Windy City Wonders: Exploring Chicago’s Top Landmarks

Windy City Wonders: Exploring Chicago’s Top Landmarks

Mortgage Broker
Alex MacLagan
Published on October 29, 2023
Chicago's Top Landmarks

Windy City Wonders: Exploring Chicago’s Top Landmarks

Greetings blog readers! Alex MacLagan the Mortgage Doctor. Today I’m taking a break from my usual money-saving tips to highlight some of the Chicago’s top landmarks and attractions that make this city such a gem. As a Windy City resident myself, I’m excited to share insider recommendations on must-see sites that captures the city’s history, culture, sports, food scene, and architecture. Grab your walking shoes and join me on this virtual tour of Chi-town’s iconic landmarks!

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No trip to Chicago is complete without strolling down the famous Magnificent Mile. This vibrant 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue features high-end shops, luxury hotels, fine restaurants, and scenic river and skyline views. Some highlights along the Mag Mile include:

  • Water Tower Place – This 8-story vertical mall houses 100+ stores and eateries. Be sure to snap a pic in front of the historic Chicago Water Tower out front.
  • John Hancock Center – Visit the 94th floor observation deck for panoramic vistas of Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan.
  • Chicago Sports Museum – Diehard sports fans will love the interactive exhibits detailing Chicago’s rich sports history. 
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck – Formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, this site on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center offers breathtaking 360-degree views.

Millennium Park

Chicago’s front yard, Millennium Park spans 24.5 acres in the Loop area. Some iconic attractions here include:

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  • Cloud Gate (The Bean) – Don’t miss the chance to snap a selfie by this gleaming 110-ton stainless steel public sculpture reflecting the Chicago skyline.
  • Crown Fountain – Kids love splashing in the water at this interactive video fountain with giant LED screens.
  • Jay Pritzker Pavilion – Catch a free concert at this Frank Gehry-designed outdoor amphitheater.
  • Lurie Garden – Relax amid the vibrant flowers and plantings in this serene urban oasis.

Willis Tower Skydeck

Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the 110-story Willis Tower was once the world’s tallest building. Today it still offers incredible views from the Skydeck on the 103rd floor. Here you can:

  • Step out onto the Ledge’s glass boxes extending 4.3 feet outside the skyscraper 1,353 feet up. Don’t look down if you’re scared of heights!
  • Snap pics on the transparent ledge from unparalleled vantage points.
  • Take in panoramic views of Chicago’s skyline and beyond.
  • Learn about Willis Tower’s design and history at interactive exhibits.

Navy Pier

Jutting 3,000 feet out into Lake Michigan, Navy Pier offers endless entertainment. Key highlights include:

  • Rides – Thrill seekers will love the 200-foot Centennial Wheel, while kids can tackle 18 holes on the miniature golf course.
  • Shops & restaurants – With 50+ shops and eateries, you’ll find something for everyone. Don’t miss Garrett Popcorn!
  • Chicago Children’s Museum – Kids can climb a schooner, excavate dinosaur bones, and more at this interactive museum.
  • IMAX Theater & Funhouse Maze – Catch a flick on the six-story screen or get lost in the indoor maze.
  • Fireworks – Catch weekly fireworks shows in the summer synchronized to music.

Wrigley Field

No trip to Chicago is complete without visiting the iconic 1914 Wrigley Field, home of MLB’s beloved Cubs. Even non-baseball fans will appreciate the vintage ballpark’s old-school charm and lively atmosphere. Must-dos include:

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  • Take a stadium tour and walk through the dugouts.
  • Grab a dog and beer and cheer on the Cubbies from the bleachers.
  • Snap selfies with the iconic vintage red marquee and statues of Ernie Banks and Harry Caray.
  • Stop by the adjacent Wrigleyville neighborhood before or after the game for drinks, eats and shopping.

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Chicago Sports History

In addition to Wrigley Field, Chicago has an incredibly rich sports history across venues including:

  • Soldier Field – This lakeside stadium has been home to the NFL’s Chicago Bears since 1971. Football fans can take a tour even on non-game days.
  • United Center – See the NBA’s Bulls and NHL’s Blackhawks battle it out in this arena that opened in 1994.
  • Guaranteed Rate Field – Catch an MLB game or tour at the home of the Chicago White Sox since 1991.
  • Chicago Stadium – Though demolished in 1995, this major stadium hosted everything from boxing matches to political conventions during its 72-year run.
  • Comiskey Park – The White Sox played at this historic ballpark from 1910 to 1990. Explore exhibits and the field at the adjacent Guaranteed Rate Field.

Sports enthusiasts visiting Chicago have no shortage of historic venues and memories to experience!

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Art Institute of Chicago

This world-class art museum houses over 300,000 works spanning a variety of genres and time periods. Some must-sees include:

  • Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – See this famous pointillist painting in person.
  • Monet paintings – View over 30 works by the famed Impressionist.
  • The Bean – Yes, there’s a miniature replica of Cloud Gate in the museum’s Modern Wing.
  • Chagall’s America Windows – Don’t miss this stunning stained glass art installation.
  • The Thorne Miniature Rooms – Get up close to these intricately detailed miniature interiors spanning distinct historic periods.

Chicago Cultural Center

This Chicago landmark building houses dynamic free exhibits, events, and concerts within its ornate spaces. Visitors can:

  • Marvel at the world’s largest Tiffany stained glass dome in Preston Bradley Hall.
  • Check out rotating art exhibitions.
  • Take a free docent-led tour of the building Wed-Sun.
  • Catch a free lunchtime concert.
  • Explore the two-story museum gift shop stocked with Chicago-themed goodies.

Lincoln Park & Zoo

Lincoln Park spans over 1,200 acres along Lake Michigan and encompasses a free zoo, conservatory, beaches, sports fields, and more. Must-see attractions include:

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  • Lincoln Park Zoo – This free 35-acre zoo houses animals like lions, polar bears, gorillas and more in habitat environments.
  • Lincoln Park Conservatory – Step into warm tropics year-round in one of the nation’s oldest conservatories, and don’t miss the seasonal flower shows.
  • North Avenue Beach – Dig your toes in the sand at this picturesque city beach.
  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Hand-feed parakeets and explore lush butterfly and turtle exhibits.

Field Museum of Natural History

Chicago’s premier natural history museum houses diverse collections covering anthropology, botany, geology, zoology and more. Key exhibits include:

  • Sue the T. rex – See this massive 67-million-year-old fossil, one of the world’s best preserved dino skeletons.
  • Inside Ancient Egypt – Explore Egyptian mummies, tombs, and artifacts.
  • The Cyrus Tang Hall of China – Journey through ancient Chinese culture and the Terracotta Warriors.
  • Evolving Planet – Travel through 4 billion years of life on Earth via fossils and dinosaur skeletons.

Museum Campus – The Field Museum is part of Chicago’s museum campus, also home to the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Buy a pass to visit all three!

That wraps up just a sliver of Chicago’s top landmarks and attractions that make it such an amazing city to explore! Let me know in the comments if you have any other favorite Windy City destinations I should check out. I’m always on the hunt for new Chicago experiences – though with so many options, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. If you’re looking to buy or refinance a home in the Chicago area, be sure to get in touch with Alex MacLagan and his team to find the best rates and start turning the Windy City into your home!

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