This post is a guide to the 9 best things to see and do in and around Millennium Park in Chicago.
Popular for its variety of visual, performance, and agricultural artwork, Millennium Park is a frequent spot for locals and visitors.
Check out our Chicago Visitors Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Chicago attractions.
If you use public transportation, there are several close bus and subway stops.
Let Us Bring You:
The Chicago hop-on-hop-off buses stop right by Millennium Park.
Millennium Park has four separate parking garages that range from $15-$50 depending on what time of day you park or early bird pricing.
Buying parking in advance online usually offers a small discount.
There is metered parking throughout the area which starts at $6.50/hour. Check out the app SpotHero for a great discount.
This list is in the form of a self-guided walking tour, which takes about an hour within a one-mile stretch, will make sure you hit all the stops.
For the best view, enter the park from Washington Avenue.
Millennium Park was revealed in 2004 after Mayor Richard M. Daley’s plan to convert the then unsightly industrial wasteland into a 25-acre park filled with architecture, sculpture, and flora.
To your left you will see the peristyle and fountain dedicated to the founders of Millennium Park.
These 40-foot, doric style columns are a replica of the original peristyle erected in 1917. The original stood until 1953.
A close look at the base of the monument reveals the names of the individual corporate donors for the park’s gorgeous renovations.
Following the path east around the peristyle, you’ll find the first of two open-air galleries with rotating art exhibits.
You never know what you will see as you explore this area.
The Boeing Gallery North has been host to semi-annual installments since the aircraft manufacturing company’s five million dollar donation in 2005.
Take in the current exhibition, then continue south along the path.
The gardens pictured are also the location for the famous Chicago Christmas tree which get officially lit at the end of the Magnificent Mile Parade that takes places in late November.
Be sure to check out our guided Holiday Tour that runs during late November through December 24th.
This internationally recognized contemporary sculpture by Anish Kapoor might look like it’s loving nickname, “The Bean”, but completing Cloud Gate was no small task!
Assembled with nearly 200 stainless steel plates, Kapoor’s sculpture cost $26 million dollars to complete.
Anish Kapoor is an English sculptor, having studied at Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea School of Art Design.
Cloud Gate was his first United States installment, weighing in at 100 tons.
This is an excellent place to take selfies. Cloud Gate is also a favorite spot for pictures of the Chicago Skyline.
When first viewed, the Jay Pritzker Pavillion might be mistaken as one of the many sculptures in Millennium Park.
As you exit the North Boeing Gallery, make a left toward the Pavilion.
The closer you get, the more the unique design unveils itself as the state of the art amphitheater that it is.
On days when there are no events, this auditorium is open to the public to explore.
If there is an event during your tour, you’ll be able to appreciate the acoustics of the space.
During the summer, there are free movies, concerts, and events at Pritzker Pavilion.
When you’ve gotten your selfie in front of the stage, continue southwest along the pathway until you see the highlight of your walking tour.
Past Pritzker Pavilion is a beautiful stainless steel pedestrian bridge called BP Bridge which leads to Maggie Daley Park.
This bridge was also designed by Frank Gehry.
BP Bridge leads travels over Columbus Drive and has an excellent view of the cityscape!
The newest edition to the Millennium Park area is Maggie Daley Park which was built in 2012 to honor Maggie Daley!
This section is 20 acres of playful design which is great for the whole family.
The park includes playgrounds and a rollerblade or ice skating ribbon (depending on the season).
You can also pay to enjoy their new rock climbing wall! There is a lot to do in Maggie Daley Park.
Be sure to check their site for updated events.
Head back across the BP bridge and go south to enter the Lurie Garden through several different pathways.
Grab your camera and explore this 5-acre botanical garden.
The Lurie Garden opened in the summer of 2004, with designs by Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf, and Robert Israel.
Open all year long, the Lurie captures each season in its own natural beauty. Its motto? “Urbs in Horto”, or City in a Garden.
When you are done exploring, exit the garden on the southwest side.
You’ll see the Boeing Gallery South in front of you.
This is another rotating outdoor art gallery!
In the past, Chicago has been wow-ed by sculptures by Jaime Plensa and Chakaia Booker, to name a few.
What will you see when you visit the Boeing Gallery South?
Adding to Chicago’s world-famous art collection is Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.
The Fountain took five years to complete, from 2000 to 2005, and has remained in Millennium Park for over a decade!
Two fifty-foot tall LED towers stand facing one another, as roughly 1,000 faces interact across this fountain.
The faces are all representational of the diverse citizenship of Chicago, and water spouts from their mouths in the style of Gothic Gargoyle fountains.
Plensa, born in 1955, aims to reach his audience on an intuitive level, often dealing in dualities with his world-renowned pieces.
The videos are on display throughout the year, while the water aspect of the fountain operates seasonally.
At this time you will finish your self-guided walking tour on Michigan Avenue. We hope you enjoyed your time in Millennium Park! Come back soon!
Be sure to check out our guided tour of Loop & Millennium Park which concludes at Cloud Gate!