The Millennium Park Campus stands as the focal point of Chicago. It can be considered an attractive point for both locals and visitors who converge to enjoy a myriad of activities. You can have a picnic on the green grass, chill by the fountain, and watch free concerts and movies in the park. There are many things to do in Millennium Park Chicago.
With an abundance of attractions, the park caters to a broad audience, including nature enthusiasts, art and architecture aficionados, families with children, music enthusiasts, fitness enthusiasts, and more.
We’ve distilled the extensive list to just 8 best things to do in Millennium Park Chicago
8 Things to do in millennium park Chicago
When you visit Chicago for the first time, make sure to take a walk in Millennium Park! This park is a favorite free place to go, mainly because of a famous thing you can see there:
1. Have fun playing in Crown Fountain’s water!
Crown Fountain is a cool place at Millennium Park, that has a video sculpture made by an artist, Jaume Plensa. It made its debut in July 2004. It has a shiny black pool in the middle, and two tall towers made of glass bricks.
The interactive fountain consists of a reflecting pool of black granite, situated between two towers of 50-foot (15.2-meter) glass bricks.
These towers use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to showcase digital videos. On the towers, big screens show huge faces of people from Chicago. From May to October, the faces of Chicago locals spout water from their lips, creating a refreshing spray for those nearby.
In the summer, water falls from the towers, and it’s a great spot to have fun and get cool.
2. Snap a selfie with The Bean!
It’s impossible not to adore Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean.” Serving as a shimmering entrance to Millennium Park, visitors walk beneath this massive structure and marvel at their distorted reflections. the Cloud Gate statue, which some people call “the Bean.” It was shown to the public in 2005 and made by the well-known artist Anish Kapoor.
This is his first outdoor sculpture in the United States, and it’s one of the biggest sculptures like it anywhere in the world. The sculpture comprises 168 stainless steel plates intricately welded and meticulously polished to eliminate any visible seams, ensuring that your selfie looks just as flawless as the artwork. You can take the best pictures with this world-class view. It’s no surprise that it’s the top choice for selfies!
3. Relax and find peace at Lurie Garden.
Lurie Garden is a fantastic garden that won awards for how it’s designed with plants. In every season, there are lots of different native flowers and bulbs, which makes the garden a nice home for animals, birds, and bugs.
It’s in the quiet part of Millennium Park, and it’s like a calm and peaceful space in the busy downtown area. If sitting and reading isn’t your preference, the garden offers a variety of activities. From lectures and workshops to free guided walks, there are engaging options scheduled throughout the summer months.
4. Enjoy rock climbing at Maggie Daley Park!
Maggie Daley Park is like a dream come true for kids. The whimsical Play Garden is inspired by stories like Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring suspension bridges, tube slides, and a large ship to explore. For older kids, there’s the thrill of a 40-foot climbing wall and an 18-hole mini-golf course with Chicago-themed obstacles.
But it’s not just for kids—adults can enjoy the park too. With tennis courts and picnic groves, there’s space for both recreation and relaxation. To get to Maggie Daley Park from Millennium Park, take a stroll along the stunning stainless steel BP Bridge.
5. Have lunch at the Plaza at Park Grill.
The Plaza at Park Grill is a popular spot, and it’s not hard to understand why. As Chicago’s largest outdoor dining venue, it sits in the impressive Cloud Gate backdrop and at the Pritzker Pavilion’s base.
From here, you can enjoy stunning views of both Millennium Park and the iconic Chicago skyline. The plaza boasts a spacious walk-up bar, a laid-back menu (how about trying the 312 Beer Can Chicken?), and a live music lineup, including “Music Paired With Beer” every Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
6. Experience live music and performances at Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Frank Gehry made a special outdoor stage that goes up 120 feet. It looks amazing with steel ribbons and curving plates. The stage has a super cool sound system that makes it sound like you’re inside a theater. You can sit down or stretch out on the big lawn and enjoy free events at Millennium Park.
There’s the Summer Music Series, Summer Film Series, and lots of summer festivals like the Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, and Chicago Jazz Festival. Even on tranquil days at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, it’s an ideal spot to spread out on a blanket, unpack a picnic, and enjoy the sunset.
7. Watch a performance at the Harris Theater for Music & Dance.
While the Jay Pritzker Pavilion takes the spotlight for outdoor events, Harris Theater offers a stunning indoor venue for the performing arts. With a seating capacity for approximately 1,500 enthusiasts of theater, music, and dance, Harris consistently showcases acclaimed local companies like the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Chicago Opera Theater.
It’s also a prestigious venue for notable national and international performers, including the New York City Ballet, which selected Harris Theater for its first Chicago performance in over 25 years.
Designed by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects, the architecture of Harris Theater is as distinctive as Millennium Park itself. The above-ground entrance boasts towering glass walls, while the stage is predominantly located underground. An exquisite roof terrace provides panoramic views of the park and is available for private events.
8. Enjoy McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink:
Ice skating in Millennium Park is a beloved Chicago tradition. Every winter, the downtown park hosts two distinctive public ice rinks. The McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink is a fun place all year on Michigan Avenue. In the summer, you can enjoy food and drinks outside. In the winter, it turns into a lovely ice rink with a cool view of Cloud Gate and the city.
Here there is no admission fee but you have to reserve your ticket online. However, skates are rental. You can enjoy any time between November to March.
Millennium Park Attractions Insider Tips:
- For free parking, head to 127 E Monroe St, Chicago, just a 5-minute walk from the park.
- The ideal spot to capture a stunning sunset or sunrise is at The Lurie Garden.
- To snag the perfect selfie at ‘The Bean,’ arrive before 8 am.
- Watch upcoming events and try to catch a free show at Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Millennium Park restaurants
Millennium Park boasts a variety of restaurants that cater to diverse tastes, offering visitors a delightful culinary experience within the heart of Chicago.
- Napolita offers genuine Neapolitan pizza cooked in a traditional brick oven at 11 N. Michigan Ave.
- Double Clutch Brewing Company boasts the city’s largest beer garden at McCormick Tribune Plaza.
- Casa Bonita is a relaxed eatery serving Mexican cuisine and frozen margaritas, with views of The Bean located next to Cloud Gate.
Does Millennium Park cost money?
No, Millennium Park is generally free to enter. However, some events and attractions within the park may have admission fees.
What’s special about Millennium Park?
Millennium Park is special for its iconic public art, outdoor spaces, and diverse attractions, including the famous Cloud Gate sculpture (The Bean), the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Lurie Garden, and interactive installations. It’s a cultural hub with free events, offering a unique blend of art, nature, and entertainment in the heart of Chicago.
Is Cloud Gate free?
Yes, Cloud Gate is free to enter. Multiple places are free at Millennium Park such as Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, the Lurie Garden, and various other attractions.
When is the best time to go to Millennium Park?
The best time to visit Millennium Park is during the summer months, from May to October when various events, concerts, and outdoor activities are in full swing. However, the park is open from 6 am to 11 pm. To steer clear of large crowds, it’s advisable to visit early in the morning on weekdays.
How much time do you need at Millennium Park?
The amount of time you spend at Millennium Park can vary based on your interests, but a few hours to half a day is typically sufficient to explore key attractions and enjoy the park’s ambiance.