One Day in Chicago Itinerary – Top things to do in Chicago, US

Chicago is one of the most vibrant cities in the world – combining an eclectic mix of sports, architecture, music, food and art. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the towering skyscrapers stand proudly over the beaches of Lake Shore Drive and the outdoor spaces of Millennium Park. Whether you want to enjoy a hot dog in the outfield at a Cubs game or visit the world renowned Art Institute of Chicago, this city provides unlimited activities for even the most discerning traveler. You could never see all of Chicago in a single day but this itinerary will take you to the top destinations.

One day in Chicago itinerary

 

Guest post by Deborah Janowski
Blog: Relaxed Nomad

 

What’s the best time to visit Chicago?

Chicago is known as the windy city and winter means it can be very, very cold, so the best time to visit Chicago is during the summer when the weather is a beautiful eighty degrees and sunny – and the outdoor parks and streets are alive with activity.

 

What’s good to know about Chicago?

Chicago is very compact so the majority of sights are located in the downtown area which makes it easy to see a lot in a short period. North of Wacker Drive is where you can find most of the stores and restaurants of Michigan Avenue and south of Wacker Drive is Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago and Soldier Field.

Millenium Park in Chicago
Millenium Park, Author: Vincent Desjardins, Photo source: Flickr

 

One Day in Chicago Itinerary

Top things to do in Chicago, US

Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Chicago.

 

Millennium Park, Art Institute of Chicago

Begin your morning by walking Millennium park. This park is home to the Buckingham Fountain, the Cloud Gate sculpture (often referred to as The Bean), large outdoor modern sculptures and gardens.

After touring the park, The Art Institute of Chicago is located at the southern end. The museum houses some of the most famous works of art in the world including Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. After perusing the art, The Gage across the street is a local favorite for lunch complete with Scottish Eggs and Poutine Fries.

Chicago Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate, Author: Bosc d’Anjou, Photo source: Flickr

 

Wrigley Field

If you like sports, you may want to try to head a bit north to visit historic Wrigley Field and catch a Cubs game on a beautiful afternoon. The stadium is home to a number of Chicago staples including craft sausages, hot dogs and buffalo chicken fries. And Chicago fans are typically very welcoming and happy to talk with visitors about their love of the city and their home teams.

 

Architectural Boat Tour

Or, if you don’t particularly like baseball or there is not a game in town the day you are visiting, you can take one of the many architectural boat tours in the harbor of Lake Michigan to learn about the history and sights of the Chicago skyline from the water while enjoying the cool Summer breeze.

Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
Architectural Boat Tour, Author: Kimberly Vardeman, Photo source: Flickr

 

Hancock Tower, Michigan Avenue

Many visitors will visit the Skydeck where you can purchase tickets to stand in a glass outcropping to see the entire Chicago area from the top of the Sears Tower. However, locals prefer to visit the Hancock Tower and the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor. As the sun begins to set, you can enjoy a glass of wine while enjoying a 180 degree view from your own table. Before or after visiting the tower, there is also time to stroll along the famed Michigan Avenue which is always crowded with visitors from around the world and a large number of boutiques and stores.

Signature Lounge Hanckok Tower Chicago
Signature Lounge View, Author: Adam James, Photo source: Flickr

 

Dining

Like any major city, there are simply too many places to eat in Chicago to pick just one. If you want to enjoy a Chicago pizza, you can stop at any of the pizza locations in the Michigan Avenue area. We won’t recommend one over the other (Lou Malnati’s, Pizzeria Uno, Bartoli’s, etc.) as that would simply lead to an argument with most Chicagoans over which is the best.

If you want something unique, you can enjoy dinner at the RL restaurant right around the corner from the Hancock Tower. The RL Restaurant is attached to Ralph Lauren’s signature store and specializes in burgers and corned beef.

If you want something more lively, you can head over to Gibson’s on Rush Street by cab and either sit around the piano singing songs with the locals or head upstairs for a steak dinner.

 

Blues Music

After dinner, no trip would be complete without enjoying live Chicago blues music. This can entail a trip south to Buddy Guy’s Legends by Millennium Park. Or north to Kingston Mines in Lincoln Park. But whichever way you travel, cabs are plentiful and rides are short.

 

Where to stay in Chicago?

Park Hyatt Chicago

Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Park Hyatt Chicago features sophistication and luxury for both business and leisure travelers. The interior decor combines timeless elegance with prominent art and modern amenities.

Book here
Park Hyatt Chicago
Park Hyatt Chicago 

Aloft Chicago City Center

The Aloft Chicago City Center is a modern boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown Chicago’s in trendy River North neighborhood. It features a modern fitness center and business center, as well as the lounge with a pool table. It’s walking distance to Millennium Park and many other popular sights.

Book here
Aloft Chicago City Center
Aloft Chicago City Center

Kinzie Hotel

Kinzie Hotel is an upscale boutique hotel located in Chicago’s River North district, only a short walk to the famous Magnificent Mile.  Hotel features fully designed, bright and modern rooms for a perfectly comfortable stay for all types of travelers.

Book here
Kinzie Hotel
Kinzie Hotel

Hostel Stay

Chicago Getaway Hostel and HI Chicago Hostel are two of the best hostels in the city, perfect for the young travelers who want to socialize with others and meet fellow travelers.  You can still be close to the city center and all the great sights without spending a fortune on the accommodation.

Book here
Chicago Getaway Hostel
Chicago Getaway Hostel
Book here
HI Chicago Hostel
HI Chicago Hostel

Find the Best Hotel Deals in Chicago

 

Extra tips for visiting Chicago

– We recommend against using a rental car. Parking in Chicago is difficult and taxis are everywhere and very convenient, so it is quite easy to walk and catch a quick ride anywhere in the city.

– Traffic to and from the airports in Chicago can be very congested so plan your trips accordingly.

– Make your trip to Chicago even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for all the activities and organized tours in Chicago or around the area. Make sure to purchase your tickets to all the attractions right away to skip the queues.

 

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MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED

Here are some of the top travel items you must bring to your next trip. These items will make your trip a lot more relaxing and you’ll surely get rid of some extra hassle.

Make sure to travel light, safe and stylish following our travel item guide for 2018.

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Deborah Janowski
Travel Blogger at

Deborah runs the travel website, RelaxedNomad, which specializes in sharing itineraries, notes and travel plans for entire areas of the country and road trips. One of her goals is to make traveling easier for families while finding truly unique activities in unusual places.

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