Chicago CityPASS » Things To Do In Chicago
Poet Carl Sandburg described Chicago as the "City of the Big Shoulders" in 1916, and the city carries that moniker proudly to this day. With world-class museums and cultural attractions alongside thriving commercial and industrial ventures, Chicago hums with energy. These 10 things to do and see capture the breadth of the city’s offerings and illustrate why Frank Sinatra was moved to immortalize Chicago as "My Kind of Town." Hey, Frank, it’s our kind of town, too.
With more than 2 million guests every year, John G. Shedd Aquarium is Chicago’s most visited cultural attraction. And it’s easy to see why: Curious explorers can roam through more than 80 habitats, acquainting themselves with some 1,500 species. The recently "reimagined" Abbott Oceanarium brings beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Alaska sea otters and California sea lions up close, while the 90,000-gallon (340,687 liters) Caribbean Reef installation offers a 360-degree view of the sea life found in warm waters.
Art Institute of Chicago
Well-known treasures beckon inside the Art Institute of Chicago. This magnificent Beaux-Arts building — with two stone lions guarding its Michigan Avenue entrance — is home to works of art that span 5,000 years of human history, as well as the globe. The recently unveiled Modern Wing, which opened in 2009, houses contemporary art and modern European paintings and sculpture in a breathtaking setting. This is one of the places to visit in Chicago that you just have to take the time to see!
Adler Planetarium, which appears ready to launch itself into Lake Michigan from its lakeside perch, brings the universe to its visitors. From the Galaxy Wall — the largest and most complete view of our Milky Way — to an exhibition where intrepid explorers can occupy a life-size model of a Mars rover, the Adler encourages us to break the bonds of earth and look to the heavens.
The Field Museum
Every trip to Chicago should include a date with Sue. Holding court in The Field Museum’s grand Stanley Field Hall, the remarkable Sue is the world’s largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex. Beyond The Field’s extensive rock and fossil collections, visitors can journey through 4 billion years of life on Earth in the Evolving Planet exhibit and marvel over precious stones — from their rough beginnings to sparkling jewelry — in the Grainger Hall of Gems.
The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere beckons with its eye-popping views of Chicago and beyond. Located atop the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Skydeck Chicago attracts nearly 1.3 million visitors each year to its 103rd floor observation deck, which rises 1,353 feet (412.4 meters) above street level. On a clear day, you can spot many of Chicago’s landmarks and scan the horizon to Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. The brave of heart can step out onto The Ledge, a glass-enclosed balcony, for a view unlike any other.
John Hancock Observatory
Located in the heart of the Windy City’s tourist district, the John Hancock Observatory — with its one-of-a-kind open-air Skywalk — is open until 11 p.m. daily. The fastest elevators in North America zoom to the 94th floor — 1,000 feet (305 meters) up — in only 40 seconds. The real fun is spotting Chicago landmarks, such as Wrigley Field, Navy Pier, and glamorous marinas. Guests enjoy a multimedia Sky Tour and can contemplate Chicago’s history on the 80-foot (24 meters) history wall. CityPASS holders can take in the view while sipping a complimentary coffee from the on-site café.
Museum of Science and Industry
The largest science center in the Western Hemisphere, the Museum of Science and Industry was the first museum in North America to offer visitors the chance to touch and interact with exhibits. That tradition continues to this day with exhibits that encourage people to do more than spectate: you can make a giant heart beat in time to your own, open a Chicago River drawbridge for a model train, and practice your moves on the basketball court with the help of a virtual instructor.
Encompassing more than 50 acres (20 hectares) of prime Chicago lakefront territory, Navy Pier is truly a city within the city. With shopping, restaurants, parks and gardens, museums, stages and attractions galore, this Chicago landmark attracts millions every year. Fireworks light up the Chicago skyline twice a week during the summer months, and the 150-foot (45.7 meters) Ferris wheel operates year-round, weather permitting. It's no wonder that Navy Pier is often considered one of the top things to do in Chicago.
It may be one of Chicago’s newest places to visit, but Millennium Park has quickly become a destination of choice for travelers and locals alike. With hundreds of free concerts and performances offered throughout the year at the dramatic Jay Pritzker Pavilion; an immense, walk-up-and-touch sculpture known affectionately as "The Bean"; and a 5-acre (2.2 hectares) garden to explore, Millennium Park lives up to the Chicago’s official Latin motto: Urbs in Horto — City in a Garden.
The Magnificent Mile
On Michigan Avenue, starting at the Chicago River and heading north for, yes, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to Oak Street, lies a district of architecture, shopping, dining and business that has few peers. Aptly named, the Magnificent Mile is a mecca for tourists and business people, and bolsters Chicago’s claim as one of the great cities on the world stage.
To visit the sites above that charge admission, use a Chicago CityPASS and save nearly half off the combined entrance fees. Plus, CityPASS holders skip most main-entrance ticket lines. So, while others are stuck waiting in the queue, CityPASS users are already enjoying the attractions. Chicago CityPASS includes admission to Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, Skydeck Chicago, Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute of Chicago, and John Hancock Observatory or the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Some special exhibits are not included with the CityPASS and may require an extra fee.
Passes can be purchased online or at any attraction that accepts CityPASS. Use CityPASS and discover the wonders of Chicago.
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