Chicago is the nation’s third largest city offering all of the amenities and attractions you’d expect from a large city; however, it’s location in the Midwest makes this city ideal for families and people of all ages. Chicago has a reputation for offering warm and friendly Midwest hospitality, as well as some of the best food and entertainment you can find.
This fall, residents in the Fort Leonard Wood Region, including military families, will be able to easily access Chicago with a direct flight from the Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport. If you’ll be considering a weekend getaway or vacation to Chicago, we’ve outlined our top 10 recommended attractions that you’ll want to include in your planning!
Navy Pier - this Chicago icon has entertained people of all ages for over a century. One of the reasons we love this attraction so much is because much of the entertainment on the pier is free. You can take advantage of free movies, free workouts, and more depending on the time of year you visit. There are also wonderful restaurants with the most amazing views, as well as rides and games, and you can even catch a cruise to get a glimpse of Chicago from a completely different viewpoint.
Field Museum - Chicago’s Field Museum is a science museum like no other. The museum offers hands-on exhibits that allow kids to immerse themselves in all types of science and history. You can find all kinds of exhibits and programs, especially for kids - before you head to the museum, make sure you check out their website to plan accordingly. Don’t forget that military service members receive free basic admission to the museum.
Wrigley Field - this long-standing historic landmark at the corner of Clark and Addison streets has been the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. If you visit during baseball season, try to catch a game and enjoy all of the Cubs tradition, such as singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Go Cubs Go.” Even if it’s not baseball season or the Cubs are away, you can still schedule a tour of the ballpark that’s well worth it.
Pizza - Chicago is flat-out the best place to grab a slice of deep dish pizza. You can find a number of amazing restaurants serving this speciality, but we highly recommend Pequod’s Pizza. They have one location in Chicago and one just outside the city. Their famous “caramelized crust” is created by spreading mozzarella cheese from edge to edge and baking the pizza in a cast-iron pan. For those who prefer a thinner crust, you’ll also find those options on the menu. They do take reservations, but still plan to arrive early as they’re always incredibly busy.
Lincoln Park Zoo - Exploring this amazing zoo could possibly be an all-day event, as the zoo covers 49 acres. However the zoo is open every day of the year and it’s free for everyone, so we can’t recommend this attraction enough. The zoo is accessible for all and offers a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits, many dining options, and a variety of special events scheduled throughout the year. The zoo is also home to critically endangered species and species that are extinct in the wild.
Millenium Park - Though Millenium Park is anchored by the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, there is so much more to this unique urban greenspace. You’ll find recreation opportunities, gardens, and a number of arts and cultural exhibits and events. Live music and free movies are generally part of the schedule, but this is also a great place to come and just simply relax. We recommend grabbing some sandwiches and enjoying lunch in the park while you visit the city.
The Magnificent Mile - If shopping is your thing, Chicago does not disappoint. The Magnificent Mile is famous for the immense variety of high end stores and shops offering a variety of apparel, gifts, and home goods. Mixed in with the amazing retail stores, you’ll also find some of the city’s best restaurants. When we visit during the colder winter months, we definitely spend more time on the Mile and wander through the amazing stores to escape some of the cold.
River Cruise - There are a variety of companies offering river cruises in the Chicago area; however, we are fans of the tours provided by the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center and the river cruise they offer on Chicago’s First Lady. The organization focuses on “celebrating and promoting Chicago as a center of architectural innovation.” In addition to river cruises, they also offer walking, biking, and bus tours. If you’ve never been to the city and are interested in learning a little more about the city’s history, you’ll definitely enjoy one of these tours.
Skydeck Chicago - Located inside Willis Tower, this is an experience you won’t want to miss...as long as you aren’t afraid of heights! For the brave, this attraction lets you walk out over the city of Chicago from the 3rd tallest building in the western hemisphere and 8th tallest building in the world. If you’re able to plan ahead, check out their website to purchase your timed tickets to maximize your time in Chicago.
Shedd Aquarium - This beautiful and mesmerizing aquarium is one of our favorite attractions. Due to COVID restrictions, timed ticket entries are required and you can purchase them online. The Shedd Aquarium is part of the Blue Star Families Museums program. During the summer months, military service members and up to 5 guests, receive free admission to the aquarium. Outside the summer months, service members receive free admission to the aquarium. While you’re there, don’t miss the exhibit that features the ecosystem of the Great Lakes and the Polar Play Zone.
We hope this provides you with some ideas for a great visit to Chicago. The city has so much to offer and with direct flights beginning to Chicago on Oct. 12, we encourage you to spend some time this fall in this incredible Midwestern city!