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.
- Adams/Wabash stop for the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, and Purple Lines
- Jackson for the Red Line
- Monroe for the Blue Line
- Van Buren Street Stop
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.
These garages are Grant Park North Garage (25 N Michigan Ave), Grant Park South Garage (325 S. Michigan Ave.), Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage (5 S. Columbus Dr.)
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, and 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.
1) Millennium Park Monument
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.
2) Boeing Gallery North
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 gets officially lit at the end of the Magnificent Mile Parade that takes place in late November.
Be sure to check out our guided Holiday Tour that runs from late November through December 24th.
3) Cloud Gate (“The Bean”)
This internationally recognized contemporary sculpture by Anish Kapoor might look like its 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, who has 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.
4) Jay Pritzker Pavilion
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 got your selfie in front of the stage, continue southwest along the pathway until you see the highlight of your walking tour.
5) BP Bridge
Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, also known as BP Pedestrian Bridge, is a beautiful stainless steel pedestrian bridge which leads to Maggie Daley Park.
The 935-foot-long bridge, completed in 2004, features a stainless steel ribbon-like design, providing pedestrians with stunning views of the city's skyline and lakefront.
BP Bridge leads travels over Columbus Drive and has an excellent view of the cityscape!
6) Maggie Daley Park
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.
7) Lurie Garden
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.
8) Boeing Gallery South
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?
9) Crown Fountain
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!
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave
Established in 1879, The Art Institute of Chicago, is a world-class art museum located in the heart of Downtown Chicago.
It boasts one of the most extensive and diverse art collections globally, spanning over 5,000 years of human creativity.
The museum's collection includes iconic masterpieces from various art movements, such as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and American Gothic by Grant Wood.
Visitors can also admire significant works from European, Asian, African, and American art.
The museum not only showcases paintings and sculptures but also features photography, textiles, and decorative arts.
With its rich history and commitment to art education, the Art Institute of Chicago remains a cultural gem attracting millions of visitors annually.
McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink
1 N Michigan Ave
The McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink is a popular outdoor ice-skating venue situated in Millennium Park.
Open seasonally during the winter months, it offers a delightful experience for residents and tourists alike.
It has been known to host special events like outdoor concerts and live music performances in addition to regular ice-skating activities.
The rink's location in the heart of the city provides a picturesque backdrop with views of the city's skyline and iconic architecture.
Skaters of all skill levels can enjoy gliding on the ice beneath the shimmering lights, creating a magical ambiance.
The rink is surrounded by the striking Jay Pritzker Pavilion and other notable landmarks, making it a central hub for entertainment and recreation during the winter season.
1400 S Lake Shore Dr (Around 1.5 miles to the south from the Millennium Park)
The Field Museum, located in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the largest and most prestigious natural history museums in the world.
Founded in 1893, it houses an extensive collection of over 40 million artifacts and specimens, showcasing the wonders of the natural world and human history.
The museum's exhibits cover a diverse range of topics, including dinosaurs, ancient civilizations, gems, and cultural artifacts from around the globe.
One of its most famous attractions is "Sue," the largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton ever discovered.
The Field Museum also actively engages in scientific research and educational programs, promoting a deeper understanding of our planet's past and present.
1200 S DuSable Lk Shr Dr (Around 2 miles to the south from the Millennium Park)
The Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest and most impressive indoor aquariums in the world.
Established in 1930, it houses a diverse array of aquatic life, with over 32,000 animals representing 1,500 species.
Visitors can explore various exhibits, including the Amazon Rainforest, Caribbean Reef, and Polar Play Zone.
The aquarium is renowned for its conservation efforts and educational programs, aiming to raise awareness about marine life and environmental issues.
The iconic architecture of the Shedd Aquarium, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, makes it a popular attraction for both locals and tourists, providing a fascinating and immersive underwater experience.
1410 Special Olympics Dr (Around 2.5 miles to the south from the Millennium Park)
Soldier Field is an iconic sports venue with a rich history. It was originally constructed in 1924 and has undergone significant renovations over the years.
The stadium primarily serves as the home of the Chicago Bears, the city's beloved NFL team.
It boasts a seating capacity of around 61,500 spectators, providing an electrifying atmosphere during football games and other events.
The field's distinctive design includes classical colonnades that blend with modern elements.
Renowned for its historic significance, Soldier Field has hosted numerous memorable sporting events and concerts, making it a cherished cultural landmark in the heart of Chicago.
Be sure to check out our guided tour of Loop & Millennium Park which concludes at Cloud Gate!
Is it free to visit Millennium Park?
Admission to the Millennium Park is free and open to the public. However, certain events or attractions within the park may require tickets or admission fees.
When was Millennium Park built?
It was constructed in several phases over several years. The planning and construction process began in the late 1990s, and the park was officially opened to the public on July 16, 2004.
What is the best time of day to visit Millennium Park?
The best time to visit Millennium Park is early morning or late evening to avoid crowds and enjoy a more serene experience.
In the evening, you can see the park beautifully illuminated and take part in events or concerts.
Ultimately, the "best" time to visit Millennium Park is subjective and depends on your preferences for crowds, weather, and the activities or experiences you want to have.
What is the best time of year to visit Millennium Park?
The best time of year to visit Millennium Park is during the late spring to early fall, typically from May to September.
During these months, the weather is generally pleasant, allowing you to enjoy outdoor activities comfortably.
Can you bring food to Millennium Park?
Yes, visitors are permitted to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to Millennium Park, but they may be subject to a bag search at the security perimeter.
Who are the faces on Crown Fountain?
The faces on Crown Fountain are of Chicago residents.
The pair of identical 50-foot towers display video images of Chicago residents, inspired by the historical practice of using gargoyles in fountains, where sculptures of mythical creatures featured open mouths to release water symbolizing life.
How long does it take to walk through Millennium Park?
The time it takes to walk through Millennium Park can vary depending on the pace and the areas you want to explore.
On average, it may take around 1 to 2 hours to cover the main highlights of the park, including Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden, and Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
However, if you want to fully explore the park's various sculptures, gardens, and art installations, you might need more time.