Chicago Things To Do And Safety For Solo Female Travelers
Chicago is fantastic for solo female travelers because it has a beautiful lakeside beachfront and popular parks, but what really makes the city so great is its museums. Windy City has over 150! In museums, we’re talking about everything from science, art, culture, history, architecture, nature, and even one about writers. There are also plenty of world-class restaurants and bars, and of course, Navy Pier.
Chicago really is one of those places where your dream vacation becomes a reality. To help you get an idea of what your solo trip can look like, this article will go over some of Chicago’s popular attractions, things to do in Chicago, Covid regulations, safety tips, and areas of caution.
Things to Know About Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is near the southern end of Lake Michigan. It’s home to the world’s first skyscraper, which has since set the precedence for architecture across the city. While there is a lot to do in Chicago, most of its 54.1 million yearly visitors mention the cityscape as the number one attraction. It’s stunning.
Chicago got its nickname “Windy City” from an editor who thought Chicago politicians were stuck up. Metaphor aside, Chicago has a natural cool breeze that comes from over Lake Michigan. The temperature in Chicago hits highs of 82°F in July and lows of 22°F in January. A chilly wind is pleasant in summer but can be bothersome during the winter.
Is Chicago Safe for Females Traveling Solo?
Yes! Chicago is as safe a city to visit as other major cities. Other females who have visited Chicago report feeling very safe and having no problems while walking around alone.
There are still parts you should avoid (which we’ve listed below). Chicago has a reputation for crime, but those areas are away from tourist destinations. In fact, many Chicago neighborhoods are safer than the national average. As always, follow standard safety precautions. Keep those precautions in mind and you’ll have the confidence and preparation for a safe trip.
Areas of Caution
We say areas of caution, but for Chicago, that really means: don’t go there. These places are dangerous, especially for female travelers, especially for traveling solo. There aren’t any attractions in these areas, so the reason we mention them is to advise you against traveling through them or getting hotels in these areas. Downtown Chicago is dangerous, so stay in uptown Chicago. Many recommend getting hotels up to half an hour away to get safe hotels that cost much less than the $600/night Magnificent Mile hotels.
- West Garfield Park and East Garfield Park
- Washington Park
- Englewood and West Englewood
- North Lawndale
- Grand Crossing
- South Shore
Safety Tips for Chicago
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Most crimes happen when one is in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing. These safety tips will help you avoid all three fatal flaws of travel.
- Don’t look like a victim. Stay alert, calm, and confident.
- Don’t set your stuff down, pickpockets are a problem.
- If possible, travel with groups or tours.
- Don’t get too drunk. Consider using the hotel bar if you drink.
- Don’t flash valuables.
- Don’t try to over-explore the city. Getting lost will make you a target or you could end up in some place you don’t mean to. Have a plan of where you’re going and how to get there.
- Let people know where you are going. This could include family, friends, or even the hotel clerk.
Top Museums in Chicago
As we’ve already mentioned, there are tons of state-of-the-art museums in Chicago. These museums make for a wonderful day trip. Museums are perfect while traveling solo because you can see the attractions you want at your own pace and take as long or go as quick as you like. While we can’t list every museum in Chicago in this article, we’ve put some of the best ones here on this list.
The Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. They fill the museum with exhibits about geology, botany, and even contain displays about ancient Egypt, the Americas, and the Sioux. You can also find the world’s largest and most famous tyrannosaurus skeleton, Sue.
They have cute sea turtles here. Need I say more to convince you to visit? The Shedd Aquarium is an amazing aquarium home to a variety of stunning freshwater and saltwater creatures: sharks, sea otters, whales, penguins, turtles and more.
The Art Institute is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world. With many of the collections being permanent, the AIC boasts a vast collection of timeless artworks that are on display year-round, which means no stress about having to plan your visit during a specific time an exhibit is open.
The Chicago History Museum contains the rich and diverse history of the Windy City. Beginning with Native American roots, Chicago has been a center of commerce as early as people have lived on the land. Learn about this fascinating and extensive history while also attending one of their many events: film history of Chicago, Black History, and a host of educational events.
- Museum of Contemporary Art
Contemporary Art is a niche genre of its own–that is part of the reason this museum is so special–it’s like having a grocery store just for carrots. This beautifully diverse museum displays a collection of works of all themes and sizes; some exhibits include the entire room. Creativity and an open mind are the biggest key when choosing artwork to display at this institute and they are outstanding characteristics for any traveler to keep as well when they visit.
- Museum of Contemporary Photography
Just like contemporary art, contemporary photography pushes the boundaries of tradition to create a new aesthetic. This is another niche genre of art that explores a new field of art that flowers as technology advances.
- Museum of Science and Industry
One of the largest science museums in the world, the museum is forty acres full of creativity, science, and hands-on learning. From WWII exhibits to simulated avalanches, the MSI has an interest and entertainment for any age.
The Smart Museum of Art is unique in its works. Each piece of artwork inspires thought and conversation over critical issues. The museum often works with academic institutions and is a suitable place for a scholar looking for some brain food.
- The Oriental Institute Museum
A museum set on exploring the rich history and origins of the Middle East, the OI was established in 1919 with the help of the University of Chicago. A century ago, the OI introduced groundbreaking information about the Middle East and continues to share and make new discoveries today. The OI is a wonderful place to be immersed in culture, discovery, and history.
Top Attractions in Chicago
Millennium Park is often compared to Central Park in New York City. While the two parks are quite different, Millennium Park encompasses much to entertain and delight any traveler.
Colloquially known as “The Bean”, and locally known as Cloud Gate, the 110-ton structure is a rite of passage for any Chicago tourist. The interactive art piece reflects the sky and shows a changed reflection of yourself, so step up, take a selfie, and interact with this unique art.
Jay Pritzker Performance Center
This performance arena takes the center stage for concerts in Millennium Park. Safe, beautiful, and spacious, this lush center is just as much a work of art as the artists who perform there. The amphitheater holds 11,000 onlookers, but it feels spacious with a mix of permanent seating and standing over grassy areas.
Lurie Gardens (Free)
This indoor botanical wonder creates an oasis to escape to from the urban city scene. Filled with flowers, shrubbery, and trees, the foliage will not fail in its flattery of tourists. 2.5 acres of lush garden scene are found near the south end of Millennium Park, and it is open year-round free to the public.
The Navy Pier opened in 1916 and is home to amazing gardens, restaurants, shops, parks, and a 200-foot Ferris Wheel. You can also find The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, an IMAX, and The Crystal Garden. You can also check out year-round events and concerts.
- Buckingham Memorial Fountain
The Buckingham Memorial Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world. Light shows begin daily at 9:00 a.m. and continue every hour, on the hour. The real show begins at dusk, though, when the show gets bigger and is accompanied by music. The fountain was made in Art deco Style and features four seahorses.
No, we’re not talking about the band. Lincoln Park has six miles of greenery, a conservatory, The Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. You can also find playing fields, bike trails, and jogging paths with cool statues.
- Willis Tower Skydeck (103rd floor)
The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) has 110 stories and was the tallest building of its time. It opened in 1974 after three years of construction. It reaches 1453 feet, and from the SkyDeck (1353 feet) you can look across 40-50 miles into four other states. You will want to book tickets for the SkyDeck in advance, so you have a spot.
- Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue)
The Magnificent Mile earns its name, it really is magnificent. This is one of the most beautiful streets in America. It’s well-kept and green. You can see light and water shows and many galleries. Many of the buildings and other attractions we’ve listed are also on the Magnificent Mile, so check it out. The Magnificent Mile is incredibly safe for females and solo travelers.
The Chicago Riverwalk is great for its multiple restaurants, moveable bridges (18 over a two-mile radius), and attractions like Navy Pier. The entire walk is paved, and from here you can get river tours and cruises or visit the Chicago River Museum or McCormick Bridge House
The Chicago River
The Chicago River is an attraction that’s worth the visit. The Chicago River is one of the few rivers in the world that runs backwards because of human intervention. This project took place in 1900 with a practical purpose: to run sewage away from fresh-water Lake Michigan rather than towards it. One of the first things you’ll notice, though, is how blue the river is. This is because of a particular clay on the riverbed and algae that thrives in the water. It’s pretty, but no, you should not swim in the Chicago River.
Sports Teams and Stadiums in Chicago, Illinois
If you like sports, these are the popular professional teams in Chicago. You can get tickets to games or check out tours of the stadiums.
- Chicago Bears (NFL) and Soldier Field
- Chicago White Sox (MLB) and Guaranteed Rate Field
- Chicago Cubs (MLB) and Wrigley Field
- Chicago Bulls (NBA) and United Center
Top 10 Architectural Landmarks in Chicago
Located at 209 South LaSelle Street
Located at 78 East Washington Street
Located at 400 North Michigan Avenue
Located at 435 North Michigan Avenue
Located at 222 North Merchandise Mart Plaza
Located at 300 North State Street
Located at 875 North Michigan Avenue
Located at 111 East Wacker Drive
Located at 233 South Wacker Drive
Located at 225 North Columbus Drive
Covid-19 Restrictions and Guidelines for Chicago
There are no mandated capacity restrictions, though individual establishments may have their own policies. Check Chicago’s official government website for additional updates.
Masks are required on any form of public transportation.
Masks are required in any indoor setting including sports arenas, museums, and performance venues (regardless of physical distancing).
International travelers will need to be fully vaccinated before entering the U.S. and will need to test negative for covid within 72 hours of travel.
Proof of Vaccination
As of January 2, 2022, the following require proof of vaccination for entry:
- Indoor Dining
- Indoor Fitness
- Indoor Entertainment and recreation where food is served.
What counts as proof of vaccination?
You will need a valid photo ID (for 16+) and
One of the following (we recommend carrying a couple just in case):
- Vaccination Card
- Photocopy of vaccination card
- Digital record
- App Record
- Printed record from vaccine provider