Millennium and Grant Parks Walking Tour, Chicago

Chicago offers a wide range of amazing green outdoor spaces. Grant and Millennium are two lakefront parks, that represent the city's progressive design streak from the 19th century to the 21st. These parks feature amazing architecture and design. Take this walk to explore the beauties the two parks have to offer.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Millennium and Grant Parks Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Millennium and Grant Parks Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Chicago (See other walking tours in Chicago)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Author: doris
1
Cloud Gate

1) Cloud Gate (must see)

The Cloud Gate, also called simply "The Bean", weighs over 110 tons, is 66 feet long and 33 feet high and made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together. The amazing sculpture has the appearance of a giant drop of liquid mercury. Its surface features spectacular images of the Chicago's skyline. Being very concave, the bottom of the sculpture creates a spectacular fun mirror effect of the people who walk underneath it.

Why You Should Visit:
Fascinating piece of artwork that allows to playfully take pictures at different angles and get amazing backgrounds in your pictures.

Tip:
Visit on a sunny day for better photos. Note that on a rainy day if there's a thunderstorm, you won't even be allowed near the statue as it poses a risk of electrocution!
2
Exelon Pavilions

2) Exelon Pavilions (must see)

Exelon Pavilions, built in 2004, are located in the Millennium Park and use state-of-the-art technology to convert solar energy into electricity. The pavilions provide enough electricity annually to power 16 energy-efficient houses in Chicago.

The northwest and northeast Pavilions are minimalist black cubes designed to complement the neighboring Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The northwest Pavilion houses the Millennium Park Welcome Center, as well as an Exelon energy display area. The northeast Pavilion provides pedestrian access to the parking garage below. The two Exelon Pavilions on the park's south end also provide pedestrian access to the Millennium Park Garage, and were designed by architect Renzo Piano to complement The Art Institute's future expansion.

The North Pavilions are the first Chicago buildings to use building integrated photovoltaic cells, which are a solar energy system incorporated into the building's structural elements. Millennium Park's planners claimed that the pavilions had the first electricity-generating curtain walls in the Midwest.
3
Jay Pritzker Pavilion

3) Jay Pritzker Pavilion (must see)

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, also known as Pritzker Pavilion or Pritzker Music Pavilion, is a bandshell in Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago. The pavilion was named after Jay Pritzker, whose family is known for owning Hyatt Hotels. The building was designed by architect Frank Gehry, who accepted the design commission in April 1999. Pritzker Pavilion serves as the centerpiece for Millennium Park and is the new home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Grant Park Music Festival, the nation's only remaining free outdoor classical music series. It also hosts a wide range of music series and annual performing arts events. Performers ranging from mainstream rock bands to classical musicians and opera singers have appeared at the pavilion, which even hosts physical fitness activities such as yoga.

Why You Should Visit:
Great outdoor theater experience: interesting design, state of the art acoustics, ample seating (both seats & lawn), large stage with huge video screen and restrooms adjacent, convenient location.
Most concerts are free and well attended, and there is a wide variety of entertainment.

Tip:
Look up the presentation schedule and either get there early or buy seats. The park in front is also an option to enjoy the presentations, though you might not enjoy an absolutely clear sound.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
BP Pedestrian Bridge

4) BP Pedestrian Bridge (must see)

The BP Pedestrian Bridge, or simply BP Bridge, is a girder footbridge in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. It spans Columbus Drive to connect Daley Bicentennial Plaza with Millennium Park, both parts of the larger Grant Park. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, it opened along with the rest of Millennium Park on July 16, 2004. Gehry had been courted by the city to design the bridge and the neighboring Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and eventually agreed to do so after the Pritzker family funded the Pavilion. BP Bridge is described as snakelike because of its curving form. Designed to bear a heavy load without structural problems caused by its own weight, it has won awards for its use of sheet metal. The bridge is known for its aesthetics, and Gehry's style is seen in its biomorphic allusions and extensive sculptural use of stainless steel plates to express abstraction.

Why You Should Visit:
On a beautiful cool day, this is one of the most beautiful walks you can take in Chicago!
The wide curvy path provides continuous opportunities to enjoy the city skyline and lake view. Nice views of both Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, too.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Grant Park

5) Grant Park (must see)

Regarded as Chicago's “front yard”, Grant Park opened way back in 1835. The main attraction here is the Clarence Buckingham Fountain, situated in the center of the park. Its structure has a French style geometric design. The park is divided into different areas with flower gardens, trees and monuments. One distinct monument portrays the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

Why You Should Visit:
Perfect for a date, a solid stroll, a run, a bike ride, a family outing...
Plenty of places to grab a spot for a picnic and spend some quiet, relaxing time.
There are hundreds of events all summer long and plenty in the winter as well.

Tip:
Bring a towel/blanket to sit on for concerts and to take a break under a tree.
If you like biking, try the lakeside route – it's great!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-11pm
6
Lurie Garden

6) Lurie Garden (must see)

Lurie Garden is a 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) garden located at the southern end of Millennium Park in the Loop area of Chicago. Designed by Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf, and Robert Israel, it opened on July 16, 2004. The garden is a combination of perennials, bulbs, grasses, shrubs and trees. It is the featured nature component of the world's largest green roof. The Garden is composed of two "plates". The dark plate depicts Chicago's history by presenting shade-loving plant material. The dark plate has a combination of trees that will provide a shade canopy for these plants when they fill in. The light plate, which includes no trees, represents the city's future with sun-loving perennials that thrive in the heat and the sun. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities considers the park to be the largest green roof in the world as it covers a structural deck supported by two reinforced concrete cast-in-place garages and steel structures that span the space above Illinois Central Railroad tracks.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful example of an urban garden with native plants and serene atmosphere with amazing (and different) skyscrapers in the background. Not too big, and easy to navigate.

Tip:
If you enjoy learning about plants, there are frequent walking tours in the Spring and throughout the Summer to become familiar with the many & varied flowers planted here.
Besides, a highlight is the stream where you can soak/refresh your feet in the water on a hot day.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Crown Fountain

7) Crown Fountain (must see)

Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture featured in Chicago's Millennium Park, which is located in the Loop community area. Designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, it opened in July 2004. The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers. The towers are 50 feet (15.2m) tall and use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. Weather permitting, the water operates from May to October, intermittently cascading down the two towers and spouting through a nozzle on each tower's front face. Residents and critics have praised the fountain for its artistic and entertainment features. It highlights Plensa's themes of dualism, light, and water, extending the use of video technology from his prior works. Its use of water is unique among Chicago's many fountains, in that it promotes physical interaction between the public and the water.

Why You Should Visit:
A very nice addition to Chicago's world-renowned public art collection; fun to sit down and relax (or else bring a towel and spare clothes!).
The fountain & water jets are great for the kids to run around and frolic through, especially on a hot summer's day.

Tip:
The lighting is fantastic – you should go at night to see the full effect.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Art Institute of Chicago

8) Art Institute of Chicago (must see)

The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) is an encyclopedic fine art museum located in Chicago, Illinois's Grant Park. The Art Institute has one of the world's most notable collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in its permanent collection. Its diverse holdings also include significant Old Master works, American art, European and American decorative arts, Asian art and modern and contemporary art. It is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District. The museum is associated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is overseen by Director and President James Cuno. At one million square feet, it is the second largest art museum in the United States behind only the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Why You Should Visit:
A world-class collection with much depth and variety of artworks, artifacts, antiquities and curiosities that caters for all tastes and ages.
The museum is thoughtfully laid out and you can take a guided tour starting at noon.

Tip:
If you're not a member, go during the week to avoid the crowds if you can.
Prioritize what you want to see! Buy the little booklet that is sold with the tickets; it will help you with the selection and makes for a nice memorabilia.
There are several restaurants inside, so pace yourself with lunch, coffee and/or drinks. The cafe in the basement is one of the nicest museum cafes in Chicago, with a wide array of grill & healthy fair.

Opening Hours:
Fri-Wed: 10:30am–5pm; Thu: 10:30am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Buckingham Fountain

9) Buckingham Fountain (must see)

Buckingham Fountain is a Chicago landmark in Grant Park which was dedicated in 1927. The fountain is considered to be Chicago's front door, since it resides in Grant Park, the city's front yard. The fountain, located at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway, was designed with sculptures by Jacques Lambert. The fountain itself represents Lake Michigan, while each seahorse symbolizes a state bordering the lake. The statues were created by the French sculptor Marcel F. Loyau. The design of the fountain was based on the Bassin de Latome and modeled after Latona Fountain at Versailles. The fountain runs from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day from mid-April to mid-October. During a water display that runs for 20 minutes every hour on the hour, the center jet shoots up to 150 feet (46 m) in the air. At dusk, a light and music show coincides with the water display. The last show of the night begins at 10:00 p.m. Each display lasts for 20 minutes.

Why You Should Visit:
Quite a sight to see this fountain with the Chicago city skyline in the background – one of the greatest photo op spots in the city.
Also, the water goes higher than just about any other fountain you've ever seen!

Tip:
Remember that the fountain is shut down for winter months.
Otherwise, enjoy the light show after dark!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Chicago, Illinois

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Creating your own self-guided walk in Chicago is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave Chicago without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Chicago, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
Nightlife Tour, Part 1

Nightlife Tour, Part 1

Legendary Cocktail Lounges play an important part in Chicago's nightlife. Here you can feel the city pulsing with the beat of extraordinary performances of live jazz, blues, rock, folk and country. At Chicago's cocktail lounges you can meet the trendiest people and relax over the magnificent cocktails. Take this walking tour to discover the most famous cocktail lounges that Chicago has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Nightlife Tour Part 2

Nightlife Tour Part 2

Legendary Cocktail Lounges play an important part in Chicago's nightlife. Here you can feel the city pulsing with the beat of extraordinary performances of live jazz, blues, rock, folk and country. At Chicago's cocktail lounges you can meet the trendiest people and relax over the magnificent cocktails. Take this walking tour to discover the most famous cocktail lounges that Chicago has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Best Jazz and Blues Clubs Tour

Best Jazz and Blues Clubs Tour

Chicago is considered to be one of the most important destinations where Jazz & Blues developed. In the 1920s this city became a center of hot jazz. At the same time blues started to invade Chicago. So if you are a fan of Jazz and/or Blues or you simply like listening to great music, take this walking tour and don't miss the chance to visit some of the best Jazz & Blues clubs in Chicago.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
The Magnificent Mile Area Walk

The Magnificent Mile Area Walk

The Magnificent Mile is located between the Chicago River and the Lake Shore Drive. It is considered one of the great avenues of the world, being Chicago's version of the Champs-Elysees. Take this walk to explore the Magnificent Mile boulevard and the surrounding area, that features a wide selection of amazing shops, world-known museums, restaurants and spectacular architecture.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Architectural Walking Tour in The Loop District

Architectural Walking Tour in The Loop District

Chicago features an outstanding architectural legacy. This city has long been connected with some of architecture's most important names: Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, and Holabird & Root. The Loop District offers an extensive number of Chicago's famous architectural "must-see" buildings such as Aqua Tower, Willis Tower, Chicago Theatre, or Rookery Building. Take this walking tour to explore the most famous constructions of the Loop District, Chicago.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Chicago Souvenirs: 15 Distinct Local Products to Bring Home

Chicago Souvenirs: 15 Distinct Local Products to Bring Home

One of the most fascinating cities in the U.S., if not the whole world, Chicago has no shortage of things closely associated with it, often due to their direct origin (blues, gangstership, etc.), so one might literally be spoiled for choice as to what to choose as a "piece" of Chicago to...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Chicago for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Chicago has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting Chicago's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as Chicago CityPASS, Go Chicago Card, or Chicago Explorer Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Chicago's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving your precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Chicago hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Silversmith Hotel, The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago Athletic Association.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Chicago, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Chicago typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$70 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker (or a bus trolley, in winter) to enjoy sightseeing of Chicago in comfort listening in the headsets either to the recorded commentary in a variety of foreign languages or to a live on-board commentary from a local expert, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Dig into the infamous chapter of the history of Chicago, once the criminal capital of the United States, on a crime tour exploring the city’s underworld at its height back in the 1920s-30s. See the actual places and hear the stories associated with the mob names like Al Capone, John Dillinger, and other notorious gangsters.

- Explore the well- and not so well-known pieces of Chicago's design-rich architecture on a 2-hour guided walk to some of the city's prominent landmarks, elegant lobbies, and underground corridors accompanied by educational insights from an expert guide.

- Pedal your way around Chicago on a 4-hour guided bike tour for a chance to get a profound understanding of the city, to taste all of its classical eats in a single go, plus to see the most spectacular highlights of its north side neighborhoods and to cruise one of the most popular waterfront bike paths in the U.S.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of Chicago – this usually lasts about 1.5-2 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise could have done by walking.

Day Trips


If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Chicago, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Oak Park or Plano. For as little as US$55 per person you will get a chance to discover the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District – the birthplace of the famed Prairie Style architecture, as well as to explore the exterior and interior of the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe and to learn about the life and work of this prominent architect. For any of these tours you will be picked up at a designated place in Chicago and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle to the destination of your choice and back again.