Guides

Arts and Culture in Chicago

Hotel search

Whether you've a hankering for high art, rocking music, or laugh out loud comedy, Chicago’s cultural offerings have something to suit every taste. From its iconic skyscrapers to its gleaming art galleries and world-class museums, you won’t be short of things to do and see when in the Windy City.

 

Museums

 

Science centers and stately art galleries are among the top-notch museums Chicago has to offer. The two listed below are among the must-sees when in the city, if only for the sheer size and splendor of their exhibitions.

 

Field Museum of Natural History

 

Behind its Neo-Classical façade, the Field Museum brims with artifacts, relics, and replicas, including gemstones, mummies, and fossils. There’s also a T. Rex named Sue – a 13ft tall skeleton that’s the museum’s crowning glory. She’s hard to miss, and a kids’ favorite, too.

 

1400 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL 60605. Tel: +1 312 922 9410

 

Field Museum of Natural History website

 

Art Institute of Chicago

 

Tucked in the Loop, this is one of the country's largest meccas for the arts, and you'll be surrounded by the works of giants like Renoir, Picasso, and Van Gogh. Look out as well for iconic American images, such as Grant Wood's much-imitated and parodied American Gothic.

 

111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago IL 60603. Tel: +1 312 443 3600

 

Art Institute of Chicago website

 

Landmarks

 

Chicago’s well-known for its skyscrapers – history was made here when the first in the world opened in 1884. No matter where you wander, you’ll notice the original pioneering Chicago Style showcasing simple functional design, among the modern, gleaming glass towers.
Willis Tower

 

You might know this Chicago landmark as the Sears Tower – its more common name – as it was only changed in 2009. A 70-second elevator ride will whizz you to the mind-boggling Skydeck where you can edge out over the city streets below on jutting glass-floored ledges.

 

233 S Wacker Drive, Chicago IL 60606. Tel: +1 312 875 9447

 

Willis Tower website

 

 

Chicago Water Tower

 

Built in 1869, this iconic yellow limestone building was one of the few structures to survive the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Originally part of a water works to provide clean lake water, these days it hosts an exhibition with modern Chicago-themed photos lining the tower’s turreted walls.

 

806 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60611. Tel: +1 312 742 0808

 

Arty hotspots

 

Chicago’s art hubs focus on upmarket River North brimming with high-end galleries, edgy cool West Loop, and Pilsen, home to the city’s folk artists. Alongside these art districts, Chicago’s long embraced public art, with plenty of outdoor sculptures – including one by Picasso – brightening up its streets and parks.

 

Millennium Park

 

This eclectic park at the northwest corner of Grant Park is more like an outdoor design gallery. It’s swathed with gleaming sculptures, including Cloud Gate, the park’s famously smooth silver sculpture by Anish Kapoor. The playful art, frothing Cloud Fountain, and summertime concerts make this a top sunny afternoon hangout spot.

 

201 E Randolph Street, Chicago IL 60602. Tel: +1 312 742 1168

 

Millennium Park website

 

Classical concerts

 

It might be best known for its blues and jazz bars, but Chicago’s classical concert venues showcase renowned musicians and singers, too.Chicago Symphony Orchestra

 

There's no doubt that the CSO is one of America’s best symphony ensembles. If you're in town between September and May, catching one of their epic performances is a must.

 

Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60604. Tel: +1 312 294 3000

 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra website

 

 

Lyric Opera

 

Modern premieres and tried and tested classical operas are put on at the grand Civic Opera House between September and March when this highly esteemed opera company put on their groundbreaking shows.

 

20 N Wacker Drive, Chicago IL 60606. Tel:+1 312 827 5600