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Where to Find the Best Views in Chicago

Bring your camera along, and get ready to take in some truly impressive vistas.

Where to Find the Best Views in Chicago
Hi, I'm Claire!

Claire Bullen is an award-winning food, drinks, and travel writer and editor who has lived and worked in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, and London. She is the author of The Beer Lover's Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, and the editor at GoodBeerHunting.com. Her writing has also appeared in Time Out New York, The Daily Meal, Pellicle Magazine, and beyond.

Chicago is one good-looking town. The Windy City’s skyscrapers are architectural icons, and its streets are filled with public art, all set against the beautifully serene backdrop of Lake Michigan. Bring your camera along, and get ready to take in some truly impressive vistas. Here’s where to find the very best views in Chicago.

360 Chicago

Views for days.

A near rival to the lofty Willis Tower, the John Hancock Building—which overlooks the Magnificent Mile—offers a different, but similarly vertiginous, perspective on the city. Ascend to its 94th-floor 360 Chicago observation deck for top-notch views, and, if you’re brave, try Tilt, the building’s moving-platform ride that tilts you out over Michigan Avenue. 

Skydeck Chicago

Viewpoints don't get higher than this in Chicago.

Located 1,353 feet (412 meters) above ground level at the Willis Tower, Skydeck is the highest observation deck in the city. Perched on the 103rd floor of what was once the world’s tallest building, the viewing platform offers extraordinary panormas of the Windy City—particularly from its vertigo-inducing glass ledge.

A bird's eye view of Chicago.
The Chicago Skydeck offers magnificent views day and night.Foto: Brittany Hosea-Small / Viator

Lake Michigan cruises

Enjoy Chicago from the water.

Enjoy a tranquil way to sightsee in Chicago—and kick back and relax as you admire pristine skyline views—when you book a cruise along Lake Michigan. Travel by day to see the sun glinting off the skyscrapers, or head out at sunset to watch the neon-lit city come to life as darkness descends. 

Helicopter tours

For bird's-eye panoramas.

For truly memorable views of the Windy City, and to soar above even its highest spires, book a helicopter tour. In the space of just a short trip, you can drink in aerial perspectives of the city’s many parks, neighborhoods, and architectural icons—and even spy highlights such as Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium from the air.

Visitors take a selfie during a helicopter tour in Chicago.
Take a thrilling helicopter flightseeing tour in Chicago.Foto: Brittany Hosea-Small / Viator

Adler Planetarium

Enjoy the stars and the skyline.

Part of the city’s Museum Campus, Adler Planetarium has a lakeside location that lends it a striking perspective on the Chicago skyline. But that’s not the only viewing it offers. The planetarium’s Doane Observatory, home to Chicagoland’s largest-aperture telescope, makes it easy to spy the heavenly bodies in Chicago’s skies, too.

Architecture boat tours

They're perennially popular for a reason.

Chicago is a city with a surfeit of architectural icons, and there are few better ways to see them than by going for a ride in an open-top boat. As you trawl along the Chicago River, keep your eyes peeled and camera at the ready: You’ll discover highlights ranging from the Wrigley Building and Marina City to the Chicago Tribune Tower.

A tour guide points to a skyscraper in Chicago while on a tour.
Chicago architecture boat rides are a fun way to see the city year-round.Foto: Brittany Hosea-Small / Viator

Get the best Chicago views

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