20 Awesome Things to Do in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Discover 20 awesome things to do in Chicago. Chicago is a MASSIVE city and the third biggest in the USA. It is in the state of Illinois and is the main city in the mid-west.
I came to Chicago from Memphis (Tennessee). I had never been before and arranged to meet a few friends from summer camp there.
After meeting with my friend and dropping my stuff at her work, I spent the rest of the day walking around the city.
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20 Awesome Things to Do in Chicago
1. See The Bean
The first thing on my list of awesome things to do in Chicago is a bit of an icon of Chicago.
The Bean of Chicago is a big bean-shaped “mirror”. I’m not sure what the point of it is, but it’s pretty cool none the less. You can find it in Millennium Park.
2. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is actually a couple of the item on this list in one. It has the gardens, the bean, free concerts, etc.
3. The Magnificent Mile
If you are into shopping, then you’ll love the Magnificent Mile. It is a mile long street catered to shoppers.
4. Cultural Center
I doubt this one makes it onto many lists of awesome things to do in Chicago but is worth checking out. When I was there I caught a spoken word competition.
5. Grab Some Food From Boystown
As you may have guessed, Boystown is the gay district of Chicago. It has great food there. We went to a place called Joys. It was Asian food and our waiter was a transvestite. Decent food at a decent price.
6. Chicago Planetarium
After a good night and an awesome breakfast, we went to the Chicago Planetarium. It was much better than I had expected to be.
The cost was $12 general entry + $12 for the cosmic wonder show which was worth it.
The Chicago Planetarium is world class and awesome. Between this and the Kielder Observatory, I’ve had my fill of astrology for the next decade.
7. Catch a Ferry
After about 3 hours in the Planetarium, we took a walk around the river to catch the ferry to the pier. It was $8 one way and was a nice way to see Chicago’s amazing skyline.
8. Walk Along the Pier
After getting to the other side, you can take a walk along the pier. It’s packed with things to look at.
9. Go to the Disney Store
Like Disney? Chicago has a Disney store where you can throw your money away. Not my cup of tea, but to each their own.
10. Go to the Rock and Roll McDonald’s
This is the best McDonald’s I have ever been in! A two-story Mcdonald’s with a museum. Find it at 600 N Clark St, Chicago.
11. Chicago Hot Dog
I’m a foodie so this was a must do for me in Chicago. Across the road from the Rock and Roll McDonald’s is a good cheap ‘restaurant’ which is famous for the items I ate. You won’t miss it. I had a Chicago hot dog complete with a pepper and pickle. Amazing.
12. Italian Beef Sandwich
Another dish Chicago is famous for is the Italian Beef Sandwich. I got one from the same place I got the Chicago Hot Dog, and it too was amazing.
While you are there you may as well try their famous chocolate cake. The secret ingredient is mayonnaise.
13. Swim in Lake Michigan
Beaches are not my favorite thing, but Lake Michigan is fresh water. I went for a good run up and down the coast then a ‘swim’. Actually, the lifeguards wouldn’t let us past knee height so a swim wasn’t possible.
14. Go to Chinatown, Chicago
I left the others at the beach and headed to Chinatown. Chicago has the 3rd biggest in the US (New York and San Francisco are bigger).
There are a lot of fruit smoothie shops in Chicago’s Chinatown. It also has the Dragon Wall which as some historic significance.
Getting to Chinatown, Chicago
I took the red line to 35 Bronseville, but only because Cermack was under construction. Cermack would have set me right in the front of Chinatown. Instead I had to walk through Bridgeport about 40 minutes.
From 35 Bronseville, walk North on State St past Illinois Institute of Technology. Bypass Cellular field. Go left on 31st, right on Stewart, Right on 23rd, Left on Wentworth and Right on Cermack rd.
*I often find myself walking in places where there aren’t any other walkers. Even in the busy cities of the US. In the suburbs where people dwell but don’t visit. There’s footpaths but no feet. Exploring off the well-trodden tracks.
15. Washington Park, in Garfield Park
Garfield Park is branded as the rough neighborhood, which it may be, but go to the park. It’s awesome and possibly my favorite thing on this list of awesome things to do in Chicago. I could have spent hours here but didn’t want to get caught out after sunset.
The park is Washington Park. It’s huge. There’s a bird and butterfly sanctuary, where some black kids warned me not to go in. They said there was someone trying to snatch people there. Then they asked if I was going to beat him up!
There’s also the African American History Museum, which I didn’t go in.
There’s a little hot dog stand between the park and the CTA called Lillies Hot Dogs. If you had not yet tried a Chicago hot dog, get one! Also, boarding back onto the CTA from Garfield is free.
Getting to Garfield Park From China Town, Chicago
I walked West on East Cermack then left (SW) on S.Archer to Halsted then took the CTA to Roosevelt and switched to the Green Line towards Cottage Grove to get off at Garfield Park.
16. Eat a Deep Dish Pizza
After Washington Park I went back to meet another friend. She came down for the afternoon from Michigan so we grabbed some dinner. We had a deep dish pizza, another of Chicago’s famous foods. I felt sick afterwards. Too much grease.
17.The Science and Industry Museum
On my 3rd day in Chicago, the first thing I did was go to the Science and Industry Museum. Like the planetarium, this was something that surprised me since it was so good.
This museum is EPIC. In fact, unless you’re a space buff, skip the planetarium and only do this one. I could have spent 6 hours, but wanted to see a few more things before the day was out. Instead, I took in a show (The Last Reef) and had a “quick” walk around. About 3 hours in total.
Getting to the Science and Industry Museum
Catch the CTA to Garfield then catch the #55 bus from across the road of the CTA station.
18. Little Village, Chicago
Little Village is the ‘Mexican’ part of Chicago. I didn’t have much time there but felt I got a general idea. It’s Mexico in Chicago.
Getting to Little Village
From the Science and Industry Museum get on the #55 (bus) to 55th. Walk north on California and then catch the 94 to 26th street. I got dropped right outside the courthouse, it was a bit of a ruckus. Head west on 26 and walk through Little Village.
To get out at the other end, turn right on Kedzie. Catch the #52 if you’re feeling lazy, or just walk the 6 blocks to the CTA.
If you’re coming to Little village from town, get the pink line to Kedzie and catch the 52, or walk, down Kedzie.
19. Baha’i Worship Center, Chicago
One thing I really wanted to do while in Chicago was visit the Baha’i Worship Center. Baha’i is a religion.. I’m not religious, but I grew up a Baha’i and my parents are Baha’i.
I roamed the gardens and went inside the temples for a bit then made my way back to town to take the Gangster Tour. The area around the temple is very nice also. Upper class for sure.
Besides Washington Park, this was my favorite thing to do in Chicago.
Getting to the Baha’i Temple
Catch the CTA and swap to the purple line at Lake. Take it to Linden, which is the end of the line. The journey takes about 40 mins. Get off and walk East to 100 Linden Ave, over the bridge. It’s on your left. You can not miss it. It’s beautiful.
20. The Untouchables Gangster Tour, Chicago.
The last thing on this list of awesome things to do in Chicago is the Untouchables Gangster Tour. This was another highlight of Chicago for me.
The tour was $30 and went for under two hours. Worth it if you’re into mafia and such, but not if you’re a buff. It’s a bit of fun. I learned heaps about Chicago’s gangster history during prohibition. The guides were playful with lame jokes. Very entertaining.
Getting to the Untouchable Gangster Tours
The Untouchables Gangster Tour leaves from the corner of Ohio and Clarke. Out the front of the Rock and Roll McDonald’s. Catch the Red line to Grand. Go North 1 block (Ohio) then West 2 Blocks (Clarke).
Other Useful Information About Chicago
Getting Around Chicago
The CTA (train) is probably the best way to get around Chicago. At the airport, some guy gave me a 7 day pass with 4 days left on it.
Chicago CTA doesn’t run off zones so it’s $2.25 each ride no matter where you go. A one-day pass is $10, 3 days is $20 and a 7 day is $30 (I presume). Buy them at Walgreens, ask at the counter.
Getting to Chicago O’Hare Airport
I caught the Blue Line all the ware to O’Hare. It took about an hour to get there. Security was long.
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As you can see, there were lots of things to do in Chicago. Freshwater beaches, music, food, entertainment, etc. It is one of my favorite big cities in the US, but not in winter.
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