My Modern Met’s Art + Culture Guide to Chicago

Venture to Outdoor Installations

Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) at Millennium Park, 201 East Randolph Street

Chicago Travel Guide 2018

Photo: The Cloud Gate Sculpture from Gahsoon /

One of the top works of public art in the world—and most Instagrammable—is Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate that’s commonly known as “The Bean.” Inspired by liquid mercury, this highly-polished stainless steel sculpture has a mirror-like surface that reflects the Chicago skyline as well as its visitors. It’s perfect for selfies.


Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park, 301 South Columbus Drive

Chicago Travel Guide

Photo: Buckingham Fountain from anderm /

The Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world that puts on a performance, too. From early May to mid-October, the ornamental geyser displays a water show for 20 minutes every hour. During its performance, the center jet of the fountain shoots 150 feet into the air. Its namesake comes from Clarence Buckingham, an avid art collector and benefactor who donated artwork to the Art Institute of Chicago. When he died, his sister, Kate Sturges Buckingham, donated the funds for this stunning fountain, which finished installation in 1927.


See Chicago From Above…

360 Chicago (formerly the Hancock Tower) 875 North Michigan Avenue

Get the best views of the Chicago Skyline when you look at it from 1,000 feet above the ground. 360 Chicago (formerly the Hancock Tower) offers amazing 360 degrees views. If you’re feeling brave, try TILT, an enclosed moving platform that tilts you out and over Michigan Avenue from the 94th floor. Once you’ve got your nerves back, relax at Bar 94 with local brews or spirits.


… and From the Water

Chicago’s First Lady Cruise, Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Drive

Chicago Boat Tours

Photo: Courtesy Chicago's First Lady

Chicago is home to legendary architecture; get a unique view of it as you sail down the Mississippi river with the First Lady Cruise. The 90-minute tour is lead by a passionate docent and offers both a unique look at the buildings and a history lesson of the city.


Don't forget your CityPASS!

Many of the attractions mentioned here are included in the CityPASS, the best way to see Chicago’s top attractions—they're bundled to save you 51% on admission. Included are the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, 360 Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago. And better yet, when you have the pass, you get priority entry into them, too. It’s a win-win!


Related Articles:

Designers Use Aerial Scans to Turn Any Street in Chicago into Detailed 3D Models

1940s Streets of Chicago Captured through the Eyes of a Young Photographer

Craftsman Fills Chicago’s Potholes with Playful Mosaics of Ice Cream

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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