Through a progression of architectural styles, materials, and heights, the iconic Chicago skyline tells the story of a century-and-a-half of history. Stunning at any vantage point, there are so many places around the Windy City to take in unique views, enjoy the scenery, and capture your most memorable selfies! Below are 13 of our best views of Chicago and our favorite places to see the living history of the city through its impressive skyline.
Read on to learn more about where to go for the best views of Chicago.
The Best Chicago Skyline Photo Spots
1. Centennial Wheel at the Navy Pier
At the top of the 200-foot Centennial Ferris wheel at the famous Navy Pier, look west to take in the beautiful Chicago city skyline. Perfect at sunset or after dark, especially in the summertime when you can catch a fireworks display on Wednesday and Saturday nights from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. It’s also a great place to get cozy with the one you love and snap a few Chicago skyline pictures!
2. Promontory Point
Just south of downtown is the neighborhood of Hyde Park, home to the man-made peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan known as Promontory Point. Despite the park’s distance from the city center, it offers a majestic panoramic view of the whole Chicago skyline.
3. Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park lies along the shores of Lake Michigan and features incredible views of the city skyline from many vantage points. The park itself is bigger than New York’s Central Park and is home to one of the last free urban zoos in the country. Photograph the skyline through the permanent art installation known as The Honeycomb, or grab a selfie from the Lincoln Park Bridge over South Pond.
4. Chicago River Cruise
The Chicago River runs through downtown Chicago’s canyon of skyscrapers. Book an architectural river tour and learn the history of some of Chicago’s most iconic buildings.
5. 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
The 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck at the top of the former John Hancock building boasts awe-inspiring 360-degree views of Lake Shore Drive and the rest of downtown Chicago from nearly 1,000 feet up. If you want to turn up the adrenaline, strap in for TILT, the country’s highest thrill ride.
If you’re interested in getting spectacular views of Chicago at night, then the observation deck is a must visit destination. 360 CHICAGO offers some of the best views of the Chicago skyline at night. It’s a unique opportunity to see the city from a sky view when it’s lit up and glowing.
6. Oak Street Beach
Located near the Gold Coast neighborhood, Oak Street Beach boasts some of Chicago’s best ground-level skyline views. In the summertime, enjoy biking, watersports, or some relaxing sunbathing with a skyline backdrop.
7. Chicago Riverwalk
For a leisurely tour of Chicago’s towering architecture, take a stroll along the Riverwalk. The Chicago River runs through the middle of the urban canyon with plenty of places to stop and take in the views of historic buildings like the Tribune Tower, Merchandise Mart, and the Wrigley Building.
8. Northerly Island
Northerly Island was designed at the turn of the last century to be a manmade island with a breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline. In 2015, Studio Gang brought that vision to reality by reimagining Northerly Island, formerly Meigs Field Airport, as a 91-acre ecological preserve.
9. The Lakefront Trail
Lace up those sneakers and head out on the trails for some outdoor exercise and epic views of Chicago on the Lakefront Trail. This 18 mile stretch of paved trails along the (you guessed it), Chicago lakefront/Lake Michigan shoreline is a favorite amongst runners, walkers, and cyclists. Boom, you get two benefits in one at this location.
10. Palmisano Park
In 2009, the city opened this repurposed natural space as Palmisano Park. Check out the entire panorama of the Chicago skyline from the top of “Mount Bridgeport,” the highest point in this former limestone quarry.
Photo by Eric Allix Rogers
11. Humboldt Park Boathouse
The Humboldt Park Boathouse is a natural oasis and an architectural gem with serene views of the surrounding natural lagoon. Peeking up over the treeline is a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline that glows orange in the distance at sunset.
12. Millenium Park
Millenium Park is one of Chicago’s crown jewels, sporting stunning views of the city that surround it from infinite vantage points. The famous Cloud Gate sculpture (aka “The Bean”) reflects a distorted view of the city skyline in its curvaceous chrome. During the summer months, take a stroll through the wildflowers in Lurie Garden at the southern end of the park, a special spot that offers its own views of the skyline.
13. Adler Planetarium
The Adler Planetarium offers more than just breathtaking shoreline views of the Chicago skyline. Inside, you can peer into deep space with its world-class astronomy exhibits and programs.
No matter where you are in the Windy City, you can take in the best views of the Chicago skyline from any number of breathtaking vantage points. Check out the 360 CHICAGO blog for more great visitor tips to get the most out of your time in Chicago!
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