historic lakefront Lincoln Park Zoo.

25. Experience our award-winning dining scene (and find some great deals) during Chicago Restaurant Week.

26. Find discounted tickets to exciting live performances during Chicago Theatre Week every winter.

27. Step back in time in Pullman, the city’s first National Monument, where you can immerse yourself in fascinating history and striking architecture.

28. Feel the electric thrill of a home game for one of Chicago’s legendary pro sports teams.

29. Splurge on a bucket-list meal at one of our Michelin-starred restaurants, including a three-star spot known as one of the greatest restaurants in the world.

30. Get a taste of made-in-Chicago eats, like the Original Rainbow Cone, the jibarito, the Chicago-style hot dog, and more.

31. Sip your way through our diverse craft beer scene, with micro-breweries to major names like Goose Island, Revolution, and Half Acre.

32. Catch a free music festival in Millennium Park, like the Chicago Blues Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, and Chicago Gospel Festival.

33. Travel the world with our global dining options, from Chinatown to West Ridge and beyond.

34.  Check out our iconic live music venues, from historic concert halls to neighborhood clubs showcasing Chicago-born genres like house music.

35. Be inspired by the city’s landmark architecture, from some of the world’s first skyscrapers to cutting-edge creations.  

36. Meander our gorgeous parks, gardens, and green spaces, like Humboldt Park or The 606.

37. Laugh it up at our famous comedy clubs, like star-making, improv-pioneers The Second City.

38. Admire the opulent surroundings and fascinating stories that you’ll find in the city’s historic hotels.

39. Admire public art in every corner of the city, from the Picasso sculpture downtown to vibrant murals in Pilsen and beyond.

40. And one of the top reasons to visit Chicago? Because we’ve been voted the Best Big City in the U.S. according to Conde Nast Traveler readers — for an unprecedented past six years in a row.

Want to discover more reasons to visit Chicago? Check out the Chicago Like a Local blog or sign up for our newsletter.

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