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Places

Take a tour of Chicago

You could spend days, even weeks exploring Chicago, but with a focused itinerary you can see a lot of the big city if you only have 24 hours. Follow our guide to get the most out of your day in Chicago, step by step.


Start off your day in Chicago with a hearty breakfast at Wildberry Pancakes and Café on 130 E. Randolph St., which is across the street from Millennium Park and offers outdoor seating in good weather. Millennium Park is famous for its sculpture Cloud Gate, more popularly known as “The Bean” due to its shape. Other things to see in the park include the Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden, outdoor gallery spaces, and the Harris Theater, which puts on outdoor performances. In winter, get a hot beverage to go and head to the park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink.

Photo: Scott Thompson

Breakfast is served

Wildberry Pancakes and Café offers a menu that includes pancakes (served with fresh berries), waffles, omelets, skillets, sandwiches, and more. The outdoor seating, right across from Millennium Park, is a great place to start your day.

Wildberry Pancakes and Café

130 E. Randolph St. , Chicago

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Open 6:30am-2:30pm daily

A water taxi, seen from the riverwalk. Photo: Scott ThompsonOne of the best ways to see downtown Chicago is from the river. It’s just a three block walk to board Chicago’s First Lady (cruisechicago.com) on 112 E. Wacker Dr., at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive on the Chicago Riverwalk. The cruise company has an interesting and informative 90-minute tour that focuses on architecture (from March through late November). Willis Tower, the Civic Opera House and Tribune Tower are just some of the historic buildings you’ll see and learn about on your river voyage.

When you return, board a Chicago Water Taxi at Michigan Avenue and take it to the Riverside Plaza stop. Walk along the Chicago Riverwalk, cross the Lake Street Bridge, and you’ll be a couple blocks away from the Chicago French Market. This charming collection of indoor food stands has options from all around the world, including sushi, crepes, espresso, Ethiopian, Italian and French food, as well as a fruit stand and flower shop. The market has indoor and outdoor dining areas, or you might want to take it with you to keep moving.

Photo: Scott Thompson

Time for lunch

The Chicago French Market was founded 2009. Today you’ll find 30-plus hand-picked local vendors under the same roof. With food from all over the world, this place certainly has something for you. Take a seat at the indoor or outdoor dining areas or grab something on the go.

Chicago French Market

131 N Clinton St, Chicago

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Open: Open Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Sunday closed.

The historic Chicago Theater. Photo: Scott Thompson
Make your way toward the Theater District via the Riverwalk. There are plenty of places to stop for food and drink right on the river, like O’Brien’s Riverwalk Cafe near the Wabash Avenue bridge. You can rent a kayak from Urban Kayaks, and there are lots of little places to sit and relax. The Theater District is a great place to catch an afternoon matinee performance in a beautiful, historic theater like the Chicago Theater on 175 N. State St., which now hosts major comedy and music acts. Just down the street you’ll find the Cadillac Palace Theatre, James M. Nederlander Theatre and other venues that offer plays, musicals and other performance art.

A stop on the Riverwalk

This little spot is a great place if you get hungry on your tour. During the summer, the restaurant has great outdoor seating where you get a front row seat next to the Chicago River. Grab a drink or something to eat and watch the water flow.

O’Brien’s Riverwalk Café

45 E Riverwalk S, Chicago

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Open: Open April-October. Mon–Thur: 11am-9pm, Friday: 11am-10pm, Saturday: 9am-10pm, Sunday: 9am- 9pm

The famous Chicago skyline. Photo: Scott Thompson
You can’t beat the amazing view from the dining room at the Signature Room, located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building and the cocktail lounge one floor higher. It’s about a 2km walk from the Theater District or a 10 minute ride on the Red Line L train (a great way to see the city from sky level). Enjoy a salad, seafood or steak, while looking out at the surrounding skyscrapers.

An unbeatable view

Chicago has an impressive skyline and the best way to experience it is of course from a bar with a beverage of your choice in your hand. Head to the Signature Room, where you can enjoy a meal, drink or just the view from the 95th floor.

The Signature Room

875 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago

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Open: Sun–Thur: 11am–11pm, Fri-Sat: 11am–00 .

After dinner, there are many dance clubs to check out. From the John Hancock Building, take the Red Line L to Berlin on 954 W. Belmont Ave., a fun club for alternative lifestyles and anyone who loves new wave, disco, drag shows or themed dance nights.

The Boystown neighbourhood. Photo: Shutterstock

Go clubbing

Located in the Boystown neighborhood, Berlin is open seven nights a week, has two bars and an intimate dance floor and stage, including a little platform you can get up on if you want to show off your moves. It’s a fun environment where people are free to be themselves.

Berlin

954 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago

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Open: Mon: 10pm–02am, Tue: 8pm–02am, Wed & Thur: 10pm–04am, Fri: 8pm–04am, Sat: 8pm–05am, Sun: 10pm–04am

The Navy Pier. Photo: ShutterstockIf you don’t feel like dancing, check out Chicago’s comedy scene at places like Second City Comedy on 1616 N. Wells St. and the Cornservatory on 4210 N. Lincoln Ave. Both are great places to seek out shows starring future famous comedians.

Make your stay overnight in Chicago a unique one in one of the city’s many boutique hotels. Hotel EMC2 on 228 E. Ontario St., has an art and science theme with a dining room that looks like a science university. It’s centrally located for all the places you’re visiting, so you can make a stop back at your room easily. 

When you wake up after your long day, make a stop at Navy Pier on1600 N. Lake Shore Dr., before you head out of town. It’s just a few blocks from the hotel and a great place to reflect on your adventures as the sun rises over Lake Michigan and the City of Chicago.

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