Chicago is a city full of history. While it still boasts innovation in modern architecture, there’s plenty of historical buildings and landmarks that paint a picture of the industrial and resilient nature of the city. Consider doing our historic building scavenger hunt to get some fresh air and see what millions of visitors come to see in Chicago every year.
To make this a real scavenger hunt, take a photo at each location (and if you put it on social media, use the hashtag #oakbankscavengerhunt so we can see).
Chicago Water Tower: The Chicago Water Tower was built in 1869, just two years before the Great Fire, and it was one of the buildings that survived. Because of this, it is seen as a symbol of resilience. Today it houses the Chicago City Gallery which displays artwork from local artists.
Fun Fact: The water tower’s design inspired the design of the White Castle restaurant chain.
Tour Times: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Millennium Park: The area we currently know as Millennium Park was owned by Illinois Central Railroad from 1850s to 1997 (just 20 years ago). Early in the 1900’s, Grant Park was built around this area, but in 1997 it was decided that the park would be unveiled in 2000 (the new Millennium). Within the 25 acres of Millennium Park, you can find the famous Cloud Gate too.
Fun Fact: If you want to check out the Cloud Gate without fighting through crowds, later in the day or evenings are your best bet.
Open Hours: 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. every day, year round.
Shedd Aquarium: Built in 1927, this was largest indoor aquarium in the world at the time. It was also the first inland aquarium in the United States with salt water exhibits (in addition to fresh water). There was even a train, called the Nautilus, that was custom made for transporting sea life to the aquarium.
Fun Fact: The At Home on the Great Lakes Exhibit aims to educate and inspire people to get involved in conservation efforts.
Open Hours: Winter hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, and 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. all week during the summer.
John Hancock Center (360 Chicago) Built in 1969 the John Hancock Center, now known as 360 Chicago, stands tall at 1,500 feet. It has 100 stories, which include a pool on the 44th floor, observatory on the 94th, and a restaurant on the 95th. On windy days, you can not only enjoy the view but sway a little with the building.
Fun Fact: TILT Chicago is a new part of the observatory that allows up to 8 guests at a time to experience Chicago’s views at a tilt- giving the sensation that you are looking down over the city.
Open Hours: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. all week throughout the year.
Built in 1930, Adler Planetarium was the first planetarium in the United States (and western hemisphere), and in 1987 was declared a National Historic Landmark. Adler boasts three domed theaters for shows, and offers research programs for both the scientific and public communities.
Fun Fact: Adler offers a few unique programs such as Adler After Dark (a 21+ program) and AstroOvernights, which allows families to spend the night in the planetarium.
Open Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day
There are, of course, many more buildings and landmarks to explore in Chicago besides the ones we picked for our scavenger hunt. While a tour may be interesting and informative, a scavenger hunt is a fun and interactive way to explore the city with friends. A few scavenger hunts include:
- Big City Scavenger Hunt
- Stray Boot Scavenger Hunts (offerings tailored to individuals, corporate team building, and everything in between)
- The Field Museum Scavenger Hunt (within the Field Museum on the Chicago Museum Campus)
It’s almost spring, which is a perfect time to get out and have a fun day/night on the town by visiting a new (to you) building on this list, or making it a group effort and enjoy it with your friends!