As the third largest city in the United States, Chicago has no shortage of things to do. Chicago has plenty to offer everyone, including families. For traveling families planning a trip to the Windy City, we’ve created a list of our top eight things to do in Chicago .
Eat at the Greek Islands Restaurant
Chicago is known for its large Greek community. For the best Greek food, Greek Islands on 200 South Halsted is a well-known restaurant that imports extra virgin olive oil, wine, cheeses, seafood, olives, herbs, and spices directly from Greece. The restaurant started when a group of friends opened their own business in 1971. The restaurant still has the same owners to this day.
The three most popular cold spreads of Greek Islands include Taramosalata (cod roe with potatoes, onion, and olive oil), Melitzanosalata (fresh roasted eggplant with garlic, potatoes, and olive oil), and Tirokafteri (feta cheese with red peppers).
Other popular menu items include Grilled Octopus, Home Made Gyros, Keftedakai (meatballs), and Flaming Saganaki Cheese (which is flambeed at the table).
Take a Selfie at The Bean
While best known as the Chicago Bean, the structure is best known as the Cloud Gate. British artist Anish Kapoor created The Bean, inspired by liquid mercury. It was constructed between 2004 and 2006 and is nicknamed The Bean because of its beanlike shape. What is most astonishing is that The Bean has no visible seams.
Located at the AT&T Plaza, the structure is 66 feet wide by 33 feet tall and reflects the Chicago skyline and clouds. The 12-foot arch underneath the structure allows visitors to get up close and touch The Bean as well as take any photos of their reflection!
Explore Rock N’ Roll McDonald’s
McDonald’s is a staple of American food that anyone can now find in nearly every city around the world. The first McDonald’s was built in the Chicago, area but has since been torn down and turned into the McDonald’s Museum. The Rock n’ Roll McDonald’s, on the other hand, is McDonald’s flagship restaurant, and one of the most famous in the world. Located at 600 N Clark Street, it is about three times larger than a typical McDonald’s has a mini museum with memorabilia spanning five decades.
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
Chicago is a city with a lot of fascinating architectural history. During this 90-minute cruise, visitors will learn about over fifty different buildings throughout the city. The journey starts at the Michigan Avenue Bridge and takes travelers all along the Chicago River. Drinks are available on board, as well as outdoor and air-conditioned seating. The company also offers other specific tours, like the Twilight River Cruise which offers the same itinerary as travelers watch the sun set over the city.
Art Institute of Chicago
With a variety of art ranging from sculptures to photography to Byzantine exhibits, the Art Institute of Chicago has something for everyone. The Art Institute was founded in 1879 in Chicago’s Grant Park on 111 South Michigan Avenue. It is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country and was even rated #1 museum in the world on TripAdvisor in 2014.
The Art Institute features a collection arranged like an encyclopedia. The museum offers gallery walks, art making, picture books and more for families. It showcases works by Picasso, Georges Seurat, and Grant Wood.
Chicago’s Original Gangster Tour
Anyone interested in crime history or the Mafia should jump on a Mafia Tour when visiting Chicago. The almost 2-hour bus tour will take visitors through all of the Mafia “hot spots” where the drama went down in the 1920s and 1930s. The guides will talk about these places as well as Capone, Moran, Dillinger and the rest of the gangsters who ran Chicago.
Pizza at Giordano’s
No one can visit Chicago without trying the famous deep-dish pizza. And the best place to get deep-dish pizza is Giordano’s.
They also have thin crust pizza, as well as salads and sandwiches, and French fries (garlic parmesan anyone?) but everything has that traditional Italian taste. There are several locations around Chicago, so it is easy for any family to try it while exploring. The restaurant even offers a service that can ship a pizza to patrons’ homes!
Have Fun at the Navy Pier
Navy Pier, which opened in July of 1916, extends 3,300 feet. Famous architect Charles Frost built the pier originally as a dock for freights and passenger traffic. At one point, in 1918, the pier was a jail for draft dodgers.
Today, the pier one of the most visited attractions in the midwestern United States. More than just a typical dock, this landmark on Lake Michigan features over 50 acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, attractions and exhibitions. There is always something going on at the pier, whether it is a movie showing, daily cruise, something fun at the Children’s Museum, or Shakespeare in the Park performance.
Autism Travel Tips:
- We highly recommend visiting the Greek Islands Restaurant for lunch. This is because during lunch time the food is cheaper and the restaurant is less noisy.
- Parents should make sure they book the Chicago Architecture River Cruise in advance. Also, we suggest arriving at least half an hour ahead of time. Otherwise, families will have a long wait.
- For the Original Gangster tour, we highly recommend booking in advance as many of the tickets sell out.Furthermore, the bus had no air conditioning which may be challenging for some.