20+ Things to do at O’Hare Airport During Layover

If you’re traveling through O’Hare airport, you may find yourself with some time on your hands. Rather than spending your layover in the airport terminal, why not explore some of the great things Chicago has to offer? From world-class museums to iconic architecture, there’s plenty to see and do within walking distance of the airport. Here are 20 suggestions for ways to make the most of your time in Chicago.

List of 20+ Fun Things to do at O’Hare or near O’Hare Airport During a Layover:

1. Visit the Field Museum

2. Take a architecture tour

3. Stroll through Millennium Park

4. See a show at the Chicago Theatre

5. Eat deep dish pizza

6. Shop on the Magnificent Mile

7. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago

8. Go to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field

9. Take a tour of the Willis Tower

10. Visit the Museum of Science and Industry

11. Ride on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier

12.Explore Buckingham Fountain

13. Take a picture with The Bean in Millennium Park

14. Visit the Shedd Aquarium

15. Walk along the riverfront on The 606

16. See the city from above at 360 Chicago

17. Go to a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field

18. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art

19. Ride on an architectural boat tour

20. Enjoy the views from the John Hancock Observatory

Here are 21 fun things to do near O’Hare or at O’Hare Airport During Layover:

#1. Visit the Field Museum

The Field Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. This world-renowned museum is home to over 24 million specimens, including Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever found. With a variety of exhibitions and galleries, there’s something for everyone at the Field Museum. You can read more on Field Museum’s website here.

The most affordable option to go from Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD) to the Field Museum of Natural History costs only $2, and it takes just 24 minutes. This is an ideal activity if you have a long layover of over 5 hours at this Airport.

Visir Field Museum in Chicago during your layover to see exemplary exhibitions

If you visit this Museum before January 8, 2024, you may catch the current exhibition of the First Kings of Europe. The showcase is made possible with the support of 16 different museums and 11 countries in Europe.

You should, however, note that the recommended time to spend at this Museum is 3 hours as there are tons to see.

Over 8,000 people have given this destination 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor with a majority of them highlighting how their time visiting this Museum was well spent and how they could possibly spend a whole day here. You can also purchase $27 Museum tickets directly on Tripadvisor here.

#2. Take an architecture tour

Chicago is known for its iconic architecture, and there are a number of ways to see the city’s skyline up close. One popular option is to take an architectural boat tour down the Chicago River. These tours depart from Navy Pier and give you a unique perspective on some of the city’s most famous buildings. You can also take a walking tour or a bike tour to see the architecture up close.

#3. Stroll through Millennium Park

Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s located just a short walk from the airport. This 24.5-acre park is home to a number of iconic attractions, including the Bean, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, and the Lurie Garden. Millennium Park is also a great place to catch a free concert in the summer months.

Visit Millenium Park during your layover at O'Hare to get a feel of one of the well designed parks in the world

You can read reviews, and see pictures of Millennium Park on Tripadvisor here.

#4. See a show at the Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. This historic theatre first opened its doors in 1921 and has since hosted a variety of performances, including concerts, plays, and stand-up comedy. If you’re looking for something to do during your layover, a show at the Chicago Theatre is a great option.

#5. Eat deep dish pizza

Deep dish pizza is one of Chicago’s most famous exports, and there are a number of great places to try it near the airport. Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, and Uno Pizzeria & Grill are all popular options. If you’re looking for something a little different, Chicago also has a great selection of ethnic restaurants.

#6. Shop on the Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago’s most popular shopping destinations. This 13-block stretch of Michigan Avenue is home to a variety of high-end stores, as well as a number of attractions, including the John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building, and the Tribune Tower.

#7. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious art museums. With a collection that includes works by Monet, van Gogh, and Picasso, the Art Institute is a must-see for any art lover. The museum is located just a short walk from Millennium Park.

image showing icon lion sculpure at the Art institute of chicago - must visit if you have a layover at ohare

Read reviews, see photos, and book with Tripadvisor here.

#8. Go to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic baseball stadiums in America. Home to the Chicago Cubs, this historic stadium first opened its doors in 1914. If you’re a baseball fan, catching a game at Wrigley Field is a must-do while you’re in town.

Read more here.

#9. Take a picture with The Bean

The Bean is one of the most popular attractions in Millennium Park. This iconic sculpture, officially known as Cloud Gate, is a must-see for any tourist visiting Chicago.

#10. Check out the views from 360 Chicago

360 Chicago, formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, is one of the best places to get a birds-eye view of the city. Located 100 stories up in the John Hancock Center, this observatory deck offers unparalleled views of the city skyline.

#11. Visit the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest museums in the world. With over 35,000 artifacts on display, this museum has something for everyone. The Museum of Science and Industry is located in Hyde Park, about a 30-minute drive from the airport.

#12.Catch a show at the Second City

The Second City is one of the most famous improvisational comedy theaters in the world. This historic theater has been the launching pad for a number of successful comedy careers, including those of Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and Stephen Colbert. If you’re looking for a laugh, catching a show at the Second City is a great option.

#13. Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in America. This free zoo is home to a variety of animals, including lions, tigers, gorillas, and penguins. The Lincoln Park Zoo is located in Lincoln Park, about a 20-minute drive from the airport.

Read reviews and check out pictures on Tripadvisor here.

#14. Take a picture with the Chicago skyline

The Chicago skyline is one of the most iconic in America. With skyscrapers like the Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center, the Chicago skyline is a must-see for any tourist visiting the city. The best place to get a picture of the skyline is from the Skydeck at Willis Tower.

#15. Visit Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain is one of the most popular attractions in Grant Park. This iconic fountain was built in 1927 and is one of the largest in the world. Buckingham Fountain is a great place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the city.

Check Tripadvisor to learn why it is Tripadvisor’s Traveler’s Choice of 2023.

#16. Explore Navy Pier

Navy Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chicago. This 3,300-foot-long pier is home to a variety of attractions, including an Ferris wheel, a carousel, and a Shakespeare theater. Navy Pier is located in Streeterville, about a 15-minute drive from the airport.

#17. Take a picture with the Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Millennium Park. This 110-ton sculpture is made of stainless steel and is one of the most photographed landmarks in Chicago.

#18. Climb to the top of Willis Tower

Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, is the tallest building in Chicago. This 110-story skyscraper offers stunning views of the city from its Skydeck observation deck. Willis Tower is located in the Loop, about a 10-minute walk from Millennium Park.

#19. Visit the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest and most popular museums in Chicago. This museum is home to a variety of interactive exhibits, including a coal mine, a U-boat, and a planetarium. The Museum of Science and Industry is located in Hyde Park, about a 20-minute drive from the airport.

#20. Visit the Shedd Aquarium:

The Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest and most popular aquariums in the world. With over 32,000 animals in its collection, the Shedd Aquarium is a must-see for any animal lover. The aquarium is located in Streeterville, about a 15-minute drive from the airport.

You can book it here.

#21. Walk along the riverfront on The 606:

The 606 is a 2.7-mile-long elevated trail that runs along the Chicago River. The trail is open year-round and is a great place to walk, run, or ride your bike. The 606 is located in Bucktown, about a 20-minute drive from the airport.

Things to do at O’Hare during a short layover – less than 3 hours:

If you have less than 3 hours to your next flight, we recommend the following:

  • Shopping at Duty-free shops within the airport
  • Eating a quick meal at one of the many restaurants in the airport
  • Checking out the view from the Airport Observation Deck
  • Visiting one of the free art galleries in the airport
  • Exploring the Chicago Transit Authority Museum
  • Heading to O’Hare’s Crown Jewel – The Buddha Temple and Garden
  • Catching a movie at the on-site AMC Theatre
  • Take a walk (or run) on the O’Hare Riverwalk Trail
  • Souvenir shopping at one of the many stores in the airportT

Things to do in Chicago Airport during a long layover – more than 3 hours:

If you have more than 3 hours to your next flight, we recommend the following:

  • Visit the Museum of Science and Industry
  • Climb to the top of Willis Tower
  • Check out the view from 360 Chicago
  • Walk along the riverfront on The 606
  • Explore Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Visit the Shedd Aquarium
  • Take a picture with the Cloud Gate
  • Ice skate at Millennium Park during winter
  • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Take a architectural river cruise
  • Have a deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s
  • Check out Navy Pier and take a ride on the Ferris wheel
  • Explore Wicker Park and Bucktown
  • Shop on Magnificent Mile

FAQs

What is there to do at night?

If you are looking for things to do at night, we recommend checking out one of the many bars or restaurants in the airport. There are also a number of hotels near the airport if you are looking for a place to stay.

Can I leave the airport during my layover?

Yes, you can leave the airport during your layover. However, we recommend checking with your airline to see if there are any restrictions on leaving the airport.

What is the best way to get around Chicago?

The best way to get around Chicago is by using the public transportation system. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates a bus and train system that covers the entire city. You can purchase a unlimited ride pass for either 1 day, 3 days, or 7 days.

For more information, read this guide on getting from O’hare to Downtown Chicago

What should I do if my flight is delayed?

If your flight is delayed, we recommend checking with your airline to see if there are any options for rescheduling your flight. You can also check the status of your flight by visiting the airport’s website or by calling the airport.

If you are looking for things to do while you are waiting for your flight, we recommend the following:

  • Shopping at Duty-free shops within the airport
  • Eating a quick meal at one of the many restaurants in the airport
  • Checking out the view from the Airport Observation Deck
  • Visiting one of the free art galleries in the airport
  • Exploring the Chicago Transit Authority Museum
  • Heading to O’Hare’s Crown Jewel – The Buddha Temple and Garden
  • Catching a movie at the on-site AMC Theatre
  • Take a walk (or run) on the O’Hare Riverwalk Trail
  • Souvenir shopping at one of the many stores
Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.