Top 5 Things to Do in Chicago

top 5 things to do in ChicagoAre you ready to explore Chicago but don't know where to start? It's certainly true that there's no lack of stuff to do in Chicago.

Sporting the world's second busiest airport, it's even more obvious that people from around the world (many of them tourists) arrive to indulge in the city's rich offerings. But where are people going? What captivates both the tourists and the locals? Let's take a look at the top five things to do in Chicago.

5. Art Institute of Chicago

Did you know that the Art Institute of Chicago is now the second largest art museum in the United States? Then get ready to dive into a world of discovery! You're bound to find something you like with over 260,000 pieces displayed at the museum. The collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art is arguably the crown jewel of the museum, but there is art ranging across numerous styles and over 5,000 years of time. For the frugal visitor, take advantage of the museum's free admission on Thursdays from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., though don't be surprised to find it a bit crowded. Even if you can't make the free Thursday evening viewing, the Art Institute should be a "must" on your list of things to do in Chicago.

4. John G. Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium
is the largest indoor aquarium in the world, featuring both saltwater and freshwater species throughout its many exhibits. You'll be awed by the multitude of sharks of the amazing Philippine coral reef and amazed by the beluga whales that call the Oceanarium home. Shedd Aquarium has received numerous awards for its exhibits which capture the imaginations of children and adults alike. The aquarium also offers free and discount days for those seeing Chicago on a budget. If you visit using your Chicago CityPass, you'll also receive VIP treatment at the aquarium.

3. Chicago Cubs and White Sox Games

What better to do in Chicago on a mild spring day than head to the ballpark, enjoy a Chicago-style hot dog and beer, and watch iconic staples of the city in the forms of Cubs and White Sox baseball? Love them or hate them, the teams and their stadiums are steeped in history, making a trip to see a ballgame a must. Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, is the oldest National League ball park in baseball, built in 1914. As the oldest active team in North American sports, the Cubs bring millions of people to the park every year. But don't forget those White Sox, who have been around since 1900. The 2005 World Series champions still draw packed crowds to U.S. Cellular Field every year and occasionally compete against their cross-town rivals. So why not head to a ballpark and catch a game? It's one of the easiest things to do in Chicago.

2. Lincoln Park Zoo

As one of the United States' oldest zoos, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago attracts millions of people every year with its wide variety of animals and exhibits. The zoo also features two special areas set aside for children to interact with and learn about animals around the world. The zoo is considered by many a global leader in programs and projects dedicated to zoo-based conservation and science. And with no entrance fee, going to the zoo is one the perfect things to do in Chicago.

1. Navy Pier

With over eight million visitors in 2009, Chicago's Navy Pier has rapidly become one of the Midwest's most popular tourist destinations. Construction on the pier began over 90 years ago, and it has since seen many changes. Today the pier features over 50 acres of parks, restaurants, shops, and cultural- and entertainment-related structures, including the renowned Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Families with kids should consider heading to the Family Pavilion. Inside the pavilion you can watch a first-run film in the IMAX theater and then take the kids through the popular and entertaining three-story Chicago Children's Museum. Afterwards, you can all enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants located in the pavilion. Don't forget the giant Ferris wheel and miniature golf course!

Photo by Matthew Robinsonvia Flickr
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