Things to Do in Chicago, IL


Chicago is a major urban center with something to offer everyone, from the first-time tourist to the return visitor to the lifelong resident. You can swim or boat along the shore of Lake Michigan, visit a museum, sample the produce at a farmer’s market or visit one of the city’s many parks.

Farmer’s Market

Shop for healthy food options at a farmer’s market. Located in the West Loop neighborhood off of Clinton Street, Chicago French Market is an indoor market with more than 30 vendors. You can grab a quick breakfast, purchase prosciutto and Belgian frites and learn about the variety of fresh ingredients. Independently operated, the market is open year round from Monday to Saturday. The Green City Market,on Clark Street in Lincoln Park, offers a variety of organic food from more than 60 farmers. Throughout the year the market organizes workshops, including children’s programs and farmer education programs. The market is open Wednesday and Saturday from May to October.


Chicago has many world-class museums, including some lesser-known ones. If you have children, take them to the Bronzeville Children’s Museum, an African-American museum, on Stoney Island Avenue. Tours at the museum range from learning about recycling and energy, to learning about African-American inventors including Lewis Latimer and Garret Morgan. The museum is directed at children 3 to 9 years old. For an interactive experience, wander over to the Chicago History Museum on Clark Street in Lincoln Park. While at the museum, pretend you are a Chicago hot dog, play baseball at Comiskey Park and listen to what the Chicago fire sounded like. Admission is free to all guests on Mondays.


Chicago has more than 20 beaches on its 24 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Located just off South Lake Shore Drive, the 63rd Street Beach is one of the oldest beaches in Chicago. Lay out in the courtyard, cool off in the lake or take the children to the water playground. Restored in 2000, the beach house provides restrooms, showers and changing areas. North Avenue Beach offers panoramic views of Chicago. Paved jogging, skating and biking paths are located throughout the beach. You can join in on a competitive game of sand volleyball or relax with a beverage at the beach house. Designed to replicate an ocean liner, the beach house provides restrooms, showers and a concession area.


There are many options for getting out on Lake Michigan, even if you don’t have your own boat. Tall Ship Adventures of Chicago offers three boats to choose from: Windy, Red Witch and Crescendo. Tours last anywhere from one hour to three hours. You can go swimming and diving off the boat and receive sailing lessons. Private group tours are available. The Wendella boat line, established in 1935, offers a variety of tours, from a ride down the Chicago River to a sunset spin on Lake Michigan.


There are hundreds of parks in Chicago, ranging from large expanses like Grant Park to little neighborhood parks. Located on North Broadway Street, Broadway Armory Park offers an indoor recreational area. Play soccer on one of the three indoor fields, participate in a fitness class, or join a dance class. Crafts, gymnastics and fitness programs are offered at the center throughout the year. The two-acre Jonquil Playlot Park is situated on Wrightwood Avenue in the DePaul and Sheffield neighborhood. The park consists of a playground, outdoor tennis courts and baseball fields. On a warm day dip your feet into the spray pool.

About this Author

Alison Merfeld has been a freelance writer since 2008. Many of her published articles can be found on GolfLink, Trails and eHow. She is currently working on her first fiction novel. Merfeld earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Iowa.