Chicago and its surrounding suburbs are a very popular travel destination because there is always something fun to do or see in Chicagoland. Whether you are going to be in the Chicago area for work or vacation, you probably have at least a few hours to explore new places, and have exciting experiences and adventures.

From amazing food to world-class art and music to historic sites and internationally renowned museums, getting acquainted with the top 10 Must-Dos in Chicagoland and the Chicago Southland can help you plan the perfect trip and make happy memories with family and friends. There is something for everyone to fall in love with in Chicago and Chicagoland.

Eight Things You Must Do When You Visit Chicago

1.       Art Institute of Chicago

This is one of the best museums in the entire US, consistently winning international and global awards as a tourism destination. The Art Institute of Chicago houses the largest and most significant Impressionist art collection outside of Paris. You will find art from all over the world, by artists who are recognized as ground-breaking innovators, such as Chagall, Tiffany, Warhol, van Gogh, Caillebotte, Picasso, Monet, El Greco and more. The Art Institute houses masterpieces such as American Gothic, At The Moulin Rouge, Nightlife and Under the Wave Off Kanagawa along with A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and many more. 

This museum is over half a million square feet with 273 galleries, so you can spend several hours here just seeing the highlights of the collection. Many people visit more than once during a longer stay in Chicago because there is just so much to experience at the Art Institute of Chicago.

2.       Enjoy Live Music and Entertainment

If you love to listen to live music, there is an abundance of opportunities to do so in Chicagoland. Fox Pointe in nearby Lansing, Illinois, is a comfortable, clean and lushly maintained open air music venue, featuring a covered pavilion, concessions and full bar. Concerts featuring rock, pop, country and symphonic music surround special cultural events such as Mexico En El Corazon and Lan-Sings, a celebration of spiritual music. Fox Pointe also offers a variety of unique live events celebrating the fall and winter holidays. From Halloween Monster displays and trick or treat events to holiday and Christmas tree-lighting events with Santa visits and a Holiday Market to art and craft shows, Fox Pointe is bustling with music, dance, arts and culture from May to December. 

3.       Millennium Park

This famous park takes up three square blocks of the city. Enjoy Lurie Garden, the Pritzker Music Pavilion, Maggie Daley Park, an enormous playground and a winter skating ribbon at this downtown Chicago Loop park location. This is also the home of Cloud Gate, affectionately known as “The Bean”, which is a must-visit for amazing selfies.

Lake Michigan’s shoreline is just across Lake Shore Drive, which borders the east side of the park, making for gorgeous views of this Great Lake day and night. For those planning a longer visit to explore all these attractions, considering an extended stay in Schaumburg offers a comfortable and convenient experience, allowing ample time to fully enjoy everything the city has to offer. Just a short drive from downtown Chicago, the extended stay Schaumburg experience ensures visitors have a home-away-from-home, blending suburban tranquility with easy access to urban excitement.

4.       Shop at the Magnificent Mile

There are few streets as famous in any city as the Magnificent Mile, North Michigan Avenue. You’ll find high end retailers for shopping, Chicago originals for dining out and enjoy access to historical landmarks along the Mag Mile. You can buy almost anything you need, from clothing,  jewelry and cosmetics to furniture and household goods to books and toys along Michigan Avenue. Dining choices include American, Italian, Contemporary, Bars and Taverns from super casual to upscale and elegant. You’ll see the world-famous Water Tower, Wrigley Building and Drake Hotel along this thoroughfare. 

5.       The Field Museum

The Field Museum is home to Sue, the world’s most complete – and probably most famous – T-Rex. You will also find including a section of an Egyptian tomb and mummified people. Families will love the “Evolving Planet” exhibit and “What Is An Animal?” exhibit. 

There are shops and dining options right inside the museum, so you can easily spend an entire day here during your visit. Like many of the museums in Chicago, the collections here are so large that you might want to come back on another day to finish your tour.

6.       Lincoln Park Zoo

Head to the original “Ark In The Park”, the Lincoln Park Zoo to enjoy more than 1,200 animal residents including zebras, lions, seals and polar bears. Enjoy the world-renowned Regenstein Center for African Apes, an award-winning, state of the art exhibit featuring multiple families of great apes. Throughout the year, Lincoln Park Zoo hosts dozens of special events and animal-featured seminars. 

7.       Enjoy the Chicago Riverwalk

This shopping area is very picturesque and offers access to water activities, museums, public art, and restaurants of all kinds. One of the most beautiful urban areas in Chicago, it is well worth an afternoon visit. You can enjoy kayaking, the Bridgehouse Museum or view “The Art on The Mart”, a visual presentation projected onto the surface of the Merchandise Mart.

8.       Discover Chicago Food

Visit dozens of restaurants in one day by taking a Food Tour in Chicago. Get on a guided bus and visit all the dining options featured on the show “The Bear”, discover the foods that invented “Chicago style” or explore cultural foods by neighborhood including Chinatown and Pilsen. You can also head south to Lansing, Illinois and enjoy one of President Obama’s favorite restaurants, Dixie Kitchen or watch the planes come in at Lansing Municipal Airport, location of the Historic Ford Hangar, while enjoying Lynnie Que’s barbecue. Follow that up with a visit to One Trick Pony Brewery, one of the region’s premier craft breweries.

Chicago is a Very Memorable Place to Visit

When you are traveling to Chicago either for business or for vacation, make time to enjoy the sites, sounds, attractions and food in the area. There is always something exciting going on in Chicagoland!

This guide will help you to plan the trip that you have always wanted to take in the Chicago area. Be prepared to have fun when you visit the Windy City and greater Chicagoland!