Chicago for the Culturalist

There's nothing better than visiting a new city and completely immersing yourself in its culture. In Chicago, the culture is boundless.

Sure, we might be a hot dogs-and-sports kind of town, but the talent brimming from every cultural institution will leave you speechless; it's on such a high level that even the most sophisticated of culture snobs will be impressed. Whether its film, music, dance, theater, history or architecture, we have something for everyone who is looking to learn more and enrich their experiences here—beyond the deep-dish pizza and photos in front of the Bean.

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Founded in 1954, the Lyric is a world-renowned opera company, celebrated for its artistic excellence. It consistently showcases the finest performers in less-familiar and world-premiere operatic productions. Ticket prices and hours vary.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Symphony Center

Performances at Symphony Center include classical pieces conducted by the world-renowned Riccardo Muti; jazz performances and jazz for younger audiences; the CSO Chamber Orchestra; movies set to the live orchestra accompaniment (events have included "Home Alone" and "Back to the Future"); and piano soloists.

Steppenwolf Theatre

Founded in 1976 by nine actors including Gary Sinise, Jeff Perry and Terry Kinney, this ensemble company has grown into a world-renowned theater troupe that focuses on artistically challenging works. Box office open Tu-Sa 11 am-5 pm, Su-M 1-5 pm (until 6:30 pm on days with evening performances).

Goodman Theatre

Located within the Loop Theater District, this theater company was founded in 1925 and features top-notch productions that range from full-scale musicals to searing dramas to one-woman shows. 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

This contemporary dance company is one of the only professional troupes to perform year-round. It's home is the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, but the dancers are known to perform internationally. 

Driehaus Museum

The historic Samuel M. Nickerson mansion houses this museum of decorative arts. There are 17 different types of marble and a 25-foot-high stained glass dome, it also showcases late 19th- and early 20th-century treasures from the collection of its founder, Chicago philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus. Tu-Su 10 am-5pm.

Chicago Cultural Center

This national historic landmark is a showplace for the performing, literary and visual arts, featuring a huge variety of programs presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Free guided tours offered W-Sa at 1:15 pm. M-F 10 am-7 pm, Sa-Su 10 am-5 pm; closed holidays. Free.

Chicago Architecture Center

For more than 50 years, Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) has been celebrating Chicago’s magnificent architecture. The foundation offers 85-plus docent-led tours, including Chicago’s most popular river cruise and many downtown walking tours that depart from its current location above the CAC River Cruise dock.