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9 Things Chicago is Known For: Know Before You Go

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9 Things Chicago is Known For: Know Before You Go
From the Chicago bean to the underground bars, experience all that Chicago has to offer in this ultimate guide to windy city's tours, nightlife, and history! From world renowned politicians to iconic Chicago-style hot dogs, there's something for everyone to discover in this travel itinerary!

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Pinned for its vibrant sports scene, rich musical influence, and mouth-watering food, Chicago is a dazzling and diverse destination. This city has so much to offer all types of travelers. Let's find out what else Chicago is known for! 

Nestled in the state of Illinois, Chicago is a city that boasts a rich history of captivating culture. It's also a pioneer across the music, food, and sports scene. If you're planning a trip to Chicago, you'll be spoilt for choice.

Chicago's home to the notorious gangster Al Capone, hip-hop legend Kanye West, and basketball teams like the Chicago Bulls. Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of famous celebrities or head out on a foodie trail, this city sure won't disappoint. 

The Top 9 Things Chicago Is Known For

There's a lot going on in Chicago, from the architecture and dining to the festivals and cultural events. Here are all the top features that Chicago is known for! 

9. The Famous People 

The city is home to as many brilliantly famous people as New York. From stars coming out left, right, and center, Chicago is renowned for people like the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, late-comedian Robin Williams, and basketball player Derrick Rose. 

Michelle Obama
Image Courtesy of Vogue

8. The Gangsters 

Organized crime has unfortunately become well known in this city, with famous gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger. 

Mob and Gangster Tour

If you're keen to dive into the illustrious history of this city, sprinkle some excitement into your Chicago itinerary with a mob and gangster tour. You'll visit locations via bus, learn about the unique history, and hear from a tour guide. Did somebody say fun? 

7. The Architecture and Skyscrapers 

Home to a postcard-worthy city skyline, Chicago's shimmering skyscrapers dominate the scene. You'll find towering buildings scattered throughout the city. Famous architecture seems to be around every corner, including the John Hancock Center, Aon Center, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. 

The Willis Tower Skydeck

For top-notch panoramas, climb to the heights of one of the tallest buildings in the United States, the Willis Tower. Originally known as the Sears Tower, you can score tickets to the 103rd-floor Skydeck for less than $30. This is a suitable budget-friendly option if you're looking for something to do in Chicago at night.

The Chicago River Architecture Tour 

If you're a fan of stellar scenery, don't miss this Chicago River architecture tour. This wallet-friendly activity is perfect for whipping into your trip to Chicago. You can learn about what Chicago is famous for while soaking up all the stunning skyscraper views! 

6. The Windy City 

If there's one thing that Chicago is known for, it's the wild, windy weather due to Lake Michigan's high-speed winds that relentlessly sweep into the city. If you're planning a trip here, don't forget to layer up with jackets. Chicago lives up to its name as the Windy City! 

5. The Museums and Art 

Like any of the other major cities in the United States, museums in Chicago are an absolute must-see. Whether you're a fan of contemporary sculptures or centuries-old paintings, Chicago is well-known for its vibrant art scene. 

Must-See Art Galleries in Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago
Image Courtesy of Art Institute of Chicago

4. The Festivals 

What is Chicago known for? Festivals! This city is popping! If you're in the mood to celebrate, you can bet your bottom dollar there's an excuse to do it here! Chicago is known for festivals like the Lollapalooza, Riot Fest, Taste of Chicago Food Festival, and Pitchfork Music Festival. 

Festive Food Walking Tour 

If you're thinking about visiting Chicago during the festive season, don't miss all the Christmas highlights! Hop on this festive food and walking tour and lock your lips with some seriously delectable treats. Local favorites include Chicago-style hot dogs, gingerbread, cotton candy, and roasted nuts! Delicious! 

Pitchfork Music Festival
Photo by New York Times

3. The Sports Teams 

Chicago is just as well-known for its top-notch sports teams as it is for its rowdy sports fans. Having been around for over 100 years, the Chicago Bears boasts an exciting NFL history. If you're a sports fan who is visiting Chicago, don't miss the unparalleled roar of a football match! 

Chicago Bulls NBA Game

Thanks to big names like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, basketball enthusiasts are well aware of the Chicago Bulls. As one of the most popular sports teams in the NBA, grab the opportunity to see a game at the United Center on your trip! 

Dating back well over a century, the Cubs have also made their mark on baseball history. Having won a World Series title, don't miss the chance to get in on the baseball action when you're in Chicago. 

Photo by NBA Sports Wiki

2. The Cuisine  

Calling all traveling foodies! This is for you. Chicago is home to a divine dining scene boasting seriously creative dishes. If you're wondering what Chicago is known for when it comes to food, there are plenty of iconic dishes you should try. Prepare your taste buds because this is next-level tasty. Here are some of the best foods that Chicago is known for: 

Deep-dish Pizza

A thick-crusted pizza that's covered with multi-layer toppings.

Chicago-style Hot Dogs

These hot dogs come in a poppy seed bun that's filled with mustard, onions, tomatoes, relish, pickles, peppers, and salt. 

Chicago-Italian Beef Sandwich

This drool-worthy sandwich comes on an Italian roll that's packed with thinly sliced roasted beef and peppers.

Chocolate Brownies

Did you know chocolate brownies were invented in Chicago by Bertha Palmer at the 1893 World Fair? 


No explanation is needed. Who doesn't love donuts? 

Chicago Favorites Ultimate Food Tour

If you're a serious foodie, you can take your Chicago trip up a notch on this food and walking tour. You'll sample a series of all the famous foods Chicago is known for. Did somebody say food coma? 

Chicago Food Tour
Photo by Viator

1. The Music Industry 

Aside from the ample art, food, and architecture, Chicago is internationally known for its astounding music scene. With everything from classic blues to funky jazz and hip hop, the Windy City sure knows how to slay a good beat. 

Whether you want to boogie to house music, keep it classy with some jazz, or straight out rave to electronic dance music, this city is pumping crazy tunes! Head out on the town to one of Chicago's clubs, bars, or music theatres. Make it a memory you won't forget! 

Are you planning on hitting the town? With everything from LGBTQ+ clubs to underground bars, this city has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife. Save this guide to the best nightclubs in Chicago for your next trip! 

Crowd of people with raised arms having fun at a music festival
Photo by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

Want to Get Active in Chicago?

If you need a break from city sightseeing in Chicago, you'll be surprised by how much outdoor activity is available! Whether you want to set out on a rigorous hike or a simple stroll through nature, Chicago serves as an ideal base for an active vacation. 

From Starved Rock State Park to Moraine Hills State Park, your retreat to nature is just a stone's throw away! Don't miss this in-depth guide on hiking in Chicago

Why Visit Chicago? 

Chicago is a must-see destination because of its renowned architecture, passionate sports teams, rich music scene, and too-die-for food. On top of all that, Chicago is known for its immersive art scene, gangster history, and music too. Whether you want to keep it low-key or hit up the high-paced energy, Chicago has it all. 

The Windy City and Beyond! 

Chicago is known for a lot of things - it can be challenging to fit it all into your trip. That's where we can help. Start planning your trip with Pilot and don't miss out on a thing! 

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