I will be in Chicago for a week for Microsoft Ignite. I will stay near Roosevelt & Mich. I have never been to the U.S., let alone Chicago, before. May 2nd is my only spare day, and I intend to go sightseeing.

But then, I am not someone who is easily impressed by just "old things", be it architecture or paintings. I am more into technical things, sciences, and perhaps some animals (whether padded, bones-only or alive).

So I thought to attend science and industry museum. How much time should I plan for this museum?

Furthermore, Shedd Aquarium could be worth a visit. But then, we have an aquarium back in Cologne, and I have been there more than once. But then, aren't they all the same, fish behind glass? Is there anything special about this aquarium?

And then there's the Field Museum. I won't make it for the scientist hours on Friday, but it should be impressive nonetheless. I guess I will feel a bit overwhelmed in there. Is there a guided audio tour or sth. like that available, or would I have to be there at 11 a.m. for the guided tour? Is the tour helpful, is it overcrowded (since it's free)? And what exactly does "Pawnee Earth Lodge Open House" mean?

And, last but not least: Are these three doable in a single day? I won't find any other time to attend them during their usual opening hours. Did I overlook any evening specials that take place between May 1st and May 7th?

When I buy three single tickets, cost is nearly the same as the City Pass; but the latter will allow me to bypass the queues, so I'd go for the pass (time is money). Where can I get the pass, without waiting time, possibly even on Friday between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.? (Since I am not sure whether plans may change, I won't pay a hundred bucks before getting off the plane.)

  • Your final question is pushing this into the realm of opinion based. Similarly asking if places are 'worth a visit'. You may want to reword the question to ask if it's possible to do all three attractions in a single day and ask for information on the most efficient way to do it.
    – SpaceDog
    Apr 27, 2015 at 8:16
  • 1
    The best advice one can give you is: "find more spare days somehow"... Apr 27, 2015 at 9:14
  • 1
    @SpaceDog I reworded the question a bit.
    – Alexander
    Apr 27, 2015 at 12:42
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    Please have a read of the help center again - asking multiple questions in one is often not a great approach for SE :/ Cool trip and Chicago is a great city, but this needs to be split up.
    – Mark Mayo
    Apr 27, 2015 at 13:01
  • There's very little in Chicago older than 150 years anyway. So you're not likely to see anything "old". At least not old on a European time scale. Apr 27, 2015 at 22:26

3 Answers 3


Focusing on the question of, "Are these three doable in a single day?"

Yes it is but very hard to see all they have to offer. Buy your city pass at CityPass Website. More details below if you are interested in some of my opinions.

Chicago has some really large museums. Those three you mentioned (Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Museum of Science and Industry) are among its largest. There is enough depth and information to ingest that you could spend a whole day in any one of them. Also they usually offer some kind of show or movie to watch and I recommend those which that takes even more time. So this leaves it up to you as to whether or not you make it through them in a single day.

Everything below here are mostly opinions and tips and can be deleted or kept if found useful.

My Suggestion if you just want to breeze through them (which is what it sounds you want to do): Buy the CityPass at the CityPass Website. Print it or show the voucher to them from your phone or internet connected device. Then pace yourself at each place. You will find that you will run out of time quickly but, yes, you can physically make it to each place in one day. You may find it not so worth the money. You can grab a quick bite to eat at one of the museum's cafeterias. Keep in mind that the Museum of Science and Industry is not located at the Museum Campus. It is 28 minute bus ride from the Roosevelt and Michigan-ish area but always add at least 10 mins from what google maps says.

My suggestion if you are looking to learn and ingest a good amount at each place: I personally would try to see two and save some time for lunch in between. Go to the first one when it opens at 9am, stay till lunch, then go to the next one until close at 5pm. This will also give you time for some of the shows. I would pick two of them that are at the Museum Campus (Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and/or Adler Planetarium). It would mean a lot less hassle. Also taking into account your statement of,"...I am not someone who is easily impressed by just "old things"..." go to the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. I love aquariums and been to many myself and the Shedd is still enjoyable and worth seeing. If you like space stuff the Adler Planetarium is definitely worth the trip. For a planetarium it does have a lot and is near by the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum.

Enjoy your trip to Chicago :).

I have been living in Chicago for 26 years and I personally enjoy the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium the most. The Museum of Science and Industry is still very interesting. You will enjoy yourself where ever you decide to go.

  • 3
    A tip to fellow programmers and other office workers: Go to only one of the museums; the Field easily fills six hours, and afterwards, you couldn't concentrate on another one, because your feet are aching like hell.
    – Alexander
    May 8, 2015 at 8:18

I live just a few blocks from where you're staying, and also enjoy technical things. I have a couple suggestions for you.

First off, the Museum of Science and Industry is excellent. It's huge. I wouldn't bother trying to hit all the museums. I would hit just this one. The museums are all very large and you could easily spend most of your day at each one. Consider spending a half day here. It's worth doing the extra exhibits. I recommend the German submarine exhibit. The coal mine exhibit is neat as well if you like big machinery.

Next, you might really enjoy a brewery tour. The Argus Brewery is a small local brewery on the south side of Chicago in the West Pullman area. Now, here's the cool thing... this brewery is a block from a Metra station, and it just happens to be the same Metra line that runs by the Museum of Science and Industry. If you time it right, you can take the train (or one of the many buses at Roosevelt) down to the Museum of Science and Industry, spend all morning and lunch there, then hop on the train to go down to the brewery, enjoy the tour of the small facility while having some beer, and then take the train back. The train picks up just a block from where you're staying.

You'll be back in town in time for a nice dinner.

If you come back during the fall, there are tours that take you inside the bridge mechanisms and explain how they all work.

Also, the view from the Hancock Observatory (now 360 Chicago) is very nice, cheaper than the Willis Tower Skydeck, and a much shorter wait. (Skydeck waits can be as long as 3 hours on nice weather weekends.)

Enjoy your trip!

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    I went to the Field this year; but next year it will be the Science and Industry museum, I promise. :-)
    – Alexander
    May 8, 2015 at 8:19

You can certainly get to all three in the same day, but even if you use taxicabs I don't think you'll get much bang for the buck (as we say). I would first drop the Shedd, unless you are especially interested in fish. The Museum of Science and Industry is very large, and my children often spend almost an entire day there. Check whether the Field or Science and Industry has a more interesting special exhibit?

If you really want to see something distinctly Chicago, it is the most interesting city in the USA for architecture. The skyscraper was born there. Tour web site. (Not affiliated in any way, except for taking same several times when my mother-in-law was alive and living in Chicago.)

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