5 Best Photo Opportunities in Chicago

Photo Opportunities Chicago

Lee Van Grack

There's more to Chicago than deep-dish pizza and grueling winds. This Midwest city is home to some of the country's most interesting art sculptures and scenic cityscapes and landscapes. Whether you find yourself at the tip of the most famous pier in the Midwest or at the top of the tallest building in the United States, you'll discover a plethora of fabulous photo opportunities. Chicago will captivate you and your camera lens. Allow me to recommend a few perfect spots for that postcard-worthy photo.

1. Classic Chicago Photo Opportunity: The Skydeck at Willis Tower

Willis Tower, commonly known by its former name, Sears Tower, is the tallest building in the United Sates and a must-see in Chicago. The tallest building in the world for 25 years, Willis Tower is a sky-scraping beauty in the heart of the Windy City. Its most alluring factor is the Ledge at the Skydeck which stands 1,353 feet above ground on the 103rd floor and allows an unobstructed view of scenic Chicago. Visitors dare to walk on clear glass blocks to gain an open view across the city, Lake Michigan, and even the surrounding states on a clear day. You feel almost as if you're on top of the United States. Willis Tower (and The Ledge at the Skydeck) have one of the best photo opportunities Chicago has to offer.

The Skydeck is open daily April through September 9AM-10PM and October through March 10AM-8PM. Visit during off-peak hours to avoid long lines. Admission is $15.95 for adults, $11 for children aged 3-11. On busy days it's worth shelling out for a Fast Pass (express line to elevators) at $30.

Willis Tower, 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago IL 60606, (312) 875-9447

2. Quirky Chicago Photo Opportunity: The Crown Fountain

In the middle of Chicago you'll find Millennium Park a refreshing stop on your tour. Children and adults alike interact with the fun and inviting Crown Fountain. This interactive piece of art is composed of two 50-foot tall glass towers. The towers exhibit digital videos portraying various faces that emit water through their mouths, making this both art and fountain. This modern sculpture is a perfect photo opportunity: edgy, innovative, and amusing.

The water is on 6AM-11PM daily from mid-spring through mid-fall, weather permitting, and the images remain on throughout the year. Admission is free.

Millennium Park, 55 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL, 60602, (312) 742-1168

3. Family Fun Chicago Photo Opportunity: Cloud Gate

Only a few feet from the Crown Fountain within Millennium Park you'll find Cloud Gate, which is sure to provide you with one of the best Chicago photo opportunity ever. Walk around or under this polished, stainless steel, elliptical structure, colloquially known as "The Bean.' Feel free to touch the 12-foot arch and find your image from any perspective. No matter where you stand near The Bean, you'll get many unusual and interesting views of the city reflected back at you. Stand at a distance, find yourself in the mirror, and click your camera. In the picture you'll get the famous Bean, yourself, and a backdrop of Chicago. The Bean is sure to leave you with an array of unique photographs.

Cloud Gate can be accessed 6AM-11PM daily and admission is free.

Millennium Park, 55 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL, 60602, (312) 742-1168

4. Romantic Chicago Photo Opportunity: The Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier

Visit Chicago's most popular tourist attraction for the best in romantic photo opportunities. Chicago wouldn't be the same without the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, from where you'll get a stunning view of the city skyline. When you reach the top, you'll escape from the noise and bustle of the busy pier, and you may find a few solitary and romantic moments, with breathtaking scenery across the way. At 150 feet high, sneak in a kiss and take in the clear view of Lake Michigan on one side and the cityscape on the other.

Hours vary according to the season but are as follows: Summer: Sun-Thu 10AM-10PM, Fri & Sat 10AM-midnight; spring and fall: Sun-Thu: 10AM-8PM, Fri & Sat 10AM-10PM; winter: Mon-Thu 10AM-8PM, Fri & Sat 10AM-10PM, Sun 10AM-7PM. It costs $6 to ride the wheel.

Navy Pier, 600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 595-7437
5. Scenic Chicago Photo Opportunity: John Hancock Observatory

For a sensational panoramic view of Chicago, head to the John Hancock Observatory atop the John Hancock Center. At 100 stories and 1127 feet tall, it competes with Willis Tower. Unlike its rival, which is located in the financial district, the Hancock is located in the center of Michigan Avenue, an area with lots of tourists. At the Hancock Observatory, you are welcomed by a 360-degree panoramic view of the city and Chicago's only open-air SkyWalk. The Hancock is the prime spot for views of Lake Michigan, Navy pier, Illinois and the surrounding states. A perfect opportunity for amateur photography of landscapes around Chicago, tourist attractions, and the urban center itself.

John Hancock Observatory is open 9AM-11PM daily (last ticket sold at 10:30PM). General admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children aged 3-11. For the Total Tower Experience, which includes the open-air SkyWalk and a free souvenir, you pay $21 for adults and $16 for children. On busy days it might be worth paying extra for the Fast Pass (express entry up and down), which costs $29 for adults and $24 for children.

John Hancock Observatory, 875 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, (888) 875-8439

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