Art Institute of Chicago

Top choice museum

in The Loop

The second-largest art museum in the country, the Art Institute houses a treasure trove from around the globe. The collection of impressionist and postimpressionist paintings is second only to those in France, and the number of surrealist works is tremendous.

Wander the endless marble and glass corridors, and rooms stuffed with Japanese prints, Grecian urns, suits of armor, Grant Wood's American Gothic, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The Modern Wing dazzles with Picassos and Mirós.

Audio guides

Download the free app for DIY audio tours; it offers several quick-hit jaunts, from highlights to architecture and pop-art tours. Allow two hours to browse the must-sees; art buffs should allocate much longer.

Tickets and other practicalities

Tickets should be bought online in advance of your visit. Children under 14 can visit for free. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come first-serve basis. There are several accessible parking garages near the Art Institute.

The main entrance is on Michigan Ave, but you can also enter via the dazzling Modern Wing on Monroe Street. Ask at the front desk about free talks and tours once you're inside. Note that the 3rd-floor contemporary sculpture terrace is always free. It has great city views and connects to Millennium Park via the mod, pedestrian-only Nichols Bridgeway.