Things to Do in Chicago Columbus Day Weekend 2017 – Attractions, Activities & More

Columbus Day Weekend provides the perfect opportunity for an early fall getaway.

We’ve officially come out of summer mode and are really missing all that freedom and fun by early October, so why not take advantage of that time off to get to Chicago?

If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago for Columbus Day Weekend 2017, some of our ideas include:

  • Chicago Columbus Day Parade
  • Fall Foliage in Lincoln Park
  • Skydeck Chicago
  • The Field Museum
  • Big Bus Chicago Hop-on Hop-off Tour
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Chicago Bike Rides
  • And more!

Save on Seasonal Activities

Regular admission to a number of these attractions are available on the Go Chicago Card.

Choose as you go from popular attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Learn more about all Chicago tourist passes, attractions and prices.

Please note, some of these special events may be separately ticketed and not available on the Go Chicago Card.

Chicago Columbus Day Parade

State Street
October 9, 2017

The city’s official Columbus Day Parade is fun for the whole family. With over 150 floats, bands, and marching troupes, it’s an energetic, exciting atmosphere to observe.

The parade runs along State Street from Wacker to Van Buren, so it’s easy to include a bit of parade-watching into a larger Loop sightseeing itinerary.

Getting In: The Chicago Columbus Day Parade is free to watch.

Fall Foliage in Lincoln Park

Lincoln-Park-Zoo-Carousel-and-Children-s-Train-1For those of you who think the best part of fall is the emergent colorful foliage, then a stroll through Lincoln Park should be on your to-do list.

This expansive urban park is dotted with trees throughout, all of which promise to begin to turn bright hues of red, orange, and yellow by Columbus Day Weekend.

There’s also a zoo for the family to explore, which offers free admission plus ticketed rides.

Getting In: Lincoln Park is free to explore. Lincoln Park Zoo ride tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.

Skydeck Chicago

If you want to see the bright fall colors from a different perspective – not to mention the lake and the cityscape below – head to Skydeck Chicago.

This famous observation deck is located in the Willis Tower and provides some of the best aerial views in the whole town.

Getting In: Skydeck Chicago tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.

The Field Museum

chicago-field-museum-JTP-GatesFor those of you who love natural history, the Field Museum is your must-visit destination in Chicago.

Filled with a wide variety of artifacts and objects, it’s one of the most impressive collections of natural and cultural history exhibits in the world.

They are particularly known for SUE, the nearly-complete T. Rex skeleton that towers over visitors. And this fall, they’re also hosting Jurassic World: The Exhibition, which continues the dinosaur fun!

Getting In: The Field Museum tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card; Jurassic World: The Exhibition is separately ticketed.

Big Bus Chicago Hop-on Hop-off Tour

If your Columbus Day Weekend trip is actually your first time in Chicago, then the Big Bus tour is a must.

This tour provides an excellent overview of the city while still being fun and accessible, so it’s a smart choice for all first-time visitors.

It’s also a hop-on hop-off option, so you can customize your trip to suit your interests.

Getting In: Big Bus Chicago tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card

Art Institute of Chicago

Michigan_Ave_North_Lion 2 Art InstituteSee some of the greatest and most inspiring works of art known to man on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Whether you’re interested in eighteenth-century European painting, medieval iconography, or contemporary Indian art, you’ll find it at the Art Institute.

Opening on Columbus Day weekend is a stellar special exhibit, entitled, “Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil.”

Getting In: Art Institute of Chicago tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card; special exhibits require additional fees.

Navy Pier

Navy-Pier-centennial-wheel-1Head to the city’s entertainment center – Navy Pier. Here is where you’ll find plenty of community activities, special events, and family friendly fun.

You can ride the Centennial Wheel and other rides, take in a play at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (The Taming of the Shrew is showing this Columbus Day Weekend), or head to the Chicago Children’s Museum. 

Getting In: Navy Pier is free to explore. Navy Pier Centennial Wheel and Rides tickets & Chicago Children’s Museum tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.

Chicago Bike Rides

bike chicagoThis fall is also a wonderful time of year to get out and enjoy the fresh air. While it’s promising to remain warm in Chicago for much of September, we’re hopeful that October will bring with it some cooler weather.

Get out and ride a bike along the expansive lakefront trails, through the parks, or even on city streets. Rent one if you can’t (or don’t want to bother) bring your own.

Getting In: Chicago bike rentals are included with the Go Chicago® Card.

Remember to Save on Attraction Admission

So there you have it. Our list of some exciting things to do in the Chicago area this Columbus Day Weekend.

Remember, many of these great options are included on the Go Chicago Card, where you can save on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

Please note, the Columbus Day Weekend events taking place at some of these venues may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Chicago Card.

Consider adding a few of these fun options to your fall long weekend vacation itinerary.

Go Chicago Card

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