A city rich in history, stunning architecture, and pizza, Chicago is inarguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There is no shortage of restaurants, museums, and attractions to visit if you decide to stop by. One of the best things about the city by far, though, is that people of all ages can enjoy what it has to offer.
For those looking to make a stop in Chicago, Illinois this weekend, take a look at some of these must-see sites that the whole family will enjoy…
1. Millennium Park
Perhaps the most famous area of Chicago is Millenium Park, an almost 25-acre section of the city that’s home to notable landmarks like Crown Fountain and Pritzker Music Pavilion.
By sheer size alone, a family could spend hours at the park and not run out of things to do. The site is open from 6 AM to 11 PM and is free to enter, though you should expect to run into an event or two happening on the grounds that cost admission fees.
While you’re on the grounds, make sure to take pictures at Cloud Gate, lovingly nicknamed ‘The Bean’, which is likely the most prominent sculpture in the city.
2. Art Institute of Chicago
Fans of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off unite! This iconic Chicago museum should find a place on your general bucket list, much less your list of windy city stops.
Permanent residence of famous paintings like American Gothic by Grant Wood and the incredibly recognizable A Sunday Afternoon by Georges Seurat, the Art Institute boasts a deeply immersive environment- wonderful for art enthusiasts and history aficionados alike.
Whether you’re looking to recreate scenes from the 90s cult classic, or just looking to teach the kiddos to value artwork, the Art Institute is a gorgeous place to spend the day.
3. Navy Pier
Perched on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, you’ll find Navy Pier- a 3,300 ft. long attraction that has several different spectacles to come upon. From carnival rides for the younger kids to bars and bike tours for the grown-ups, there’s something at Navy Pier for everyone.
With the number of different experiences to share, there’s no doubt that a day spent on the pier will bear a slew of family memories that will live on in your household forever.
Though the pier is free to walk along, specific attractions like Centennial Wheel and the Shakespeare Theater cost admission. However, you shouldn’t be surprised to find many free events being hosted as well.
4. SkyDeck Chicago at Willis Tower
Those who are afraid of heights, look away now! Standing at more than 100 stories above the Chicago skyline, the SkyDeck experience at Willis Tower isn’t for the faint of heart.
Willis Tower, previously known as Sears Tower, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city. Though the attraction is mainly visited for The Ledge (a glass box that extends four feet from the building, giving you an unmatched view of the city), the skyscraper is full of educational facts about the history of the location and its transformation through the years.
5. Shedd Aquarium
Take a minute to say hello to over 30,000 animals that call Shedd Aquarium their home! Located on a strip of land that holds some of the most kid-friendly museums and exhibits in the city, this attraction has a 5 million gallon tank that once held the title of being the biggest indoor facility worldwide.
Among the most popular exhibits to be found at Shedd Aquarium include Abbott Oceanarium, which transports you to the dolphin-rich ecosystem found in the Pacific Northwest, and the Wild Reef exhibit, which will transfer you and your family to the gorgeous Philippine islands (say hi to the sharks for us)!
6. Superdawg Drive-In
Established in the 1940s, the Superdawg Drive-In is one of the most famous food stops in Chicago. Featured on a handful of Foot Network shows, this restaurant is one of the few drive-in locations left in the nation, earning it a spot on our list of Chicago must-sees.
Not only is the food delicious, but the original family that established the restaurant still runs it today, and they preserved the architecture of the building so you’ll get the same dining experience as Chicagoans did when the restaurant was put up in ‘48.
Their most popular menu item is the “Superdawg”, a city staple. Fun fact- the establishment is so passionate about their dogs that they were one of the biggest advocates for the Apple hot dog emoji!
7. Lincoln Park Zoo
Free, fun, and packed full of academic enrichment, visiting Chicago without stopping by Lincoln Park Zoo would be a tragedy!
The fourth oldest zoo in America, Lincoln Park Zoo hosts more than 150 species on its 35-acre grounds. This zoo was founded on the mission to bring the Chicago community closer via conserving our planet’s natural wildlife system, and they’ve worked tirelessly on their assignment since the zoo’s conception in 1868.
From Beavers to African Lions, you and your family will enjoy spending the day alongside some of the world’s mightiest creatures and exploring all that the zoo has to offer.
8. Chicago River Boat Architecture Cruise
Immerse yourself in the ultra-rich history of the city’s most notable structures by spending an hour and a half floating along the Chicago River.
There are three different tours you can choose from: the Architectural Tour (which chronicles the history of the city’s skyscrapers), the Lake Michigan Navy Pier Tour (which ends with fireworks on Navy Pier), and the Chicago River Boat Cocktail ; Live Jazz Tour (which dives deep into Chicago’s influence in jazz).
The first two tours are better suited for families with young kids, but there is surely fun to be had and things to be learned regardless of the cruise you choose!
9. Adler Planetarium
Leave Earth’s atmosphere for a while with a visit to Adler Planetarium, America’s first planetarium and one of the most popular academic exhibits in Chicago.
Historical significance aside, the planetarium grounds host a plethora of different displays and demonstrations, making for a truly out-of-this-world experience. You may choose to explore the famous Gemini 12 spacecraft, walk through an exhibit that takes you from the birth of the universe to today, or even take a look through the largest telescope in Chicago at Doane Observatory.
10. Lou Malnati’s
Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete Chicago visit without a bite of authentic deep-dish pizza- and what better place to grab a slice than at the original Lou Malnati’s in Lincolnwood?
Founded in 1971, Lou Malnati’s is inarguably the most famous pizza place in the city. The restaurant is deeply rooted in family, with regular patrons likening the feel of the establishment to eating dinner in the comfort of your own home.
Though Lou Malnati, the namesake of the restaurant, died of cancer in 1978, his two sons Marc and Rick have continued his legacy. Every year, the restaurant hosts a charity event to raise money for cancer research in their father’s name.
Based on the heart of the establishment alone, there’s no better way to end your family’s visit to Chicago than with a stop at Lou Malnati’s.