Trip inspirationHistory, art and cultureFamily friendly
Katie Sagal

Educational Things to do in Chicago

Chicago may be most known as the home of Chicago-style hot dogs, deep-dish pizza and the Chicago Cubs, but did you know it’s also home to some of most world-renowned museums? There are so many educational things to do in Chicago, but your trip just isn't complete until you've explored some of the diverse cultural offering at famous institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago and The Field Museum. How to decide which museums will interest you and your family? Check out this handy guide to top Chicago museums. Then, pick up a Go Chicago® Card and save up to 55% on admission to your chosen museums, plus other great attractions like tours, cruises, and more.

Chicago for the Art Aficionado

Image of Coat, City, Road, Street, Urban, Person, Walking, Path, Adult, Male, Man, Blazer, Jacket, Outdoors, Shelter, Bride, Female, Woman, Metropolis, Hat, People, Shoe, Formal Wear, Tie, "Paris Street; Rainy Day" - one of the Art Institute's most iconic works.
If you’re the tourist who’s taking photos of statues and street art while the rest of your crew is seeking out more deep-dish, then the Art Institute of Chicago is the museum for you! Holding the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside the Louvre in Paris, treat your eyes to authentic masterpieces by Monet, Rembrant, Hopper, and much more. Embrace the allure of iconic artists Seurat, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Diego Rivera. Discover the brilliance of works representing five millennia from China Korea, Japan, India, Asia, and the Middle East. With curated exhibits featuring African art, Ancient art, Photography, Contemporary art, textiles, and beyond – there is truly a collection for every taste and interest. Plus, it was voted #1 Museum in the World by TripAdvisor - that's high praise! Prefer your art to be a little bit more modern? Scope out the Museum of Contemporary Art, an institution with the most cutting edge artistic productions in the entire city. They particularly feature the work of local, up-and-coming artists. It's also got a killer gift shop if you're in the market for unique souvenirs.

Chicago for the History Buff

When everyone else is talking about catching last-minute tickets to a White Sox game, you've got your nose in a book trying to decipher the meaning behind a certain statue or landmark. You love to marvel at historical delights and unearth the stories behind the cities you experience. For a truly fascinating overview of the majestic history of Chicago, make your way to the Chicago History Museum. Hundreds of artifacts, documents, treasures, and stories are just waiting to be explored! Visit exhibits centering in on Abraham Lincoln, the progression of Chinatown, and rare Chicago artifacts never before seen. You may also be interested in the Chicago Architecture Foundation, because everyone knows that the history of Chicago is inseparable from the history of its architecture. Take a fun, informative walking tour and learn more about the city's amazing architectural progress.

Chicago for the Nature Lover

Image of Indoors, Museum, Person, Handbag, "Sue," The Field Museum's famous T-Rex skeleton.
Ancient Egyptian mummies, the DNA Studies, Fossil Labs – any of these pique your interest? Then you should head over to The Field Museum for an unparalleled natural history experience. Established in 1893, its purpose was the “accumulation and dissemination of knowledge.” Since its founding, The Field Museum has come to feature some of the most illustrious marvels and continues to be among the most visited attractions in Chicago. Permanent exhibits feature a marvelous collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, the famed Tsavo Lions, the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex, and one of the largest collections of gems and stones in the world.

Chicago for the Science Geek

Image of Planetarium, An aerial view of Adler Planetarium.
There's no shame in loving science and the world around you -- in Chicago, this passion is celebrated in multiple museums and top-notch institutions. First up is the world-famous Adler Planetarium, the nation's oldest planetarium and one of the most-visited attractions in the entire city. Be sure to spend some time in the Historic Atwood Sphere, which allows you to see the night sky as it appeared over Chicago in 1913. It's conveniently located on the Museum Campus, so it's easy to work into a larger itinerary. Think of yourself as an innovator? Then the Museum of Science and Industry is the place for you. Fun for kids and adults, this popular institution is housed in the only remained building from the 1893 World's Fair. A visit here brings all kinds of wonders, including a 40-foot indoor tornado, a real German submarine from WWII, and an authentic Illinois coal mine. Traveling with kids? Then you'll want to make sure they spend some time at the Chicago Children's Museum, an innovative and creative place where learning is tons of fun. Enjoy hands-on exhibits, exciting demonstrations, and free daily art classes.

Save on Admission

So maybe you’re the tourist who is interested in everything. Lucky for you, you can visit each of these museums, and others, for one low price! With the Go Chicago® Card you can experience dozens of educational things to do in Chicago and have the dream vacation you've always envisioned.

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