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Illinois Hidden gems

Our most recommended Illinois Hidden gems

Chicago: 45-Minute Private Helicopter Flight for 1-3 People

1. Chicago: 45-Minute Private Helicopter Flight for 1-3 People

Enjoy spectacular views of Chicago from an MD500 helicopter. This helicopter flight over Chicago covers all the important highlights of the city from McCormick Place and Soldiers Field in the South to Wrigley Field in the North. Depart from Schaumburg Regional Airport and see some of Chicago's highlights including the Willis Tower, the John Hancock Building, Navy Pier, and Lake Michigan with its beaches and picturesque shoreline. Also see the Chicago River, Grant Park, Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, and Museum Campus. Make sure you also look out for Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, and the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks both play. This is a private helicopter experience for 1 to 3 passengers. Travel in complete safety with a professional pilot who will provide you with live commentary through noise-canceling headphones. In the summertime, have the added thrill of the doors being able to be off during the flight.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

2. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

Relax as you glide over the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan on this cruise. Enjoy the glow of the sunset on Chicago's sparkling skyline. Have the option to purchase delectable drinks and snacks at the onboard bar as you sail. Start your sunset cruise on the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue. Make your way along the main branch of the river towards Lake Michigan before entering the Chicago Locks, a modern engineering marvel, that will transfer the vessel onto the great Lake Michigan. The vessel will cruise along Lake Michigan as the sun sets behind the wonderful skyline offering several amazing views. Your local tour guide will give a very brief commentary along the Chicago River and entrance to Lake Michigan, but most of the 1.5-hour cruise is spent without narration, leaving you to watch the sun put on a beautiful display with the City skyline. Admire the many angles of the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Capture magical views of Chicago's twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and the John Hancock Building. You'll also get to admire the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. During your cruise, treat yourself at the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products. Try local beer and spirits and Garrett’s Popcorn. Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Grand Staircase at the front of the boat or pose for photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.

Windy City Ghosts: Hauntings of Chicago

3. Windy City Ghosts: Hauntings of Chicago

Meet your guide at the meeting point then set off on an unforgettable walking tour through Northside Chicago. Travel back in time as you visit some of the city’s most haunted locations in the mysterious Lincoln Park neighborhood. Learn about the forgotten burial ground that forms the foundation of this bustling district. Check out the bathroom mirrors at Lincoln Park Zoo, home to the ghost of a Victorian woman in white. And, hear about the spirit that haunted Al Capone in his final days.  Throughout the tour, you’ll listen to the strange and disturbing tales of each location. On the standard tour, visit eight historic sites, or opt for the extended tour which includes 12 ghoulish locations. By the end of the tour you’ll have learned about and experienced firsthand the alternative side of Chicago.

Chicago: Underground Pedway & Downtown Secrets Walking Tour

4. Chicago: Underground Pedway & Downtown Secrets Walking Tour

Come experience Chicago's famous "Pedway" – the mysterious underground tunnels downtown that keeps us all warm & dry in bad weather. Wandering the Pedway, through hidden corridors of stained glass and even underground swimming pools, you'll access interiors that seem to come up out of nowhere. In the first part of our 2-hour walk, on weekdays, you'll see beautiful and historic government building interiors, learning not only about the design and history of the buildings, but also about the movies filmed there. On weekends, as government buildings are closed, we instead explore a couple stunning interiors with stained glass mosaics that will leave you awe-struck. You'll walk under full blocks of buildings, up and down staircases, accessing these buildings through the Pedway's secret passages. In the second part of our walk, you'll discover some of the other "secrets of the Loop" hidden in plain sight. What is the meaning behind "The Bean"? What is the significance of Chicago and Route 66? How can someone walk right by a garden and not even SEE it -- or walk by a building and not see it, for that matter? You'll find so many secrets, packed into a leisurely 2-hour walk with your expert Chicago guide. Ending with a fabulous “secret” interior near the Art Institute, you’ll be in the perfect central spot for continuing your exploration of downtown Chicago on your own after the tour!

Chicago: Bikes, Bites, and Brews Biking Tour

5. Chicago: Bikes, Bites, and Brews Biking Tour

Working up an appetite won’t be a problem on this signature bike tour combing city sightseeing with the best foods and brews in Chicago.Sample Chicago’s 4 favorite food groups – pizza, hot dogs, brownies, and beer. You’ll learn the history behind the iconic foods and also get a taste of some of Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods. On the daytime version of the tour, cruise through Wrigleyville, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lakeview, and Lincoln Park. On the nighttime version of the tour, bike through the skyscrapers and bars of downtown Chicago and see Millennium Park and Buckingham Fountain at night. On either route, enjoy the beautiful lakefront trail as well. This tour is 13 miles with perfect breaks along the way for sampling. Your experienced guide will keep you safe, in-the-know, and well-fed. Bikes provided.

Chicago Food Tasting: 2.5-Hour Guided Walking Tour

6. Chicago Food Tasting: 2.5-Hour Guided Walking Tour

Combine an enjoyable walk around Chicago's downtown to see some of the city’s top sites with stops to sample some of the city’s famous tastes. On this 2.5-hour guided walk, you'll get to taste the foods Chicago is best known for doing right. Enjoy deep-dish pizza, the original Italian pastries, Chicago-style hot dog, and a classic Italian beef sandwich. Enjoy a VIP craft beer sample for an additional fee. Along the way, you’ll see some of Chicago's most iconic spots including Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, the Art Institute, and the famous Bean. By the end of the tour, your stomach will be full of delicious food and your head will be full of fascinating knowledge about Chicago. During the colder months, the tour makes use of the unique underground Pedway system that connects much of downtown and keeps you warm and cozy. On warmer days, you’ll walk at street level to enjoy the large promenades of the loop. The leisurely walking pace is suitable for people of all fitness levels.

Chicago Underground Donut Tour

7. Chicago Underground Donut Tour

Take a donut tour of the windy city, and discover the best Chicago has to offer. At each location, you will taste a curated sample of the best donuts. Some of the stops on this downtown tour include Stan's Donuts, Do-Rite Donuts, and Firecakes Donuts, true donut institutions. This two hour walking tour is led by a passionate donut expert who will guide you to some of Chicago's best donut locales. This tour caters to all size groups, both large and small. The donut tour is great for bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthdays, family reunions, weekend getaways, or even corporate events. There are two versions of the Donut Tour: The Classic Downtown Tour, as well as a local neighborhood tour in Wicker Park. Both are great options if you're excited about donuts. It really just depends on what neighborhood you want to explore: if you want to stay downtown or if you want to venture out to the Wicker Park & Bucktown neighborhoods to see how "the locals do it". In either case, don't hesitate to join the tour. Buy your tickets today!

Chicago: 3-Hour Private Speakeasy Cocktail VIP Tour

8. Chicago: 3-Hour Private Speakeasy Cocktail VIP Tour

Spend an evening visiting the Chicago speakeasies that have been open since the Prohibition Era in the 1920s, many preserved in their original conditions. With your own private group, enter by way of secret entrances and enjoy the same cocktails ordered by infamous Chicago gangsters and bank robbers at these venues nearly a century ago. Relive the glamor of the 1920s while listening to stories of the rampant racketeering and bootlegging of the era.   Alcohol is available for purchase at the three to four different speakeasy stops. Your private tour guide will make Prohibition Era drink recommendations and tell you the stories behind them. Travel around with your young, professional guide and be chauffeured in luxury transportation, ranging from a luxury SUV to a full-sized luxury motor coach.

Chicago: Treasures of the Golden Age Walking Tour

9. Chicago: Treasures of the Golden Age Walking Tour

This Historic Treasures of Chicago tour covers the most significant historic architectural landmarks in Chicago’s Loop. Your expert guide, trained by the Chicago Architecture Center, will focus on great cultural buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which harkened back to earlier time periods and were designed in revival styles such as Beaux Arts, neo-Georgian and neo-Gothic. Marvel at exteriors and interiors of dazzling beauty and startling originality, and get a glimpse inside some of the city's most beloved buildings.    The highlights of this walking tour will include the Chicago Cultural Center, home to the world's largest Tiffany dome; the iconic Marshall Field's department store, now Macy's on State; and the Palmer House, a beautifully restored hotel from the 1920s. 

Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide

10. Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide

Experience a guided tour around some of the world’s greatest and most iconic art pieces at the Art Institute of Chicago. Avoid the crowds and lines and meet your expert guide at the Institute 30 minutes before opening time. Explore the expansive collection, learning more about both contemporary and classic pieces. Although the museum usually hosts 1.79 million people per year, you will be able to stroll among the pieces at leisure, getting up close and personal with works by famous and infamous artists like Edward Hopper, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol. The Art Institute of Chicago is home to the greatest collection of Impressionist artwork in the world. Your guide will provide expert information on the collection and the museum’s history and hidden gems.

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What people are saying about Illinois

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 2 reviews

So darn fun! My entire family loved it! Nick, our guide was simply terrific. (don’t tell him we said this… wouldn’t wanna embarrass him !) Even on the freezing cold morning, one of the best ways to wake up and kick off the day. Highly, highly recommend.

Our docent was extremely knowledgeable and the tour was well worth it.

Just a super time eating great food and learning some local history.

Guide was very friendly and informative! very enjoyable

it was fun and learned tons of stuff about the city!