The Best Views in Chicago

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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.

Looking Down

john hancock center chicagoOne 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!

Looking Out

chicago-skylineWhile 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.

Looking Up

navy pier chicagoFor 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.

Many of Chicago’s premier attractions include low-level views from a distance, like the Shedd Aquarium‘s North Terrace or The Art Institute‘s Bluhm Family Terrace.

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.

best view chicagoAll 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 Tower233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606Skydeck ChicagoLooking DownAttraction
John Hancock Center875 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611Signature Room at the 95th, 360 ChicagoLooking DownRestaurant, Attraction
Lake Point Tower505 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611CitéLooking DownRestaurant
Trump International Hotel and Tower401 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611Terrace at Trump, SixteenLooking OutBar, Restaurant
Park Hyatt (Park Tower)800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611NoMI Kitchen, NoMI LoungeLooking OutRestaurant, Bar
Tavern at the Park130 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601Tree HouseLooking OutBar
ZED451739 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654Rooftop TerraceLooking OutBar
Pegasus Restaurant & Taverna130 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661VerandaLooking OutRestaurant
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603Cindy’sLooking OutRestaurant
Tanta118 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654Rooftop TerraceLooking OutRestaurant
Hotel Lincoln1816 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614The J ParkerLooking OutRestaurant
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery1 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60610RooftopLooking OutBar
Loews Chicago Hotel455 N Park Dr, Chicago, IL 60611Streeterville SocialLooking OutBar
MileNorth Hotel166 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 6061152Eighty Rooftop LoungeLooking OutBar
Dana Hotel and Spa2 W Erie St, Chicago, IL 60654Vertigo Sky LoungeLooking OutBar
theWit201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601ROOF on theWitLooking OutBar
Virgin Hotels Chicago203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601CeriseLooking OutBar
Raffaello Hotel201 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611drumBARLooking OutBar
The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago160 E Pearson St, at Water Tower Place, Chicago, IL 60611THE dec Rooftop Lounge + BarLooking OutBar
440 South LaSalle440 S La Salle St, Chicago, IL 60605EverestLooking OutRestaurant
Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza River North350 W Wolf Point Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654Cityscape BarLooking OutBar
Rush University1653 W Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60612Parking GarageLooking OutPublic Space
Godfrey Hotel Chicago127 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654I|O GodfreyLooking UpBar
North Pond2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614Looking UpRestaurant
Shedd Aquarium1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605North Terrace, Bill and Stephanie Sick Family Lakefront TerraceLooking UpAttraction
Navy Pier600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611Ferris Wheel, Parking GarageLooking UpAttraction, Public Space
Adler Planetarium1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605North Terrace, Sundial Plaza, Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Solarium (Skyline Solarium)Looking UpAttraction
Chicago RiverwalkE Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601Looking UpPublic Space
Chicago Lakefront TrailLakefront Trail, Chicago, IL 60601Looking UpPublic Space
The Art Institute111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603Terzo Piano, Bluhm Family TerraceLooking UpAttraction