Things to Do
Millennium Park - If it's your first time in Chicago, you need to visit our top tourist attraction, the Millennium Park campus. It's the site of one of the city's most famous pieces of public art and best-loved selfie darlings, Cloud Gate (aka "The Bean"). The reflective surface has drawn people to the park since 2006, but there's so much more to see and do.
Waterway Cruises - Some of the best views of Chicago are from the water — the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Whether you want to learn more about the city's history, get the inside scoop on Chicago's rich architectural legacy, watch the fireworks display at Navy Pier, or simply kick back and take in the sights, use this guide to help you pick the best boat tour for you.
Chicago Riverwalk - While you're out and about, soak up the atmosphere at Chicago's award-winning Riverwalk. With public art, restaurants, special events and even kayaking, it's an unmissable part of the Chicago experience,
Art Institute of Chicago - The Art Institute of Chicago houses the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art outside the Louvre.
Shedd Aquarium - One of the world's largest indoor aquariums, visitors to The Shedd will come face to face with aquatic creatures from around the world, from the Caribbean to neighboring Lake Michigan.
Adler Planetarium - Extending out into Lake Michigan from its Museum Campus home, this is America's first planetarium and it has become a recognized leader in science education. Immersive theater programs, special exhibitions and events such as lectures and viewing parties allow you to journey through the vast universe – from the depths of powerful black holes to the heights of Voyager 1, the farthest human-made object from Earth.
Places to Eat
Acadia - With a second star in his Michelin pocket, Chef Ryan McCaskey has proven there's a place for serene chic in the South Loop. But serene doesn't trump the chef's sense of humor. He admits to dancing to the restaurant's cool Indie soundtrack in the kitchen and expresses his love of junk food via riffs on ramen and "Fritos" on your plate. His "pot roast" is not exactly what your mother would have made, either. With five and ten-course tasting menus inspired by the natural landscape, atmosphere and tastes of the Northeastern United States and Maine in particular, Acadia is a restorative pause from the craziness of, say, a long week at nearby McCormick Place Convention Center. Comfort food, reinvented.
Maple & Ash - It was big news in Chicago fine dining when Maple & Ash opened as a swanky, badass 21st-century version of the venerable Chicago steakhouse. In the Gold Coast neighborhood off Mag Mile, it makes sense that Maple & Ash trades in superlatives. Think pink sequined cowboy hats for ladies who order the rib-in steak, caviar "bumps" and champagne super soakers. Plus 650 wines ... by the glass. Downstairs, there's a clubby feel for lunch and libations while upstairs it's a sexy "vampire den," in the evenings, according to sommelier Belinda Chang, who heads up the wine and spirits program. Chang also admits that "our goal is to make guests cry....because they don't want to leave."
Sepia - In a late 19th-century former print shop, Sepia has the, well, sepia-toned feel of a classic. The upscale spot still shines after more than a decade in business. Filled with hand-crafted millwork, burnished brass and vintage stemware make an ideal setting for an intimate meal between friends or business colleagues. Chef Andrew Zimmerman's inventive seasonal menu draws on mostly organic ingredients and Sommelier Arthur Han is a gem of a guide to the restaurant's unique wine list. There's also a quick daily lunch option called the "pinto box" — a riff on the traditional Japanese bento box — for dine in or take out.
Portillo's - Get an original Chicago-style hot dog at Portillo's, where they'll load your dog with mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, sport peppers and a kosher pickle, nestled in a steamed poppy seed bun.
Gene & Georgetti - Opt for a perfectly prepared cut of meat at Chicago's first steakhouse, Gene & Georgetti. Founded in 1941 by Gene Michelotti and his partner Alfredo Federighi, who was nicknamed “Georgetti” after a famous Italian cyclist. Located in the heart of River North, Gene & Georgetti is Chicago’s oldest and one of its finest steakhouses featuring prime aged steaks, chops, chicken vesuvio, Italian specialties and fresh seafood. Partners Gene and “Georgetti” worked hand in hand to establish the reputation of excellence that is continued through today.
Al's Italian Beef - 0rder the famous Italian beef sandwich at Al's Italian Beef — a sandwich stalwart since 1938 — and make sure to get it the Chicago way: loaded with hot and sweet peppers and dipped in "gravy" (beef juice) for an unbelievably juicy, flavorful meal.