College Girl's Travel Guide to Chicago

If you have not been to Chicago yet, I highly recommend texting your girl gang and picking out dates now. Chicago is a beautiful and lively city and definitely worth the visit- especially during the spring/summer months as if can get very cold in the winter time. There's so much to explore and learn about this historic city and it's beautiful architecture.

Here are some of the best and most touristy things to do in Chicago:

  1. 1. Walk alongside the Chicago River Walk

    The Chicago River is just stunning! Make sure to carve out some time to walk alongside the river and even stop by one of the many eateries located on the river walk or pack your own picnic basket. If you are in Chicago during the warm season, I highly recommend purchasing tickets for one of the many architecture river cruises or even renting a kayak or boat to explore the river on your own. 

    My friends and I did the River Architecture Cruise and loved it! Throughout the 75-minute river cruise, we learned about the unique architecture and history of this not so windy city. My advice is to either sign up for an earlier tour or a sunset tour to avoid burning in the sun- also, make sure to wear sunscreen!

  2. 2. See the entire city from SkyDeck Chicago or 360 Observation Deck

    I highly recommend visiting either the SkyDeck Chicago and/or 360 Observation Deck to get a full view of the amazing city and skyline. Each provides a different experience and view of the city. SkyDeck Chicago is located on the 103rd floor of the historic Willis (Sears) Building and has a thrilling glass floor so you can see the city below. 360 Observation Deck is located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center and home of the TILT experience, where you can lean forward into the city.  

  3. 3. Photoshoot at ​Cloud Gate "The BEAN"

    This cool art installation located in the heart of Chicago has become an iconic tourist spot and photoshoot location, giving visitors the perfect view of Chicago's beautiful skyline. The reflective bean shaped piece is most famously known from Chicagoan (that's what people from Chicago proudly call themselves) Kanye West's "Homecoming" music video. 

  4. 4. Enjoy Drinks & a View at ReBar

    I highly recommend making reservations at one of the many rooftop bars overlooking the Chicago River. My friends and I visited the beautiful Trump Hotel for drinks and sushi at ReBar. It was great to sit and relax after a busy day of site-seeing while enjoying the beauitful views of Chicago.

  5. 5. Games and Rides at the Navy Pier

    The pier is a great family-friendly spot to walk around, play some games and go on some rides- including the Centennial Wheel, one of the highest Ferris wheels which was inspired by the world’s first Ferris wheel that debuted at Chicago’s World Fair. The pier is fun both during the daytime and at night, especially since they have a firework show most nights during the summer. We rode the Ferris wheel at night and got to see the entire city and Chicago's beautiful skyline from 200 feet high. I highly recommend purchasing tickets for the Ferris wheel ahead of time from GetYourGuide to avoid waiting in long lines.

  6. 6. Explore the Nightlife

    The nightlife near downtown Chicago is great. There are so many cool spots such as underground tiki bar Three Dots and A Dash or arcade/bar Punch Bowl Social. I would also recommend looking into getting tickets for a comedy show at Second City, magic show at Chicago Magic Lounge, or a performance at the legendary Chicago Theater.

I highly recommend purchasing the Chicago CityPASS as it gives you the most bang for your buck and creating an itinerary before you go to Chicago. For $108 you get tickets to five must see attractions such as the Shedd AquariumSkydeck ChicagoField MuseumAdler Planetarium, and 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. During my trip, I saved my CityPASS on my iPhone so it conveniently notified me when I was near one of their attractions. I also loved that we did not have to wait in the long lines at each attraction since we already had our tickets. CityPass was a great way to save money on my trip and helped me create my itinerary since they have so many attraction options.