We are in the final countdown for OFN Conference in Chicago. While we are excited to host the nearly 1,500 #CDFIChangeAgents, we know you also want to take an opportunity to explore one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. With its legendary food offerings, energetic atmosphere, and cultural influence, it’s no wonder that Chicago was listed in the top 5 of Schroders Global Cities index. In fact, it has so much to offer, you might want to consider extending your trip while you are in town October 8-11.

OFN has had the pleasure of spending the past 7 years in Chicago for our annual Small Business Finance Forum, and in that time we have learned a LOT from our peers based in and around the city, as well as through our own explorations, about the best places to check out while you are in town.

Whether you are into sightseeing, dining, or cultural exploration, there is something for everyone in Chicago. Here’s our top picks to add to your Chicago bucket list for your visit


  • Architecture River Cruise – if you can stand the cold, this cruise is one you won’t want to miss. Learn about the history of the city and come to understand the significance of some of the most famous skyscrapers.
  • Millennium Park –Boasting 24.5 acres of space, this park is home to an incredible view of art, architecture, and landscaping. Top attractions in the park include the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate (aka “the Bean”).
  • Willis Tower Skydeck: the view from more than 1,300 feet allows you to experience Chicago from a unique vantage point.

Cultural Experiences:

  • Art Institute of Chicago: With more than 300,000 works from all over the world, including an incredible collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art, art-lovers should definitely check out this collection while you are in town
  • Field Museum: Plan to visit the Field Museum at the beginning or end of your stay as you have more than 350,000 feet of museum space to cover! This year is a great year to visit as it is in the midst of celebrating 125 years and has special events and offerings, including highlighting the 2,000 objects that date back to the 1893 World's Fair that spurred the opening of the museum.
  • Museum of Science and Industry: The largest science center in the Western hemisphere, this is a must visit for fans of science exploration. It's also a great spot if you happen to travel with your family.
  • Garfield Park Conservatory: Escape the wind in this indoor garden with more than 100,000 plants. Admission is always free.
  • The Second City: this improvisational comedy club has been around for 52 years and is responsible for launching the careers of some of the most respected comediennes including Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and many more! Shows take place nightly


While you are in town, make sure to visit these CDFI-funded restaurants!


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