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Millennium Park picture in Chicago
Jay Pritzker Pavilion picture in Chicago
The Bean and its Surroundings picture in Chicago
Millennium Park picture in Chicago
Jay Pritzker Pavilion picture in Chicago
The Bean and its Surroundings picture in Chicago

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • Free
  • 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily

Details

  • Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

Local Experts Scorecard
Based on 10 interviews

  • Must-see
  • Recommended
  • If You Have Time

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.

There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.

On a gorgeous spring, summer or fall day, grab a blanket and picnic basket to enjoy on the park's grounds. Overall, former visitors said their time in the park was relaxing and worthwhile, though some mention that you'll likely encounter a few solicitors and homeless people.

Millennium Park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The park and its exhibits are free to visit, and complimentary guided garden and architecture tours are available on select days between May and September or October. Free audio tours can also be downloaded from the City of Chicago's website. You can also download free smartphone apps from the Google Play or iTunes stores for walking tour ideas, event listings and maps. Additional fees apply for items purchased at the park's concessions stands and restaurant. Restrooms and a bike parking area are offered on-site. To get to the park, travelers can bike, drive and park in one of several adjacent garages, walk from the Loop or take the L to the Lake, Randolph/Wabash, Monroe or Adams/Wabash subway stations.

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Hotels Nearby

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Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago ...

  • 0.3 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
The Silversmith Hotel

The Silversmith Hotel ...

  • 0.2 Miles Away
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Chicago Athletic Association

Chicago Athletic Association ...

  • 0.1 Miles Away
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#1 Art Institute of Chicago Home to one of the country's most impressive collections of impressionist and post-impressionist art (plus works from numerous other genres), the expansive Art Institute of Chicago features more than ... Read more » Tom Ipri / Flickr

#2 Chicago Architecture River Cruise A visit to 360 CHICAGO or Skydeck Chicago will give you a good overview of the city's layout. But if you want to learn more about Chicago's sky-high ... Read more » Shobeir Ansari / Getty Images

#3 Millennium Park A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space ... Read more » A Ryan / Flickr

#4 Shedd Aquarium Shedd Aquarium is one of the world's largest indoor aquariums, housing around 32,000 creatures. While you're here, you can feel stingrays float beneath your fingers, listen to ... Read more » Bruce Leighty / Getty Images

#5 Wrigley Field Any fan of "Saturday Night Live" knows that Chicagoans take their love of sports very seriously. So for a real taste of Chicago culture, head north of the Loop to ... Read more » Mr Hicks46 / Flickr

#6 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to ... Read more » MattFrankel / Getty Images

#7 The Field Museum This extensive natural history museum occupies half an acre of Grant Park's Museum Campus and houses extensive exhibits that showcase artifacts from multiple eras and destinations, making it a ... Read more » Robert Glusic / Getty Images

#8 The Magnificent Mile If you can feel your credit card burning a hole through your wallet, make your way to The Magnificent Mile. This portion of Michigan Avenue – which stretches between Lake Shore ... Read more » Christopher.F Photography / Getty Images

#9 Navy Pier Extending out onto Lake Michigan, Navy Pier offers plenty in the way of family-friendly entertainment. The first thing you'll spot once you set foot on the pier is the ... Read more » Westend61 / Getty Images

#10 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck One of Chicago's most notable attractions is its skyline, and one of the best places to experience it is at the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Formerly known as the ... Read more » ziggymaj / Getty Images

#11 Museum of Science and Industry Chicago's extensive Museum of Science and Industry pays tribute to the city's innovative roots, showcasing more than 35,000 artifacts and a variety of hands-on exhibits meant to ... Read more » benkrut / Getty Images

#12 Skydeck Chicago Nearly 2 million people make their way to Willis Tower's Skydeck Chicago each year, and it's easy to see why. Occupying the 103rd floor – that's nine floors ... Read more » Courtesy of Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower

#13 Lincoln Park Zoo Located 2 miles north of the Loop in the North Side neighborhood of Lincoln Park, the Lincoln Park Zoo is home to dozens of species, such as zebras, sloths and ... Read more » JamesTung / Getty Images

#14 The Chicago Theatre Aside from Cloud Gate and Buckingham Fountain, The Chicago Theatre's red and yellow marquee is perhaps one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. Illuminating North State Street at ... Read more » VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm / Getty Images

# Chicago Crime Tours Until relatively recently, notorious mobsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger were the characters who may have come to mind when someone mentioned the Windy City. Chicago Crime Tours takes ... Read more » sfgamchick / Flickr

# Maggie Daley Park Read more » Bruce Leighty / Getty Images

# The 606 Dividing Chicago's Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods, The 606 is a former industrial rail line that's been transformed into a nature trail and a public space. In ... Read more » Courtesy The 606

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The Magnificent Mile picture in Chicago
Navy Pier picture in Chicago
360 CHICAGO Observation Deck picture in Chicago
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It's hard to miss the Art Institute of Chicago's entrance as you approach. Two tall bronze lions have stood outside the museum since 1894, the year after Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition. Tom Ipri / Flickr

One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the city and its famous architecture is to take an architecture river cruise on the Chicago River. Shobeir Ansari / Getty Images

Chicago's famous Cloud Gate sculpture – often referred to as "The Bean" – can be found in Millennium Park. A Ryan / Flickr

While Shedd Aquarium's main draw is its abundant aquatic life housed inside, step outside to enjoy scenic views of Lake Michigan and the downtown Chicago skyline. Bruce Leighty / Getty Images

Baseball enthusiasts cannot miss a chance to visit Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Mr Hicks46 / Flickr

One of Grant Park's standout features is the Buckingham Fountain, a large tiered fountain built as a tribute to Clarence Buckingham (an avid art collector who donated several works to the Art Institute of Chicago). MattFrankel / Getty Images

Excite your inner archaeologist by visiting The Field Museum, which features exhibits showcasing everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to dinosaur bones. Robert Glusic / Getty Images

The stretch of Michigan Avenue just north of the Loop is known as The Magnificent Mile. Here, you'll find a number of high-end shops and eateries, plus iconic structures like the Historic Water Tower, Tribune Tower and the John Hancock Center, where 360 CHICAGO is located. Christopher.F Photography / Getty Images

Whether or not you've got kids in tow, carve out some time for Navy Pier. In addition to rides, the pier is home to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Chicago Children's Museum and an Imax theater. Westend61 / Getty Images

From the John Hancock Center's 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, travelers can take in panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. ziggymaj / Getty Images

One of the city's most popular family-friendly attractions is the Museum of Science and Industry, thanks in part to its variety of hands-on educational activities. benkrut / Getty Images

Skydeck Chicago in Willis Tower features glass viewing areas that extend outward from the building's 103rd floor. Courtesy of Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower

The beloved (and free) Lincoln Park Zoo houses an array of animals from around the world, including lions, chimpanzees and polar bears. JamesTung / Getty Images

Built in 1921, The Chicago Theatre was the flagship for the Balaban and Katz group of theaters. VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm / Getty Images

Anyone interested in Chicago's history of mobsters and gangsters needs to book a Chicago Crime Tour to get the backstory on the city's gritty history. sfgamchick / Flickr

This 20-acre park, located in the Loop, is a must-do for any travelers with kids. And in the winter, the park operates an ice skating ribbon, which weaves through the park’s undulating landscape. Bruce Leighty / Getty Images

This 2.7-mile elevated park and trail offers walkers, joggers and cyclers a great vantage of the city. Courtesy The 606

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