Chicago is undeniably a photogenic city. From the grand, sweeping views of the skyline and the lake to the more intimate scale of a neighborhood mural or a perfectly plated meal, the city is ripe for snapshots. Walk the streets of these neighborhoods and discover some of the best places to take pictures in Chicago.
It is hard to decide what exactly to point the camera at first in Andersonville. The most Instagrammed spot in the North Side neighborhood is probably Matthew Hoffman's "You Are Beautiful" installation on the fence at W. Foster and N. Ashland Avenues. But Andersonville is also crammed full of shops and restaurants with all manner of interesting tableaus to consider.
Wander through the rows of furniture and home goods that crowd the cavernous interior of the Brown Elephant (truly a thrifter’s heaven), zoom in one on the enormous and decadent pancakes whipped up at Bongo Room, or capture one of the meticulously made pastries or lattes at the light-filled Lost Larson.
If you want to capture some of the neighborhood’s history, look for a Swedish flag to include in the frame, or visit the Swedish American Museum.
A large Fulton Market sign ushers you into this small pocket neighborhood of West Loop, characterized by towering office and condo buildings. While the skyscrapers certainly attract the eye, this neighborhood’s real claim to Instagram fame is the profusion of restaurants.
Randolph Street’s “Restaurant Row” is lined with some of the city’s favorite eateries. If you’re in the mood to capture enviable ambience, the dark wood and diner-style of Au Cheval or the twinkling branches of the tree that stretches between the two floors of Bar Siena won’t disappoint. The Hoxton has many photo ops in its stylishly appointed lobby or in its colorful rooftop restaurant Cabra, which specializes in bold Peruvian plates. The inventive drinks of The Aviary or the live shows at City Winery are also popular spots to snag a photo.
Humboldt Park is the once-home of the infamous Chance the Snapper. While you may have missed your chance to photograph the city’s beloved outlaw alligator, the neighborhoods beautiful and sprawling park is well worth the visit.
Humboldt Park is a vast greenspace complete with lagoons, gardens, and a striking fieldhouse. The West Side neighborhood is also home to Puerto Rico Town, easily recognizable by the large and eminently photographable metal sculptures of the Puerto Rican flag. Each summer, the neighborhood celebrates Puerto Rican culture with the People’s Parade, snaking its way down Division Street.
While you’re in the neighborhood, stop into Spinning J, a cafe in the style of an old-school soda shop, for picturesque pies and egg cream sodas in a seriously Instagrammable setting. The store Humboldt House is stocked with handmade ceramics, throw pillows, wall hangings and more for visually appealing domiciles.
Hyde Park is a photographer’s dream. The stately stone buildings of the University of Chicago campus create have a picture-worthy aesthetic. For those who love to learn, the neighborhood is also home to the Museum of Science and Industry, a museum positively stuffed with exhibits worth capturing on film.
Hyde Park is also one of the prettiest places to take photos outdoors in the city. Walk the Midway Plaisance, head to Promontory Point for one of the best ways to see the lake and skyline, or stroll through the Garden of the Phoenix (come in spring to catch the Japanese garden in full bloom).
The perfect cup of coffee, street art, a splashy movie marquee, historic mansions—you can get pictures of all of this in a single afternoon. Logan Square is a hotbed for coffee shops and cafes, each with its own take on making the ideal brew. Opt for the colorful interior of Passion House, or capture the uplifting "It's OK to Not Be OK" mural inside Sip of Hope.
If hunting down arresting street art is more your style, Logan Square is home to quite a few noteworthy pieces. Among them is a hyper-realistic, larger-than-life mural of Robin Williams surrounded by the laughing genie he brought to life in Disney’s “Aladdin," and the colorful "Greetings From Chicago" mural reminiscent of a vintage postcard.
The bright lights of the Logan Theatre always catch the eye, and the camera, on Milwaukee Avenue. Over on Logan Boulevard, enviable stone mansions inspire photographers and architecture buffs alike.
Pilsen is one of the city’s top neighborhoods for memorable art; you'll see this as soon as you step off the train at the CTA's 18th Street stop on the L, which is adorned with murals. Take your phone or camera and go hunting for murals on 16th Street, or step inside one of the neighborhood's multiple art galleries. Pilsen is also home to the National Museum of Mexican Art, which displays thousands of pieces.
For those who want to marry a love of music with a love of taking photos, visit Thalia Hall or one of the three vinyl stores in Pilsen. The neighborhood is also one of the top places to take and document a culinary tour. Chicago's best Mexican food is arguably found here in Pilsen.
Ukrainian Village is a diminutive neighborhood, but there is no shortage of points of interest—and beauty on a large and small scale.
For large panoramic opportunities, acquaint yourself with the churches of the neighborhood. The neighborhood’s Orthodox and Catholic churches are a study in decadence—ornate sculpture and intricate paintings fascinate the eye.
On the smaller scale, Ukrainian Village’s bakeries (Ann’s Bakery is a must-try) offer excellent photo ops if you can pause long enough to take the photo before settling down to the serious business of enjoying fresh-baked breads and pastries.