Central Attractions

Top 10 Things to Do in Central, Chicago

Top Things to Do in Central

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Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.
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What travellers are saying

  • Jake S
    Alexandria, VA190 contributions
    The 4 of us had a private, guided tour by a VERY knowledgeable guide. We had asked for a tour emphasizing art history and leading us up to the works of Georgia O'keefe. The tour was a full 3 hours and was outstanding. It left a great impression of the cultural richness of Chicago.
    Written 4 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Jane M
    Washington, D.C.229 contributions
    We decided to choose one of the towers to see the bird's eye view of Chicago. The 360 was a fun stop -- chose to do it the morning of our first full day to get a view of everywhere we were going to walk....it was a nice clear day so that helped. We did the Tilt -- it wasn't too crowded so not a long wait. it was fun, even though a bit of the "touristy" side to it. The place has a nice collection of books in the gift shop.
    Written 23 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Carol G
    Hartsdale, NY544 contributions
    It is delightful to see various reflections in "the bean," as most call the cloud gate. It's a modern sculpture that incorporates the visitor into its reflection and shape.
    Written 4 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • techteach678
    Spring Lake, NC5 contributions
    The park and the Bean are clean areas and are well kept. There are many places to shop and eat nearby. Easily accessible with public transportation.
    Written 4 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Jason P
    Lansing, MI745 contributions
    The scope and size of this museum is truly incredible. If you want to see everything, you would need two days. We started at 9 and went until just after 4 and covered about 50% of the exhibits. We were exhausted by the time we decided to stop but kind of sad we didn’t see more.

    The Field museum is one of the largest in the world and has over 40 million items in its collection. What is on display is just a fraction of these items.

    My advice is to go online the night before you go and make a plan on what you want to see. T-Rex Sue, dinosaurs, the hall of gems, and the jade exhibits are on the upper floor. Go to these exhibits first as the top floor is less crowded early in the morning.

    We had the city pass, which gets you into all special ticketed exhibits, plus a 3d movie. The special ticketed exhibits we visited (Tang Hall of China, Jurassic Oceans, and Wild Color) were all good but none of them were can’t miss. If you get the basic admission, I don’t think you will feel like you missed out.

    There are two entrances into the museum. If the main entrance (up the stairs) is too crowded, there is a lesser known East Entrance (on path towards Shedd Aquarium) that will usually have shorter lines. Either way, you still have to go through the ticket line if you have the city pass to get your tickets and choose the 3d movie.

    The 3d movie we chose was about Sue the T Rex and was very good. Line was long for our ticketed show but the theater is huge, so don’t worry about getting a seat. Theater is in the basement along with a cafe.

    Museum cafe wasn’t very good and was quite expensive. Only kids meals options were hot dogs and pizza and they cost around $10. When we were there, the soda machine was broken too.

    They do allow you to bring in your own food and drink, and there are plenty of cafeteria style tables in the basement, so bringing your own food might be a better option. There are also many vending machines by the tables that have snacks and drinks and are reasonably priced.
    Written 3 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Giovanna M
    12 contributions
    My first time in Chicago, but it wont be my last.
    My friends and I absolutely loved the city. It has great food, amazing buildings and last but not least, Sue the dinosaur. I will definitely go again.
    Written 28 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • jlormeau
    Westfield Center, OH176 contributions
    What a fun way to spend a lovely summer evening. Put aside a couple hours take a stroll along the river. This walk provided an opportunity to people watch, have a bite, sip on a beer, or just watch the world go by. My teen daughter really enjoyed it.
    Written 1 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • WeGoOut
    Peabody, MA227 contributions
    This beautiful building is located just across the street from Millennium Park and The Bean. Formerly the Chicago Public Library, the architecture is spectacular. The interior halls are decorated with mosaics and stained glass designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

    In addition to the artwork and historical displays, the Center is a peaceful place to take a break. Best of all, admission is free.
    Written 3 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Jan M
    Mount Dora, FL71 contributions
    This is a meticulously renovated museum that showcases the architecture and decor of a wealthy Golden Age "merchant prince." The sumptuous furnishings are a treat to the eyes, and many were made expressly for the rooms where they are now. It's amazing they were able to save them for over a century. There are opulent Tiffany lamps, stained glass windows, centerpieces, vases, mantle surrounds and more. The walls, fireplaces and parquet flooring is different in every room. Really a gem.
    Written 25 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Jason P
    Lansing, MI745 contributions
    You kind of have to be in the right frame of mind when you visit here. There is more to see and do here than at other large aquariums (National Aquarium in Baltimore or the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta). However, there are also several drawbacks.

    This is Chicago’s most visited attraction and the crowds range from crowded (on weekdays) to call the Fire Marshall (on winter holiday weekends). The building echoes and it will be loud with screaming kids.

    Most of the aquarium dates from the 1930’s, which means the building is beautiful inside but also means you have a lot of small tanks in the galleries and lines can form to see the fish in the tanks.

    The entrance was chaotic even with the city pass. There are two lines but no signs indicating which line was the city pass line. City pass line saved no time because you still have to be in the ticket line to exchange your city pass reservation for tickets and the 4d show selection and time (included with city pass).

    Arrived at 10:05 for a 10:00 reservation city pass time and didn’t get into the aquarium until 10:45 due to the slow moving line. That is unacceptable. Why can’t you get your ticket and pick out the 4d movie time online with your city pass?

    The newer part of the aquarium is a lot easier to maneuver around and has beluga whales, sea otters, and dolphins. It also has a small stadium area where you can see an animal show (whales, otter, or dolphin) every hour on the 1/2 hour; however, they don’t tell you which animal they will be presenting, which is weird.

    Everything here is also expensive. Non resident adult is $40 for admission (if you don’t have the city pass) on top of $30 parking. Public transportation is difficult because the subway/el lines don’t run by the museums. There is a bus you can transfer from at the nearest El stop. There is a food court, which serves ok but expensive food. Had a hot dog and chips for $10 (does not include drinks.)

    Overall, if you have the city pass, and like aquariums, it is worth the hassle to come here. Otherwise, you may want to skip.
    Written 1 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Jane M
    Washington, D.C.229 contributions
    We rented bikes right at the entrance to navy pier and rode almost 20 miles on a really nice day. We headed north on the Lakefront trail (we had already walked the southern section from the fountain to navy pier the day before. The northern section was a nice break as it goes into the residential area of Chicago so was filled with people playing soccer and enjoying boats, golf, volleyball and enjoying the parks -- was a nice afternoon
    Written 23 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • B1714D
    Belgrade, Serbia13,667 contributions
    The Loop refers to two things:
    1. it is the most central part of downtown Chicago encircled by the Chicago river on north and west and Lake Michigan to the east, down to the Field museum on the south.
    2. It is the iconic elevated train system on massive metal structures above the streets circling that area. Consider it ugly or not, it is worldwide unique and seen in so many movies. The only downside is it is not free like in Miami.
    The Loop area boosts with prime city attractions such as the Willis tower, Millennium park with Cloud gate, Art Institute, Buckingham fountain....to name just a few.
    Plan at least a whole day to visit it properly.
    Written 22 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Me_n_my_rucksack
    Yorkshire, UK6,042 contributions
    We made the effort to walk out here and it was worth the effort. Gorgeous fountain with the cityscape behind it makes a glorious photo opportunity and its nice to get out into the fresh air after the "closeness" of the City. Even on a sunny day in late June hardly anyone about either.
    Written 1 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Jason P
    Lansing, MI745 contributions
    Went here on probably one of the busiest days of the year (sunny Saturday before the 4th of July) and had a great experience due to the expedited line.

    The city pass includes the expedited line, which means almost no waiting for the elevator to the top and limited waiting for the ledge. Without city pass or buying the expedited ticket (which starts at $55), you will face waits boarding the elevator to the top and an even longer wait for the ledge on peak days and times.

    The ledge is five glass boxes that extend outside the observation area. You get 60 seconds if you have a party of two or two minutes with a larger size party. There are timers in each ledge and an attendant that keeps track of the time in each ledge. The ledge is included in admission.

    The entire experience took less than an hour due to expedited entry. Sky deck entrance is on the Jackson St side of the building and you actually go down two floors from the lobby to reach the entry. If you have city pass, you don’t need to stop at the ticket booth and can proceed to the expedited line entrance. This is a very well run experience and credit to the employees to making it run smoothly.
    Written 2 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Marcia W
    10 contributions
    Chicago is a beautiful city and the skyline is something to see!
    I'm proud of it and hope soon that safety will return so many can feel safe to come visit and vacation here.
    Written 25 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.