Happy Thursday folks, we hope you’re keeping well. Today on the Preparture blog, we’ll be delving into our hometown of Chicago and digging up the best things that you must do when you visit  this phenomenal city. Whether you’re into exhausting the area and exploring every nook and cranny, or taking it all in your stride and seeing the most important spots, it’ll all be in this post, so keep reading to discover the hottest places that simply can’t be missed when you’re in Chicago.

When’s the best time to visit Chicago?

First thing’s first, you need to know when the best time to visit Chicago is. You can visit Chicago at any point throughout the year and get your fill of things to do – there’s plenty on offer both indoors and out, but let’s look at the seasons. Generally, you’ll find summer to be the most popular time of year for tourists, but you should be warned that temperatures are known to rise, leaving behind a muggy, humid atmosphere during the summer months which some people can find uncomfortable. You’ll find festivals and outdoor activities rife during the summer, which will show the Chicago’s lively and vibrant side. It’s the perfect time to wander the streets and hang out in the parks, watching the world whizz by. Winters can easily freeze over, leaving behind snow and ice, and less outdoor activities. No worries; there’s plenty to do indoors, and you can capture Chicago in its wintry glory too whilst you keep warm with a deep dish pizza. You’ll certainly find less tourists in the way of your adventures in the winter too, so keep that in mind if you like to have the city to yourself. Spring and fall are the shoulder seasons that have unpredictable weather patterns, so if you pick either of these seasons to visit Chicago, always keep that in mind. You’ll find spring the perfect time to see the city transforming, and opening up before its busy summer season, whilst fall will give you those warmer days with a hint of chill, and a slower pace.

Must-do #1: Millennium Park & Cloud Gate

Our first must-see spot in Chicago is Millennium Park. If you’ve seen Chicago in photos, chances are you’ve seen the park, along with The Bean, the cute nickname for Cloud Gate, the world famous mirrored sculpture that takes center stage. While it’s incredibly touristy, you shouldn’t miss it if you get the chance to visit. It’s a beautiful spot to capture some photographs, and we guarantee the sculpture will take your breath away. That’s not all there is to see in Millennium Park either. Keep your eye out for Lurie Garden, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and the Crown Fountain Sculpture. Crown Fountain is a particular favorite for kids in summer, where you’ll find them playing in the water. Also, during the winter, this area is frozen over and turned into a skate rink, so there’s something for everyone!

Must-do #2: Check out Chicago’s incredible skyline from above

If you love to watch the sunset from up high, or simply want to see the city in all its glory, we’d suggest heading to one of two viewpoints that give you killer views.

360 Chicago

On the 94th floor of 875 North Michigan Avenue, you’ll find 360 Chicago, an observatory that’ll give you the most incredible views of the city. With its enclosed, moving platform named TILT, you’ll find yourself tilted over the buildings below to make sure you get the most profound views. For those of you who like to take in the view over a drink or two, you could also head upstairs to The Signature Lounge at the 96th. Here you can grab a table and watch the city below (as long as you purchase a few drinks that is). There’s less tilting, and more relaxation up here too, so it’s certainly a better option for those with an aversion to heights.

The Skydeck at Willis Tower

On the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, you’ll find The Skydeck, an impressive glass balcony that’ll give you panoramic views of the city. Known as The Ledge, this glass balcony sticks out of the building by 4 feet. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted, but you can look down and out over the city as it goes about its day. It’s not to be missed.

Must-do #3: Check out the skyline from below

We understand that not everyone wants to head up into the clouds for the view. Luckily, we know a spot where you can take in the shimmering skyline with your feet planted firmly on the ground. The Lakefront Trail stretches up to 18 miles on its paved path, so it’s perfect for walking along and taking in the view of Lake Michigan as well as the city laid before you. This stretch is the perfect spot for people watching too, as it’s the place you’ll find most locals going about their day.

Must-do #4: take a river cruise

Sailing through the heart of Chicago on a river cruise and taking in the architecture as you relax is a must-do on a trip to this city. This is the best way to relax from wandering the streets all day, and get your fix of architecture and history from the guides who have plenty to say along the way. There are plenty of companies that offer river cruises, so it’s best to do your research beforehand so you don’t end up overspending on your budget without getting the best out of it.

Must-do #5: Head to Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is a free attraction that has plenty of things to do for adults and kids alike, so it’s the perfect place to explore with your family. Lincoln Park lies adjacent to the lake, so it’s beautiful too and well worth a visit. You could take a rowing boat onto the water and splash around, or head to the zoo to check out the animals. There’s a conservatory, a nature museum, a theater on the lakeside, and even a nature sanctuary. You can certainly spend a good few hours in this area, and grab a bite to eat and drink while you’re at it to make sure you stay refreshed.

Must-do #6: Check out the museums

If you’re fascinated by art, history, and culture, Chicago has a wide range of museums for you to check out and explore to your heart’s content. There’s the Museum of Science and Industry, which although is located further out of the city, is still a fantastic place to discover if you want interaction and hands-on exhibits. If you’ve got young children, you might be interested in the Shedd Aquiarium or the Adler Planetarium, which both offer things to do for youngsters and older kids alike. The Field Museum is a treasure trove packed with ancient history and artefacts that’ll send you straight back in time to the dinosaurs. It’s up to you to work your way back through time to the present day, where you’ll find plenty of surprises along the way. Lastly, if art history is more your thing, check out the Art Institute of Chicago – the oldest museum the city has to offer. You’ll be able to feast your eyes on everything there is to know about the art world, and soak up as much culture as you want.

Must-do #7: Catch a show at The Chicago Theater

Our final must-see spot in Chicago is of course the world famous Chicago Theater. You’ve definitely seen the brightly lit Chicago sign that glitters and lights up the theater in photos. Well, you can check it out for yourself when you head to the city. Find it on 175 North State Street, and of course, go once the sun has set for the ultimate view. While the theater itself is currently temporarily closed due to Covid-19, this is still a spot worth catching with your own eyes, especially if you’re a fan of the 1975 stage musical or 2002 hit film Chicago. Are you ready to head into the big city and discover everything it has to offer? From family fun to solo adventuring, the Windy City has something for everyone, no matter what the season. Make sure you save this blogpost for future reference so you can easily find the must-see spots and must-do activities that Chicago has to offer. TIP: Don’t forget to bring your face mask when traveling to and around Chicago. Under Illinois State law, it’s a legal requirement to wear a facemask throughout the city to protect you and others around you – don’t leave home without your mask! Also, ensure that you abide by the rules and stay at least 6ft away from everyone when possible. Let’s help slow the spread of Covid-19.