Chicago: What to Do
By Parker Marie Molloy
Looking for some family-friendly daytime fun? Check out the below must-sees on any true tourist’s itinerary.
201 E. Randolph St.
Officially opened in 2004, Millennium Park plays home to a number of Chicago’s most well-known tourist attractions. Home to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Crown Fountain, the Lurie Garden, and Cloud Gate — known by many as “the bean” — Millennium Park sits on land formerly covered in train tracks and parking lots. Featuring a number of free concerts throughout the summer, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion has earned a reputation as being one of the finest open-air music venues of the 21st century. A number of other seasonal events take place, as well, such as the annual transformation of the McCormick Tribune Plaza into a public ice skating rink.
600 E. Grand Ave.
Formerly a commercial pier and Navy training center, Navy Pier now serves as one of Chicago’s biggest tourist attractions. Featuring a Ferris wheel, IMAX theater, miniature golf, and other boardwalk-style attractions, Navy Pier is a recommended stop for those traveling with children. Additionally, Navy Pier is home to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Children’s Museum.
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Named after entrepreneur Marshall Field, the Field Museum is one of the nation’s largest museums of natural history. Since 2000, the museum has been the home of Sue, the world’s best-preserved tyrannosaurus rex fossil, with a length of 42 feet long, and 13 feet high.
337 E. Randolph St.
Grant Park is a 319-acre park located in downtown Chicago, and serves as the city’s go-to location for large, outdoor attractions. Home to the annual events Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, and the Grant Park Music Festival, the park is located just south of Millennium Park, and includes Chicago’s landmark Buckingham Fountain as well as the Art Institute of Chicago. In November 2008, Grant Park served as the location where then-President-elect Barack Obama gave his historic acceptance speech.
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Opened in 1930, the Adler Planetarium is the nation’s oldest active planetarium. Joining the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium makes up one third of Chicago’s “museum campus.” Home to ongoing space and science-themed programs, Adler is both fun and educational for children and adults, alike.
175 N. State St.
Located on State street in Chicago’s Loop, the Chicago Theatre plays host to concerts, plays, magic shows, comedy showcases, and speeches. Opened in 1921, the Chicago Theatre was initially intended to a motion picture house. This landmark is home to impressive, neo-Baroque architectural designs, stained glass art, and murals covering the theater’s walls.
301 S. Columbus Dr.
Located at the center of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain serves as one of the city’s premier landmarks. Inspired by the Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles, the fountain was dedicated in 1927. After undergoing a number of renovation, the fountain’s current incarnation contains roughly 1.5 million gallons of water at any given time. The fountain’s operating hours are between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. from mid-April through mid-October.
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Also located in Chicago’s Grant Park is the Art Institute of Chicago. AIC takes up one million square feet, making it second only to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in size. AIC is home to a number of iconic works of art, featuring work by Manet, Monet, Picasso, and van Gogh. The museum is also the permanent home of Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Georges-Pierre Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. In 2009, the museum opened its modern wing.