Best Views

Things to Do, Travel Tips — By adamgauzza on November 3, 2011 at 4:21 am

Photo courtesy of michaeltk

Chicago looks incredible from just about every angle. Great views can be had from all over the city. There are a few that stand out as excellent, of course, so here’s a rundown of the best of the best.

In suburban Evanston, home to Northwestern University just north of the city line, beauty is all around you. From the quaint downtown area to the lush (and often purple) landscaping on campus, the stroll to this this town’s beautiful view is quite pleasant. And to get to the university’s lake fill, you’ll have to walk. Park the car along curving Sheridan Road and walk east past the school’s arts buildings and student center to find yourself crossing a wood and concrete bridge. Look south, and you’ll see the city of Chicago spreading out before you as you stand practically in Lake Michigan. Take a blanket and have a seat at sunrise to experience a glorious start to your day in the city.

Head downtown for some more excellent views. The Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive is the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Take the elevator to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor for 360º of cityscape and beyond (you can see a total of four states from up there!). You’ll also find a ton of interesting facts about Chicago history. If you’re feeling adventurous at such great heights, step out onto the Ledge, clear glass boxes that extend 4.3 feet out over the edge of the building. Don’t look down! If you’re hungry, take a trip up 1,000 feet to the John Hancock Observatory. You can check in at the Lavazza Expressions cafe for a coffee, cocktail, or snack, or have beautiful meal with the best lake view in town at The Signature Room on the 95th floor. These views are spectacular in daylight or at nighttime. Even when it’s cloudy, the Hancock Building’s height still provides incredible vistas.

As you walk toward the end of Navy Pier, don’t forget to look back at the city behind you. This view from the east is difficult to get; you’ll need a boat (or know someone who has one) in order to get a better west-facing perspective. Take a ride in one of the Ferris wheel’s forty gondolas up 150 feet for an incredible close up of River North and the downtown area. Walk over to Millenium Park and up the ramp to the Modern Wing of the Art Institute’s Terzo Piano. No need to go inside–sight seers are welcome. From this bridge, you will get to see the buildings of Michigan Avenue face to face; notice the incredible architectural detail you won’t see from the street.

Even travelers heading into Chicago from the east up I-90/94 or from the south up Route 41 get a gorgeous view. The city stretches out before you–take it all in!

Tags: Evanston, Hancock Building, I-90/94 o, Lake Fill, Navy Pier, Northwestern University, Terzo Piano, Views, Willis Tower