Loop, Chicago Places

Part of our Chicago travel guide; our list of the best things to see in Loop, including John Hancock Center, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Open House Chicago.
  • The best place in Loop Chicago: John Hancock Center

    John Hancock Center

    875 N Michigan AveSte 3614
    $15 adults, $10 children. 360-degree view from the 94th floor. Not quite as high as the Sears Tower Skydeck, but with a better view, and from January to March, an ice-skating rink! For drinks, see the Signature Room below.
    Loop food nearby
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    Symphony Center220 S Michigan Ave
    Box office M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-3PM. Student prices can run as low as $10; tickets for CSO events start from $25, but performances by traveling artists vary. Home of Chicago's renowned orchestra; they spend a lot of time on the road, though, so visiting orchestras and stately jazz concerts can also be found here, as can the occasional curveball like a silent film.
    Loop eat nearby
  • Open House Chicago

    Open House Chicago

    224 S Michigan Ave
    Runs numerous river cruises and themed architecture walks covering the Loop and other parts of the city, with offerings suitable for general audiences and people with specific interests. There are some small, informative exhibits inside their 224 S Michigan headquarters and a gift shop. Walking tours are usually $15, $12 for students/seniors.
    Loop restaurants nearby
  • Chicago Architecture Foundation

    Chicago Architecture Foundation

    224 S Michigan Ave
    Runs numerous river cruises and themed architecture walks covering the Loop and other parts of the city, with offerings suitable for general audiences and people with specific interests. There are some small, informative exhibits inside their 224 S Michigan headquarters and a gift shop. Walking tours are usually $15, $12 for students/seniors.
    Loop food nearby
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago

    Lyric Opera of Chicago

    20 N Wacker Dr
    From $31 for weekdays and $42 for weekends. Extraordinary productions of major operas, in the impressive Civic Opera House, overlooking the river; local legend has it that the back-story behind business magnate Samuel Insull's decision to build it was the inspiration for the opera scenes in Citizen Kane. Although highly acclaimed today, there was a minor controversy among purists when they began to project English titles above the stage for non-English operas.
    Loop eat nearby
  • Chicago Cultural Center

    Chicago Cultural Center

    78 E Washington St
    M-Th 8AM-7PM, F 8AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 10AM-6PM, closed holidays. Free. Built in 1897 as Chicago's first public library, the building now houses the city's Visitor Information Center, galleries, and exhibit halls. Worth a visit to see the beautiful interior — the ceiling of Preston Bradley Hall includes a 38-foot Tiffany glass dome, and the north wing includes the impressive Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda. Of late, amid various city-approved art and music events, some surprisingly good theater has been performed here.
    Loop restaurants nearby
  • The Art Institute of Chicago

    The Art Institute of Chicago

    111 S Michigan Ave
    M-W 10:30AM-5PM, Th F 10:30AM-8PM, Sa Su 10:30AM-5PM except 1 Jan, 4th Th in Nov (Thanksgiving), 25 Dec. $18, $12 children over 14 and seniors; free to Illinois residents the first and second Wednesday of every month. One of the premier museums in the U.S. — and with the opening of the sensational new Modern Wing, it's one of the largest, too. Set aside a whole day and arrive early! Iconic pieces on display include "American Gothic" by Grant Wood (the stoic farm couple), "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper (the late-night diner), Georges Seurat's pointillist masterpiece "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte". The Art Institute also boasts the world's best collection of Impressionist painting outside of France. But there's a lot more to discover, including a great selection of early 20th-century painting, architecture, and photography, as well as archaeological finds covering 5,000 years of art and cultural history.
    Loop food nearby
  • The Skydeck

    The Skydeck

    233 S Wacker Dr
    Apr-Sept 9AM-10PM, Oct-March 10AM-8PM; open every day of the year, including holidays. $17.50, $11.00 children; express line tickets $30. Once the tallest building in the world, the Sears Tower now has to settle for the title in North America alone, and even that's after a semantic battle with Toronto and the CN Tower. The Hancock Observatory (see Near North) has a nicer view of the city, but the Sears Tower offers an incredible view of its own from "The Ledge", which lets visitors walk out in a transparent balcony suspended 1,353 feet above the street. To avoid the crowds, visit after 4PM.
    Loop eat nearby
  • Fuerza Bruta : Look Up

    Fuerza Bruta : Look Up

    50 E Congress Pkwy
    Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan's masterpiece. Frank Lloyd Wright, who served as an apprentice on the project, called it "The greatest room for music and opera in the world — bar none." If the current production isn't worth seeing, take a tour of this gorgeous, acoustically-perfect theater instead. Tours are available at various times and days depending on the season.
    Loop restaurants nearby
  • Fiesta del Sol

    Fiesta del Sol

    1400 W Cermak, between Loomis and Morgan
    late July or early August. Fiesta del Sol is an annual fundraising event organized by the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council that has been held annually since 1972. Over the years it has evolved from a block party into a nationally publicized event with corporate sponsorship, but the neighborhood's Hispanic community still has a strong presence. The three-day festival includes live entertainment, food, and vendor booths. Fiesta del Sol is alcohol and tobacco-free.
    Loop food nearby
  • Jeweler's Center

    Jeweler's Center

    5 S Wabash Ave
    M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su closed except four weeks prior to Christmas (25 Dec). An estimated 185 jewelers in one building by the elevated tracks give this a Wild West atmosphere — you could leave with a terrific deal, or...
  • The Renaissance Society

    The Renaissance Society

    5811 S Ellis Ave, Cobb Hall 418
    Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su noon-5PM. Free. A small gallery of avant-garde painting, which will appeal greatly to aficionados, less so to casual visitors.
    Loop restaurants nearby
  • Jazz Showcase

    Jazz Showcase

    806 S Plymouth CtDearborn Station
    Sets at 8 and 10 Mon-Sat, and at 4 PM and 8 and 10 on Sundays. Started in 1948 by Joe Segal, this historic jazz club is home to both national touring acts and the finest local jazz musicians Chicago has to offer. Currently located in the historic Dearborn Station building in the South Loop, Segal continues to maintain the high standard for acoustic jazz that over the years has featured luminaries from Dizzy Gillespie to Chick Corea.
  • Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum

    Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum

    230 S LaSalle St
    M-F 8:30AM-5PM, except bank holidays. Free. Currency wonks can study various denominations and practice counterfeit detections. Guided tours every day at 1PM.
    Loop eat nearby
  • Sandmeyer's Bookstore

    Sandmeyer's Bookstore

    714 S Dearborn St
    M-W,F 11AM-6:30PM, Th 11AM-8PM, Sa 11AM-5PM, Su 11AM-4PM. A classic creaky-floors-and-cluttered-shelves kind of place.
  • Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

    Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

    376 N Michigan Ave
    $4 adults, $3 children 6-12 and seniors, children 5 and under free. Open late spring (mid-May), summer, and fall. A new, small museum spread over the five floors of the southwest tower of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Visitors can see displays on the history of Chicago's famously abused river, and also check out the machinery used for raising the bridge.
    Loop food nearby
  • Buddy Guy's Legends

    Buddy Guy's Legends

    700 S Wabash Ave
    M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 5PM-3AM, Su 6PM-2AM. Cover $10 Su-Th, $20 F-Sa. A famous, fairly large blues club with a cajun/soul food menu and frequent big-name acts. Buddy Guy himself holds court every January.
  • Marina City

    300 N State St
    M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-2PM. No tours available, unless you're cheeky enough to fill out a fake rental application (24 hours in advance), but these iconic twin buildings are worth a photo. (You might recognize them from the cover of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, among many others.) Designed to be "a city within a city," they include a wildly overpriced bowling alley and the House of Blues (see Drink below). If you like Marina City, be sure to visit the South Loop for two more of architect Bertrand Goldberg's corncob structures.
    Loop restaurants nearby
  • Grant Park

    On the east side of Michigan Ave between Lake Shore Dr and Columbus Dr
    Entrance to the park and most events & festivals is generally free, although some concerts do have an admission charge; in that case, admission to other areas of the park is still free. Right at the center of Chicago, this has been a park space for almost the entire history of the city. Most citywide events and festivals (see below) are held in Grant Park and the Petrillo Bandshell. The centerpiece of the park is Buckingham Fountain (10AM-11PM), which is sometimes accompanied by music and colored lights (8-11PM, May-Sep). There are also tennis courts, softball fields, and a walking trail near the lake. Millennium Park is to the north and the Museum Campus is to the south, so there is a large area to wander.
    Loop food nearby
  • Museum of Contemporary Photography

    600 S Michigan Ave
    M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. Free. A stimulating and innovative forum for the collection, creation, and examination of contemporary image-making in its camera tradition and in its expanded vocabulary of digital processes. Affiliated with Columbia College Chicago.
    Loop eat nearby
  • River City

    800 S Wells St
    Another Bertrand Goldberg corncob project, whose riverside location offers great views and frequently flooded basements. They're condominiums, so pretend to be interested in buying one if you'd like a free tour.
    Loop restaurants nearby
  • Poster Plus

    30 E Adams St, Ste 1150
    The place to buy Chicago images of all shapes and sizes. Poster Plus single-handedly keeps a selection of memorable vintage reproduction Chicago posters in print and has an impressive collection of real vintage posters (not fakes or reprints!). It's worth a stop to have a look around their gallery even if you don't plan to buy anything.
  • Printer's Row Fine and Rare Books

    715 S Dearborn St
    Tu-F 10AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. Specializes in first editions and signed books, with staff that love to chat. Most of the stock is locked away, so have a look at their website before you visit if you have something specific in mind.
  • Chicago Board of Trade Visitor Center

    141 W Jackson Blvd, 1F
    This monumental 1930 building is an Art Deco masterpiece and dominates its surrounding streets like no other in the Loop. The new Visitors Center features high-tech displays and historical artifacts on the history of financial trading. Sadly, the more exciting 5th floor observation deck, which lets you watch the frenzied action on the trading floor, is only open to group tours that have applied in advance.
    Loop restaurants nearby
  • Dearborn Station

    47 W Polk St
    Built in 1885, this was one of the great stations of the railroad era, the first glimpse of Chicago for countless visitors from across the country. (It also became a focal point for the anti-vice crusaders, with pamphlets describing lurid tales in which innocent farm girls fresh off the train were seized and sold into prostitution.) The rail yard is gone, with traffic having ceased in 1971, but the station house has been renovated into mixed-use commercial space, with a bar and restaurant on the ground floor.
    Loop food nearby
  • Sears on State

    2 N State St
    M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-5PM. The other traditional Chicago retail giant opened this store in 2001. It has a few floors of moderately-priced, moderately-fashionable clothing and housewares.
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of places in Chicago uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.