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Illinois Self-guided activities

Our most recommended Illinois Self-guided activities

Eastside Chicago: City Exploration Game

1. Eastside Chicago: City Exploration Game

Start the adventure at The Art Institute of Chicago. It will take you between 1.5 to 2 hours to complete and you can also explore at your own pace. Pause the game and resume anytime from the location where you paused it. You will finish at the Fountain of the Great Lakes. As you solve challenges, the story unfolds and exact directions on your phone will guide you to the next location. So, are you up for an exciting city game? After your booking, you will receive an email on how to download the game to your phone. You can play on your own, in a large group, or in several smaller groups that compete against each other and meet at the final stop of the game. For larger groups, one person can purchase access for the entire group by selecting the number of people in the group. All group members will be able to download and play the city game on their phones. Alternatively, each person can make their own purchase.

Chicago: Riverwalk Self-Guided Walking Tour

2. Chicago: Riverwalk Self-Guided Walking Tour

Learn about Chicago's history, culture, and architecture on a self-guided tour via an app. Enjoy animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms. Start by downloading the app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one (download instructions received via email after booking). After downloading the app, head to the starting point of the tour at McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. As you being to walk, spot the DuSable Bridge and learn about the iconic terracotta Wrigley Building. From there, head west and pass Wabash Bridge, once voted America’s Most Beautiful Bridge. After that, see the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Next, stop by the 600-foot Marina Towers. Learn how these towers function as a “city within a city.” Head to the Dearborn Street Bridge and hear why an angry mob once gathered here with axes. Listen to the tale of one of the strangest and deadliest shipwrecks in American history. Learn how a devastating shipwreck happened on a river only 20-feet deep. Continue on toward the Merchandise Mart, a gorgeous example of Art Deco architecture. Learn how the Chicago River helped this city go from a small settlement to a bustling hub of culture and commerce. Next, arrive at Wolf Point, where Chicago’s very first hotel stood almost 200 years ago. Dig into the era when this place was little more than a wild frontier, then head back the way you came for the final section of the tour. Stop at the Tribune Tower containing pieces of historic buildings from across the world, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Berlin Wall. Next, come face to face with NBC’s Chicago headquarters, modeled after the famous skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Center. Finally, arrive at the last bridge separating the Chicago River from Lake Michigan, where the tour concludes. Take in the soothing scenery and snap a few photos for your Instagram.

Chicago: American Writers Museum Flexible Date Entry Ticket

3. Chicago: American Writers Museum Flexible Date Entry Ticket

Learn about the history of writing and how it has shaped American culture with a ticket to the American Writers Museum in Chicago. Stroll through exhibits that appeal to all 5 senses, explore the intricacies of language through games, and write your own story on a vintage typewriter. Enter the museum on any day within 14 days of your chosen date. Connect with your favorite authors and writings from more than 5 centuries while exploring and discovering works of every type, including poetry, lyrics, speeches, drama, fiction, nonfiction, and journalism. Explore the permanent exhibits of the museum. Start with the Nation of Writers Gallery and follow the interactive timeline. Stop at the surprise bookshelf and engage all 5 of your scenes. Watch videos, see dioramas, and marvel at the Word Waterfall. Next, head to the Mind of a Writer Gallery for insights into how writers think. Learn about the daily discipline and habits necessary to get the work done and the deep understanding of the language required to make the writing sing. Continue to the Chicago Gallery honoring Chicago poets, novelists, journalists, and writers who found inspiration from the Windy City. Next, bring your kids to the Children's Gallery and relax in one of the cozy reading areas or the interactive reading space.

Chicago: Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

4. Chicago: Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

On this self-guided walking tour where your phone is your personal guide, explore Millennium Park’s best sights and dive into some of Chicago’s little-known history along the way. This tour has been developed by local guides, creative writers, and professional voice artists. Begin your tour at the park’s north end, by Harris Theater for Music and Dance. From there, simply follow the audio instructions and the route via the app that will be your guide, narrator, and map in one. Head south toward the Pritzker Pavilion while learning some background on how the park came into existence. As an added perk, most stops along the tour have animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms. Once at the impressive pavilion, learn about the vast array of performances held here and the high-tech design which makes it all possible, as well as the man behind it: Jay Pritzker. Get the full story on this precocious kid who went from building model cities out of his grandfather’s scrap wood to designing some of the most famous structures in the country. As you continue, you’ll come to the park’s so-called Secret Garden. Take a stroll along a peaceful boardwalk surrounded by plant life and listen to the little-known symbolism behind the garden’s design. Pause for a fantastic look at Chicago’s skyline before heading past the Art Institute of Chicago and ending up at the astonishing Crown Fountain. Get familiar with the intricately detailed face towers of the fountain, then head north toward Chicago’s most famous sculpture. At last, arrive at Cloud Gate, known by the locals as The Bean. Learn about the artist behind it as well as the technique he used to create such a huge, smooth surface. At the end of your tour, don’t forget to snap some surreal pictures of your reflection.

Chicago: Full-Day or Half-Day Bike Rental

5. Chicago: Full-Day or Half-Day Bike Rental

Chicago proudly ranks as the country’s best city for cycling because of its flat terrain, miles of bike trails, and interconnected neighborhoods, parks, and attractions. Your bike rental starts in the heart of Chicago’s 20-mile Lakefront Bike Trail, near Navy Pier. Choose between a full-day bike rental or a 4-hour bike rental to explore Chicago at your own pace. You’ll receive a helmet, a bike lock, and a detailed map to help you easily navigate your way around the city. Enjoy biking to a variety of attractions and create your own sightseeing itinerary to fit in with your family's interests. Start cycling along the shores of Lake Michigan for gorgeous views of Navy Pier, featuring family-friendly attractions, entertainment, shopping and dining. Continue to Millennium Park, a lively gathering spot that's home to Cloud Gate. Stop here to take a photo of yourself reflected in the mirror of this famous bean-shaped sculpture. Further south, you’ll find Grant Park, whose Buckingham Fountain stands tall as one of the largest fountains in the world. Just South of there lies Museum Campus, a 57-acre park on Lake Michigan that’s home to the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History, as well as the Soldier Field football stadium. Alternatively head north to Lincoln Park, a large lakeside community and park home to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Entrance is free, so you can hop off your bike to explore some amazing animal exhibits. Of course, you can’t miss Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play.

Chicago: Ghost Hunt City Exploration Game

6. Chicago: Ghost Hunt City Exploration Game

Discover Chicago’s famous haunted locations while playing the role of a lost soul wandering among the spirits of the city. As you solve challenges, the story unfolds and exact directions on your phone will guide you to the next location. Ready for an adventure? Head to the Chicago History Museum, where the game will start. It will take you between 1 to 1.5 hours to complete, but there’s no time limit so feel free to explore, and finish it at your own pace: pause the game and resume anytime from the location where you paused it. You will finish the game at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. After your booking, you will receive an email with instructions on how to download and play the game on your phone. You can play on your own, in a large group or in several smaller groups that compete against each other and meet at the final stop of the game. We recommend that each user purchases a ticket for an optimal experience, although several people can share a phone.

Chicago: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

7. Chicago: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Once downloaded, your tour through Millennium Park will begin at the park’s north end. From there, you’ll walk toward the famous Pritzker Pavilion, the park’s centerpiece. Once at the pavilion, you’ll learn about the biggest performances held here, the high-tech design, and the man behind it all: Jay Pritzker. Next you’ll see the park’s “Secret Garden,” a beautiful green space featuring a peaceful boardwalk and fantastic skyline views. After that, you’ll spot the Art Institute of Chicago and continue on to the incredible Crown Fountain, known for its intricately detailed “face towers.” At last, you’ll arrive at Cloud Gate, known by the locals as “The Bean” (but don’t tell the artist)! Get to know the wacky artist behind it, find out how he created such a huge, smooth surface, and don’t forget to snap some pictures of your reflection! The Millennium Park tour concludes here. Your Riverwalk tour begins by the historic DuSable Bridge. Here, you’ll learn not only about this picture-perfect bridge, but also about the iconic Wrigley Building. From there, you’ll stroll west along the riverside, past what was once voted America’s Most Beautiful Bridge. After that, you’ll stop at the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial for a moment of somber reflection. The next stop is hard to miss: It’s the Marina Towers, looming 600 feet over the river. Find out why people say these towers are a “city within a city,” then keep walking to the Dearborn Street Bridge. Hear the full story of why an angry mob once descended on this bridge with axes, then continue your stroll. As you walk, your audio guide will also recount the tale of one of the deadliest shipwrecks in American history… which took place right on the Chicago River! Up next is the humbly-named (but not so humbly designed) Merchandise Mart. This gorgeous example of the art deco style is sure to pique the interest of any budding architects! Next, you’ll reach Wolf Point, where, nearly 200 years ago, Chicago’s very first hotel once stood. Then you’ll get a good look at the Tribune Tower, home to the famous Chicago Tribune. This skyscraper also contains pieces of historic buildings from across the world, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Berlin Wall! After that, you’ll come face to face with NBC’s Chicago headquarters, which look suspiciously like the iconic 30 Rockefeller Center in the Big Apple… because it was modeled after that iconic skyscraper! Finally, you’ll stop by the last bridge separating the Chicago River from the great lake beyond. It’s a great place to admire the scenery, and an even better one to snap some photos for your Insta. The Riverwalk tour concludes here. This bundle is the easiest, most flexible way to see the Windy City. So what are you waiting for?

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What people are saying about Illinois

My husband and I enjoyed the Chicago River Walk tour. We learned a lot about the City’s architecture and history at our own pace. It’s a great way to get a little exercise while learning at the same time. Looking forward to another tour to learn more about the City.

Good location to pick up the bike, very close the the lake trail. No deposit taken which was good. Bike was in excellent condition and really good map provided. The staff handing out the bikes were great.

It was a lot of fun, we liked looking at all the public art. Parts were more difficult than others, so you don’t have to think too much into it.

Really helpful and friendly staff, plenty of route options. Great way to see more of the city. Recommend gloves and lip balm!

Great value! Easy to use & good information-a fun way to learn and explore Millennium Park.