Filled with some of America’s best museums, parks and art, Downtown Chicago is a tourist’s playground. Downtown, sometimes called the Chicago Loop, shows visitors Chicagoan hospitality and attractions. Stroll along the lakefront, go shopping, learn about art, history and culture or relax in the area’s famous restaurants.

No matter the weather, Downtown Chicago’s incredible collection of museums offers unlimited ways to spend an afternoon. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago’s renowned Impressionist collection and stand in awe before Edward Hopper’s famous painting Nighthawks.

Gape at Sue, the large Tyrannosaurus rex at the Field Museum of Natural History. See piranhas, turtles, otters and seals at the Shedd Aquarium or fly high on Navy Pier’s 196-foot (50-meter) Ferris wheel. Get even higher at the Willis Tower Skydeck, a whopping 1,475 feet (450 meters) in the air.

Spend time outside in the area’s manicured public parks, featuring diverse gardens and public art. Watch the spectacular light show at Buckingham Fountain, an art deco construction that is one of the biggest fountains in America. Take Chicago’s classic tourist selfie in front of the reflective curves of Cloud Gate, “the Bean,” near the shores of Lake Michigan.

Shop, dine or stroll along the Magnificent Mile, a commercial district popular with tourists and locals. Catch a Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field or play on Grant Park’s fields.

Downtown Chicago is located on Chicago’s eastern border, along Lake Michigan. Drive here in 45 minutes from Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which serves various locations throughout the region and the world. Downtown Chicago is the most frequented part of the city and is quite safe. Parking can be expensive and difficult to find, so walking is best for exploring this bustling district.

At the end of a long day of museums and touring, nothing can beat a picnic under the Frank Gehry-designed arches of Millennium Park as the sun sets behind Chicago’s iconic skyline.

Known for

Museums, Rivers and Architecture

Explore map

Top Hotels in Downtown Chicago

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Congress Plaza Hotel
Congress Plaza Hotel
3.5 out of 5
520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
$109/night
Aug 11 - Aug 12
3.7/5Good! (4,839 reviews)

"Great location, friendly staff. Enjoyed the park right across the street and twenty minute walk to navy pier. Hotel was built in 1893 but was clean and comfortable, we had a great stay."…"

Reviewed on Jul 14, 2019

Congress Plaza Hotel
Image for Hyatt Regency Chicago
Hyatt Regency Chicago
4 out of 5
151 East Wacker Dr, Chicago
$159/night
Aug 15 - Aug 16
4.4/5Excellent! (11,143 reviews)

"Check in was a breeze and never had to wait long for the elevators. Very nice facilities. Housekeeping was great! The rooms also nice views of the river! Loved the location - facing the river and within walking distance to the Magnificent Mile, the Riverwalk, Millennium Park, and many other attractions ..."…"

Reviewed on Jul 15, 2019

Hyatt Regency Chicago
Image for Hotel Essex Chicago
Hotel Essex Chicago
4 out of 5
800 S Michigan Ave, Chicago
$113/night
Jul 29 - Jul 30
4.4/5Wonderful! (233 reviews)

"Everything was awesome had a great time staying there"…"

Reviewed on Jul 13, 2019

Hotel Essex Chicago
Image for Central Loop Hotel
Central Loop Hotel
4 out of 5
111 West Adams Street, Chicago
$116/night
Jul 28 - Jul 29
4.2/5Excellent! (4,603 reviews)

"GREAT location, clean, friendly staff! Would definitely stay here again"…"

Reviewed on Jul 15, 2019

Central Loop Hotel
Image for Travelodge by Wyndham Downtown Chicago
Travelodge by Wyndham Downtown Chicago
2 out of 5
65 E Harrison St, Chicago
$95/night
Jul 22 - Jul 23
3.3/5 (4,304 reviews)

"The location is very good, Convenient to everything going on in Chicago"…"

Reviewed on Jul 15, 2019

Travelodge by Wyndham Downtown Chicago
Image for Kinzie Hotel
Kinzie Hotel
4 out of 5
20 W Kinzie St, Chicago
$138/night
Aug 11 - Aug 12
4.5/5Wonderful! (4,342 reviews)

"The beds and pillows were extremely comfortable! It was the best nights sleep we've ever had in a hotel. We really enjoyed the complimentary happy hour! It was a real treat! The breakfast however was disppointing. We also really appreciated the space they had for our bikes. I would definitely stay ..."…"

Reviewed on Jul 15, 2019

Kinzie Hotel

Popular things to do in Downtown Chicago

Millennium Park
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Millennium Park

A landmark gathering place for locals and visitors who come to admire the unique art, architecture and landscape.

Willis Tower
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Willis Tower

Visit the Skydeck and gaze down over the Chicago cityscape from a dazzling 1,353 feet above the sidewalk.

Art Institute of Chicago
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Art Institute of Chicago

Explore a massive collection of works celebrating different cultures and historical times, from ancient Egypt to modern installations.

John Hancock Center
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John Hancock Center

John Hancock Center is a well-known landmark worth seeing in Chicago. Stroll along the lakeside or experience the acclaimed theater scene in this vibrant area.

Navy Pier
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Navy Pier

A Ferris wheel, shopping, restaurants and more can be found in this waterfront entertainment district.

Grant Park
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Grant Park

Chicago’s front yard is a pretty landscaped park, which is home to public art displays, museums, themed gardens and international music festivals.

Top activities in Downtown Chicago

360 Chicago Observation Deck (formerly John Hancock Observatory)
Image for 360 Chicago Observation Deck (formerly John Hancock Observatory)

360 Chicago Observation Deck (formerly John Hancock Observatory)

$25

At 360 CHICAGO, the guest experience begins at the ground floor with a museum-style exhibition celebrating Chicago’s history and nine of its culturally rich neighborhoods.

Chicago CityPASS: Save on Chicago's 5 Best Attractions
Image for Chicago CityPASS: Save on Chicago's 5 Best Attractions

Chicago CityPASS: Save on Chicago's 5 Best Attractions

$108

Chicago CityPASS® tickets include premium admission to Chicago’s top attractions at significant savings off the price of the same tickets purchased separately. Extra perk: CityPASS travelers skip most main-entrance ticket lines.

Skydeck & The Ledge Tickets at Willis Tower
Image for Skydeck & The Ledge Tickets at Willis Tower

Skydeck & The Ledge Tickets at Willis Tower

$25

Take in the view from the sky-high heights of the Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the United States. From the 103rd floor, look out over 4 states and the Windy City's urban sprawl, and then test your vertigo on a glass balcony to peer down at the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago beneath your feet.

Go Chicago Explorer pass: Choose 3, 4 or 5 attractions
Image for Go Chicago Explorer pass: Choose 3, 4 or 5 attractions

Go Chicago Explorer pass: Choose 3, 4 or 5 attractions

$81

Choose from Chicago's best attractions, guided tours, and experiences with the flexibility of an Explorer Pass. Opt for a pass that's good for 3, 4, or 5 attractions and visit each one on your own schedule.

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago
Image for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago

$25

Let your imagination run wild as you build amazing creations, learn top tips from the Master Model Builders, pedal Merlin's Apprentice Bikes, and enjoy the unique 4-D cinema experience at the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center.

Chicago Mob Tour: Criminals & Gangsters Bus Tour
Image for Chicago Mob Tour: Criminals & Gangsters Bus Tour

Chicago Mob Tour: Criminals & Gangsters Bus Tour

$40

Explore Chicago's seedy underworld on this guided bus tour of its most famous gangsters and mobsters. Investigate the former haunts of legends like Al Capone, The Untouchables, and John Dillinger as you explore the sites of major crimes, violent deaths, and shocking trials on this guided excursion.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Downtown Chicago

Bucket List guide to Chicago
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Bucket List guide to Chicago

Knocking off Bucket-List items in the Windy City

The best of Chicago pizza
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The best of Chicago pizza

Digesting the very best of Chicago's deep-dish delights

Peaceful parks of Chicago
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Peaceful parks of Chicago

Finding peace and quiet in Chicago-area parks

Other neighborhoods in Chicago

The Loop
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The Loop

Urban, Architecture, Museums

Bordered roughly by the surrounding elevated train circuit, this Chicago neighborhood has restaurants, galleries, parks and a giant silver bean.

Magnificent Mile
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Magnificent Mile

Skyscrapers, Urban, Architecture

Shopaholics need look no further this glittering street packed with boutique and luxury shops, famous department stores and cafes.

River North
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River North

Architecture, Shopping, Urban

River North is a vibrant neighborhood that's popular for its restaurants and bars. The neighborhood's architecture, friendly people, and skyline are just some of its charming qualities. Other highlights include the local shopping and museums, as well as the natural splendor of the riverfront.

O'Hare
Image for O'Hare

O'Hare

Dining, Friendly People, Excursions

O'Hare is a welcoming, walkable neighborhood with convenient options for restaurants and bars. The neighborhood has many charming qualities, its architecture among the more noteworthy.

Lincoln Park
Image for Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

Zoo, Urban, Lakes

Both a neighborhood and a park, this northern Chicago area has gorgeous scenery, residential streets lined with stately homes and extensive shopping and dining.

Wrigleyville
Image for Wrigleyville
Trover photo by Chris Billinger

Wrigleyville

Baseball, Sports, Lakes

Wrigleyville is a welcoming neighborhood that's popular for its bars.