Top Fun Free Activities To Do in Chicago
This city is undoubtedly one of the most renowned places in the world. With its vast alleys, huge skyscrapers, and long history, Chicago has many things to offer and discover. Therefore, to save you some time, we gathered the best attractions you can find in Chicago. As Sinatra was singing: Chicago, Chicago that toddling town, Chicago, Chicago I will show you around!
Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain
To start this adventure, we can’t visit Chicago city without visiting the magnificent Grant Park. Actually, this park and the Millenium Park are very near each other, and in the middle, you’ll find the giant Buckingham Fountain. The latter has not one, not two, but three levels of flowing water, and offers beautiful light shows at night. It is, by far, one of the largest fountains in the world with a diameter of 85 meters.
Finally, the Buckingham Fountain of Chicago is 7 meters tall, and the name has nothing to do with the Buckingham Palace. That’s right, it was in fact dedicated to Clarence Buckingham in 1927, the defunct brother of Kate Buckingham, who was one of the main benefactors in the fountain’s construction.
As mentioned before, Millennium Park is also a part of Grant Park, and has 4 major attractions to offer:
- The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is home to the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. It has 4000 fixed seats and additional space for an extra 7000 seats. The structure is built with stainless steel beams and a smart sound system supported by these beams.
- The Cloud Gate: Located in the Loop Community as a centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza of the Millennium Park, the Cloud Gate is a beautiful stainless steel structure that reflects a distorted image of Chicago. Since its shape looks like a giant bean, most people call it the Bean.
- The Crown Fountain: The Crown Fountain was designed by Jaume Plensa, who was scared of water when he was young. Therefore, he wanted to make a water attraction that everybody would be able to enjoy without fear. Basically, this fountain is a huge rectangular structure with 147 screens showing images of giant faces or natural landscapes. The floor surrounding the attraction is made out of slabs with little cracks that will let the water slowly go through. For many years, the Crown Fountain is a home run attraction with children, who love to play in the surrounding water.
- The Lurie Garden: Not too far from the Crown Fountain, the Lurie Garden is a 2.5-acre garden focused on bringing seasonal plants and perennials into the spotlight. Designed by Piet Oudolf, the garden is divided into 2 parts: a dark plate, made of a combination of trees, and a light plate, which represents the future of the city where the perennials shine under the sunlight.
Chicago Cultural Center
Since we are still around Millenium Park, why not take a walk to the Chicago Cultural Center? Home to the Chicago Public Library and the Civil War Memorial, this cultural center has been open for more than a century. Most of its events throughout the year are free, so it’s certainly something you should see during your time in the Wind City.
The Navy Pier is a spectacular and very fun place to visit with the whole family. Whether you want to eat a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza with the beautiful Lake Michigan view or reach new heights on the Ferris Centennial Wheel, you are in for a treat! There is so much action all year round at the Navy Pier location, you could literally spend a whole day over there.
The Magnificent Mile
Often referred to as the very heart of Chicago if you are looking for a shopping spree. If you are lucky, you will see lots of tulips, as they are part of a big tulip project each year. Moreover, you can visit the historic Chicago Water Tower, or the 100-story John Hancock Center, or the neo-gothic Tribune Water. All in all, for fine dining restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and malls, the Magnificent Mile is the place to be.
Museum of Science and Industry
Founded in 1933, the Museum of Science and Industry is huge and has many activities throughout the year. The admission, however, is not free, and costs between $12 and $22. What’s really special about this Museum is that it shows spectacular effects such as a four-story indoor tornado or a giant Tesla coil that zaps big strikes of lightning.
Ohio Street Beach
If you want to relax under the sun to take a break from the noisy city, then the Ohio Street beach is the place to go. It’s actually located not too far from the Navy Pier that we talked about earlier. Enjoy the view of the water, coupled with the buildings of Chicago. Also, it’s worth noting that during summer, there are plenty of activities for kids to enjoy.
Chicago Promontory Point
From 7 am to 9 pm, bikers, walkers, and sitters are invited to visit the Promontory Point, a beautiful and peaceful location of Chicago where you can just take a breath and enjoy yourself.
Basically a 3-minute walk from the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Chicago Riverwalk is vibrant and full of activities every day of the week. It has a ton of shops and restaurants as well, with a delightful view of the Chicago River.
And finally, if you like street art, you will fall in love with this city! It has so many art pieces scattered around the buildings that we would be here all day just to list them all. That being said, are some of the most renowned ones:
- Vivian Maier By Eduardo Kobra
- Robin Williams By Jerkface & Owen Dippie
- Marilyn Monroe By Jeffrey Zimmerman
- Greetings From Chicago By Victor Ving & Lisa Beggs
- Muddy Waters By Eduardo Kobra
- Michelle Obama By Royyal Dog
And that is the end of our trip to Chicago and our list of fun activities to do around the city of the wind. We hope you enjoy this quick overview of what Chicago has to offer, and that you will enjoy your time in this beautiful city.