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Things to Do: Evanston & Chicago

When you come to visit Northwestern there’s so much to do, and numerous opportunities to become immersed in campus culture and the Northwestern community. There is a great deal to take advantage of during your visit, not only from the vibrant Northwestern community, but also from the surrounding Evanston and Chicago areas. The following list of “things to do” is not exhaustive, but may help get you started (you can even let your student tag along!)

  • Get a glimpse of student life! Join your student for classes and meals. If you wish to attend a class with your student, please request that your student ask permission from his or her professor before making plans to attend.  Class visits are subject to individual faculty approval.
  • See and hear student talent. For the best in music and the performing arts, look no further than Northwestern's student music and performance groups!
  • Enjoy the Block Museum. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and its Block Cinema film series, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is where the Northwestern community experiences excellence in the visual arts without leaving campus.
  • Enjoy free admission to Northwestern's fitness facility—the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, Norris Aquatics Center, and Combe Tennis Center—including the Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, fitness classes, state-of-the-art exercise equipment, and a suspended track overlooking Lake Michigan.
  • Cheer for the Wildcats! Check out the Northwestern Athletics website to take advantage of the many great athletic programs Northwestern has to offer.
  • PlanIt Purple is constantly updated with all events that are hosted on the Northwestern campus.

Explore the picturesque town that hosts your student all year long! Evanston is a terrific city right outside of Chicago that has many shopping and dining locations within walking distance of campus. Visit the Downtown Evanston website for more information.

Evanston Resources

Visiting families are encouraged to sample the restaurants, theaters, shops, parks, and other attractions that Chicago has to offer. Selected destinations and events are highlighted at the Chicago North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chicago Office of Tourism.

Chicago is full of exciting educational and cultural attractions!
Other Chicago Attractions

Wendella Chicago Architecture Boat Tours- Starting at the dock by Trump Tower, this river boat tour provides a beautiful and unique setting to view and learn about the city's architectural heritage and history. Daily tours are at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Additionally, tours leave at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets should be purchased in advance.

Willis (Sears) Tower is the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and attracts more than 1.3 million visitors each year. Venture onto The Ledge for a unique and daring view from 103 stories high. The Tower is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; tickets must be purchased at the door. 

Hancock Observatory offers 360 degree views of the city from the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. Night or day, a trip to the top is a great way to view the city. The observatory is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (last admission at 10:30 p.m.); tickets may be purchased at the door. 

The Second City comedy theatre is the leader in improv-based sketch comedy. Legendary Second City alums include Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, and Stephen Colbert. Shows run at various times throughout the day; it is suggested to purchase tickets online in advance.

Lincoln Park Zoo provides free, family-friendly animal experience in the heart of Chicago. Visit lions, tigers, bears, (bulls), and more!

Chicago Segway Tours- Discover the beauty and excitement of the Windy City through a Segway tour of Chicago. Tours begin at $79 and run throughout the day; tickets should be purchased online in advance.

Discounts and Weekend Events

Are you looking for a wallet-friendly day in Chicago? Feel free to peruse websites such as Groupon (did you know Groupon was started by a Northwestern alumnus?), Living Social and Metro Mix Chicago. These sites will display discounts and weekend events in the Windy City.