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The 13 Best Views of the Chicago Skyline

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!

The Centennial Ferris Wheel - One of the top best views of the Chicago Skyline

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 downtown Chicago skyline.

Promontory Point - one of the best places for epic views of the 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.

The Pond at Lincoln Park - One of the best views of the Chicago Skyline

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. 

Views of Chicago skyline from a River Cruise

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.

Chicago night skyline view from 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

6. Oak Street Beach

Located near the Gold Coast neighborhood, Oak Street Beach boasts some of the best views in Chicago from ground-level. In the summertime, enjoy biking, watersports, or some relaxing sunbathing with a skyline backdrop.

Chicago skyline from the Riverwalk on the shores of Michigan Avenue

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.

Views of the Chicago Riverwalk

8. Northerly Island

Northerly Island was designed at the turn of the last century to be a manmade island with breathtaking Chicago skyline views. In 2015, Studio Gang brought that vision to reality by reimagining Northerly Island, formerly Meigs Field Airport, as a 91-acre ecological preserve.

Views of Chicago from Northerly Island

9. The Lakefront Trail

Lace up those sneakers and head out on the trails for some outdoor exercise and epic views of the skyline 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.

The lakefront Trail in Chicago on the banks of Lake Michigan

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 some of the best views in Chicago of the surrounding natural lagoon. Peeking up over the treeline is the beautiful Chicago skyline that glows orange in the distance at sunset.

The boathouse at Humboldt Park

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.

Views of Chicago from Millenium Park and Cloudgate (the Bean)

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.

Views of Chicago from the Adler Planetarium

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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