Chicago is composed of stunning architecture and supreme skylines. So, it's no wonder that we all love seeing the skyline. I've compiled a list of the seven best spots along the lake to view the skyline. Lake Michigan offers great foreground features for an already stunning city. If you have any questions that I didn't cover in this brief overlook of shoreline destinations along Chicago feel free to comment or contact me.
This is easily one of the best places in the city to see birds. I’m not talking about seagulls and pigeons either. The bird sanctuary at Montrose is a safe haven for many different types of birds. Outisde of seeing birds the view of the city is great, but be sure to bring your zoom lenses because this spot is quite the distance compared to all the other views on this list. This spot is also the furthest north on this list.
When to visit: I've only been here at night which was great. I think anytime of the day would be good.
Tips: Bring your long lenses and tripod. It's always been quite windy at Montrose when I've visited.
31st Street Jetty
My favorite part about the 31st Street jetty view is that it is hardly visited. The jetty has recently undergone major renovations and parking is cheap for city meter standards. Last Summer was $1.00/hr. This is the best view of the city from south of the McCormick Place so keep that in mind. There is a short walk to the jetty from the parking lot, but nothing worth busting out your inhaler for anyways...
When to visit: I've caught good light at 31st street during sunrise, sunset, and blue hour.
Tips: Bring a zoom lens as you are fairly far south of the city at this point.
I like this view for numerous reasons, but the best reason lies within the fact that it is walking distance from the Adler Planetarium (another spot on this list.) This location offers great views of the harbor, Soldier Field, and the Field Museum as well as the Chicago Skyline. I usually just park along the harbor and no one ever says anything to me (I've never gone during the Summer so that may be why no one has ever told me to move my car.)
When to visit: Sunset, Blue hour, night.
Olive Park/Ohio Street Beach
Olive Park runs along the beach in a separate gated park. I forget hours for opening, but I know that the gates close at 8 p.m.. If you can't get into the park; don't fret. Ohio Street beach is open and it offers great partial views of the skyline as seen below.
When to shoot: Sunset and blue hour.
Tips: Bring a wide-angle lens. Park on Ohio Street and walk under Lake Shore Drive using the tunnel.
Just go. This is truly the number one spot on any location list in Chicago. Why? It has the best landscape view of the skyline. There is easy parking along Solidarity Drive and it's close to Northerly Island (No. 5 on the list.) It's tourist friendly and there is no one selling selfie-sticks or any other shit your kids don't need. Parking meters are charged hourly.
It doesn't hurt to plan ahead for visiting this location as concerts and events happening at Northerly Island, Soldier Field, Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium. I know there have been times that I've had to pass on this spot due to concerts and events before. Usually I find a spot though.
Best time to shoot: Anytime of the day.
Tips: Honestly, just do whatever. This spot speaks for itself.
North Avenue Beach
North Avenue beach has plenty of foreground objects. I like North Avenue because there are multiple locations within the beach to grab different foreground objects and compositions. Parking is kind of a hassle. Most people walk through Lincoln Park to get to North Avenue, but there is a lot at the beach if you can get in. I've been there when it's too crowded and I've been there when the gate was glitching.
When to visit: Anytime of the day.
Hands down the best unique spot to view the city. The foreground features at Fullerton are the best I've seen in any city with a skyline view that I've visited thus far (I'm sure NYC has something better.) Parking is a hassle tho since this spot is right along Lake Shore Drive. I'll link a map to where you should park below.
Also, this spot is undergoing renovation right now, and I'm not sure what it is going to offer. I'm positive that they'll clean up the broken revetment. And, that's a shame. That broken revetment is what made Fullerton a mecca for photographers. As dangerous as it was climbing on it to get "the shot" I feel I'll end up missing this spot for what it used to be...
When to shoot: You can shoot here at anytime of the day and walk away feeling good about it. I suggest sunrise though.