10 best Chicago museums: Top institutions to visit in Chicago
The Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and more of the best Chicago museums to take in art, nature, history and culture.
Whether you're a local or an out-of-towner, if you have a day off in Chicago, spending it at a museum is a no-duh. Ferris Bueller knew this. He hit up the Art Institute (just follow a school group around; it's cool). As did the folks attending a Field Museum gala in 1997 horror film The Relic. (What they didn't know is that they'd be stalked by a lizard-like monster.)
These well-respected institutions offer informative and inspiring encounters with art, history, science and culture, not to mention noteworthy architecture. For instance, the Museum of Science and Industry is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts, built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. (Hence the classical Romanesque design and Ionic colonnade, natch.)
There's variety to be experienced: Tour the AIC's bright, Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing, commune with butterflies at the Notebaert Nature Museum or encounter aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium. Whatever your agenda, be sure to hit our list of the best Chicago museums. Other no-duh suggestions: 1) Take advantage of the museums' free days. (Days and times vary.) 2) Steer clear of lizard-like monsters.
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- 2. Check out "Chicago Works: Lilli Carré" at the MCA.
- 9. Work up a sweat at the gym.
- 11. Drink hot booze.
- 14. Learn about Disney at the Museum of Science and Industry.
- 16. Get down at one of Chicago's best dance clubs.
- 17. Check out Tomorrow Never Knows 2014.
- 18. Indulge in some salt therapy.
- 19. Get your nature fix at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
- 20. Attend Hannibal Buress's Comedy Central taping.
- 21. Explore Eataly, Mario Batali's Italian superstore.
- 22. See a movie at the Hollywood Palms. (It's a jungle in there!)
- 23. Up your winter hat game.
- 24. Commute by Divvy bike (yes, even in winter).
- 25. Watch films from our list of the 50 best documentaries.
- 26. Sing away the winter blues at karaoke.
- 27. Take a winter road trip.
- 28. Hop to a new Chicago brewery.
- 29. Eat at Dusek's Board and Beer in historic Thalia Hall.
- 30. Get hooked on hot yoga.
- 32. Treat yo'self at a winter spa.
- 33. Treat yo' skin, too.
- 34. Make a killer party playlist.
- 35. See "William J. O'Brien" at the MCA.
- 37. Visit a new Chicago boutique.
- 38. Discover the sport of curling.
- 39. Hang out in Chicago's most serene spaces.
- 42. Build a snack stadium for your next sports-viewing party.
- 43. Try all the flavors at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. (There are tons.)
- 44. Spend the day at one of Chicago's best museums.
- 46. Absorb the "Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair" at the Field Museum.
- 48. Stop by one of Chicago's best comedy shows.
- 49. Cheer on the Bulls or Blackhawks at United Center.
- 50. Try some of the Midwest's best gin.