Chicago is defined by its architecture. The city even used its most famous art installation, Cloud Gate (the Chicago Bean), to reflect the towering buildings that form one of the world’s most compelling skylines. For anyone who has walked the streets of Chicago, the desire to take it all in—to find the best view in Chicago—is immediate and enduring.
What counts as the “best” view, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best views in Chicago that offers options to look down from above, gaze out at the city (or the lake), or locate yourself at the perfect distance to capture it all at ground level.
So explore the interactive map, read more about some of these extraordinary venues, or browse the full list toward the bottom of the page. Which view is the best view in Chicago? Now you get to decide.
One building should come to mind before all others when you think about looking down on the Windy City: Willis Tower. The main building rises 1,450 feet and 108 floors into the sky (with the top of the antenna reaching 1,729 feet). It is the second tallest building in the United States and the 14th tallest building in the world.
The 103rd floor features The Ledge, a glass-walled and -bottomed box at a dizzying height: 1,353 feet. Still, if you want the view from on high, you don’t have to step out onto the glass. You can enjoy the highest view in Chicago from the surrounding Skydeck.
The Willis Tower isn’t the only (nearly) mile-high view in the city. The John Hancock Center’s Signature Room at the 95th offers exceptional dining on, you guessed it, the 95th floor.
If you don’t have time to take in a meal at the Signature Room, you can always enjoy near-equal views just one floor below at 360 Chicago, the John Hancock Center’s observation deck. For the especially bold, 360 Chicago offers Tilt, which allows visitors to lean forward against outward-angled glass windows.
With Tilt and The Ledge, you don’t just get some of the best views in Chicago—you get some of the best thrills, too!
While only the tallest venues provide an opportunity to peer over Chicago’s stunning architectural landscape, far more lend mixed vantages—above, below, and across.
Many restaurants and bars top some of Chicago’s finest hotels, including the Park Hyatt, Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Hotel Lincoln, Loews Chicago Hotel, and the Ritz-Carlton, to name a few.
If you’re focused on food (and, of course, a dining room with a view), consider Everest, Sixteen, NoMI Kitchen, or Cindy’s. Just remember that while great food and inspiring vistas don’t come cheaply, they are worth every penny.
There are more creative options, too. Photographers laud the skyline views from the parking garage at Rush University Medical Center, which looks east toward downtown and Lake Michigan.
For Chicagoans, the city’s architecture is seen most often from street level. Whether it’s strolling the Magnificent Mile, enjoying an afternoon in Grant Park, or gazing around while awaiting a cab, exquisite buildings frame every view.
For visitors, it’s an unanticipated pleasure: the perfect shot of the city from a world-class institution that already has every allure. It reveals the city’s overflowing wealth of cultural and architectural resources.
There are even two phenomenal opportunities to take in the skyline as you wander about the city: the Chicago Riverwalk, showcasing a cross-section of the city’s interior, and the Chicago Lakefront Trail, with 18 miles of classic Chicago vistas.
All in all, the thirty best views of Chicago span nearly 1,500 feet of altitude and capture the essence of the city—and why so many love to call it home.
To be fair, there are equally breathtaking views in private residential towers and dining rooms. It’s something residents at The Clare know well: They enjoy them every day.
Whether taking in the skyline from a private balcony or enjoying a meal with friends while overlooking Lake Michigan, it’s an ever-present and invaluable perk of experiencing Chicago from more than fifty stories above the ground.
The Complete List of the Best Views in Chicago
|Willis Tower||233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606||Skydeck Chicago||Looking Down||Attraction|
|John Hancock Center||875 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611||Signature Room at the 95th, 360 Chicago||Looking Down||Restaurant, Attraction|
|Lake Point Tower||505 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611||Cité||Looking Down||Restaurant|
|Trump International Hotel and Tower||401 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611||Terrace at Trump, Sixteen||Looking Out||Bar, Restaurant|
|Park Hyatt (Park Tower)||800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611||NoMI Kitchen, NoMI Lounge||Looking Out||Restaurant, Bar|
|Tavern at the Park||130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601||Tree House||Looking Out||Bar|
|ZED451||739 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654||Rooftop Terrace||Looking Out||Bar|
|Pegasus Restaurant & Taverna||130 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661||Veranda||Looking Out||Restaurant|
|Chicago Athletic Association Hotel||12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603||Cindy’s||Looking Out||Restaurant|
|Tanta||118 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654||Rooftop Terrace||Looking Out||Restaurant|
|Hotel Lincoln||1816 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614||The J Parker||Looking Out||Restaurant|
|Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery||1 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60610||Rooftop||Looking Out||Bar|
|Loews Chicago Hotel||455 N Park Dr, Chicago, IL 60611||Streeterville Social||Looking Out||Bar|
|MileNorth Hotel||166 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611||52Eighty Rooftop Lounge||Looking Out||Bar|
|Dana Hotel and Spa||2 W Erie St, Chicago, IL 60654||Vertigo Sky Lounge||Looking Out||Bar|
|theWit||201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601||ROOF on theWit||Looking Out||Bar|
|Virgin Hotels Chicago||203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601||Cerise||Looking Out||Bar|
|Raffaello Hotel||201 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611||drumBAR||Looking Out||Bar|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago||160 E Pearson St, at Water Tower Place, Chicago, IL 60611||THE dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar||Looking Out||Bar|
|440 South LaSalle||440 S La Salle St, Chicago, IL 60605||Everest||Looking Out||Restaurant|
|Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza River North||350 W Wolf Point Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654||Cityscape Bar||Looking Out||Bar|
|Rush University||1653 W Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60612||Parking Garage||Looking Out||Public Space|
|Godfrey Hotel Chicago||127 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654||I|O Godfrey||Looking Up||Bar|
|North Pond||2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614||Looking Up||Restaurant|
|Shedd Aquarium||1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605||North Terrace, Bill and Stephanie Sick Family Lakefront Terrace||Looking Up||Attraction|
|Navy Pier||600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611||Ferris Wheel, Parking Garage||Looking Up||Attraction, Public Space|
|Adler Planetarium||1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605||North Terrace, Sundial Plaza, Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Solarium (Skyline Solarium)||Looking Up||Attraction|
|Chicago Riverwalk||E Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601||Looking Up||Public Space|
|Chicago Lakefront Trail||Lakefront Trail, Chicago, IL 60601||Looking Up||Public Space|
|The Art Institute||111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603||Terzo Piano, Bluhm Family Terrace||Looking Up||Attraction|