Looking for the best Chicago photography spots? I have put together a list of some of my favorite Chicago photo spots where you can take beautiful photos of Chicago. Many of these places are also on my list for the most instagrammable places in Chicago but the spots in this post are especially great for photographers looking for great city and skyline views of Chicago.
Chicago Best Photo Spots
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Here are the best photography spots in Chicago which include both famous attractions as well as a few secret spots.
Cloud Gate (The Bean)
If you have seen photos of Chicago on instagram, chances are you have seen photos of Cloud Gate (which most people call The Bean), the famous mirrored sculpture in Millennium Park. On sunny day, you can see the reflection the blue sky and surrounding buildings mirrorred on the Bean. This is a great photospot in Chicago during the fall when you can frame the Bean with the surrounding colored leaves. During the holiday season, the City places a large Christmas tree nearby so you can visit both the Bean and the tree.
Millennium Park is usually crowded (especially in the summer, fall and on weekends) so to avoid the crowds visit early in the morning or later in the day. You used to be able to take a lot of creative photos of people standing in front of Cloud Gate or even under it. There is now a fence surrounding the Bean so you cannot get up close at this time but it actually makes it easier to take photos of the Bean without people in your shot. In case involuntary photobombers still found their way into your frame, there is no need to delete the picture. Just learn how to remove unwanted people from photos to save your precious shots.
The Chicago Theatre, on State Street in the Loop is a recognizable landmark because of its iconic Chicago sign. The best spot to take photos is from across State Street.
The address of the Chicago Theatre is 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601 and you can see its location on google maps here.
Lincoln Park has several great photo spots. One popular photoshoot location is the Honeycomb in the Nature Boardwalk in Lincoln Park. The actual name of the landmark is Peoples Gas Education Pavilion but it is nicknamed the Honeycomb. Lots of couples take engagements photos here with them standing under the Honeycomb.
Another great photo spot which is a few feet away is from the bridge over the South Pond. This photo spot has a great Chicago skyline view. If you want to be in the photo, you can stand on the bridge and use a tripod or have someone take a photo. There is enough room on the bridge to take photos so you don’t have to worry too much about crowds.
Click here to see the location in Google Maps.
North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach offers one of the best skyline views of Chicago. The popular beach is located right next to Lincoln Park so you can easily combine both. A long pier leads from the Lakefront Trail west into the lake where you can shoot photos from a variety of spots.
Search for Photographers Point at North Avenue Beach or click here to see the location in Google Maps.
The Chicago Riverwalk, a pedestrian promenade along the river, is another great photo spot in Chicago. You can take great photos of the Riverwalk from above from one of the streets crossing the river.
Kinzie Street Bridge
You can snap great views of downtown and the Chicago River from the Kinzie Street Bridge. The view is unique because in addition to the skyline and the river, you can also photograph the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Bridge (which is always lifted). This is a less well known spot, so crowds won’t be an issue.
You can see the location of Kinzie Street Bridge on Google Maps here.
Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world and a well known Chicago landmark in the center of Grant Park.
When the water is turned on, it produces a major water display for 20 minutes every hour with a center jet shoots water to a height of 150 feet into the air. Beginning at dusk, a spectacular light and music display accompanies the major water display.
Adler Planetarium Skyline Walk
I think that The Adler Planetarium Skyline Walk offers the best view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. It is worth talking photos here in the day, at sunset and in the evening when the lights are on.
As the name says, this walk surrounds the Adler Planetarium and is located less than 1/2 mile from the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History.
Click here to see its location in Google Maps.
L Train S Curve
There is a public parking garage in River North that is a popular place for photographers to take shots of the CTA trains on the train tracks from above. What makes the shot so unique is that the tracks curve in the shape of the letter S. I took a video of the CTA Holiday train here that is really cool (but the quality is not the best because I did not have a tripod with me). The address of the Wells Kinzie Parking Garage is 401 W Kinzie St. and you can see its location on google maps here. The best floors for photos are the three highest floors (5-7).
Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower
The Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower and what locals still call it) used to be the tallest building in the world from 1974 until 1998. You can enjoy great views from The Skydeck, its observatory on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (233 S Wacker Dr). For the best instagram photos head to The Ledge, glass balconies extending four feet outside the 103rd floor.
Tip: The Skydeck Chicago gets crowded especially on weekends. For fewer crowds visit right after it opens during midweek. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines).
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360 CHICAGO (formerly John Hancock Observatory) on the 94th floor of the 875 North Michigan Avenue (the building formerly known as the John Hancock Center) is another observatory with great panoramic views of Chicago.
The highlight is TILT an enclosed moving platform that tilts you out over Michigan Avenue.
Tip: 360 CHICAGO gets crowded especially on weekends (but is usually less crowded than the Skydeck). For fewer crowds visit right after it opens during midweek. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket).
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood is a hidden gem. It is close to the Chinatown-Cermak red-line train station. During the summer you can also take a water taxi from the Riverwalk for a scenic trip.
What are your favorite photo spots in Chicago?
Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:
- The Perfect Itinerary for One Day in Chicago (According to a Local)
- 3 Days in Chicago: The Perfect Itinerary from a Local
- The Best Time to Visit Chicago – A Month By Month Guide
- 50+ Free Things to Do in Chicago
- Best Things to do in Chicago in the Summer