Photo credit: iStock

The Windy City has fast become one of the most popular cities in the US for a short stop-off. Chicago is a hub of fantastic food, diehard sports fans, cultural activities and historical sights, benefiting from the fact that it tends to be less crowded than other US cities.

You might think that a city that has so much on offer will take more than 48 hours to explore, but you can fit a lot into a short amount of time in Chicago – so long as you know how to make the most of the experience. Here are some great ways to spend your time in the city and get to see a bit of everything it has to offer:

Day 1

Navy Pier

The best way to introduce yourself to Chicago is to fit in a tour to see as much of it as possible. To do this, you should head to Navy Pier, where you’ll find a selection of sightseeing boat tours.

These will allow you to take in Chicago by water and really appreciate the architectural brilliance displayed throughout it. Tours can last between an hour and half a day, depending on your preference, with each offering expert tour guides and a little bit of city history.

You’ll be guaranteed to get plenty of great photos to remember your trip by and will leave the tour with a newfound respect for the Windy City.

Of course, Navy Pier also has plenty more on offer as well as boat tours. Why not see more of the city from up high by hopping on the 150-foot Ferris wheel in Pier Park? The park is also home to other attractions, including an old-fashioned swing ride that is certain to wake you up and leave you ready for the rest of the day.

You can also take the opportunity to visit the shores of Lake Michigan, which is definitely worth the short walk.

Millennium Park

Photo credit: iStockYou can’t visit Chicago without heading to Millennium Park. With 25 acres of beautiful landscaping, a collection of modern art and surrounded by stunning architecture, this is the perfect place to explore in the afternoon.

There is a lot happening in the park, with itineraries varying depending on the time of year you visit. Simply walking around will allow you to take in the latest public art installations and maybe allow you to catch an open-air concert or free film screening.

One of the most well-known pieces of art in the park is the iconic ‘Bean’ sculpture, which is a stunning, highly-reflective steel structure. Actually called Cloud Gate, the sculpture offers the perfect photo opportunity, as you can catch your reflection as well as the skyline of Chicago, which is stunning no matter the weather.

If you want to get some food, you can go to the on-site Park Grill restaurant or grab some traditional street vendor treats and head to the main plaza for a picnic.

Clarence Buckingham Fountain

It is practically the law that you can’t leave Chicago without paying a visit to the Clarence Buckingham Fountain. This beautiful fountain is one of the largest in the world and was constructed in 1927, making it an important piece of Chicago’s history.

Open until 11 pm each evening – the final display begins at 10.35 pm – the fountain showcases an impressive water display for 20 minutes every hour, with water jets shooting up to 150 feet into the air. If you head there in the evening, you’ll also get to experience an incredible music and light display, which makes the fountain extra special.

Day 2

Wrigley Field

Photo credit: iStockWhether you’re a fan of sports of not, Wrigley Field is a must-visit landmark in Chicago. Built in 1914, the stadium is the second oldest ballpark in baseball’s major league and has featured in a number of films, including The Blues Brothers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and A League of Their Own.

Even if you visit the ballpark in the off season, you’ll still be able to get a photo of the iconic red sign. However, if your trip is during the summer, you may be able to catch a game and get immersed in the world of baseball that the people of Chicago are so passionate about.

Graceland Cemetery

A slightly more unusual place to visit that is just as interesting – if not more so – than other sights in the Windy City is Graceland Cemetery. The park-like burial ground is beautiful to visit, featuring stunning landscaping and design throughout.

As well as having a rich history and being the final resting place for some prominent figures, Graceland also showcases some stunning sculptures and intricate gravestones that can be appreciated by just walking around.

If you want to learn a bit more about the cemetery and who is buried there, it is a good idea to sign up for the tour, which will show you that there is a lot more to cemeteries than meets the eye.

Grab a pizza

Photo credit: iStockWhen it comes to food, you need to try a traditional deep dish Chicago pizza. There are fantastic restaurants across the city that serve up these fantastic pizzas, which are truly unlike those you’ll have anywhere else.

Resembling a pie more than a pizza, these feature a deep base and plenty of toppings, with each pizzeria having their own special. Wash a slice or two down with one of the city’s great craft beers and you’ll see why Chicagoans are so proud of their pizza.

Combine Chicago with more, on a Multi Centre Holiday adventure…

If 48 hours just isn’t enough, then take a look at our most popular USA Multi Centre Holidays and our famous US Road Trips, for some great ideas.

Mathew Woodward Senior Travel Consultant

Matt has been working for eShores since 2012, but has worked in the industry for the last 24 years, so is highly experienced. When it comes to hands on knowledge, Matt has travelled extensively, especially in the USA where there aren't many places he hasn't been to. Matt is fun, loves a chat, but is down to earth, so you'll always get his honest opinion.