Chicago is a city rich in history with great architecture and other attractions which should keep you busy if you have three days to tour the city. The windy city will never disappoint as long as you know where to go. It is best that you divide the three days for different activities or visits to make the most out of your stay. This is our recommended 3 days in Chicago: travel guide-day 1.
The city has a vibrant arts and culture scene with world-renowned museums, great restaurants for unforgettable culinary adventure and some of the best hotels in the world for affordable and luxurious accommodation and other great attractions.
The best time to visit Chicago and escape the cold weather and hopefully avoid snow is between early June and late September.
These are the places to visits on the first day:
The Navy Pier
The Navy Pier with the Ferris wheel, carnival rides, movie theatre can set the tone for your day 1 tour. It is a fun place to visit for the fun atmosphere and is really the point where most tours begin.
Before you start the main engagement of the day, a tour along the river, walk around this Chicago landmark and maybe take breakfast here before you begin the day.
Read more: 3 Days in Chicago: Travel Guide – Day 2
The architectural tour along the river
A tour along the river is a must for a complete visit to Chicago. whether you are doing a walk or taking a cruise along the river, you have to do it. This is a tour of the architectural history of Chicago and ends at Michigan Avenue from where you can do the short walk to The Art Institute of Chicago.
The tour starts from the Navy Pier and is an ideal way of learning the history of the city as well as exploring the architecture. Learn about the fire of 1871 and how that tragedy that destroyed most of the city made Chicago the birthplace of skyscrapers and gave birth to some of the tallest building in the world and the unique skyline.
A walk, through history, is the best way to begin your visit.
Art Institute of Chicago
Right at the end of the architectural tour along the river, your next stop should be the Art Institute of Chicago. After viewing the iconic Sears Tower (now called Willis Tower), which marks the end of the river tour, walk along Michigan Avenue to the museum.
Chicago has a robust arts and culture scene and the Art Institute is a big part of that. View the art collection and all the other displays before you take a break for lunch. You can choose to eat at the museum restaurants or sample a dish at one of the restaurants nearby.
Eat the ‘Chicago staple’ for lunch- deep dish pizza
Of all the foods you eat in the windy city, ensure that you have a taste of the deep-dish pizza and other local cuisines. There are a lot of eateries serving this Chicagoan pizza- ask for directions to the nearest deep-dish pizza place.
You have done the river tour and eaten the deep-dish pizza, now you can opt for a bus tour through the streets, past all the top Chicago attractions and landmarks you did not see from the water such as Museum Campus, Water Tower Place Mall, Willis Tower etc.
This tor will give a quick orientation and bearing of the city before you start moving around on your own. The beauty is that you will drop off at most of the landmarks for an up-close look and experience.
Situated in Chicago’s Museum Campus, the Shedd Aquarium is a place for both adults and kids and is home to 32,000 fascinating and unique marine creatures from diverse habitats. It is probably the top aquarium in all of USA.
Enjoy the show centered on the rescue & rehabilitation of marine animals and the beautiful sea creatures.
The Field Museum
It is right next to the Shedd Aquarium. The Field Museum is a natural history museum ideal for educational and entertaining tours. With a collection curated over 100 years, this museum has some of the most fascinating and impressive collection of natural science artifacts.
From the preserved remains of the man-eater lions of Tsavo who attacked and fed on scores of the Kenya-Uganda railway builders to the T-Rex (Tyrannosaurus rex) skeleton, Sue, which is the most complete of its kind. Go and see the gemstones and minerals in their collection as well as exhibits of Ancient Egypt. Do not leave without stopping by the Underground Adventure exhibit.
This is another great attraction in the museum campus. The Adler Planetarium nine unique exhibits, the historic Atwood Sphere experience, and several theaters.
You will experience such exhibits as Astronomy in Culture, Planet Explorers and more. This is the space for space science lovers.
Willis Tower (former Sears Tower) Skydeck
There is no better thrill than being on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. This is the tallest building in Chicago from where the glass boxes allow visitors a birds-eye view of the city of Chicago. The view from the glass platform is incredible and is an unforgettable experience.
Read more: 3 Days in Chicago: Travel Guide – Day 3
Millennium Park is an outdoor attraction, with two great outdoor features, the Crown Fountain & the Cloud Gate. The Crown Fountain is the place to cool down. You will be mesmerized by faces lighting up the structures. The Cloud Gate is popular for the reflective surface and is a popular photo spot.
Close day 1 with drinks at a rooftop restaurant……
Cap 3 days in Chicago: travel guide-day 1 with drinks at one of the rooftop restaurants and bars. There is no better way to close the day than with a great view of Lake Michigan and the city’s great skyline.
Get some well-deserved rest and sleep and wake up to day 2.