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Chicago Culture & history

Our most recommended Chicago Culture & history

Chicago: Museum of Ice Cream Entry Ticket

1. Chicago: Museum of Ice Cream Entry Ticket

The world-famous ice cream attraction is now open in Chicago. Step into an ice cream wonderland that is bound to ignite your senses through a theatrical experience with unlimited ice cream treats as you journey through 14 installations. Ride on the pink Sprink-L line, put your golf skills to the test on the Putt-Putt course, or take a dip in a pool filled with millions of sprinkles. Come with an empty stomach and get ready to make unforgettable memories. When you finish your experience, be sure to explore the museum's whimsical shop. The Museum of Ice Cream is not a traditional museum — every installation is interactive. This means touching isn't only allowed, it's encouraged.

Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History Ticket or VIP Tour

2. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History Ticket or VIP Tour

Visit the Field Museum of Natural History, one of Chicago's great museums. With more than 35 world-renowned natural history exhibitions, there's something for everyone. Fuel your passion for discovery with dinosaurs, ancient artifacts, cultural insights, and groundbreaking science. Explore subterranean life in the Underground Adventure exhibit. Admire gemstones in the Hall of Gems and one of the largest collections of Chinese jade in North America in the Hall of Jades. Next, follow the stories of the Ice Age mammoth hunters and the temples of the Inca and Aztecs. Visit the Dinosaur Hall Evolving Planet exhibit to mingle with giant sloths, woolly mammoths, Sue, and Maximo. Upgrade to the All-Access Pass to see a 3-D movie and all 3 ticketed special exhibitions. Choose the Early Access VIP Tour option for a 1-hour VIP tour of the museum's dinosaurs before the museum opens to the general public. Take pictures with Sue or Maximo without the crowds. Then explore the rest of the museum with an all-access ticket including a 3D movie titled "Waking the T-Rex." If you want to see more, get a Discovery Pass to gain general admission to the museum as well as add one of their ticketed exhibitions or a 3D movie to your day. 

Chicago: History Museum Admission Ticket

3. Chicago: History Museum Admission Ticket

Explore the history of Chicago and the United States through permanent and temporary exhibitions drawn from more than 20 million items in the Chicago History Museum’s collections. "Chicago: Crossroads of America" explores the city’s development and its influence on US history. Explore a treasure trove of historical artifacts, including a chunk of the original Fort Dearborn and the actual first locomotive to operate in Chicago. Use all five senses to discover Chicago’s history with the “Sensing Chicago” exhibition and even pretend to be a Chicago-style hot dog. Check out temporary exhibitions that pull from the vast collections of photography, documents, artifacts, and interviews that help tell Chicago stories. In the dynamic film presentation, “The Great Chicago Adventure,” experience the intensity of the Great Chicago Fire and splendor of the World’s Columbian Exposition, explore the sights of bustling Maxwell Street in the 1950s, and peer down from an I-beam at the top of the Sears Tower in the 1970s.

Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Skip-the-Line Ticket

4. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Skip-the-Line Ticket

Pre-book and skip the lines to enter the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Experience the museum’s vast collection spanning 5,000 years of art from around the world. See iconic works like Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte," Renoir's "Two Sisters (On the Terrace),” several works by Van Gogh, and more than 25 paintings by Claude Monet. Must-sees also include paintings like Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks'' and Grant Wood's “American Gothic,” as well as unforgettable works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, Alma Thomas, Cindy Sherman, and Kerry James Marshall. Continue your museum journey around the world and through the centuries with the museum’s outstanding collection of works—from ancient Egyptian objects through 5,000 years of Asian art, a rich selection of works from across Africa, and onto the wide-ranging holdings of arts of Europe and the Americas. Families won’t want to miss favorites like the armored knights and armor collection or the wonders of our 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms. Plus, a stop in the museum’s Ryan Learning Center offers art-making activities and the chance to create your very own custom adventure-filled tour of the galleries with the interactive JourneyMaker. Enjoy an expertly guided experience of the museum at one of our free daily tours, or take it at your own pace with the engaging audio tours available on the museum’s free app.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

5. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

Relax as you glide over the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan on this cruise. Enjoy the glow of the sunset on Chicago's sparkling skyline. Have the option to purchase delectable drinks and snacks at the onboard bar as you sail. Start your sunset cruise on the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue. Make your way along the main branch of the river towards Lake Michigan before entering the Chicago Locks, a modern engineering marvel, that will transfer the vessel onto the great Lake Michigan. The vessel will cruise along Lake Michigan as the sun sets behind the wonderful skyline offering several amazing views. Your local tour guide will give a very brief commentary along the Chicago River and entrance to Lake Michigan, but most of the 1.5-hour cruise is spent without narration, leaving you to watch the sun put on a beautiful display with the City skyline. Admire the many angles of the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Capture magical views of Chicago's twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and the John Hancock Building. You'll also get to admire the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. During your cruise, treat yourself at the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products. Try local beer and spirits and Garrett’s Popcorn. Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Grand Staircase at the front of the boat or pose for photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.

Chicago: Medieval Torture Museum Ticket with Ghost Hunting

6. Chicago: Medieval Torture Museum Ticket with Ghost Hunting

Gain entry into one of the largest interactive torture museums in the USA with this attraction ticket. Explore the museum with an audio guide and learn about the terrible history of punishment, torture, and executions from humanity's darkest times. Enter the 5,000 square foot exhibition and get your audio guide from the greeter. Follow the guide's instructions to learn about the hundreds of examples of torture, interrogation, restraint, and execution devices. Gain a greater understanding of how the devices worked by viewing the wax sculptures depicting executioners and victims. While you explore the museum, you can also participate in the thrilling Ghost Hunting Experience by downloading the app.

Chicago: Museum of Illusions Timed Entrance Ticket

7. Chicago: Museum of Illusions Timed Entrance Ticket

Experience the impossible with an entry ticket to the Museum of Illusions Chicago. Immerse yourself in a world where your eyes will be in a constant battle with your brain. Located in the heart of the Chicago Loop, this brain-boggling museum is a one-of-a-kind destination all about optical illusions. Illusions challenge you to see things differently and reveal a lot about how your brain interprets reality. Experience more than 60 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind. Illusions include: defying gravity in the Tilted Room; growing and shrinking in the Ames Room; walking on walls in the Rotated Room; experiencing infinite space in the Infinity Room; confusing your mind in the Vortex Tunnel; posing in the Beuchet Chair; meeting your doppelgangers at the Clone Table. Then spend some time in the Smart Playroom with games that will stimulate and challenge your mind. Enjoy some friendly competition with friends and family while simultaneously improving your cognition, problem-solving skills, and memory. Overall, the museum is designed to encourage you to have fun while learning the mechanics behind each and every illusion you experience. And don't forget your camera or smartphone when you visit as there are eye-fooling photo-ops around every corner.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

8. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Experience an architecture cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, a family tradition since 1935. Admire Chicago’s historic and ever-changing skyline with a local expert guide as you cruise through the city. Choose between the open-air decks or the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during the cruise. Start the cruise at Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and go up the main branch of the Chicago River to Wolf Point before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. Learn about historic skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building, the circular Marina City Towers, the AON Center, and modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the Vista Tower. After passing through the Chicago Lock and cruising past Navy Pier, admire the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Here you can also see the twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the John Hancock Building. See the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Enjoy several vantage points for memorable pictures throughout, and finally arrive back at Du Sable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.

Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour

9. Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour

See a different side of Chicago on a family-friendly guided tour and hear the tales of the ghosts that haunt the city. Explore the famous Chicago Loop district with interesting stories hidden behind each turn. Embark along the Chicago Loop, known as the vice district during the 1920s and 30s. See the places where gangsters such as Al Capone used to party, make deals, and carry out business. Visit haunted locations and old crime scenes led by historians. Stop at the Congress Hotel, Death Alley, and the Palmer House. Enjoy a refreshment along with way, with frequent stops and a restroom break.

Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

10. Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

Start with a pickup from your downtown Chicago hotel. Board your climate-controlled minibus and embark on your guided sightseeing tour. Begin in the heart of downtown Chicago, at The Loop. Here you'll see incredible architecture, including the world's first skyscrapers. You'll even go inside one that features a beautiful lobby designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The stop also includes views of The Chicago Board of Trade and the Willis (Sears) Tower. After The Loop, head through Grant Park, which is known as the city's front yard. The centerpiece of the park is the Buckingham Fountain. Museum Campus is up next, with three museums, Soldier Field, and the most spectacular skyline views in the city. After a 10-minute photo stop, travel around Millennium Park, featuring The Bean, before heading up north along Wacker Drive, which parallels the Chicago River. Arrive in the fancy Gold Coast nightlife area and residential neighborhood - one particularly interesting sight here is the original Playboy Mansion.  Then, take a trip through part of Lincoln Park, and end the tour by zipping along Lake Shore Drive, past beaches, and old mansions, before being dropped off at your hotel. For those wanting the ultimate Chicago experience, add on the option of the world-famous architecture cruise of Chicago. After your minibus tour and a short break, climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise vessel for a 75-minute cruise of all three branches of the Chicago River. Marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Gain insights into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. An expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well as the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building and more.

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What people are saying about Chicago

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,407 reviews

First and foremost Nate our tour guide is why this tour was amazing! Within 5 minutes we were all family having a blast walking, eating, laughing and learning some cool things about Chicago. I've lived in the Chicago area for 40+ years and have taken a number of tours, and thought I knew it all, but Nate amazed me with new tales. Then there's the food. You can't go wrong with Chicago's iconic staples. Take the tour! You'll love it!!

Our boys (ages 10 & 9) were blown away by the ice cream samples in every room you entered! It was a unique and highly enjoyable experience!

It was a very fun tour and we learned a lot about the city that we didn't know before. Lizzie was an excellent guide!

we were there until close and still didn't have time to see everything. 10/10.

There’s a lot of interesting things there plan to spend all day there