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

Location Address Venue View Type
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