My friend Stephanie and I love photography, so when we got to Illinois on our Midwest road trip, we wanted to visit some of the best photography spots in Chicago! This post covers my 7 favorite places that we took photos, and we were there for a weekend so you can see them in within a few days.
And it’s a mix of spots that you have to see while you’re in Chicago, but there are some unique hidden gems on here, too, including a parking garage (no lie, just wait until you see the photos you can get from it). So there’s something for everyone!
7 photography spots in Chicago
Walking around downtown
You should just meander around downtown because you never know what you’ll find! There are lots of amazing skyscrapers of course, but you can also see street art, historic mansions, cute alleyways, and pretty trees (especially in the fall).
Lincoln Park at golden hour
Lincoln Park is a pretty park itself for photos with statues and old trees, but you can also get great photos of the Chicago skyline! We went at golden hour right before sunset to get photos of the skyline through the East Gate Arch, which was really cool to see.
North Avenue Beach at sunset
Right after taking photos in Lincoln Park at golden hour, you can head over to North Avenue Beach for sunset on Lake Michigan. We may have spent a little too long at Lincoln Park, so it was right past peak sunset when we got to the beach. But it was still really pretty when we got there!
The beach is a hotspot for sunset photos, and there were tons of people there for photoshoots while we were there. So you might want to get there a little early if you want a specific spot, but there is a lot of space along the beach, even if it’s crowded.
Wells Kinzie Parking Garage
Ok this one seems kind of random, but it’s one of the most unique photography spots in Chicago! Chicago has some elevated trains, and Stephanie found that if you go to the Wells Kinzie Parking Garage (and I think we went up to about the 4th floor), you can get some cool shots of a train curving around a building.
We went first thing in the morning so there was pretty golden light, and trains came pretty frequently so we didn’t have to wait for very long to get photos of them.
On a river tour
Some of the best photography spots in Chicago are on the river! I have a whole guide on all the cool sights you can see on a Chicago river architecture tour, and you can see such a variety of buildings (and the river itself makes for pretty photos, too). Plus, you get lots of info about the history of Chicago and all the buildings you’re seeing.
The Cloud Gate and Millennium Park
Ok, you can’t go to Chicago without seeing the Cloud Gate! The Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) is an art installation that reflects the Chicago skyline. I went during the pandemic, so it was actually gated off so you couldn’t get close, which I think is better for photos because you don’t get any people in your shot.
But don’t just see the Cloud Gate and leave! The rest of Millennium Park is pretty to see, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion makes for some cool shots.
On the bridges
Chicago has tons of bridges, including about 40 moveable ones, and you can get some pretty cool photos of the bridges as well as on them. There are a lot of old railroad bridges if you enjoy taking photos of more gritty places. And I recommend taking photos during the day and at night because you can get some photos of the lights from the skyscrapers reflecting in the water.
The Canal Street Railroad Bridge is a vertical-lift bridge that was built for the railroad. The entire middle section could be lowered for trains to cross the river or raised for boats to pass under. It became a Chicago Landmark in 2007.
So those are my favorite 7 photography spots in Chicago that you can see in a weekend! Let me know if you have any other recommendations so I can add them to my list for my next visit 🙂