Millennium Park – Must-See Attraction for Chicago First-Timers

Millennium Park in Chicago is Free and Fun

Looking for something inexpensive and fun to do in Chicago? Spend the day at Millennium Park.

Every major US city has a large park in the heart of the city. Chicago is blessed with a couple, and one of the most popular is Millennium Park downtown.

Set on 24.5 acres, the park has several attractions of interest to both visitors and locals.

Cloud Gate on the AT&T Plaza

This sculpture gets featured often in promotional photos and videos on the city. Designed by British artist Anish Kapoor, this work of art is made from seamless stainless steel plates and weighs 110 tons, according to the park’s media fact sheet

Its curved shape reflects the tall skyscrapers of downtown Chicago that surround the park. It also allows visitors to actually stand underneath the sculpture, making for great photo opportunities.

From Thanksgiving weekend until Christmas, carolers offer free concerts of holiday classics at Cloud Gate.

The Crown Fountain

This is no ordinary fountain; it’s truly a work of art.

Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. Each tower is embedded with LED screens that project a visual flow of 1,000 different residents of Chicago. In the middle of the screen wall is a spout that shoots out water, akin to the gargoyle statues on fountains in Europe. The faces on the video line up with the fountain spout so it appears the water is coming out of the mouths.

Since the pool is shallow, children love to play under the fountain, especially to cool off in the summer.

The fountain video runs year-round, but the water is shut off once temperatures reach freezing in the winter.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Designed by Frank Gehry, winner of the National Medal of Art, this outdoor concert venue is not only functional but beautiful to look at.

Stainless steel ribbons crisscross above the audience, not only for artistic value but to support the sound system for the venue.

The pavilion is home to the Grant Park Music Festival, as well as many free classical and jazz concerts throughout the year.

Lurie Garden

The landscaped design of this free garden area pays homage to the city’s evolution from flat marshland to the urban center it is today.

Set on five acres in the southeast corner of Millennium Park, the garden is constantly changing with the seasons, so each visit will probably be different from the last.

BP Bridge

This bridge on the east end of the park connects Millennium Park to Daley Bicentennial Plaza. But as with most structures in this park, even the bridge is both functional and a work of art.

Bordered with brushed stainless steel panels, the bridge snakes itself across Columbus Drive in a winding pattern. The walls not only make the bridge visually striking but create a sound barrier from the traffic below.

These are but the highlights of Millennium Park and they’re all free to explore in this oasis in the middle of busy downtown Chicago.

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