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Famous Landmarks in Chicago to Visit
June 3, 2022 By CityPASS
If you’re visiting Chicago, you may be wondering how to squeeze the city’s countless attractions into your itinerary. However, you can’t go wrong with any of the famous landmarks in Chicago that are on this list! From architecture to museums to beautiful views, these places have it all.
What To Do at These 6 Must-See Famous Landmarks in Chicago
There are so many iconic Chicago landmarks to choose from, so this list contains a little bit of everything. Whether you’re into culture, sports, or simply rambling along the city’s streets without an itinerary, the Windy City is famous for having something for everyone.
Take in Stunning Views at Skydeck Chicago or 360 CHICAGO
One of the most thrilling things to do on our Chicago landmarks list is to get a bird’s-eye view of the city from Skydeck Chicago. Located at the top of the Willis Tower — the tallest building in the Midwest and the third-tallest in the country — Skydeck Chicago is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. This building was named Sears Tower until 2009, when the name changed to Willis Tower, so don’t be surprised if you hear locals refer to it by its old name.
Skydeck Chicago has large glass windows offering a view of Chicago landmarks that you can’t get anywhere else. You’ll be able to see architecture from some of the city’s most famous architects, like Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and Mies van der Rohe.
If you really want to see Chicago like never before, step out onto The Ledge. This glass box hangs off the side of the building, 103 floors over Chicago’s streets, and will have your heart racing as you literally see the city at your feet.
Another option for unparalleled views of Lake Michigan is found at the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. From the 94th floor of the famous John Hancock Building, Lake Michigan's shoreline lies below with impressive views of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.
The real thrill comes from TILT, Chicago’s highest thrill ride. Step up to the glass, hang on the handrails, and hold on tight as the glass tilts out at an angle over the street below. There’s really nothing else like it in town.
Check Out the Cloud Gate Statue (the "Bean") at Millennium Park
Perhaps one of Chicago’s most recent iconic landmarks is the stainless steel sculpture located in Millennium Park. Built in 2006, Cloud Gate — known affectionately as the "Bean" due to its shape — is unlike any other public sculpture in the city. Visitors come to admire the sculpture that mirrors back the city’s iconic skyline. It’s also an ideal spot to take an Instagram-worthy selfie.
Millennium Park offers tourists and locals alike lots to do right in the heart of downtown Chicago. Near the Lake Michigan shoreline, this park has a variety of public art installations, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (which features free music and activities throughout the year), and Lurie Gardens, one of the city’s most beautiful botanical spots. Millennium Park is one of the Midwest's top tourist destinations and home to one of the most famous landmarks in Chicago.
Catch a Baseball Game at the Historic Wrigley Field
If you venture outside of the Loop and head north, you'll find Wrigley Field, one of Chicago’s most beloved spots for sports fans. The second-oldest ballpark in the Major League, Wrigley Field is home to the Chicago Cubs, a team that Northsiders stand by no matter what. This ballpark is worth a visit for its friendly atmosphere and old-fashioned charm. With brick walls covered in ivy and a hand-turned scoreboard, Wrigley Field has a fun sense of nostalgia about it.
While you’re in the area, you could also check out Lincoln Park, another famous Chicago neighborhood. It’s about a 30-minute walk south from Wrigley Field, or just a quick bus ride away, and offers lots of exciting things to do. Kids and adults alike love the Lincoln Park Zoo (which is free!) and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Lincoln Park also has lush gardens, North Avenue Beach, and the Nature Boardwalk, making for a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago.
View a World-Class Collection at the Century-Old Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is not just an amazing art museum, but also a Chicago historical landmark in its own right. It was founded in 1879 and has remained one of the oldest and biggest art museums in the world. Not too far from Cloud Gate, The Art Institute is inside Grant Park, which is proudly nicknamed Chicago’s Front Yard.
The Art Institute houses more than 300,000 works, so it’s easy to spend the whole day wandering and discovering pieces of art and artifacts from cultures from all over the world. It also has the greatest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris. Come marvel at works by van Gogh, Monet, Seurat, and so many more.
See Wonders From Natural History at the Field Museum
Grant Park is also the location of other iconic Chicago landmarks like Buckingham Fountain and the Museum Campus, which is where you’ll find some of the city’s other notable museums and attractions, including the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Field Museum.
The Field Museum is one of the world's largest natural history museums, exciting kids and adults alike. Its origins date back to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, as do many other Chicago landmarks. Here, you’ll find artifacts like mummies, dinosaur fossils, art, and so much more.
The Field Museum is housed in a beautiful building designed by Daniel Burnham, who was responsible for other iconic Chicago landmarks, including Orchestra Hall, the Rookery Building, and the Marshall Field and Company building.
Experience Entertainment and Lake Michigan from Navy Pier
If you’ve seen Chicago from the sky at Skydeck Chicago, it’s time to see the city’s most beautiful views from the water. Head on over to Navy Pier, which runs for more than a kilometer down Chicago’s shoreline. Based on an architectural plan by Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett, the pier officially opened in 1916 and is still one of Chicago's most famous historical landmarks more than a century later.
Here, you can cruise with Shoreline Sightseeing down the Chicago River or on Lake Michigan to see more of the city’s breathtaking architecture. Another top attraction is the Centennial Wheel, a 200-foot tall Ferris wheel offering fantastic views of the city.
Visit These Iconic Landmarks and More With a Ticket Package
Fitting all of these famous landmarks in Chicago into your itinerary is easy with a CityPASS ticket. Buying a discounted ticket package gets you savings of up to compared to purchasing individual tickets for the city’s top attractions.
The first step is to choose your ticket package. The original CityPASS ticket gets you into five top attractions, many of which are included on this list. If your time in Chicago is more limited, the Chicago C3 pass lets you choose three attractions. Either way, you’re guaranteed to see several of the most famous landmarks in Chicago!
To get the most out of your stay in Chicago, we recommend finding lodging near Chicago's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you: