Exploring Chicago: The Loop

New to the Windy City? Try These Things to Do in Downtown Chicago

When you move to a new city for work, there’s a lot that needs to be figured out before you can relax. It’s a stressful, exhausting process, and once you start your new job it can be hard to find fun things to do in the area around your office. When you’re living in the third-largest city in the country, the list of things to do can feel endless. If you’re working or living downtown — or both, we’ve put together some of the best things to do in downtown Chicago (The Loop), so you have one less thing to think about.

As you get settled and adjusted to the city, you’ll find your favorite restaurants to grab dinner and the rooftop with your favorite view, but for now, consider this list your entryway to Chicago so you can start to feel more like a local in your new city.

5 Things Every Newbie Needs to do in Downtown Chicago

1. Visit the Museum Campus

Just a short walk from downtown, this 57-acre park is home to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, the McCormick Place convention center, and Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears. Go visit SUE, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found at the Field Museum or go see one of the 32,000 aquatic animals in the Shedd Aquarium. Whether you go for a walk through the park or head to one of the cultural attractions spread throughout the campus, this area is full of great things to do in downtown Chicago.

2. Explore the Loop

The Loop is essentially the heart of downtown Chicago, and if you’re working downtown, you’re either nearby or working within it. This neighborhood is home to urban parks, bars, restaurants, shops, and more. There’s something new to check out on every block, but to start, head to Willis Tower and go up to the Skydeck and take in the view. Head to places like Eleven City Diner or Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria for food, and if you need a caffeine fix hit up the Goddess and the Baker or the nearest Starbucks.

3. Stroll Along the Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk is a 1.25-mile-long pedestrian stretch along the Chicago River. Made up of six different coves, there’s something for everyone. From places to just sit and relax, to street art and restaurants, the Riverwalk is a unique feature within the heart of Chicago. While you’re here, make sure you make time for City Winery’s happy hour, it’s a great way to start your evening.

4. Party on a Rooftop

One of the most exciting things about being in a city like Chicago is the ability to grab dinner or drinks on one the buildings that tower over the streets. There’s plenty of places to go to get a unique view of the city and get some great food and drinks while you’re at it. If you’re searching for dinner, check out Cindy’s for fantastic views and great food. Feeling fancy? Head to LondonHouse’s three-floor rooftopv for classy drinks and a magnificent view of downtown Chicago.

5. Pose at Millennium Park

This is a Chicago staple. Go be basic for an afternoon and take a picture in front of Cloud Gate, affectionately called (and more commonly known as) the Bean. Suggested captions include “cool beans,” “Chicago’s bean real fun,” or the timeless classic, “bean there, done that.”

Not sure how to get around to all the things you want to do in downtown Chicago? Check out our blog on tackling the L train!

Kim Hill