Fancy a visit to the Windy City? Chicago, Illinois is attracting record numbers of people – with more than 50 million flocking there every year – and it's easy to see why.
If you're set to join the ever-growing crowd, here are 12 fun things to do in Chicago.
Reflect on Life with ‘The Bean'
Quite possibly the coolest public sculpture going, Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate is widely known as The Bean on account of its distinctive shape.
This Stainless Steel structure – the highlight of the excellent Millennium Park – offers a unique reflection of the surrounding skyscraper-strewn skyline, making it the perfect place for a fun picture.
Enjoy the Attractions at the Navy Pier
Mere yards away from the skyscrapers is the Navy Pier.
Buzzing with attractions, this is the number one leisure attraction in the Midwest, with nine million visitors every year.
From the Chicago Children's Museum to the Ferris wheel, IMAX theater, and boat rides into Lake Michigan — this is a must for the young and young at heart.
Soak up the Sun on the Beaches
What's that? Beaches? Yep, there's plenty of chances to hit the sand and soak up the sun along the banks of Lake Michigan in Chicago.
North Avenue Beach is one of the most popular, with the chance to play volleyball or hire a bike or jet ski from here.
The beach house is in the style of an ocean liner and should cater for all your refreshment needs.
Oakwood Beach plays host to festivals, while Montrose Beach is a little more relaxed and fashionable with dog walkers.
Marvel at the Amazing Views at 360 Chicago
This attractive city – so full of skyscrapers – is best viewed from above, probably from 360 Chicago.
This is the new name for the observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, and it is perfectly poised to gaze out over Lake Michigan and the Magnificent Mile.
Save plenty of space on your camera; you'll need it for this.
There's also the chance to try the TILT, a section of the tower than leans out to a 30-degree angle over Michigan Avenue.
And Take a Trip up the Willis Tower
What? Another tower?
Yes, even though the 360 gives you the best views of the city, the Willis Tower needs to be on your list too.
Formerly (and still by traditionalists) known as the Sears Tower, this 110-story giant is the second tallest building in the country.
Best of all is The Ledge, a heart-pounding experience in which you can step out into glass boxes that extend out from the 103rd floor and look straight down 1,353 feet to the street below.
Tuck into the World's Best Pizza
The pizza may have started in Italy, but it has been perfected in Chicago.
Once you've tried one of the city's famed deep-dish pizzas, you will never look back, and no visit is complete without one.
Pizzeria Uno is credited with creating the deep-dish style while Giordano's has also spread the gospel far and wide across the country, and both deliver the goods.
Pequod's Pizza, in N. Clybourn Ave, is an award-winning alternative, and its caramelized crust is guaranteed to please.
Relax in Lincoln Park
A short hop north of Downtown is the seven-mile-long Lincoln Park.
Within the park is a 35-acre zoo which is entirely free to enter – making it a great budget trip for a family – as well as sports facilities, beaches, parkland, gardens, public art, and the Chicago History Museum.
With an extensive list of attractions, it's no wonder that this attracts 20 million visitors every year.
Visit the Iconic Chicago Theatre
No Chicago photo album is complete without a picture at the iconic Chicago Theatre. Situated in N State Street, the venue's marquee has become something of a symbol of the Windy City and is a regular feature in film, TV, and art.
There's no need to stop at the photo, though; pop inside for a play, concert, comedy or magic show.
Shop 'til You Drop on the Magnificent Mile
The beating heart of the city, the Magnificent Mile, is host to virtually every world-leading retailer, along with photo-friendly landmarks such as the old Chicago Water Tower or the Tribune Tower.
Many of the best hotels in Chicago are found in and around the ‘Mag Mile,' and you can rest assured that being close to here ensures you stay close to the action.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Chicago has a proud sporting pedigree – with teams in all five major pro sports – so you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to getting a slice of the action.
For us, nothing quite tops the Wrigley Field. The ‘friendly confines' is home to the Cubs and is a truly iconic ballpark.
Soak in the Culture at the Art Institute
If culture is what you're after, then there are plenty of museums to feed your passion.
Best of all is the Art Institute Chicago in Grant Park.
Famous works include Picasso's The Old Guitarist and Grant Wood's American Gothic, while this year's exhibitions see Whistler's Mother return to Chicago for the first time in more than 60 years.
Laugh the Night Away
If you fancy a laugh while you're in town, then head to The Second City in N Wells Street.
Since it was established back in the 50s, this has developed a reputation as one of the most influential comedy venues in the world – helping to foster the talents of such stars like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and John Candy.
It promises guaranteed laughs to cap off a fun day in the Windy City.
Comedy, culture, views, shopping, sports. Chicago has a lot. Make sure you plan to see as much as you can.
This story was brought to you in partnership with Trip.com.
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Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.