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The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend

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What are the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend?

Chicago is the most populated city in the state of Illinois – and there is plenty to offer for almost everyone to enjoy. A trip to Chicago is perfect during all times of the year, and a weekend in Chicago is a great way to spend it. Read on to find out all of the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend!

Tourism in Chicago-overview

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend

Before we get into the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend, lets first take a look at the tourism industry in Chicago.

Tourism in Chicago is very popular, as Chicago is a well-known destination all over the world! It is most known for its stunning architecture and, of course, its infamous deep-dish style of pizza. Chicago is the third most populous city in the USA, after New York City and Los Angeles, meaning that there are plenty of great things to do in Chicago.

Chicago tourism is most popular for domestic travellers; however, inbound tourism is still very popular. For example, in 2014, Chicago attracted 50.17 million domestic tourists and 1.308 million inbound tourists – which is a very impressive amount. Chicago is also a very popular destination for business travellers, as it’s known as an international hub for finance, culture, technology and more. In fact, in 2014, Chicago hosted 11.09 million business travellers – so if you’re visiting Chicago, you can be sure to run into a few rich business people!

One of the most famous attractions in Chicago is called Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean. It was created by Anish Kapoor, an Indian-born British artist – who you may also know from his famous Vantablack controversy. The Bean is a big metal sculpture that was inspired by liquid mercury and is a great place to take photos due to it acting as a big mirror.

Additionally, the Chicago River is another hotspot for tourism in Chicago, as there are plenty of interesting river tours to go on. It’s hard to visit Chicago and not go on a river tour! Chicago is a great destination to visit for all types of tourists, so what are you waiting for?

Things you must pack when visiting Chicago

When thinking about what are the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend, it is also important to consider what items you will need to pack. If you’re visiting Chicago for the weekend, then don’t forget to pack these essential items:

  • DK Eyewitness Top 10 Chicago Pocket Guide – This handy little book will help you become very confident when exploring Chicago for the weekend – and you’ll even learn all the best tips and tricks too! You will be able to get to know the city and everything that it has to offer. What’s more, is that there are also lots of hidden gems included too, which you might never know otherwise!
  • Universal Travel Adapter – If you travel a lot, then this universal travel adapter will be a lifesaver, especially when you’re an inbound tourist to Chicago. This adapter is compatible with over 180 different countries, so you’ll most likely be using it more than once, making it a great investment!
  • Women’s Lightweight Trainers – These stylish trainers are the perfect shoes to wear whilst visiting Chicago, as it’s likely that you’ll do a lot of walking whilst you’re there! The trainers are made out of breathable, non-slip material, which makes them great for exploring the city. Additionally, as they’re lightweight, they fantastic for packing in your luggage without taking up much space or weighing it down.
  • RockJock Ladies Warm Chunky Hat – Although Chicago is really warm in the summer, the winter months there can be freezing cold! Therefore, this super cosy chunky hat is ideal for keeping you as warm as possible in the cold Chicago weather. There is a wide range of colours to choose from, so there will be something to suit everyone’s tastes.

The best places to stay in Chicago

Booking.com

If you are researching the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend, then you will probably also be looking for somewhere to stay. There are plenty of great places to stay in Chicago, here are my top picks:

Budget

  • Hotel Chicago West Loop – Featuring complimentary WiFi, comfortable beds, a flat-screen TV, a coffee machine, a microwave and a work desk, a stay here is great for a weekend in Chicago. There is a 24-hour front desk, as well as a 24-hour fitness centre and private parking. This hotel is a great place to stay, whatever your reason for travel is.
  • Ohio House Motel – Conveniently located in downtown Chicago, this hotel is just 1.5 miles away from Navy Pier and other attractions. In addition to this, there is free parking available to guests, free WiFi, and each room has a cable TV and a desk. It’s a great place to rest whilst you’re doing all the best things to do in Chicago for a weekend!
  • Gateway Inn – This inn offers a seating area in all rooms, a satellite TV, air-conditioning, a desk, as well as a private bathroom complete with free toiletries. There is a 24-hour front desk, as well as family rooms that are available. It is great value for money in Chicago, especially if you’re on a budget.

Mid-range

  • Hotel Julian Chicago – Centrally located near some of the most major sites in Chicago, such as Millennium Park and The Bean, this hotel is great value for money. There is a refrigerator in each room, as well as a desk, a flat-screen TV and an en-suite bathroom. . Each morning, a hearty American breakfast is available, and there is also an oon-site steakhouse restaurant too.
  • Hotel Felix – Featuring natural decor in each room, a flat-screen TV, a work desk and an iPod docking station, a stay here will be one that you will enjoy. It is an eco-friendly hotel and is within walking distance of all of the major attractions and shops. Additionally, pets are also allowed, which can be great if you’re travelling with your dog!
  • River Hotel – The River Hotel offers free WiFi, premium bedding, a flat-screen TV, and some rooms even have a kitchenette or a seating area. It is situated in an excellent location and just across the road from the river. Additionally, there is a concierge, a full-quipped gym, room service and even 3 meeting rooms for business travellers.

High end

  • La Quinta by Wyndham Chicago – This hotel features beautifully decorated rooms, complete with a premium cable TV, a work desk, a refrigerator and even room service. Each morning, a complimentary breakfast is served to guests, and guests are free to make use of the fitness centre and meeting rooms. Furthermore, there are lots of transportation options nearby, making your trip to Chicago go as smoothly as possible.
  • Congress Plaza Hotel – Situated in the heart of Chicago, this hotel has everything you will need for your stay in Chicago. There are stunning lake views and city views on offer, as well as a fitness centre and on-site dining. All rooms come with a cable TV, large bathrooms, a coffee machine and a work desk. Additionally, some rooms even have separate living areas if you would like some extra space.
  • Warwick Allerton Chicago – Boasting gorgeously designed rooms, complete with a flat-screen TV, work desk and en-suite with luxury amenities, a stay here is guaranteed to be amazing. The hotel is situated in downtown Chicago, meaning that it is close to a lot of the attractions and shops. Additionally, there is even a 24-hour fitness suite and an on-site restaurant with plenty of mouth-water options to choose from.

Things to do in Chicago for the weekend

There are so many great things to do in Chicago that I have broken them down into categories for you, keep scrolling to learn more…

Things to do in Chicago for the weekend for free

What are the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend that don’t cost any money? If you’re looking to save some money, then check out the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend for free:

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend
  • Chicago Cultural Centre – This stunning building boasts so much that it’s almost a bit shocking that entry is free! You are able to take historical tours to learn about the building or visit one of the fantastic events that take place here, such as Jazz and Blues concerts, dance performances, theatre shows and more. It’s a must-visit when in Chicago.
  • Clarke House Museum – Originally built in 1836, today, this is the oldest house in Chicago. Visitors are able to experience what life was like for someone living in the early years of Chicago and learn all about its history. The house itself has also gone through a lot, such as experiencing a fire and being relocated twice. It’s a great place to visit if you’re a history lover.
  • Ed Paschke Art Centre – Take in and try to interpret the large collection of Ed Paschke art that is on display at the Ed Paschke Art Centre. It’s one of the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend for free and can be entertaining for everyone to enjoy. Often, there are other exhibitions featured as well, meaning that there’s always something new to be explored, even if you’ve been before.

Things to do in Chicago Chinatown

the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend if China Town is your thing? Chicago Chinatown has so much to offer! Here are the best things to do in Chicago Chinatown:

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend
  • Chicago’s Chinatown Food and Walking Tour – Get to know everything that Chicago’s Chinatown has to offer on this fantastic food and walking tour. You will have the opportunity to try some delicious dishes and learn all about the best-hidden gems in Chicago’s Chinatown. On the tour, you will be guided by a friendly local who will help you choose the best dishes for you to try.
  • Chinese American Museum of Chicago – Learn all about various different aspects of Chinese culture and get to experience different exhibitions, such as one titled, ‘Great Wall to Great Lakes: Chinese Immigration to the Midwest’, which is all about how people from China migrated to Chicago in the past. The museum is free to enter; however, donations are very appreciated.
  • Tom Ping Memorial Park – There are plenty of great things to do at Tom Ping Memorial Park. For instance, you could participate in a Dragon Boat ride, or simply just relax and enjoy the nature and scenery this park provides. There are great facilities available, such as a pavilion, children’s park, indoor swimming and much more. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Chicago Chinatown.

Things to do in Chicago for families

What are the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend for families? Chicago with kids is always a good idea! If you’re visiting Chicago for the weekend as a family, then check out the best things to do in Chicago for families:

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend
  • 360 Chicago Observation Deck – This 360 Chicago Observation Deck is a great family-friendly activity to do in Chicago. Here, you will get an unbeatable bird’s eye view of the entire city, and kids will love to spot all of the famous landmarks from above. There is even free WiFi and a place to get a snack and a drink if you’d like, making it the perfect activity for families.
  • Chicago-Lincoln Park Indoor Skydiving with 2 Flights & Personalised Certificate – Indoor skydiving is one of the best things to do in Chicago for families, as it’s exciting for everyone! It’s something to do in all types of weather and will be guaranteed to make some amazing and funny memories whilst you try and get the hang of how to do it.
  • Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Tour – If you’re visiting Chicago as a family, then this hop-on hop-off bus tour is an ideal way to sightsee Chicago, especially if you have kids who don’t want to walk a lot. You will be able to get on and off at any destination that you feel like and will even get a live commentary about the sites along the way – making it great value for money.

Things to do in Chicago in the summer

What are the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend in the summer? If you’re lucky enough to visit Chicago for the weekend in the summer months, then have a look at doing these amazing activities:

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend
  • Chicago Architecture River Cruise Guided Tour – You can’t visit Chicago without going on one of its famous architecture river cruises! Along the tour, you will come to understand the history of Chicago’s skyline and learn some fun facts at the same time. The views that you will come across on this tour will be spectacular, and you definitely won’t regret it.
  • Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus – This brewery barrel bus is one of the best things to do in Chicago in the summer if you want to do something a little bit different. You’ll get to try lots of different types of craft beer whilst onboard the bus, as well as a visit to a brewery to see how everything is made too! It’s one of the best things to do for people who are interested in Chicago’s craft beer scene!
  • Gangsters and Ghosts Tour in Chicago – Chicago is notorious for having lots of gangster stories that have happened there in the past, as well as its ghost stories. Come and find out for yourself during this very interesting tour, where you will learn about things you never even knew could happen in the streets of Chicago. It’s perfect for those who love all things true crime, as well as for those who are interested in paranormal activity.

Things to do in Chicago for Christmas

What are the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend at Christmas time? Chicago for Christmas is a great way to spend the festive season as there are so many things to do in Chicago for Christmas, so consider doing these great activities to get you in the spirit:

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend
  • Navy Pier Winter WonderFest – Get in the Christmas spirit at Navy Pier’s annual Winter WonderFest event. Here, you will get to experience so many festive-themed things, such as delicious food, amazing live music, and thrilling rides. It’s one of the best things to do in Chicago for Christmas, and will be sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!
  • Helicopter Tour – Downtown Chicago – Chicago often snows around the holiday period; therefore, you should treat yourself to this once-in-a-lifetime helicopter tour to see the Christmas lights and snow sparkle all over Chicago. It’s one of the best ways to see Chicago, and you will remember this experience forever.
  • Chicago Holiday Lights Segway Tour with Christkindlmarket – Do something different this Christmas in Chicago, and try this Segway tour out. On this tour, you’ll visit all of the best Christmas light displays that Chicago has to offer, and then you’ll also stop at one of the best Christmas markets in Chicago – Christkindlmarket. At this market, you’ll be able to buy some handmade gifts for Christmas, as well as try some warming, tasty food.

Things to do in Chicago on a rainy day

What are the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend if it’s raining? The weather can’t always be great all the time, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing Chicago to its fullest! Here are the best things to do in Chicago on a rainy day:

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend
  • Chicago Food Tour: Deep Dish Pizza, Beer, Brownies, and More – What’s something better to do on a rainy day in Chicago than going on a food tour and trying some of the tastiest food you’ll ever have?! Not much! This Chicago food tour will show you all of the best places to eat in Chicago, and you’ll get to try some mouth-watering food combinations.
  • Chicago BYOB Hands-On Graffiti and Street Art Workshop – If you feel like releasing your creative side for a few hours, then this graffiti and street art workshop will be perfect for you. You will be able to take your finished masterpiece home with you if you’d like, and the workshop is open to people of all skill levels. Additionally, you will also receive plenty of help from the lovely teachers to help make you more confident in your skills.
  • Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theater in Chicago – Experience one of Chicago’s longest-running shows, which is well-known all across the globe. It’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy and is one of the best things to do in Chicago on a rainy day. There are not many other similar experiences, so to do this will be very memorable!

The best things to do in Chicago for the weekend – Conclusion

After reading this post about the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend, hopefully, you’ve been inspired to do some of the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend whilst you’re there. What do you think the best things to do in Chicago for the weekend are? Is there anything that I’ve missed off the list that you think deserves to be on here?

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