9 Downtown Chicago Hot Spots within the City Center

I believe one of the best, most intimate ways to experience a destination is simply by using your own two feet! Chicago is considered one of the most walkable cities in America and for good reason. There’s nothing more authentic than seeing a city like a local. Don’t forget your walking shoes and camera as you navigate through these 9 hot spots that are all within walking distance of one another; give your eyes the freedom to take in all the beauty around you.

Buckingham Fountain

Located in the heart of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world. This historic landmark was donated in the mid-1920s, in remembrance of Clarence Buckingham, who was a member of a very prominent family in Chicago. The fountain features a light and water display every hour on the hour, shooting water to an impressive 150 feet into the air.

Cloud Gate

Also referred to as “The Bean,” this 100 ton, stainless steel sculpture is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park. This sculpture measures 66 feet long and 33 feet high, and the reflective finish is perfect to capture fun selfies and artistic photos.

Crown Fountain

Not your average fountain, Crown Fountain is an interactive art installation open to the public daily. Be sure to pack your bathing suits if you’re visiting between May 1 and October 31 because they allow visitors to run through the shallow pool surrounding the fountain. The fountain features two towers that project images of local Chicagoans that change the illusions of the waterspouts.

John Hancock Center

The John Hancock Building features amazing 360-degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. For the thrill seeker in your group, the observation deck also has a moving enclosed platform called TILT that sends you over the edge of the 94th floor! You can head all the way up to the top of this 100-story skyscraper or opt for the 95th-floor restaurant, The Observatory, for some stellar views and even better drinks.

Magnificent Mile

North Michigan Avenue a.k.a. Magnificent Mile has something for everyone. This metropolitan avenue is home to over 400 retailers and is also surrounded by 70 hotels including over 10 Hilton brand hotels. After you’ve shopped all day, be sure to take a break and visit one of my favorite places for sweet treats, America’s first Nutella Café. You’ll cross off five of the nine locations on this list while you’re walking along this street!

Millennium Park

An urban civic center with 24.5 acres to enjoy complete with gardens, fountains, and pavilions. The park features views of spectacular architecture, impressive landscapes, food trucks and seasonal art exhibitions. Make sure to download the Millennium Park Audio Tour to learn all about this attraction. Fun Fact: World-renowned architect, Frank Gehry, was a part of the team responsible for turning it into the beautiful, fun-filled park it is today.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This gallery-style museum started showcasing their collection in 1967 and is recognized as one of the world’s largest contemporary art venues. You can easily enjoy an entire day here. Check out their website to find out what incredible exhibition they’re hosting during your visit.

Navy Pier

Originally “Municipal Pier” in 1916, the Navy Pier stretches a little over 3,000 feet from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Walk around and relish in the gardens, shops, restaurants, and a variety of family attractions. Grab a slice of Giordano’s delicious deep-dish pizza after taking in the city views on the Ferris wheel.

Wendella Boats Architecture Tour

Sit down, stay awhile, and give your feet a break while you soak in Chicago’s rich architectural history. You’ll pass by beautiful buildings and skyscrapers that sit on the U.S. National Historic Landmarks list. Along this tour, you’ll get to see where they brew the popular Chicago-craft beer, Goose Island.  ­­­ Bonus: This is a family-owned and operated company! #SupportLocal

With so many places to see and eat around the heart of Chicago, you’ll be glad to maximize your time in this city by walking and putting those pennies you’d be spending on parking towards experiencing its rich history, world-renowned arts, yummy eats, and incredible entertainment to the fullest!

To access more information about local restaurants, unique attractions, and special offers in Chicago, visit our Destination Guide, or explore Hilton properties in Chicago below.

Know Before You Go

  • Chicago’s nickname is “The Windy City.”
  • Make sure to visit Millennium Park so that you can see the world-famous Bean!
  • Avoid visiting in the winter if you aren’t a fan of cold weather! The weather warms up around May.

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Sarah P. Are you interested in traveling to Chicago? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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