1. Bahá’í House of Worship
Believe it or not, but Chicago has some temples, and some really beautiful ones. The Bahai is probably my favorite one in the northern part of the city, it is not very easy to reach with public transportation so I definitely recommend a car, since it is located in Wilmette, a residential area. The scale of the temple is really lovely and I recommend coming in the morning between 7-9, then you will mostly have it all to yourself, since the temple officially opens at 9 am.
Address: 100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091, United States
2. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
This Hindu temple really is mind blowing with all its details. It is located in the suburbs a little bit outside of Chicago. For this one you definitely need a car. Renting cars is usually not so expensive here in Chicago. Depending on the season you might get a car from Enterprise for 40 $.
This temple is always open from 9am to 7pm and I would recommend coming in the morning or evening for sunset. Walk around and enjoy the wonderful architectural details of this temple and also make sure to check the inside of the temple. It is for sure a highlight. Note, that you are not allowed to take photos inside.
Address: 1851 Pramukh Swami Road, Bartlett, IL 60103, United States
3. Starved Rock State Park
I really adore the Starved Rock State Park, since it is one of the closest parks to Chicago, where you have nice trails and beautiful views. The best part is that the park is for free and you have multiple hiking trails, all different levels, from 1h to 5h of hiking. My favorite hikes and canyons are: Wildcat Canyon, French Canyon and St. Louis Canyon. The Eagle Cliff Overlook is also super nice, especially during fall.
I am a fan of visiting the State Park in winter, since the waterfalls in the canyons freeze and the vibes are just so magical and unique. You can actually do ice climbing here, which must be a cool experience.
But the park is also very nice in spring and fall, spring has probably the most water and the views on the waterfalls are the best. Another park close to this the Starved Rock is the Matthiessen State Park and also offers some hiking trails and nice views.
Address: 2668 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348, United States
4. Milwaukee Day Trip
Milwaukee is about 1-2h from Chicago and such a cool city with lots of cute places to explore. I would plan a day trip if you have time during your Chicago visit. You can either go by car or take a bus or train. Check prices on Wanderu
My personal highlights are the Milwaukee Art Museum , Chase Tower, Pink House, Villa Terrace Museum , Milwaukee River Walk (close to Chase Tower).
5. Leaning Tower of Niles
You heard right, Chicago has its own version of Leaning Tower and I love it. The tower is quite huge, I definitely did not expect that. The tower is located in Niles and quite a unique spot.
Address: 6300 W Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714
6. Chicago Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens in Chicago are also for free and the Gardens are huge. You can basically plan whole day trip to visit the gardens. They are beautiful no matter what season it is. I have only been once myself but would love to go again.
Address: 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022