Famed for its striking 20th-century architecture and open spaces, there are countless Instagrammable places in Chicago that will inspire you to create exciting new content to liven up your feeds. You’ve got cloud-piercing skyscrapers, sandy beaches, and quirky street murals that bounce with color mixed with marvelous theaters and bridges.
But when you’re planning a trip to one of the largest cities in the US, you need to know where all the best Chicago Instagram spots are before you go. Otherwise, you risk running out of time or missing what might have been your favorite icon.
That’s where this blog post is going to make your travel plans so much easier. And one of the best things about this list? The vast majority of the places I’ve chosen are free to visit!
Whether you’re a casual Instagrammer or a professional blogger, if you’re headed to the Windy City then you’re going to want to bookmark my guide to the best 15 Chicago photography spots. Let’s get started!
*Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*
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15 Most Instagrammable Places in Chicago
1. Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)
The first on my list and constructed between 2004 and 2006, Cloud Gate is the first public outdoor installation of the British artist Anish Kapoor. The bean-shaped sculpture is located in Millennium Park and is designed to reflect the towering skyscrapers of Chicago.
Easily one of the coolest Chicago Instagram spots, Cloud Gate lends itself to some creative photography opportunities from close up or further back with the buildings in the background. It’s just practically impossible to take a bad photo here!
Location on Google Maps: Cloud Gate
How to get there: Washington/Wabash Subway Station is located a 2-minute walk away and serves the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, and Purple lines. Millennium Station is also less than 5 minutes away. Bus routes 3, 4, 6, 26, 143, 850, 851, and 855 stop outside the park on N Michigan Avenue.
Best time to go: As it’s one of the most famous landmarks in Chicago, it gets incredibly busy during the day. Go as early in the morning as possible!
2. Lurie Garden
Located in Millennium Park a short walk from Cloud Gate, Lurie Garden spans 5 acres of botanical flower and plant life. The garden was conceived with the intention of providing a sanctuary for Chicago residents and tourists as well as the local wildlife.
With over 350 species of flower and such elements as the 4.8 meter (15 feet) tall “shoulder” hedge, water features, and magical lighting for the evening, there is a wealth of photo opportunities waiting for you.
Lurie Garden is one of the loveliest photography spots in Chicago for anyone with a fondness for flora.
Location on Google Maps: Lurie Garden
How to get there: Same as Cloud Gate, you can walk there from Washington/Wabash Subway Station in a couple of minutes. You can combine your visit to The Bean with a visit to the Lurie Garden.
Best time to go: Anytime during the opening hours of 8 am – 9 pm.
3. The Wrigley Building
Built to house the corporate headquarters of chewing gum firm the Wrigley Company on the Magnificent Mile, the Wrigley Building is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. As such, it’s also developed a profile as one of the Instagrammable places in Chicago!
Constructed in the early 1920s, the building has a height of 134 meters (440 feet) and pulls together influences from Spanish Colonial Revival and French Renaissance architecture. Two towers are connected by an elevated walkway and the building is famed for its elegant clock face.
Location on Google Maps: The Wrigley Building
How to get there: Numerous buses serve Michigan Avenue with stops right outside the building, including routes 120 and 121. Situated a 10-minute walk away, Grand (Red Line) is the closest subway station. You can also walk there from Michigan Avenue pier.
Best time to go: Anytime but early in the morning works best in terms of lighting and fewer crowds.
4. DuSable Bridge
One of several bridges connecting the Near North Side with the downtown area, the russet-colored DuSable Bridge offers the best Instagram spots in Chicago.
Carrying Michigan Avenue over the Chicago River, construction on the bridge lasted from 1918 – 1928. Officially a Chicago-style bascule bridge, the structure is raised to allow the transport of boats.
You can shoot from either end or right in the middle to fully make use of the mighty Chicago skyline.
Location on Google Maps: DuSable Bridge
How to get there: Buses such as routes 120 and 121 serve Michigan Avenue with stops on both sides of the bridge. Grand (Red Line) is a 10-minute walk away on the Near North Side while State/Lake (also on the Red Line) is a 10-minute walk away from the downtown zone.
Best time to go: Any time of day.
5. The Chicago Theatre
This magnificent theater was constructed in 1921 and opened to great acclaim as the Wonder Theater of the World. At seven stories in height and containing 3,880 seats, it occupies around half a block.
The interiors are kitted out with plush red velvet seats and French-style murals and ornamentation while the facade commands the attention of passersby with its glitzy neon signage.
As well as being one of the top Chicago photography spots, the theater is still in use so if you fancy catching a show, be sure to snap up some tickets.
Location on Google Maps: The Chicago Theatre
How to get there: State/Lake and Lake subway stations (Red Line) are right outside the theater. Buses 2, 29, 146, and 148 stop at the entrance to the theater.
Best time to go: Early morning to avoid road traffic.
6. Chicago Riverwalk
Designed to satisfy the needs of urban explorers, the Chicago Riverwalk takes you on a 1.25 mile (2 km) stroll along the banks of the Chicago River.
Running from the Veteran’s Park to the Outer Drive Bridge, the route hugs the waterside and offers panoramic city views as you navigate green spaces, art installations, sculptures, and restaurants.
Although technically this is another of the free Chicago photo spots, you might want to splash out on a kayak ride or pick up some food during your photo walk.
Location on Google Maps: Chicago Riverwalk
How to get there: Bus routes 4, 134, 135, and 136 stop along E Lower Wacker Drive. Lake (Red Line) is the closest subway station or you can connect to Millennium Station by commuter train.
Best time to go: Any time during the day or evening.
7. Skydeck Chicago
The star attraction of the landmark is The Ledge, an observation deck with a glass floor that protrudes 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) outwards from the main Skydeck. At 1,353 feet (412 meters) above the city streets, it’s the highest observation platform in the country, and on a clear day, it provides a view across four states.
As you can imagine, this place is extremely popular and gets busy and so it is essential to arrive as early in the day as possible. Unfortunately, you are only allowed to have one minute to shoot at the ledge but if you arrive early, you might be able to shoot a bit longer if there are not too many people.
Location on Google Maps: Skydeck Chicago
How to get there: Skydeck Chicago is a 2-minute walk from Quincy (Brown, Orange, Pink and Purple lines). Bus route 121 stops outside on S Wacker Drive.
Best time to go: Arrive sharply at opening time (ideally on a weekday), otherwise it gets very crowded. Skydeck Chicago is open daily, 9 am – 10 pm (March to September) and 9 am – 8 pm, Sunday to Thursday, and 9 am – 10 pm, Friday & Saturday (October to February).
Cost: Skydeck General Admission tickets (timed entry) start at 30 USD and include general admission and access to The Ledge. Book your tickets here!
8. Buckingham Fountain
The centerpiece of the lush Buckingham Fountain Flower Gardens in Grant Park, this rococo-style feature was conceived in 1927. Designed as a representation of the nearby Lake Michigan, the landmark is surrounded by sea horse sculptures that symbolize the states of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
Set amidst the greenery with the city skyscrapers looming in the background, this is one of the best Instagram spots in Chicago to experiment with angles and perspective.
Location on Google Maps: Buckingham Fountain
How to get there: Commuter train station Van Buren Street as well as the subway stations Jackson and Harrison (both on the Red Line) are each situated a short walk away from the gardens. Dozens of bus routes serve S Michigan Avenue and deposit you within a quick walking distance.
Best time to go: Any time during the day. Visit during the evening if you want to watch the colorful light show.
9. Education Pavilion (aka The Honeycomb)
The Education Pavilion is often known as The Honeycomb and you’ll see why once you visit it for yourself (or if you check the below photos).
Access is via the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, a prairie-style oasis spread around a large pond filled with native plants that provide a habitat to birds, frogs, fish, turtles, insects, and more.
Constructed of prefabricated wood elements, the arched structure forms a place to shelter during your exploration of the park. As well as being one of the most beautiful Chicago photo spots, The Honeycomb is a popular event and wedding venue. Try to experiment with different angles – you can’t go wrong with any of them!
Location on Google Maps: Education Pavilion
How to get there: Bus routes 151 and 156 traverse right through the park and drop you a few minutes walk from the pavilion. Sedgwick (Brown and Purple Line) is the closest subway station, from which you will need to walk 20 minutes.
Best time to go: Any time works but it looks particularly magical at sunset. It’s open daily, 7 am – 7 pm.
10. North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach is a generous stretch of sand that slithers down the bankside of Lake Michigan just north of the Near North Side district. The city’s favorite beach is dedicated to leisure and fitness pursuits, with various options to play volleyball, go stand-up paddleboarding, and take a dip in the lake.
I recommend walking along the long pier which curves out over the lake at the southernmost end of the beach. From here you can peer back at the city and shoot some panoramas across the water surface.
Location on Google Maps: North Avenue Beach
How to get there: The beach backs onto Lincoln Park so you might want to coordinate your visit here with a trip to the Nature Boardwalk and the Honeycomb.
Best time to go: Any time of the day works but it’s one of the best Chicago Instagram spots for either sunset and or nighttime, especially at this scenic spot.
11. Milton Lee Olive Park
Another of the most tranquil Instagrammable places in Chicago, the Milton Lee Olive Park juts out from beyond the Addams (Jane) Memorial Park, Ohio Street Beach, and Navy Pier.
In the center, you will find the Milton Lee Olive III Monument, the first African American recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. This is a beautiful spot to find some peace between the trees and soak up views across Lake Michigan and downtown.
Location on Google Maps: Milton Lee Olive Park
How to get there: The closest subway station is Grand (Red Line), a 20-minute walk from the park. Buses 2, 29, 65, 66, and 124 drop you along E Grand Avenue and Park Drive.
Best time to go: Any time works but my tip is to coincide your visit with sunset.
12. Greetings from Chicago Mural
Inspired by vintage postcard designs and painted by Victor Ving, a former graffiti artist from New York, the Greetings from Chicago Mural sums up the spirit of the Windy City.
The installation was part of a project between Ving and the photographer Lisa Beggs. It coats a former plumbing supply building with elements including a deep-dish Chicago pizza oozing with cheese, The Bean (another of the Instagram spots in Chicago to make this list!), and the Save Ferris water tower from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Location on Google Maps: Greetings from Chicago Mural
How to get there: California (Blue Line) is the closest subway station, less than a 5-minute walk away. Bus 56 runs along N Milwaukee Avenue and stops right outside the mural.
Best time to go: Anytime during the day.
13. Black Wing Mural at Federales Chicago
Situated on the wall outside Federales at 180 W Lake Street, the Black Wing Mural was painted by the muralist Jenny Vyas in collaboration with Caesar Perez.
Two ornate wings stretch upwards, comprising an intricate web of design before culminating in slender feathers. Naturally, the allure of one of the coolest Instagrammable places in Chicago is the chance to pose with the wings.
Location on Google Maps: Black Wing Mural at Federales Chicago
How to get there: The mural is located a few yards away from Morgan Subway Station (Green and Pink lines).
Best time to go: Any time.
Cost: Free but you might want to grab a Mexican meal or drink from the funky restaurant, Federales.
14. White Cacadu Mural at The Diver
Another sensational mural to brandish the streets of Chicago, this zesty piece of street art features a larger than life cacadu lounging happily among flamingo pink and coral-hued Hawaiian hibiscus blooms and a monstera leaf.
Despite the abundance of nature-themed photography spots in Chicago, the exotic mural adds a new lease of life in the busy urban streets of the Windy City and posing with the bird will surely put a spring in your step. If you remember to dress in something tropical, you might convince your followers that you’re in the Caribbean!
The theme continues in the Mexican restaurant, The Diver, which is decorated with further hibiscus paintings and is a great option if you need to refuel with a bite to eat.
Location on Google Maps: The Diver
How to get there: Bus routes 65 and 156 stop within a few minutes walk away. Grand (Red Line) is the closest subway station, situated less than a 10-minute walk away.
Best time to go: Any time of day is fine but going early in the morning is best to avoid traffic. Your photographer will need to stand on the other side of the road so it’s best to do it in the morning while there are not so many cars on the road.
Cost: Free but if you visit during opening hours you might want to factor in some time and money for a meal at The Diver.
15. Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up
My final pick of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago might sound a little touristic but it’s so much fun and if you visit the city during the fall I absolutely recommend adding it to your Chicago itinerary!
Transformed into a huge corn maze, Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up is strewn with hundreds of pumpkins and amazing photo opportunities. There are loads of places to grab seasonal coffees and snacks – with a heavy emphasis on pumpkin produce, of course – and there are activities such as axe throwing, tarot readings, and carnival amusements on offer. If you want to spice up your feed for fall, this is the perfect place to do it!
If your visit to Chicago falls at a different time of year, they also have other seasonal pop-ups such as the Jack Forest Winter Walk and Neon Summer Chicago so it’s worth checking it in every season.
Location on Google Maps: Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up
How to get there: Located in the Pulaski Park neighborhood, buses 9 and 72 will drop you off on W North Avenue from where you can walk in a couple of minutes. Division (Blue Line) is a 20-minute walk from the pop up while Clybourn (commuter trains) is 15 minutes away on foot.
Best time to go: This is a seasonal popup that only takes place during fall and it’s so much fun if you happen to be there at the right time. If you do so, try to buy a ticket for opening time so you can enjoy the photo ops without a huge crowd!
Cost: Admission tickets start at 25 USD but you can find deals that add on such inclusions as food, drinks, and activities. Plan to book your tickets online in advance as it works out cheaper.
Best Chicago Instagram Spots on the Map
I created a custom map for you that contains all the most Instagrammable places in Chicago with their exact location. You can even open it up on your phone if you click on the bracket in the upper right corner, this way you can easily check it during the day to ensure you’re not missing out on anything. Super convenient, right?
Where to Stay in Chicago
Covering 235 square miles (607 square kilometers), the city comprises 77 community areas that are often grouped into 9 districts within which you will find additional neighborhoods. Generally speaking, if you’re visiting Chicago for the first time, you should stick to The Loop, the most central area in Chicago, or the neighborhoods within close proximity to the center, such as River North or Streeterville.
Chicago is a huge city and finding the most ideal place to stay is a challenge. If you need more help, check out my in-depth guide about the best areas to stay in Chicago that includes a general overview of each area, pros and cons, and also some handy hotel recommendations.
If you’re in a hurry or you don’t want to spend a lot of time with research, below you can find my top picks for where to stay in Chicago.
LUXURY – Chicago Athletic Association
Chicago Athletic Association, part of Hyatt boasts a grand ballroom with 19th century stained glass windows and a modern fitness center. A rooftop bar overlooking Millennium Park, unique dining options, and a social games room awaits at the Chicago Athletic Association, part of Hyatt. This hotel, situated in a landmark building in downtown Chicago, promotes a high-spirited, club atmosphere.
MID-RANGE – The Blackstone
Situated in a historic French Beaux-Arts building, this 4-star Chicago Loop hotel features a tapas restaurant and stylish rooms with 50-inch LCD TVs. Grant Park is across the street and Millennium Park is only a 10-minute walk from the property. Selected rooms offer views of the lake. Mercat a la Planxa, the on-site tapas restaurant features Catalan and Mediterranean dishes.
BUDGET – Central Loop Hotel
All guest rooms at Central Loop Hotel have custom-designed furnishings and comfortable beds with down duvets and plush pillow-top mattresses. They also include work desks with ergonomic chairs. Complimentary exercise equipment and air purifiers are available for room delivery upon request.
That concludes my guide to the most Instagrammable places in Chicago. I hope you’re feeling inspired to add the city and these 15 Chicago photo spots to your bucket list! Believe me, it’s truly worth it.
If you have any more questions about shooting in or traveling to Chicago, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Reach out via social media, email, or leave a comment below – I always love to help you out!
Have you already been to the Windy City? Then let me know what were your favorite photography spots in Chicago!
Ps: If you’re struggling to come up with amazing Instagram captions for your Chicago photos, check out my post about the best Chicago captions for Instagram!
107 Incredible Chicago Captions for Instagram
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Top 8 Best Areas to Stay in Chicago
Want to read more about Chicago?
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What Camera Gear Do We Use?
- Camera body: Sony Alpha 7 III
- Standard zoom lens: TAMRON 28-75 mm f/2.8
- Wide angle lens: Sony FE 16-35mm f/4
- Telephoto lens: TAMRON 70-180 mm f/2.8
- Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- GoPro: GoPro Hero 7
- Camera Bag: Peak Design Everyday Totepack
- Tripod: Manfrotto Compact Action
If you want to read more about what is in our camera bag, check out my detailed post about our travel photography gear!