These nine places and attractions throughout Chicago are worth braving the crowds for.
In populous cities such as Chicago, crowds are inevitable, especially during the peak seasons. No one enjoys standing in lines or navigating through a mass amount of people. But should you skip the top Chicago tourist spots just to avoid a crowd? Absolutely not.
1. Adler Planetarium
Chicago is home to the first planetarium in the United States, Adler Planetarium. Due to its history and wealth of engaging exhibits, this intriguing planetarium draws quite the crowd. Admission to the planetarium includes riveting sky shows, access to all of the exhibits, and the Atwood Sphere Experience.
If you’d truly like to avoid the crowds, visit Adler Planetarium on a weekday morning during the school year.
2. Navy Pier
Offering a wide variety of activities, attractions, restaurants, and entertainment, it’s easy to see why Navy Pier is among the busiest Chicago tourist spots. The Centennial Wheel is a particularly popular attraction which leads to long lines during the busy seasons. After all, who doesn’t want to see the Chicago skyline and shoreline from way up high in the sky?
To steer clear of the crowds, go to Navy Pier during the week. The crowds can be tough to navigate on the weekends.
3. Shedd Aquarium
Dive under the sea (and into the crowds) at Shedd Aquarium. As one of the top Chicago tourist spots for families, Shedd Aquarium provides a world of aquatic exploration for all ages. Featuring hands-on exhibits, mesmerizing schools of fish, and education about aquatic species, it’s hard not to love your time at this aquarium.
Since this attraction does experience its fair share of crowds, be sure to keep a close eye on your children while exploring the aquarium.
4. The Field Museum
Continuing along the edutainment trend, it should come as no surprise that Chicago’s Field Museum is a popular spot for tourists. The Field Museum boasts more than 25 million artifacts throughout its intriguing exhibits. Tourists can discover everything from dinosaurs to ancient hieroglyphics right in Chicago. When you visit, say “Hi!” to Sue the T-rex for us!
The Field Museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. To avoid as much of the crowds as possible, arrive early.
5. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago
If you are visiting Chicago with young kids, a trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago is a must. After your children see the enormous amount of LEGO activities inside, they won’t care about the crowds! This LEGO world offers 11 different kid-friendly attractions including building stations, a 4D Cinema, and MINILAND Chicago.
As with the majority of Chicago tourist spots, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago is almost always crowded. Try visiting during the morning in the middle of the week for smaller crowds.
6. Lincoln Park Zoo
What’s the best reason to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo? It’s free! Who cares about the crowds when you don’t have to pay for admission. The Lincoln Park Zoo offers free admission 365 days a year. From lions to gorillas, you’ll see a majority of the animal kingdom right in the middle of Chicago.
Since the zoo is free, take your time and enjoy it all. Plus, if the crowds prove too cumbersome, visit another day. It’s free of charge no matter when you visit.
7. Millennium Park
When you think of Chicago, what comes to mind? For many tourists, the renowned art installation, Cloud Gate, pops into their head. Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) can be found in Millennium Park along with a whirlwind of other art pieces, festivals, events, beer gardens, and more. With a variety of things to do in Millennium Park, it’s no wonder tourists flock here throughout the year.
In addition, Millennium Park is among the free Chicago tourist spots. It doesn’t cost a penny to visit the park. However, some activities, concerts, and other activities may require a fee.
8. 360 Chicago Observation Deck
Located in the John Hancock Building, the 360 Chicago Observation Deck is one of the top tourist destinations in the Windy City. Offering incredible views of the Chicago skyline and cityscape, this attraction is not to be missed. If you are adventurous, check out TILT—Chicago’s highest moving experience. TILT leans guests out over the 94th floor of the building for an epic adventure. Are you brave enough to try TILT?
9. Skydeck Chicago
If the crowds are too crazy at 360 Chicago, head on over to Skydeck Chicago for another sky-high experience above the city. Skydeck Chicago is located in Willis Tower (the former Sears Tower) and boasts exceptional views of the city. For an extra thrill, see if you can muster up the courage to stand out on The Ledge. The Ledge allows you to step out onto a glass box hanging out 4.3 feet away from the 103rd floor of the building.
Many tourists note that even with the crowds, seeing a sunset from this spot is unparalleled.
Chicago Tourist Spots: Worth the Crowds, Every Time
Even though you may wait in line or battle a crowd or two, these Chicago landmarks and attractions are worth it! Which Chicago tourist spots will you see on your vacation? Let us know!