Things to Do in Chicago

Your 2019 CEIA Local Arrangements Committee welcomes you to Chicago, AKA “The Windy City”! It was founded in 1837 and is home to more than 2.6 million residents, 26 miles of lakefront, and 552 parks. What is considered Chicagoland area includes more than 10 million people in three states, making it the third largest metropolitan area in the United States.

The Westin Chicago River North is located in the heart of downtown, on the Chicago River. Many attractions are walkable from the Westin, and others are a short cab/Uber/Lyft ride.

With so much to see and do in Chicago, we thought a little guidance might help you decide.

Exhibits:

Thrills:

  • Set yourself a 1,353-foot challenge: The Ledge (glass floor and all) at Skydeck, Willis Tower. Four states are visible from the Skydeck – Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
  • TILT over the city at 360 Chicago observation deck
  • See fireworks and a 196-foot Ferris wheel rule the skies at Navy Pier all year round.

Millennium Park:

Millennium Park boasts one of the most impressive collections of public art in the world. Chicago’s iconic sculpture Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) takes the top spot, but there are more artful surprises to be found in Millennium Park — from a pair of water-spouting digital fountains to a Frank Gehry-designed showstopper, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Make sure to have your camera ready!

CLOUD GATE (AKA “THE BEAN”): Cloud Gate is renowned British artist Anish Kapoor’s first public, outdoor work installed in the United States. Shaped like a seamless oval and made from highly polished stainless steel plates, the structure provides a distorted reflection of the city skyline and mirrors gawking visitors. The 12-foot-high arch at the structure’s base provides a “gate” for park lovers to walk through and take pictures under. Measuring 66 feet in length and standing more than 30 feet high, Cloud Gate is one of the largest sculptures of its kind in the world.

JAY PRITZKER PAVILION: Frank Gehry’s one-of-a-kind, Deconstructivist performance stage is breathtaking. Standing 120 feet high, with a flowing crown of stainless steel ribbons, the pavilion delivers the ultimate outdoor concert experience. Complete with 4,000 fixed seats and room for an additional 7,000 on the lawn, it’s a popular attraction for entertainment-hungry Chicagoans and visitors. The sound system is designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor theater, with a steel framework that extends from the stage through the lawn. The state-of-the-art system distributes sound equally throughout the space. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts free concerts, film screenings and events including throughout the year.

LURIE GARDEN: Chicago is often referred to as a “City in a Garden.” It alludes to Chicago’s swampy marsh beginnings and ultimate transformation into a world-class city. To ensure the city stays true to its roots (no pun intended), Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel designed Lurie Garden, a 5-acre, award-winning masterpiece in botanical landscaping. In spring, perennials and bulbs cultivate together like a city skyline of blossoms and buds. In summer, visitors are engrossed with a dramatically lit, 15-foot-high “shoulder” hedge, which pays a vegetal homage to Chicago’s “City of Big Shoulders” nickname. The ornamental grasses of winter capture snow and ice, forming elegant sculptures in nature. In fact, more than 120,000 bulbs have been planted at the garden since 2006. The 250+ types of perennials and bulbs give the garden great diversity, and create a haven for wildlife — over 60 species of birds have been identified on the grounds.

CROWN FOUNTAIN: Containing two, 50-foot towers that project facial images of Chicago citizens, the Crown Fountain is one of the city’s most recognizable public art.works During summer days, visitors can cool off by wading in the structure’s reflecting pool. Or, if they’re daring enough, by taking a stroll under the fountains’ cascading waterfalls.

Museums

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist visiting the city for the weekend or a local pondering how to spend a day off—Chicago’s museums are can’t-miss destinations. There’s no shortage of world-class institutions throughout our neighborhoods, including collections dedicated to contemporary art, natural history and science that are among the best attractions in Chicago. Below is a little bit about each of the best museums (there are plenty of additional museums throughout the city):

  • The Art Institute of Chicago houses the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art outside the Louvre.
  • Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere (stand in the midst of a tornado, climb into a U-boat, explore a mine — and that’s just for starters).
  • The Field Museum is home to Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur to roam the Earth. Feed sharks, encounter penguins and be a Trainer for a Day
  • At The Shedd Aquarium, you can Feed sharks, encounter penguins, and be a Trainer for a Day as you overlook the waters of Lake Michigan.
  • View the stars (and even sleep under them) at the lakefront Adler Planetarium.

Chicago is also home to museums that document and celebrate African-American heritage, Jewish tradition, Mexican art, Lithuanian culture, Ukrainian history, Puerto Rican culture, military history, maritime history, and even an American Writer’s Museum — the very first of its kind. And for art lovers, the city’s gallery districts, from River North to Pilsen, give insight into both art history and the contemporary creative scene.

Wrigley Field

Few will argue the distinctive features found in and around Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. A ride on the “L” will likely be the easiest way to get to “Wrigleyville”. While the Cubs will open the 2019 season on the road in Texas, you might be interested in a Wrigley Field Tour – https://www.mlb.com/cubs/ballpark/tours#daily-tours

Food

It’s hard to visit Chicago and not be drawn to the incredible variety and experiences when it comes to restaurants and food! And if you talk with anyone who’s been to Chicago, they will all have their opinions on the “best of the best” (When it comes to pizza, it’s Lou Malnati’s versus Giordano’s versus Gino’s East versus so many others!). So, for true recommendations, ask a local and don’t be afraid to try something new. But, for starters, here’s what we’ve got for you:

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 828-9800

Giordano’s

130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

(312) 616-1200

Gino’s East River North

500 N LaSalle Dr, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 988-4200

RPM Steak

66 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 284-4990

Chicago Cut Steakhouse

300 N LaSalle Dr, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 329-1800

River Roast

315 N LaSalle Dr, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 822-0100

Tanta Chicago

118 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 222-9700

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

218 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 624-8154

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

60 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 379-5637

Theater & Comedy

For Broadway shows, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com. The Broadway theaters are all near the Westin. In addition, Chicago has several critically acclaimed regional theaters with dramatic and musical productions. For information about the Goodman, Lookingglass and Steppenwolf theaters, please contact our concierge desk.

The Second City sketch comedy and Zanies stand-up comedy clubs are both terrific.

Keep checking back on this page as the Local Arrangements Committee will continue to add our favorites spots around town!

For more information and links, visit www.ChooseChicago.com.