Chicago is a truly vibrant city that offers a lot to photographers, and spending a few days wandering around the city with a camera can be a real joy. With art galleries, parks, nature reserves, and exciting nightlife, the city has something for everyone, whatever style of photography you prefer. What many people do not realize is that Chicago also has some great sunsets, with ever-changing colors and backgrounds. If you want to shoot some photos of sunset in Chicago, where are the best vantage points? Here, are five of the best spots, one for each season, and one that offers a year-round experience.
Chicago has many tall buildings with wonderful views for photographersseeking the perfect sunset shot. One of the best, due to the excellent viewsand ease of access, is the Skydeck. This viewing platform, located in theWillis tower, is a very popular tourist spot and, while busy during the day, fallsquiet towards dusk and attracts couples seeking a calm, romantic eveningwatching the sun go down.
Because Chicago faces east, it is difficult to watch the sunset from many of the beaches, although you can capture some beautiful sunrises over the lake. All is not lost, because you can take a boat tour out onto the lake, and capture some very scenic pictures of the sun setting behind the city skyscrapers. One company, Wendella Tours, specializes in sunset boat tours, and you can enjoy a relaxing drink while you shoot. It is a great option in the heat of summer, where the cool lake breeze offers a break from the humidity of the city. Bear in mind that seating is not reserved, so get there early to grab a seat with good vantage point.
If you love the lengthening evenings of the fall, which create interesting shadows and subtle contrasts, the Chicago Botanic Garden is a serene place to take photos of the sunset. During the day, you can photograph the diverse wildlife and capture the deep reds and oranges of fall. As evening draws near, you can settle in to watch the sunset and capture the silhouetted plants, trees, and fountains in the foreground. At sundown, the Carillon Bell Tower on Evening Island lights up, offering yet another photographic theme. For an added bonus, the gardens offer a range of evening festivals throughout the fall.
Everyone knows that Chicago is very, very cold in winter, but photographs of winter sunsets taken on a clear day can be spectacular. Of course, you need a warm place to watch the sun go down, such as the Chicago 360 observatory on the John Hancock Tower. The observatory is fully enclosed by glass, so you don’t have to worry about the bracing temperatures. The Chicago 360 is open until 11pm, so after the sun has gone down, you can take some absolutely beautiful night time shots of the city lights from above. One other tip is to visit during the Winter Solstice, when the 360 runs special events for watching the sunrise and the sunset.
If you want a viewpoint that offers great views of the sundown all year around, you can’t go wrong with the Lakefront Trail. This 18 mile strip along the shores of Lake Michigan is one of the city hubs and has everything, from people cycling and rollerblading, to tranquil nature reserves, flower gardens, boat harbors, and art galleries. Whatever your favorite style, you can find subject matter that suits your preferred photography themes and techniques. The trail has many places where you can look west and see the sun go down, and you often see like-minded photographers looking for the perfect sundown shot. At dusk, the Lakefront is one of the most vibrant places in Chicago, whatever time of year.
Overall, Chicago is a wonderful city that offers great views of the sunset at any time of year. Before and after the sunset, there are plenty of other great sights and people to photograph, or you can simply relax and enjoy the city’s other offerings.