Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right 11 jaw-dropping skyline views in Chicago
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

11 jaw-dropping skyline views in Chicago

Take in Chicago's amazing architecture by visiting some of the city's best skyline vantage points

By Zach Long and Emma Krupp
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Of all the incredible Chicago attractions there are to explore, best of all might be the twinkling city skyline. And lucky for you, it doesn't cost a dime to take in its sprawling lineup of world-class architecture—from the Willis Tower and Two Prudential Plaza to Vista Tower. No matter which side of Chicago you call home, you're bound to find some pretty amazing skyline vistas, whether you're peering out from Chicago rooftop bars, commuting on the El or hanging out in a lakeside park. Snap a pic and linger awhile at these appealing vantage points—the views are (mostly) free.

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The best views in Chicago

lurie garden, lurie gardens, millennium park, skyline, park, outdoors, nature, downtown, chicago
lurie garden, lurie gardens, millennium park, skyline, park, outdoors, nature, downtown, chicago
Photograph: Shutterstock

Lurie Garden

Things to do Millennium Park

It's no secret that the flagship parks of downtown Chicago—namely Grant and Millennium—are home to some pretty stunning views of the skyline. To get a more novel downtown perspective, though, try visiting the Lurie Garden. Tucked into the southern end of Millennium Park, its verdant expanses of wildflowers and grasses make for an extra-appealing foreground for the city skyline.

Beat Kitchen Riverwalk
Beat Kitchen Riverwalk
Photograph: Courtesy Beat Kitchen

Chicago Riverwalk

Things to do Loop

If you don't have the time to hop on a boat tour, strolling along the Riverwalk is an easy way to see Chicago's finest architecture from a new angle. Buildings tower far above you on either side, and there are plenty of places to sit down and take in the scenery.

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LH Rooftop at LondonHouse Hotel
LH Rooftop at LondonHouse Hotel
Photograph: Nicholas James

LH Rooftop

Restaurants Loop

There are tons of buildings that overlook the Chicago River, but LondonHouse boasts a balcony that allows you to gaze directly down the water below, giving you a picturesque view of the Marina City Towers, Michigan Avenue and other iconic spots. Once you're done admiring the scenery, grab a table and enjoy a cocktail or a meal against the gorgeous urban backdrop.

Lake Shore Drive, John Hancock
Lake Shore Drive, John Hancock
Photograph: Martha Williams

360 CHICAGO

Things to do Streeterville
The John Hancock Center might be the fifth tallest building in Chicago, but its location by the lake on the Near North Side gives it an amazing view of Lake Shore Drive (as well as the rest of the city). You can check out the Tilt attraction at 360 Chicago on the 94th floor for a harrowing sight of the city below—on a clear day you'll be able to see up to 55 miles in any direction and spot four other states.
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Ashland Green/Pink Line
Ashland Green/Pink Line
Photograph: Shutterstock

The elevated crossing at the Ashland Green and Pink Line station

A view worth missing your train for? Believe it. If you've ever transferred at the Ashland Green and Pink Line stop, you've likely had a chance to take in the amazing, unobstructed perspective of the skyline from the station's elevated crossing over the tracks. It's arguably the most comprehensive view of Chicago's architecture on the West Side (and the city in general).

The Ledge at the Willis Tower Skydeck
The Ledge at the Willis Tower Skydeck
Photograph: Matthew Bowie

Willis Tower Skydeck

Things to do Loop

The most obvious place to catch a great view of Chicago is on the 103rd floor of the city's tallest building. Since the Willis Tower added The Ledge, which suspends guests in a glass box 1,353 feet in the air, the attraction offers about as good of a view as you're going to get anywhere in the country, aside from an airplane.

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Adler Planetarium
Adler Planetarium
Photograph: Shutterstock

Adler Planetarium

Museums Science and technology Museum Campus

Taking a bike ride or a stroll along the lakefront by the Adler Planetarium is a great way to see the city. The museum, which sadly remains closed for now, sits just north of Northerly Island in a spot that juts out into the lake east of South Loop. When the light and water conditions are just right, you can catch a view of the skyline reflecting onto the lake.

Belmont Harbor
Belmont Harbor
Photograph: Shutterstock

Belmont Harbor

Things to do Lake View

Walking along the northern end of Belmont Harbor explains why Lake Michigan is a Great Lake—when you hit the edge of the water it feels like you've reached the edge of the Earth. If you're on the North Side and looking for a happy place, this is a sure bet.

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Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

North and South Ponds at Lincoln Park

Things to do Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is full of attractions, but after you've finished scoping animals at the zoo, try looking toward the horizon for incredible skyline vistas—the whole park is bursting with them. Just as an example, you can head over to the South Pond, where the city's buildings pop up above the trees, contrasting urban monoliths with natural flora.

Ping Tom Memorial Park
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

Ping Tom Memorial Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Armour Square

Originally a railroad yard, Chinatown's Ping Tom Park is now home to 12 acres of rolling green space and riverfront paths with picturesque views of the skyline facing north. For an even clearer vantage point, climb up to the 18th Street Bridge, where you can soak in views of both the cityscape and the historic St. Charles Air Line Bridge.

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Promontory Point

Things to do Hyde Park

Tucked away along the lakefront in Hyde Park, the views from Promontory Point demonstrates just how huge Chicago's skyline really is. It's more than seven miles away from the Loop, but the buildings still look as looming and stately as ever. 

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