Let’s face the truth: Chicago is the best city in the world but not in winter. The temperature is about 4ºF (-16ºC) and believe me, you don’t want to be outside. However, during snowy days, chances of taking the best skyline pictures increase. So get ready, take your camera and discover some of Chicago’s best sites for photography lovers (winter version)!
Check 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in Shanghai
1. The Art Institute
Location: 111 South Michigan Ave.
Best Views: Aon Center, Pritzker Pavilion, Millenium Park
Admission: Free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. General admission $23, students $17
Description: The Modern Wing is the new home for the museum’s collection of 20th and 21st-century art but also a window to Chicago’s most spectacular skyline view: from Millenium Park. On the other hand, if you feel like it, the Terzo Piano restaurant has amazing views too, but that depends on your budget.
2. The Shedd Aquarium
Location: 1200 S Lake Shore Dr
Best Views: Sears Tower, Lake Point Tower, Aon Center
Admission: General admission $89, children $79
Description: This is one of my favourite spots on earth and although I prefer the views from the outside, the inside ones are good too. On the other hand, the Adler Planetarium views are pretty spectacular too, but it’s further away and remember it’s winter and it’s freezing outside.
3. Hancock Tower
Location: 875 N Michigan Ave.
Best Views: Sears Tower, Lake Point Tower, Aon Center
Admission: Free access to lounge bar, observatory $18
Description: It is the 4th tallest tower in Chicago but it’s the best in my opinion. The observatory’s admission is $18 so you rather go to the signature lounge on the 96th floor, which is free, and spend that money on a drink. Snow storms up here are spectacular, so the worse the weather the better the panorama. Also, if you are lucky enough to be a woman, please check the restroom (and bring your camera here).
4. Whole Foods Market
Location: 1101 S Canal St. #107
Best Views: Sears Tower (south view)
Description: Have you seen these views? Aren’t they amazing? I saw this picture on Instagram and thanks to it I discovered this (not so hidden) spot. No more Dominick’s or Jewel, this is exactly where you need to go on Sundays when you’re running out of milk.
5. Lake Point Tower Restaurant
Location: 505 N Lake Shore Dr.
Best Views: Sears Tower, Trump Tower, Hancock Tower
Description: Did you know Lake Point Tower is the only skyscraper with the privilege to be right next to Lake Michigan? The landowners of the time made some really clever movements to skip the city’s prohibition to build on the Lakefront. Besides the architectural interest of this tower, it has the best views of Hancock Tower as you can see above. This place is not exactly cheap but drinks are affordable and sunsets here are very impressive.
6. Sears Tower Skydeck
Location: 233 South Wacker Drive
Best Views: Chicago 360º
Admission: General admission $18.
Description: You can go up to the top and be amazed by the 360º views of Chicago, Lake Michigan and the Illinois plain, on a clear day you can see up to 50 miles and 4 states! However, you’ll wonder why the glass balconies are faced towards the worst views ever. The reason is because that is the only side of the tower in which elevators go up to the top. In my opinion the Sky Deck is better than The Ledge for this reason.
7. Vertigo Sky Lounge
Location: 2 W Erie St.
Best Views: Trump Tower, Marina Towers
Description: Located on the 26th floor of the Dana Hotel, it’s the only year-round, indoor/outdoor lounge in Chicago which is good if you get a sunny winter day. Views are amazing during day time, at night (unless you take pictures from the outside which is fine) you’ll get horrible glass reflections.
8. The Wit Rooftop
Location: 201 N State St.
Best Views: Marina Towers
Description: This rooftop is absolutely amazing during summer, but also in winter. Sometimes people can be really loud here, especially if there is a party (usually every Sunday) going on but if you come here during weekdays your afternoon can become the best time of your day. The highlight, obviously, is having Marina Towers so close!
9. Trump Tower
Location: 401 North Wabash Ave.
Best Views: Wrigley Building, Hancock Tower
Description: Did you know it was being designed to be the tallest building in the world before 9/11 terrorist attacks which changed the original plans? Anyways is the 2nd tallest tower in Chicago. Its location (downtown by the river) makes this spot an easy place to visit. In my opinion the restaurant is average and quite expensive so I would go for the Lounge instead. I absolutely love how the Wrigley building looks from here!
10. IIT Tower
Location: 10 West 35th Street (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Best Views: Chicago Skyline, Sears Tower
Description: The best for the end, always. Given that you will either arrive by this place or this other one, IIT Tower is just great no matter from which point of view you look at it. So this 20 story tower is the Illinois Institute of Technology less visited part of the campus which makes it the best place to sneak in. Well, not everyone is allowed here but people who love photography aren’t exactly known for their compliance right?
Check these and other amazing buildings of Chicago on the map below or download my Free Architecture Guide of Chicago.
Virginia–Our daughter lives in Chicago, and I just forwarded this link to her. Thanks for the post! –John
John, this is great! Chicago is the best city in the world 😀
If she likes architecture she may also like http://duranvirginia.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/23-buildings-you-shouldnt-miss-in-chicago-if-you-are-an-architect/
Thanks for this additional link to another of your Chicago architecture posts. I’ve already forwarded it. For the last couple of years our daughter has gone on the annual Chicago architecture tour. My wife and I hope we can join her one of these years!
Chicago’s architecture tour is quite impressive. You and your wife should definitely join! Also, the Open House in fall is a must visit. Maybe next fall? Hope you get to see all these amazing buildings 😀
I agree, Virginia, the Hancock is the best. I knew there was a reason I liked you. 😉 Now you’ve given me a list of places I need to take my wife for a drink to take in the view when we get back to the States. Now, if I could only afford a place in Aqua Tower….
Richard! Hancok Tower is the best we both agree :). The only reason why I visit Sears Tower it’s because of Hancok’s views 😉 You have to visit all these places when you return to Chicago with your family. I’ve discovered other amazing spots but will open in spring so will have to wait a bit. Regarding Aqua Tower, I had a friend who lived there last year and it’s amaziiiiiiing. The location is perfect! Anyways the best building I’ve seen in Chicago is one called The Legacy at Millenium Park… which is beyond my possibilities but have a look http://www.thelegacyatmillenniumpark.com/
Wow, the Legacy is some building with prices to match.
I’m jealous of your friend living in the Aqua Tower! I can only imagine.
The Hancock is just so distinctive-looking and elegant, plus you have some fantastic views of the city from it.
Great set of images and sites to gaze in a spectacular city. Well done.
Hi Sally, thanks for stopping by! I am glad that you liked these Chicago spots. You’ll have to visit soon 🙂
I especially like the Whole Foods shots! Definitely a great find
David, I agree with the Whole Foods spot. I can’t believe I’ve discovered it so late. Definitely a place to stop by 😉
Thanks Josh! Any favourite?
Hmm…Especially hancock tower..:-)
N sorry but its “joshi” (my surname).
Oh sorry! What is your name? :S
Good picture, but if Chicago is the best in the world then that doesn’t say much for the world.
Wow! Stunning skylines. I don’t like heights but I think I could enjoy some of the views without being too anxious.
Thanks! Some of these skyscrapers aren’t scary at all. However, some of these do move 4m to each side due to wind loads. Nothing to worry in terms of structure or architecture 😀
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Each week your blog blows me away with its professionalism–excellent content, great photography, and fascinating information. Congratulations on reaching your yearly goal, and keep ’em coming. Thanks!
Melissa!! This comment made me smile a lot :)) thanks so much for your kind words. I love writing those and I’m happy that you enjoy them too. Hope everything is well on Ireland and wish you a Merry Christmas 🙂
some great places to keep in mind. Wishing you a great new year ahead.
If you visit Chicago, you must definitely try these! Hope you the best for this incoming year 🙂
I could have used this post last week when I got stuck at Midway…A cocktail at the Sky Lounge would have made the experience much less stressful. Thanks for liking my latest post about Seattle on Muse-ings!
Oh that sounds bad! And Midway is the worst airport ever. You’ll have to return to experience all those amazing places of Chicago 🙂
I would like to. We stayed at the Marriott downtown because I wanted to wake up to a Chicago view…I wrote about that in one of my posts. Someday I will return on purpose!
Oh my! The one with the piano is one of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen!
I love the one with the cocktail in the Vertigo Sky Lounge too:)
Giulia, I love that two rooftops very much. Views are even more amazing than in the pictures 😀 Have you been to Chicago before?
Unfortunately not (yet): it’s on my bucket list since I studied Adler&Sullivan, years ago!:)
Ooh, then you definitely have to plan a visit. I lived here for 2 years and it was amazing (not in winter though). If you want to start dreaming about Chicago check this personal architecture map that I did http://goo.gl/maps/DnQFl
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Wow. Some amazing shots here. You truly have a talent for this. As an IIT grad, I would love to print a high res version of that night shot and hang it up in my house. Nice work.
Hi Virginia beautiful post,the architect .I lived in Chicago 8 years ,a great city..But the snow. Regards.
I agree, Chicago in winter is not nice at all! But is an amazing city with an amazing skyline. Thanks for stopping by.
This is great Virginia! Would you be interested in creating a Chicago photography guide on ShutterGuides.com? We’re trying to recruit great photographers to cover some of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you’d be perfect for doing a Chicago guide.
Wow! Such great insider tips! These pictures are beautiful and now I want to go take them all on my own camera. Thanks for this list. It needs to be shared.
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Your photos are gorgeous! They made be a bit nostalgic about my trip in Chicago, too bad I didn’t see this before going..
Thanks for the kind words 🙂 next time you visit make sure you have this Chicago Guide and read 23 Buildings You Shouldn’t Miss in Chicago. I can’t wait to be back and revisit all these things 🙂
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Hi Virginia, I’m visit Chicago in a month’s time and was looking up good viewpoints for skylines and stumbled upon your blog – this is awesome as it’s *exactly* the info and advice I need! Assume November would qualify for winter pretty well there 😉 Absolutely love your photos, especially the ones of Shanghai (my parents currently live there). Thanks a million for this post! Yao
Hello Yao, nice meeting you! I’m afraid November is quite cold although I hope you’re lucky and it’s ok for taking pictures 😉 Have you visited Chicago before? If not I can recommend some other spots for photography (parks and cool buildings). I miss Shanghai sooooo much. I intend to return soon 🙂
Oh dear, I heard all the things about the winters there and was hoping it won’t be so bad in November just yet! I’m going to SF for a week then will head too Evanston and Chicago for a few days, guess I need to reevaluate my packing plan! I’ve never been to Chicago before and will be reasonably time constrained (2 days and a bit in Chicago and I really would like to spend some time in the aquarium) so your post really helps – based on the list I’ve plotted a map of the places I want to visit to see how I can make the most out of it. Yes! If you have any recommendation please do let me know 😀 I *really* hope the weather would be kind to me when I’m there so that I could capture some sunset photos!
Let’s hope the weather is good 😉 Since you don’t have a lot of time and you’re mainly interested in photography I’d say you could add Millennium Park (The famous Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor) and Marina City Apartments (über famous shot from the bridge across Michigan Avenue). Both are really close so you can make it easily. Have you seen the post on San Francisco? Your trip sounds amazing, I’m already looking forward to your pics 😀
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Thanks for the visit to my site. Your photos are great captures of the city. I am curious as to how you got in that IIT Tower to take photos. We have to remember to call the Sears Tower the Willis Tower. While the winters here in Chicago are cold, there are still several places to visit and things to do indoors to make a visit or extended stay enjoyable.
You’re welcome! I got into the IIT tower because I used to study there 🙂
There are plenty of things to do even with the cold weather, you are right! Thanks for stopping by, always welcome!
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I found this really helpful!! Thanks
Thanks Jill! Any favorites on the list?
Hey Virginia Thanks for this fascinating pictures.. lovely article.. keep it up Girl !!
Hi Laura! Thanks for your kind words. Are you planning a visit to Chicago soon?
Great article.. I like your website
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