Chicago's Magnificent Mile, or the Mag Mile for short, is a vibrant 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue north of downtown Chicago, east of River North, and north of Riverwalk. The Mag Mile is perfectly poised among must-see destinations. It bustles with upscale shopping, posh hotels, public art, art galleries, popular restaurants, and historical landmarks.

The neighborhood stretches from Oak Street on the north end to the Chicago River on the south, steps away from the shore of Lake Michigan. Bring your walking shoes, sightseeing attire, and traveler's spirit because there are so many things you must do in Magnificent Mile.

Quick Answer Guide: 21 Best Things to Do in Magnificent Mile

‌Top Things to Do in Magnificent Mile‌

‌Best Things to Do During the Day in the Magnificent Mile‌

‌Best Things to Do Outdoors in the Magnificent Mile‌

‌Best Things to Do at Night in the Magnificent Mile‌

‌Free Things to Do in the Magnificent Mile‌

1. 900 North Michigan Shops

  • Perfect For:‌ Shoppers with stamina
  • You Go:‌ Everything closes at 6 p.m.

Shopping is, without a doubt, among the most popular activities on the Magnificent Mile. Anchored by Bloomingdale's, the shops at 900 N Michigan Ave merge luxury shopping with all things high-end lifestyle, world-class food options, and artful spaces. Expect to find famous brands here, indoor golfing, spa services, and culinary classes! These opulent department stores and stylish boutiques are near the north side of the Mag Mile, conveniently within reach of the Gold Coast.

2. The Shops at North Bridge

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  • Perfect For:‌ Shoppers and people-watchers
  • If You Go:‌ Open until 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday

These shops are a must-do on the Magnificent Mile, just a block west of Michigan Avenue. This extensive urban mall is a must-visit for every Mag Mile shopper. Gorgeous space, high-end brands, and specialty boutiques abound. This destination is loaded with great eateries where shoppers can take a pause.

3. 360 Chicago Observation Deck of John Hancock Center

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  • Perfect For:‌ Breathtaking, full-circle city views
  • If You Go:‌ Reserve timed tickets in advance.

Located 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile on the 94th floor of (the former) John Hancock Center, 360 Chicago offers panoramic views of the Windy City. The location also hosts the one-of-a-kind Tilt thrill ride, placing visitors in a moveable glass platform that tilts out over the city for a sightseeing experience like none other.

4. Starbucks Reserve Roastery

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The Magnificent Mile is home to the world's largest Starbucks. It's four-stories, truely dedicated to the art and soul of all things coffee., starting with a coffee bar and roastery on the first floor, an Italian bakery on the second, an experimental coffee bar on the third, and the Arriviamo Cocktail Bar on the fourth. It's open until 8 p.m. during the week and 9:30 p.m. on weekends.

Best Things to Do During the Day in the Magnificent Mile

Daytime activities on the Mag Mile abound, from (more) shopping and architecture to history and culture. Here are options for places to visit in Magnificent Mile during the day.

5. Water Tower Place

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  • Perfect For:‌ Shopping for all budgets
  • If You Go:‌ Open until 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sunday

Water Tower Place is a Chicago landmark on the Magnificent Mile, housing plentiful shopping, entertainment, a city gallery and a selection of eateries. It's named after the nearby Chicago Water Tower, constructed between 1867 and 1869 for Chicago's municipal water system. The historic water tower is just a five-minute walk from the shopping center — and very worth the trip. While at Water Tower Place, don't miss the Chicago Sports Museum for high-tech interactive experiences with your favorite Chicago sports teams and players.

6. Wrigley Building

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  • Perfect For:‌ Architecture and history
  • If You Go:‌ It's a must-see for architecture buffs.

The iconic Wrigley Building stands at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, near the Michigan Avenue Bridge. It is considered one of Chicago's great architectural gems and one of the top buildings to visit on the Magnificent Mile. While you'll see it on a guided architecture tour, it's also a great place to stop and admire on your own when shopping or strolling along the Mag Mile. It was designated as an official landmark by the City of Chicago in 2012 to preserve its historical legacy.

7. Chicago Architecture Center

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  • Perfect For:‌ Exploring Chicago architecture
  • If You Go:‌ Check out the Chicago City Model Experience

Chicago is one of America's most architecturally exciting cities, and the Chicago Architectural Center is the organization behind many of Chicago's finest architectural tours and cruises. Its exhibition space near the Chicago Riverwalk is an exciting place to visit, brimming with history and interactive exhibits. While there, you can also book a spot on one of the signature Chicago Architecture Center tours led by expertly trained docents.

8. Museum of Ice Cream

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  • Perfect For:‌ Ice cream lovers (aka everybody)
  • If You Go:‌ Make an advance reservation.

The Museum of Ice Cream is a deliciously pink place that is super fun. From the dessert-themed mini-golf, Instagram-worthy backdrops and all-ages sprinkle pool, I dare you to find a better place to enjoy all-you-can-eat ice cream treats!

Best Things to Do Outdoors in the Magnificent Mile

While some might consider walking from store to store on Michigan Avenue an outdoor activity, there are many other activities in Magnificent Mile, including ones that are actually a little more outdoorsy. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan with plenty of green spaces, the Mag Mile has many fresh air opportunities.

9. Oak Street Beach

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Oak Street Beach sits on the shore of Lake Michigan, right at the northern tip of the Magnificent Mile. It is ideally situated to showcase the Chicago skyline and iconic buildings like the Willis Tower and the Drake Hotel. Given its smack-dab city location, the sand is surprisingly clean. The beachfront includes a walking path, a couple of places to grab food or a drink, and plenty of places to sit and people-watch.

10. Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours

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  • Perfect For:‌ All visitors to Chicago, especially architecture admirers
  • Website:‌
  • If You Go:‌ Go for the 90-minute tour if you have the time.

A trip to the Magnificent Mile isn't complete without a river-view tour of the gorgeous architecture and 130-year history of the skyscrapers of the Chicago Skyline. The original 90-minute tour includes drinks, snacks and entertaining tour guides. The company also offers a 45-minute option if you need a shorter tour.

11. Bobby's Bike Hike

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  • Perfect For:‌ Visitors who love to cycle
  • If You Go:‌ View their website to select a tour.

As the name suggests, this company offers bike tours of Chicago, with guides leading the way through a tour focused on neighborhoods, foods, architecture, or a little bit of everything. Other options include electric bikes, kayaks, walking tours, and all-ages or adults-only groups. Most tours begin at Bobby's Bike Hike in nearby Streeterville, walking distance from the Magnificent Mile.

12. Lakefront Trail

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Chicago's Lakefront Trail spans an 18-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. Visitors can walk, run, bike or rollerblade while taking in the skyline, shore and park views. The trail runs through several of Chicago's beaches and parks and offers easy access to many waterfront attractions and dining options.

Best Things to Do at Night in the Magnificent Mile

Wondering what to do in Magnificent Mile at night? Eating and drinking are prominent nightlife activities in the Windy City, and there is no shortage of options. Plenty of culture also abounds after dark in and around the Magnificent Mile.

13. Broadway in Chicago

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Chicago's Downtown Theater District is just south of Michigan Avenue and one of the best things to do when visiting the Magnificent Mile. Broadway in Chicago sells tickets for the Cadillac Palace Theatre, James M. Nederlander Theatre, CIBC Theatre, Auditorium Theatre and Broadway Playhouse Theatre at Water Tower Place. Tickets for independent theatres, such as Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, or The Goodman, can be booked directly through their individual ticket offices.

14. Chicago River Fireworks Cruise

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  • Perfect For:‌ A sparkling night out on the water
  • If You Go:‌ Bring a light jacket; it gets cool on the lake.

Who doesn't love watching fireworks from the water? On Wednesday and Saturday nights, May through August, do not miss the chance to take a Chicago Fireworks Cruise. The Lake Michigan Cruise is over two hours of epic fireworks, music, gorgeous views, and an assortment of snacks and drinks available for purchase. The Chicago River tour is an abbreviated 45-minute cruise if you need a shorter trip.

15. Billy Goat Tavern & Grill

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This isn't just a place to get food. Tucked away on the lower level of Michigan Avenue, near Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building, is an authentic piece of Chicago history. The Billy Goat opens at 6 a.m. every day but Sunday (9 a.m.) and stays open until 1 a.m. or later, depending on the day of the week. Go there early in your trip because you may want to return!

16. Museum of Contemporary Art

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  • Perfect For:‌ Art lovers
  • If You Go:‌ Open until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays (and 5 p.m. the rest of the week)

Just a block east of Michigan Avenue and south of Water Tower Place, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is one of the world's largest museums dedicated to art created by living American and international artists. The museum is open during the day, but visiting during its later hours on Tuesday nights is especially lovely. Visitors can enjoy free music on the MCA's Terrace Garden in the summer. Sprawl on the terrace and sculpture garden lawn, get a refreshment from the bar and enjoy the music while surrounded by Chicago's architectural beauty.

Free Things to Do in the Magnificent Mile

It's easy to spend a small fortune during any city getaway, especially one that has so many glistening retail opportunities. When your wallet needs a break, you'll find that some of the best things to do on the Magnificent Mile are free!

17. Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach is so good it had to appear again because it's free!

18. Millennium Park

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Millennium Park is less than a mile walk from the southernmost tip of the Magnificent Mile. It is free and has a day's worth of activities, sights, and destinations within reach. The park is home to Cloud Gate (commonly known as "The Bean"), promenades, gardens, and a fountain. Maggie Daley Park is just a skip and a jump away to the east — an experience not to be missed. The Art Institute of Chicago is a short distance from there, near Chicago's Loop, though that has an admission fee, unless you score a free admission day.

19. The Newberry Library

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  • Perfect For:‌ Lovers of knowledge
  • If You Go:Free tours are offered three times a week; no registration is required.

Opened in 1872 to complement the Chicago Public Library, the Newberry is a free reference library and museum open to all. The 27.5 miles of stacks house a collection of human history spanning 600 years. The library has reading rooms, galleries, classrooms, events and guided tours for visitors to enjoy.

20. Holy Name Cathedral

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Just a 5-minute walk west of the Mag Mile, Holy Name Cathedral is a must-see. Built after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the church's Gothic Revival design is part of Chicago's architectural grandeur. Visitors may walk through to admire the wood, marble, and glass or stay and light a candle, reflect, or experience a mass. All are welcome, and the visit is free.

21. Navy Pier

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  • Perfect For:‌ Lakefront fun and entertainment
  • Website:‌
  • If You Go:‌ Activities have fees, but entrance and views are free.

Navy Pier is a trip in itself, with rides and games, food and drink, and events galore. When visiting the Mag Mile, it's worth a quick Uber or walk to the pier to take in the free experiences: stroll the pier, attend a free event, check out the public art, and catch the nightly fireworks show.

The Magnificent Mile is a slice of Chicago, Illinois, with much to see, do, and share any time of year. Though often compared to the shopping splendor of Fifth Avenue in New York City, the Mag Mile boasts all that and more. With historic buildings, shimmering lakefront, bustling cosmopolitan shops, and cultural experiences everywhere you look, there is enough to fill whatever size itinerary your getaway allows.