Millennium Park

 
Lance Anderson

You can easily spend an entire day exploring the beautiful combination of art and nature that make up this city jewel.

The 24.5-acre park holds up as a marvel of urban engineering, a tourist magnet, and a well-preserved piece of nature in a sea of skyscrapers. A trip to Millennium Park has to start at “Cloud Gate,” the 110-ton lump of steel that everyone knows as “The Bean.” Then, head over to Crown Fountain—look for the 50-foot video columns depicting the faces of charmingly regular Chicagoans. From there, take a stroll through Lurie Garden, a gorgeous plantscape that’s technically a roof: the whole park is actually set on top of a parking garage, making it the world’s biggest rooftop garden. Depending on the season, you can lace up your skates for some public humiliation at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink or catch a free concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion.

Best things to see at Millennium Park

Cloud Gate

Affectionately known as “The Bean” (even artist and creator Anish Kapoor calls it that), Cloud Gate is a 110-ton lump of steel make of 168 plates seamlessly welded together. It’s mirror-like surface reflects the Chicago skyline and the hoards of people gathered beneath it, making it the perfect place to snag a selfie (picture or it didn’t happen, right?).

 

Crown Fountain

With its black granite reflecting pool and 50-foot glass brick towers, Crown Fountain has had its fair share of controversy, mostly around concern that its towering height takes away from the aesthetic of the park. Like it or not, it’s a refreshing place to cool off in the summer months, and the interactive videos depicting the faces of charmingly regular Chicagoans displayed on the towers are a quirky and fun feature to check out.

 

Lurie Garden

This gorgeous 2.5-acre plantscape is a year-round oasis that pays homage to Chicago’s transformation from flat marshland to a modern, eco-friendly city. Be sure to check out the dramatic, 15-foot “shoulder” hedge, a dramatic physical representation of Carl Sandburg’s famous “City of Big Shoulders” line describing the Windy City. 

Best places to eat & drink near Millennium Park

Picnic in the park

The Grand Lawn is always open for picnics, or you can grab a seat at The Running Table, a 100-foot picnic table on the Chase Promenade. And fun fact: Millennium Park is one of the only parks in the city that allows alcohol in designated areas. Bring your own or grab a drink at the park’s beer garden—just remember to drink responsibly. Cheers!

 

Head to River North

Millennium Park is known for its scenery, not its food. Most restaurants around the park are pretty touristy (read: overpriced and mediocre). Hail a cab and head 10 minutes away to the neighborhood of River North instead. It’s jam-packed with more food options than you can imagine, including fine dining, casual fare, and yes—even deep dish pizza.

Millennium Park directions and parking

Best way to get to Millennium Park

Millennium Park is located in East Chicago directly above the Millennium Park station which serves the Metra Electric District and South Shore Line trains. There are also a variety of CTA buses which serve the area.

 

Best parking near Millennium Park

There is a Grant Park North, Millennium Lakeside, and Millennium Park garage where you can park for a fee.

 

Millennium Park FAQs

Is there an entrance fee?

Millennium Park is free to enjoy.

 

What are the park’s hours?

Open Daily: 6am-11pm

 

Are pets allowed?

Unfortunately, with the exception of service animals, pets are not allowed at Millennium Park.

 

Are bikes allowed?

Bikes, skateboards, and roller skates are all prohibited at Millenium Park.

 

How much did Millennium Park cost?

Millennium Park cost $475 million to complete, far exceeding its original budget of $150 million.