Millennium Park is a 25-acre (10 hectare) park in the central Loop. Locals and tourists gather year-round for concerts, biking and jogging, and to admire the sculptures dotting the landscape. Conveniently located near other attractions, it’s easy to combine a walk through the park with a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago or shopping along the Magnificent Mile.
From the 1850s until the mid-1990s the area was mostly warehouses. In 1997, Mayor Richard Daley hired a team of architects, artists and developers to turn it into the unique public space it is today.
The centerpiece of the park is Wrigley Square, an inviting tree-lined area where visitors relax on the lawn or stroll along the paths. This is where you’ll find the spectacular Millennium Monument, a 40-foot high semicircle of Greek Doric-style columns.
You can't miss several large-scale art installations. Marvel at the striking Cloud Gate, by British artist Anish Kapoor, is a 66-foot long and 33-foot high stainless steel sculpture. It’s in the shape of a bean and reflects clouds and the City skyline. Onlookers can see their own reflection, so it’s another photo opportunity for visitors. The Crown Fountain is a fountain with two 50-foot glass towers at either end of a shallow pool. Videos of locals squirting water from their mouths (to mimick traditional fountains) are projected onto each tower. It was designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. In summer, join with the locals and stand in the pool to cool off.
Check out even more art in the Boeing Galleries, on the north and south ends of the park. The outdoor galleries showcase different exhibitions throughout the year from local and international artists.
If you are visiting between the end of spring and early fall, enjoy an outdoor concerts (often free) at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. It seats some 11,000 people with proper seats and a grassy hill. During the colder months, there are music and dance shows in the indoor Harris Theater. Check the park website to view the schedule of events.
When you have worked up an appetite, head to the 300-seat restaurant at the Michigan Avenue end of the park, or picnic on one of the many lawns.