The #1 museum in the world, the Second City, seven professional sports teams, Navy Pier, 570 parks, a mile-long shopping experience, 26 miles of public beaches, and classic American architecture make up six of the countless attractions in the city of Chicago. No matter who you are, who you want to be, or what you want to do, Chicago has something for you. For help navigating Chicago’s numerous opportunities, check out our recommendations below.
Art Institute of Chicago
Recently named the top museum in the world by TripAdvisor.com, the Art Institute hosts one of the largest and most diverse collections on the planet. Featuring one of the most impressive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art every assembled, including several of Monet’s “Water Lilies”, and George Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” (of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fame), the Art Institute also has an expansive collection of Modern Art found in its new Modern Wing. UChicago students can frequent the Art Institute for free with their UCID any day of the week.
Bridgeport Art Center
A place for creative minds to flourish, the Bridgeport Art Center combines a fashion design center, studio spaces, and an event venue. Featuring artists of all styles from across the city and around the world, the Bridgeport Art Center is curated by UChicago alum Lelde Kalmite [MFA ’73; BFA ’68].
The Richard H. Driehaus Museum transports visitors to 19th century Chicago, through the home of Gilded Age banker, Mayo Nickerson. Its galleries feature the works of celebrated designers such as Herter Brothers and Louis Comfort Tiffany, so anyone can experience the grandeur and luxury of historic Chicago.
Museum of Contemporary Art
One of the world’s largest contemporary art venues, the Museum of Contemporary Art is located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and showcases captivating exhibits ranging from pop art to interactive pieces. Grammy winning new music ensemble eighth blackbird are current artists-in-residence at the MCA, while continuing their ongoing Ensemble-In-Residence position at the University of Chicago.
National Museum of Mexican Art
Located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, a hub of Latino art and culture in Chicago, the National Museum of Mexican Art features Mexican and Latino art and culture. It is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. UChicago students get the opportunity to visit Pilsen and the museum during O-week, when there are designated shuttles to various neighborhoods, and remains easily accessible by CTA throughout the year.
Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
Get a crash-course in Chicago’s architecture in the best way possible—on a boat! Certified tour guides will give you an in-depth history of Chicago and how it grew from a small settlement into one of the world’s largest cities in less than 100 years. Get on board!
This massive park complex in the heart of Chicago encompasses Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Bean, and Buckingham Fountain. Grant Park is home to summer events such as Lollapalooza, the Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the Chicago Jazz Festival and was the site of President Barack Obama’s 2008 Election Day victory speech.
Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is a Chicago cultural landmark. Each year, the pier sees millions of visitors who ride the 150-foot tall Ferris wheel, explore the Chicago Children’s Museum, or attend a show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Throughout the summer Navy Pier also puts on regular fireworks shows at sundown every Wednesday and Saturday night, with additional shows throughout the summer.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Part of the collection of American orchestras known at the “Big Five,” The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is world renowned, both for its recordings (it has amassed 62 Grammy awards), as well as its live performances. Students can get reduced price tickets to CSO performances with their UChicago ID.
Free or reduced price tickets are available for UChicago students with their UCID to Chicago’s Opera House. The Lyric Opera is one of America’s foremost opera companies that has seen performances by such greats as Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti and many others.
The Second City
Known as the first improvisational theater in the US, Second City has grown to become the world’s premier comedy club! Second City gave comedy greats like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carell their start.