21 Most Instagmmable Places in Chicago (Map, Tips & Photos!)

girl at 360 chicago observatory

Chicago is a city that’s full of photogenic spots. From its iconic skyscrapers to its stunning waterfront, there’s something for everyone to capture on camera. In this article, I’ll share some of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago. 

Here’s the thing. I grew up going to Chicago every year to visit my aunt. She’s always been the cool aunt- the one who wears Chanel and lives in a super-modern high-rise with a retro jukebox in it and gives the most unique Christmas gifts. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I always associated it with her, but Chicago has always seemed like such a cool city to me.

Fast forward to me becoming a full-fledged grown-up with a husband and child (psst… find my list of baby travel essentials here!), traveling to Chicago as a travel blogger. And it turns out, Chicago truly is such a cool city! My younger self had it pegged correctly (though for different reasons).

This city is full of beautiful spots, incredible things to do, great food, it’s clean, we felt safe, and it just overall stunned me. It was even better than when I was a child.

So, now that I’ve gushed over how much I love this city, let’s discuss Instagrammable places in Chicago! 

Tips for Taking Instagrammable Photos in Chicago

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or just starting out, you’re in the right place! And whether you’re hoping for some eye-catching photos or high-quality reels on your Instagram or are looking for some memorable travel photos, I’m sure this list will give you some great shots.

I’ve sprinkled some tips throughout this article regarding times to visit and other helpful information. If you’d like any additional insight, you can always comment at the end!

On another note, if you need some ideas for photo poses, check out this post.

And if you want to see exactly what’s in my camera bag, you’ll find it all here!

Last comment before we get started: if you’re on a budget, other than the few food spots I’ve listed here, the only spots that cost money are Chicago’s two observation decks: the SkyDeck and 360 Chicago. Everything else is free!

So let’s get to it! Here are the 21 most Instagrammable places in Chicago!

Skydeck Chicago

How about we start with an Instagrammable spot with the most epic views over Chicago?

Skydeck Chicago is the observation deck on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower (which used to be called Sears Tower). It’s the highest observation deck in the United States at 1,353 feet tall! It offers panoramic views of the Chicago skyline, four states (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan), and up to 50 miles on a clear day.

Within Skydeck Chicago, one of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago is specifically The Ledge. The Ledge is a portion of the Skydeck with glass boxes that extend 4.3 feet outside of the building. You can step out onto The Ledge for a very surreal experience and some epic photos!

Don’t worry about the glass breaking; the boxes in the Ledge are made up of specially designed 1.5-inch thick glass. (Honestly, that doesn’t sound that thick to me, but as you walk through the exhibit to get to the Skydeck, you’ll get to learn all about Skydeck and be reassured that they’ve done the physics!).

Each group gets 90 seconds at the Ledge, so be prepared with the shots you have in mind! If you run out of time, don’t worry. There isn’t a limit to how many times you enter the Ledge, but you do need to get back in line each time.

TIP: The best time to go to the Skydeck is right when it opens or later in the day. It’s an incredibly popular tourist destination (1.7 million people visit it each year!) so it definitely gets crowded during peak times. We visited right when it opened and went straight for The Ledge before the lines got long.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket booth on the ground floor of the Willis Tower. Ticket prices vary, but ours were $36 per adult. I recommend buying in advance to make sure you get the time slot you want. However, they don’t give refunds, so check the weather forecast in advance before purchasing!

Worried about a cloudy day? You may still want to visit! I’ve seen some cool cloudy-day photos from the SkyDeck!

Another note: I’ve seen photos where people have captured the Ledge from the side, but you can no longer take this kind of photo!

Lurie Garden

If you’re looking for a glimpse of green in the city, check out the Lurie Garden. It completely blew me away! This botanical garden is located in Millennium Park and features a variety of flowers, trees, and sculptures. It’s a great place to get some peaceful photos while still being in the hustle and bustle of the city.

While you may want to visit early on a weekend, during the week the garden is much less crowded. I got these photos in the late afternoon on a Monday, and it was pretty empty and easy to photograph.

Without a doubt, Lurie Garden is the best Instagram photo spot in Chicago with lush greenery in it!

Wings of Mexico

(Something about this second photo felt poetic to me, and you also get a glimpse of what being a travel blogger with a baby looks like haha!) 

Located right on Michigan Avenue by the DuSable Bridge is the Plaza of the Americas. It’s hard to miss, seeing as it’s close to many iconic Chicago landmarks, including the Wrigley Building, the Chicago Theatre, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. 

The Plaza of the Americas is home to a number of flags from countries in the Americas, but what makes it one of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago is the ‘Wings of Mexico’ sculpture.

Tip: If you want the shot we got with all of the greenery in front of it, you’ll want to visit early in the day when there isn’t a line of people wanting to take a photo with the wings. I took these photos around 7am.

Cloud Gate

Now it’s time to include the most obvious Instagram-worthy photo spot in Chicago: Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean.” This iconic sculpture is located in Millennium Park and is a must-visit for any visitor to Chicago. 

The Bean reflects the surrounding buildings and people in a mesmerizing way, making it a perfect spot for photos. (Fun fact: the people who installed Cloud Gate are the same people who installed The Ledge at the Chicago SkyDeck!)

We shot photos here twice: once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Here are some photos from our late afternoon visit:

You can see that the lighting is very different than in the morning. Personally, I preferred visiting in the late afternoon, when the sun was facing the opposite direction. 

Yes, you’ll want to go very early if you want no one in your photos. However, I personally don’t mind having people in my photos here- their reflections are pretty cool to see in the Bean!

Also worth noting… if you do plan to go early, know that once the sun is high enough, there’s some very strong and direct sunlight right on your face. I prefer being backlit or having the sun anywhere except directly in my eyes so that lighting isn’t ideal.

Tip: If there are a lot of people at The Bean when you visit, step far away from all of the people and zoom in. That way you get the entire sculpture with you in the photo, and everyone else is just tiny in the background!

360 Chicago

360 Chicago is the second-highest observation deck in Chicago (the first being SkyDeck). It’s located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center and offers panoramic views of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and four states.

It also features TILT, a glass-enclosed platform that tilts outward 30 degrees, giving visitors the feeling of being suspended in the air. We decided not to pay extra to experience TILT, but if you want a thrill in addition to Instagrammable photos, then by all means, don’t miss out! 

There is also a restaurant and bar on the 94th floor where visitors can enjoy food and drinks with a view.

While the Ledge at SkyDeck makes for some really cool photos, I personally prefer the 360 Chicago experience. It just felt a lot more laid back than the SkyDeck, with fewer people and shorter lines. (SkyDeck gets roughly twice as many visitors as 360 Chicago!) 

Even so, 360 Chicago is still a popular tourist destination and can get crowded during peak times. It is one of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago, after all! You can purchase tickets online or at the ticket booth on the ground floor of the John Hancock Center. Ticket prices vary, but ours (without TILT) cost $30 per adult.

Tip: Visit right when they open or in the late afternoon for fewer crowds!

Buckingham Fountain

Another one of Chicago’s most Instagrammable spots is Buckingham Fountain. This massive fountain is located in Grant Park and is one of the largest in the world! If you are free at nighttime (unlike us- we’re stuck inside once it’s baby bedtime!), it’s especially beautiful at night when it’s lit up.

The fountain is 33 feet tall and a whopping 200 feet wide, so you can get creative with photoshoot angles around the fountain. Since it’s so large, it’s also decently easy to avoid other people in your photos!

One thing to note: the fountain isn’t open all year round. It depends on the weather, but typically Buckingham Fountain runs from early May through mid-October. It’s also completely free to visit!

Mochinut on Michigan Ave

Here’s a great stop in Chicago if you’re looking for Instagrammable food in an Instagrammable cafe! (Or if you’re just in the mood for a yummy mochi donut!)

The booths in this cafe are so cute with their faux-cherry blossom trees and metal house-shaped structures. Add some adorable bubbly donuts and you’ve got a cute photo that is totally gram-worthy!

I ordered a set of three donuts: sakura, ube, and churro. They were all SO good and I highly recommend them! (IMO they’re also not too sweet, so you really can have more than one!)

Chicago Cultural Center

Head to the Tiffany dome in Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center. There you’ll find a dazzling display of art that makes for the most beautiful photo background.

This is, in fact, the largest Tiffany Dome in the world! The 38-foot diameter dome contains roughly 30,000 pieces of Tiffany Favrile glass.

The area right around the Preston Bradley Hall is also stunning. The grand staircase and beautifully detailed ceiling make for great Instagram photo backgrounds.

There’s a second dome in the building, and while it’s still worth checking out, I don’t think it’s quite as striking in photos as the Tiffany dome.

Note: People can book Preston Bradley Hall for their wedding, so keep that in mind if you’re visiting on a Saturday! We visited at 10am on Saturday and saw signs that it would be closed later for a wedding.

Fourth Presbyterian Church

Located right across from the Four Seasons, the courtyard at Fourth Presbyterian Church will make you forget you’re in a big city. This is a beautiful hidden gem and one of the lesser-known Instagrammable places in Chicago.

Grand archways, climbing vines, and a charming fountain complement the beautiful architecture of the church.

Venteux Chicago 

Say bonjour to Venteux Chicago, a Chic French bistro that serves up brunch and oysters. We stopped in for a light bite and were floored. Not only is the cafe gorgeous with stunning wallpaper and perfect accents, but the food we tried was incredible too.

I ordered their seasonal blueberry matcha, iced, and Harrison got their yogurt & granola. They disappeared in seconds. I’d love to return to try more from their brunch menu- and to explore their dinner menu too!

This Instagrammable Chicago cafe is located on Michigan Avenue and there’s also a small patio out front with assorted plants that I’d imagine would also be Insta-worthy!

Harold Washington Library

From the outside, the Harold Washington Library looks like a plain ‘ol library. And when you walk inside, it still feels like a plain ‘ol library. But take the elevator to the 9th floor and be floored.

You’ll step into the prettiest greenhouse-esque study room. It has to be one of the prettiest places in Chicago that you could get work done in! 

Teal, pale blues, and greens create the most soothing color palette. The glass roof allows for a ton of natural light to shine through and plants grow throughout the area. You won’t believe you’re in a library anymore!

It’s easy to get to and free to enter.

Tip: Leave your tripod at home or in your bag. The security guard will make you put your tripod away if you set it up (I speak from experience). This is the tripod I use!

Le Colonial

After visiting the Le Colonial in Houston, I was quite excited to learn that Chicago had one too! (And if you were wondering, yes, it’s also on my list of Instagrammable places in Houston!)

Not only does this French-Vietnamese restaurant serve up delicious food, but their decor is beautifully done. I especially love their bright and airy patio, but the rest of the restaurant is a work of art too (though it is quite dark in other parts of the restaurant, FYI!).

Note that there is a dress code to dine at Le Colonial (ie. no flip flops, baseball caps, etc.), but if you’re going for photos, you probably will already be dressed cute anyway!

(PS. Order their chao gio appetizer. Just do it. It’s one of my favorite dishes ever.)

Wrigley Building

The Wrigley Building is an iconic Chicago photo spot and for good reason! The beautiful architecture makes this one of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago.

Tip: Note that this is in the middle of downtown Chicago… it’s on Michigan Avenue right by the river. That means that the best time to get a photo here is in the early morning (I’d say by 9am). Otherwise, there will be plenty of people in your photos… crowds even!

We took photos here at 7:30am on a Saturday… by the time we walked back past it at 10, there were so many people!

Union Station

I’m convinced that Union Stations are always beautiful. I’ve seen the one in Denver, Seattle, and now Chicago- all three are stunning!

Whether you snap a picture of the main part of Chicago’s Union Station or take one by the entrance, there are plenty of options here.

Tip: This is just across the river from Skydeck Chicago, so you might as well photograph both while you’re in this part of downtown!

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

If you haven’t been to or heard of a Starbucks Reserve, trust me when I say I’m not slapping a regular ‘ol Starbucks on this list. If you love coffee (regardless of your preference regarding Starbucks coffee), Chicago’s Starbucks Reserve should be on your itinerary. They have so much more than coffee on their five floors. 

Yes- you read that right. Five floors- making this the biggest Starbucks in the world! They serve up a revolving menu of coffees, cocktails, and food. So yes, not only is the experience worth it but commemorating with a photo is a must here as well!

Tip: When we visited on a Friday afternoon, it was decently crowded. But when we walked past it on a Saturday afternoon, there was a long line out the door! So word to the wise: avoid weekend afternoons if you can!

Millennium Park View

We’ve talked about Cloud Gate (the Bean) and Lurie Garden, both of which are in Millenium Park. But now I want to add another spot in Millenium Park to this list. There’s a charming little balcony with a terrific view of downtown, and it’s right by Cloud Gate. I’ve marked its exact spot on the map so that you can see where it is. It looks right down Washington Street. (Note: during Christmastime, it has views of a beautiful Christmas tree!)

Tip: Bring a zoom lens (or zoom in on your phone camera!) for a different view in the same spot. You can see what I mean in the photos above; I zoomed in to get the photo where the buildings in the background are larger.

(It’s also crazy what a difference lighting makes- the sun had just peeked around the building in the second photo, giving it a really pretty glow!)

The Hampton Social

This is another Instagrammable restaurant in Chicago. The Hampton Social’s Streeterville location is conveniently located near Michigan Avenue on Grand and N. St Clair.

While you may be tempted to take a photo of their giant neon “Rose All Day” sign, I’d argue that the better photo spot is their upstairs patio! The patio is light, airy, and beautifully decorated. And the food is divine, so you get a win-win here!

DuSable Bridge

The DuSable Bridge connects Michigan Avenue over the Chicago River. There are so many great photo spots on the bridge and at either end of it.

An especially iconic Chicago photo is at the northern end of the bridge with the river and buildings in the background. However, I also love the view you can capture from the bridge itself, which is lined with flags that make for great photo elements.

Chicago Riverwalk

Of course, no list of Instagrammable places in Chicago would be complete without mentioning the Chicago Riverwalk.

This pedestrian walkway runs along the Chicago River and offers stunning views of the city skyline. It’s a great place to take a stroll, people-watch, or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

You can also do a boat tour for some cool angles of Chicago! We didn’t have enough time, but I’d like to do one someday!

We got the first photo right above the McCormick Bridgehouse at the end of the DuSable Bridge.

Millennium Monument

Let me include one more photo spot in Millennium Park- the Millennium Monument fountain at the northern end of the park. Framed by columns with city buildings in the background, this is another great Instagrammable photo spot in Chicago!

Jeni’s Ice Cream

Let’s top off this list of Instagrammable places in Chicago with something sweet: ice cream! Jeni’s is both delicious and photo-worthy. You can take a photo inside the glass shop or outside, take your pick!

Map of Instagrammable Places in Chicago

Here’s a map of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago! If you open the legend, you’ll find my list of favorites in the first category, labeled in orange for food spots and purple for everything else.

I’ve included additional Instagrammable cafes and restaurants in bright yellow.

In light blue, you’ll find additional Instagrammable places you can visit in Chicago that didn’t make my list of favorites.

And lastly, in dark green, you’ll find Instagrammable places that are outside of Chicago.

If you’re looking for an Instagrammable hotel stay in Chicago:

I highly recommend the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. Not only is their lobby stunning but their rooms offer incredible window seat views! We absolutely loved our stay here!

Another great option is the Viceroy Chicago, with its floor-to-ceiling windows. You could easily pile your blankets on the floor for the very Instagram-worthy bed-looking-over-an-epic-view photo!

In conclusion…

These are my favorite Instagrammable places in Chicago. And I hope my list helps you find the perfect spot(s) to capture your memories of this amazing city!

While we stuck to exploring downtown Chicago, there are some more spots worth adding to this list that are a bit further away. Namely, the Garfield Conservatory and the Bahá’í House of Worship. These two spots are absolutely beautiful but require a bit of a drive. Note that the Garfield Conservatory is free but requires reservations! Additionally, Hey Sugar is a super cute bakery in Geneva, Illinois that’s worth visiting if you’re in the area!

And if you’re still looking for more spots in Chicago, check out this list of even more great things to see and photograph:

  • The Chicago Theatre
  • North Avenue Beach
  • Lincoln Park Zoo (Especially the Honeycomb and Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool at the Lincoln Park Conservancy!)
  • Adler Planetarium
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Field Museum
  • The Rookery

And, as I mentioned earlier, you can find a few more places on my map, as well as some more Instagrammable cafes and restaurants.

No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find some Instagrammable places in Chicago that you’ll love. So get out there and start snapping some photos!

If you’ve been to Chicago and know of more places I should add to my list, let me know in the comments!

Happy exploring,

Jasmine

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Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.
Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I love to create photo-worthy travel content and hope to fill your travel plans with incredible beauty and breathtaking views! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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