- By kevin
- On May 18, 2018
- North America
- Travel Tips
To learn and schedule the best things to do & activities in Chicago or find the bus tours Chicago by our travel advice. Cabs and ride-hailing services are available, although high starting rates and extra charges make this option a bit expensive. Parking garage and street parking fees are pricey as well, but if you decide you need a set of wheels, rental agencies can be found at both airports.
Things To Do in Chicago:
A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.
There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.
On a gorgeous spring, summer or fall day, grab a blanket and picnic basket to enjoy on the park's grounds. Overall, former visitors said their time in the park was relaxing and worthwhile, though some mention that you'll likely encounter a few solicitors and homeless people.
Millennium Park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The park and its exhibits are free to visit, and complimentary guided garden and architecture tours are available on select days between May and September or October. Free audio tours can also be downloaded from the City of Chicago's website. You can also download free smartphone apps from the Google Play or iTunes stores for walking tour ideas, event listings and maps. Additional fees apply for items purchased at the park's concessions stands and restaurant. Restrooms and a bike parking area are offered on-site. To get to the park, travelers can bike, drive and park in one of several adjacent garages, walk from the Loop or take the L to the Lake, Randolph/Wabash, Monroe or Adams/Wabash subway stations.
Shedd Aquarium is one of the world's largest indoor aquariums, housing around 32,000 creatures. While you're here, you can feel stingrays float beneath your fingers, listen to sea lions bark and learn all about a variety of turtles. A visit to Shedd Aquarium will lead you through a cornucopia of habitats, where you'll find additional animals like penguins, piranhas, sharks and beluga whales. Or, for an additional fee, you can participate in specialty experiences like animal encounters, feeding experiences and behind-the-scenes tours.
Though many travelers said they enjoyed their time at the aquarium, a few bemoaned the additional fees incurred here for parking, special exhibits and hands-on experiences. Lines to get into the aquarium are also known to get long, so it's best to purchase upgraded tickets online (general admission tickets are not available online) or arrive early.
Basic tickets include access to the property's main areas: Waters of the World, Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, Wild Reef, Abbott Oceanarium, Polar Play Zone. Admission costs $39.95 for adults and $29.95 children. Tours, feedings and interactive animal experiences are also offered for an additional fee. Travelers with a Chicago CityPASS or a Go Chicago Card receive a complimentary Shedd Pass; all ticket holders will have access to restrooms, a gift shop and three cafes.
You'll find the Shedd Aquarium in the Museum Campus portion of Grant Park sandwiched between The Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium. You can get there by taking the Green, Orange or Red L lines to Roosevelt station or by taking the No. 130 or 146 bus to the Solidarity Drive & Aquarium bus stop. A parking garage is also located on the Museum Campus. The aquarium is open daily between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., except on weekdays in the winter when the property closes at 5 p.m.