Chicago has much to offer in the way of Instagrammable locations. Concrete, steel, and glass skylines? Check. Insane public art? Check. World-famous dining. Gorgeous coffee shops and art galleries. Penthouses, historical homes, a lake that looks like an ocean, murals, graffiti, color, and light — everything you need to create an enviable Instagram feed. Check, check, check, check. Just bring your camera and a sense of whimsy, and Chicago will provide. Here are 11 of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago.
Located in downtown Chicago, Gold Coast Art Gallery offers 4,000 square feet of stunning space. The gallery is open, attractively lit, and designed with lots of stark and interesting uses of color. And, of course, the art itself, with its richly saturated colors, provides an unbeatable backdrop. This place gives a photographer a lot to work with in terms of the raw materials of light, shadow, color, space, and contrast.
This trendy loft is nestled in West Town and features a contemporary sense of design that’s both tasteful and over the top. Basically, this place is designed for Instagrammin’ — as in, that might as well be its actual purpose for existing. With textures galore, art walls, eclectic furniture, bar area, and a wall-sized array of old speakers all connected to a turntable, it’s the perfect place to take photos that spark joy. Rent the place out and take all the shots you want — and make sure to bring your friends and some good music. You can tell a lot of stories in a place this varied and interesting.
Located in Wicker Park, this tropical-themed escape is a shock of warmth, even in the cold months of hard wind and lake-effect snow. It’s a four-bedroom space, with many amazing places to photograph. The bedrooms are outfitted with carefully selected, daring-yet-muted art. And the main living room is just lovely. All pink and neon. A stuffed shark on the wall. Lean into it, throw on a glowing green boa and take photos in a confetti of feathers. Or change it up — go totally formal and really stand out against the absurdity of your surroundings, as if to say, “Please double-tap this.”
4. The Picasso
Chicago has quite the collection of outdoor art — and has, in fact, its very own Picasso. Just a stone’s throw from Millennium Park, which is itself full of Instagrammable locations, this statue is something else. It merges the lines and elements of human, horse, and an elephantine-herbivore-dinosaur hybrid into a mythical angelic figure, somehow an expression of the divine and the absurd at once. It is undoubtedly an Instagrammable place.
5. This chic, modern event space in McKinley Park
Located in McKinley Park, this enormous modern event space can be rented by the day; it has everything you need for a fashion shoot, music video, or even a corporate party. It’s definitely not for everyone’s budget, but it would certainly be worth it for corporate photographers or trendy companies. It’s 8,000 square feet, and every room is painstakingly well designed. Everything is art — the furniture, walls, sculpture, and floral arrangement. This place has lots of steely colors and surfaces, as well as stark uses of obsidian black, white, and gold. The whole place has a sort of elemental power that’s pared down so as to be almost imperceptible.
6. Harper Library at the University of Chicago
Located between Hyde Park and Washington Park, the University of Chicago is one of the world’s most prestigious schools of higher learning. And Harper Library, located on campus, is a grand display of Gothic architecture, rich woods, old and faded books, lots of diagonal beams of natural light, and striking symmetry. If you’re taking selfies here, make sure to keep quiet to avoid distracting students. Turn off the shutter sound effect and find a nice nook for yourself.
7. This cool furniture shop in West Town
This place has it all — and in abundance. It’s a spacious furniture shop in West Town chock-full of vintage furniture, art, and fashion. It can be rented out for events or photoshoots; this space is definitely one of the most affordable options on the list (besides the totally free ones). All the unique vintage finds make for great texture, especially in an Instagram shot. Keep in mind that if you break something in the store, you must buy it — so if you’re planning a bigger shoot that might involve moving things around, splurge for insurance on the front end. Also, everything here is on sale, so you can take home a souvenir from your day, no problem.
8. This rustic, bohemian storefront
Another nice location with tons of texture and charm. This bohemian storefront has a nice mixture of rustic brick, art-deco ceilings, wide-plank hardwood floors, as well as a variety of gold, wrought iron, and wood furniture. There’s also a ton of natural light, so it’s great for those bright, soft selfies that say, “I’m at peace right now.” It’s 1,000 square feet — a good size for a photoshoot, and a good space for more intimate events as well. They have a kegerator — a keg-holder and refrigerator hybrid — on site, but you have to provide your own keg.
This jewel of a gallery is located in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood of Chicago. The space functions as an art and furniture gallery and is another example of an interior with bright whites and rich colors that are perfect for Instagram. They just look so good reproduced on the super-high-def, ultra-saturated screens of our mobile devices. The gallery rents itself out for events, so it can be had for longer photoshoots, too, if necessary.
10. “The Bean” sculpture
The public sculpture Cloud Gate — also affectionately known as “The Bean” — is an enormous reflective bean-shaped sculpture. Its concave and convex surfaces create some incredible reflective special effects. It’s one of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago. You can walk inside, and it’s like you’re in a cathedral, as the multiplied reflections above give the sense of vaulted ceilings. And outside “The Bean,” you can capture the city, sky, yourself, and your love, depending on where you stand with the camera. Let yourself be a tourist.
11. Navy Pier
Speaking of being a tourist, why not Instagram it up a bit at Navy Pier? It’s always full of life and laughter. If you’ve got good low-light equipment, you can really capture some stunning pictures at night, especially in the winter months where the neon and snow make quite the pair.
In Chicago, sometimes the best place to Instagram is right there on the street — some profound graffiti on a mailbox or the peculiar light reflected off of a building on your walk home. There’s plenty of merit to Instagramming your favorite hot dog spot, just to let everyone know where your loyalties lie. Chicago is a beautiful city, with all the art, culture, food, and fashion you could ever hope to photograph. Hopefully you’ll find this list a nice mix of suggestions for professional and amateur Instagram photographers alike.