Looking for the best Chicago Instagram spots? Here are some recommendations from travel bloggers!
One of the best things about the Windy City is that it’s full of incredibly photogenic spots. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, you’ll find plenty of Instagram-worthy spots in every corner.
In this blog post, I’ll take you on a visual tour of the best Chicago Instagram spots so you can capture the essence of the Windy City and elevate your Instagram game.
Top Chicago Instagram Spots
I gathered some of my favorite travel bloggers who have been to Windy City and asked them to recommend their favorite Chicago photo spots. These are them.
1. North Avenue Beach Hook Pier
The North Avenue Beach Hook Pier is a really picturesque spot in Chicago. It is known for its stunning views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline, making it one of the best Chicago Instagram spots!
It’s just a short 20-minute walk from The Magnificent Mile so it’s super convenient to get to, even if you only have one day in Chicago to see all the sights!
The Hook Pier is a unique hook-shaped pier that extends into Lake Michigan with a distinctive perspective of the beach and the lake.
Plus, you can capture the iconic Chicago skyline skyscrapers as the backdrop to your photos, making it an ideal spot for photographers to get some great shots! The view of the skyline here is pretty dramatic, plus there are not many people here so it’s easy to get photos without other people in!
Photos are best at golden hour, when the lighting is soft and you can see the colorful sky reflecting in the water, creating a magical warm atmosphere.
The pier is right next to the vibrant and popular North Avenue Beach, which becomes full of activity in the warmer months when people come to enjoy the beach, so you can relax on the beach before or after you take your pictures!
Recommended by Catrina of 24 Hours Layover
2. Sawada Coffee
One of the best photo spots in Chicago is Sawada Coffee. It’s situated in the West Loop area of the city and features a rustic, hip, and cozy spot for morning coffee and a pastry!
The indoor and outdoor spaces of Sawada Coffee boast stringed lights, making them perfect for dreamy photos. The talented latte art by master Hiroshi Sawada also makes for great social media content!
Whether you get a comforting oat milk latte to warm you up in the harsh winter months or cool off to an iced military latte during Chicago in the summer, there are so many beautiful drinks to photograph with.
The pastries at Sawada Coffee are also great for pictures! You can enjoy everything from flakey croissants to gooey brownies and house-made donuts to freshly-baked muffins!
What is also wonderful about visiting Sawada Coffee during a lovely morning in Chicago is that you can admire all the local artwork.
It’s also what makes this spot one of the most Instagrammable places in the city. There are also reclaimed wooden panels, a custom-painted espresso machine, and more.
You won’t be disappointed when you visit Sawada Coffee in Chicago! The best way to get photos at this fun spot is by visiting early in the morning, later morning, or early afternoon on a weekday. It is most crowded during rush hour, lunchtime, and weekends.
Recommended by Taylor of Brown Eyed Flower Child
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
3. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park is an amazing Instagram spot.
The campus is further away from the city center than most sights. But the views are worth a 30-minute train ride from the Loop. You can go from Gothic and Prairie styles to contemporary architecture in just a couple of blocks.
You should first explore the area around the Main Quadrangle. It is home to most of the university’s Gothic buildings from the 1890s. You are certain to notice the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Its picturesque 200-ft Bell Tower is the tallest building on the campus.
The Harper Quadrangle, an inner yard of Harper Memorial Library, is another great spot for photos. Ivy covered halls and symmetrical arches will make you forget that you are in Chicago. This area looks far more similar to the campuses in New England, like Harvard or Yale.
Go to the North Winter Garden next. It is a tiny part of the Midway Plaisance, a large greenway. This garden has benches and a great variety of plants. You can snap amazing pictures with the evergreen trees in front of the gothic buildings.
Head a block east to the Frederick C. Robie House for a change in scenery. This architectural landmark is a perfect example of the Prairie style. You can take a picture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature building right on the campus.
If you are looking for a more contemporary look, the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library is a must visit. A massive elliptical glass dome is a distinguishing feature of this library.
Recommended by Anastasia of Travel Realist
4. The Bean
Easily one of the best Chicago Instagram spots, “The Bean” is actually known as the Cloud Gate Sculpture.
It can be found in Millenium Park and is a 33 foot high, 66 foot long metal piece of art that you can photograph with the skyscrapers of Chicago in the background.
If you can, arrive early and try and photograph yourself in front of this iconic piece of art so that you can avoid the crowds.
And if you are here in time for sunrise then you’ll be able to capture the reflection of the sunrise within the metal surface of the Bean itself.
You can also experiment with different angles and try and see if you can capture your reflection and the reflection of the city within The Bean itself.
Then, afterward, take some time to explore the many fountains, gardens, and pavilions that this park has to offer before visiting nearby Maggie Daley Park.
Plus, if you visit Chicago at Christmas, you’ll be able to check out the Chicago Christmas Tree and go ice skating while you’re here.
Recommended by Linda of Midwest Explored
5. The Field Museum
One of the best photo spots in Chicago for a perfect Instagram-worthy shot is the Field Museum.
The architecture of the building is beautiful. One look at this building and you can see why everyone would want a picture in front of it.
The building itself is so gorgeous that it could be Instagram-worthy all of its own. In fact, its neoclassical architecture paired with Chicago’s skyscrapers in the background makes the image even better if taken from farther away with a good lens.
If you do want to be in the picture, the stairs leading up to the museum are the best place to take the picture. To get the best shot, have the photographer take about 5-10 steps down and get into a squatting position. This angle will make your shot perfect.
Once you enter the Field Museum head to Sue. She is the famous T-rex. Visiting Sue is an absolute must if you only have a weekend in Chicago. Making funny faces by Sue is a classic Instagramable pastime. Another great idea is to hold your entry tickets up with Sue in the background.
These are the best two shots at the Field Museum! If you ask a curator you might be able to find a few other photography hidden gems.
Recommended by Lisa of Planningaway.com
6. The Chicago River
The Chicago River is Chicago downtown’s winding river. It makes its way through the city and is a captivating and iconic photo spot that offers a myriad of opportunities for capturing stunning images.
The river’s unique characteristics make it a favorite among photographers and enthusiasts seeking that perfect shot.
One of the reasons the Chicago River is an excellent photo spot is the presence of boats gliding gracefully along its waters. There are usually many tour boats in the river as well as water taxis, both of which add a dynamic element to your compositions.
Capturing the reflections of the boats and their colorful reflections on the river’s surface can create visually striking and vibrant images.
The Chicago River is also known for hosting special events ithat create unique photo-worthy moments. One such event is the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration when the river turns a vibrant shade of green, creating an eye-catching spectacle.
There are also many parades that end at the River such as the infamous Polish Constitution Day parade, one of the things Poland is famous for, as it was the first of its kind in Europe. It makes for a great photo opportunity as there are thousands of people, decorations and activity near the river.
I suggest exploring the riverwalk, where you can usually walk parallel to the river to find photo opportunities. There are also numerous bridges where you can take pictures from a different vantage point. a picturesque pedestrian path that runs alongside the river—for diverse photo opportunities.
The Chicago River is especially stunning during the golden hour—shortly after sunrise or before sunset and can yield magical results. Though the buildings are quite tall surrounding the river if you are directly downtown, just a bit upriver you can find plenty of photo opportunities without towering buildings.
Be sure to experiment with different vantage points. Whether you’re shooting from one of the numerous bridges that span the river, capturing reflections from an adjacent rooftop, or even taking a boat tour for a unique perspective, the Chicago River provides endless opportunities for creativity and capturing memorable images.
Recommended by Diana of Travels in Poland
7. The Willis Tower
In the heart of the Windy City, a colossal structure stands tall and proud, offering a visual feast for photographers and Instagrammers alike.
The Willis Tower, a true architectural wonder, has become an iconic landmark and one of the best photo spots in Chicago. Its towering presence and breathtaking views make it an irresistible destination for capturing stunning Instagram-worthy shots.
Ascending to the observation deck of Willis Tower is like entering a whole new world of photographic possibilities.
The floor-to-ceiling windows provide an unobstructed view of the magnificent cityscape, with its majestic skyscrapers, glimmering river, and bustling streets. From this vantage point, you can capture the essence of Chicago’s urban charm and vibrant energy.
I have discovered a few tips to make the most of your visit to Willis Tower. Avoid the crowds and capture the soft morning light that bathes the city. This golden hour brings a warm, magical glow that adds an extra touch of beauty to your photos.
One of the highlights of Willis Tower is the famous glass balconies known as The Ledge.
These transparent enclosures extend outward from the building, giving you a thrilling perspective and creating fantastic photo opportunities.
Stepping onto The Ledge and capturing a unique shot with the city beneath your feet is an experience that is sure to captivate your Instagram followers.
Beyond its visual appeal, Willis Tower offers an opportunity to showcase Chicago’s architectural prowess and rich history.
Since its construction in 1973, it has stood as a symbol of innovation and human achievement. Including elements of the tower’s iconic architecture in your photographs adds depth and storytelling to your Instagram feed.
Recommended by Victoria of your Guide Your Travel
8. Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain is not only one of the most well known landmarks in Chicago but also one of the best photo spots in the city with views of Lake Michigan and the spectacular Chicago skyline in the background.
Opened in 1927, the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain (its official name) is the centerpiece of Grant Park, a popular and free Chicago attraction.
Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world – shooting more than 14,000 gallons of water from over 100 jets every minute and reaching up to a height of 150 feet into the air in the center.
While Buckingham Fountain is famous for its massive size and water displays, you will also be impressed by the beautiful sculptural elements.
The fountain, which symbolizes Lake Michigan, comprises four basins clad in Georgia pink marble and carved granite as well as four sets of sea horses representing the four states bordering the lake.
The fountain runs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, typically from mid-May through mid-October. In addition to its regular water display, there is also a major water display for 20 minutes every hour while the fountain is operating. In the evening, the fountain is especially pretty when it is illuminated with colored lights.
Recommended by Matilda of The Travel Sisters
9. The Chicago Theater
The Chicago Theatre is an iconic landmark in the city that creates the perfect Instagram photo opportunity.
This legendary venue in the heart of downtown Chicago is known for being the very first lavish “movie palace” of its kind in America. The opulent theater was built in 1921 in a French Baroque style and is complete with a five-story grand entrance hall and a grand sweeping staircase patterned after the Paris Opera House.
Even if you don’t venture into the theatre, taking in the detailed architecture of the building from outside is an Instagram-worthy sight to see.
The five-story-high CHICAGO sign with blinking lights is impressive both day and night, in every season. One of the best free things to do in Chicago in winter is to see the Chicago sign during a nighttime snowfall!
The theatre invokes a vibrant and diverse scene that has been a significant part of the city’s cultural identity for over 100 years.
From Broadway productions to local performances, the historic Chicago theatre has it all. Famous performers such as Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Prince, and Robin Williams have graced the stage of the theatre.
Recommended by Erin of The Simple Salty Life
10. The Nature Boardwalk
One of the many great things about Chicago is what a photogenic city it is.
To add to that, each of the four seasons adds a special touch that makes taking photos of the same places over and over again never get old. And one of the best Chicago Instagram spots is without a doubt The Nature Boardwalk near Lincoln Park Zoo.
The Nature Boardwalk is located just south of the Lincoln Park Zoo. The feature that makes it such a great photo spot is the archway which perfectly frames the downtown buildings from the right angle (take your pictures from the north side of the arch to get the views of downtown).
As with many photo spots in Chicago, this location makes for incredible photos in all four seasons and in various lighting. Fall in particular is a favorite time to take photos in this place, after the leaves have changed colors and the cool crisp weather can be “felt” and “seen” within the photo.
As you can imagine, this popular photo opp can get busy. Your best bet to capture photos with no one in them is early in the morning, but also note that the cooler the weather, the fewer folks who venture out to take pictures here.
Enjoy this beautiful instagrammable location in Chicago!
Recommended by Chelsea of Adventures of Chels
11. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is one of the most popular and iconic spots for taking Instagram-worthy photos of Chicago.
Located in downtown Chicago, Millennium Park features stunning architecture, lush gardens, and a variety of attractions that make it a great spot to take pictures.
Known for the Cloud Gate sculpture known as “The Bean”, there is so much more to Millennium Park. From the Crown Fountain with its ever-changing faces to the Lurie Garden and BP Pedestrian Bridge, there are plenty of photo ops here.
Lurie Garden boasts a vibrant array of flowers and greenery that creates a picturesque backdrop for any photograph.
The iconic Crown Fountain lights up at night creating colourful reflections across its watery surface. Wrigley Square is an excellent spot to snap some traditional park-like shots with swaths of green grass and lush trees stretching out behind you.
My favorite photo spot in Millennium Park during my trip to Chicago was a little nook beside the Bean, where there’s a lookout towards the city and you can watch the subway go by. If you can capture the subway going by in your photo, it’s even better!
Whether you’re looking for an epic skyline shot or something more whimsical, this beautiful park has something for everyone!
Recommended by Melissa of My Beautiful Passport
Chicago Instagram Spots: Conclusion
Chicago is a city that never fails to impress, and its Instagram spots are no exception. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these spots offer a unique perspective on the city’s beauty and charm.
From the towering skyscrapers of the Loop to cozy restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Chicago.
The next time you’re out exploring the city, be sure to bring your camera and capture the magic of these Instagram-worthy spots!