Chicago in the US state of Illinois is a popular tourist attraction. Amongst the several interesting landmarks and attractions, the Millennium Park is a favorite amongst both locals and visitors. Located near the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Millennium Park covers a 24.5-acre area, which previously belonged to Illinois Central’s rail yards. Opened in 2004, Millennium Park is the perfect place to spend your day having a picnic, watching a performance, strolling in beautiful gardens, engaging in an interesting activity, or viewing some artistic works. Here is everything you need to know about Millennium Park.
How to Reach
Due to its prime location, reaching Millennium Park is quite easy. You can take a bus, train, or Metra to reach the place. If you are driving to the place, you can park your vehicle at the Millennium Park Garage, located right under the park.
The Millennium Park opens at 8 in the morning and closes at 9 in the evening, throughout the week.
There is no entry fee to visit Millennium Park. However, you may have to buy tickets to be a part of some of the concerts, performances, and events held here.
Interesting Attractions of Millennium Park
Millennium Park has numerous attractions. Here are the best features of this public park:
Jay Pritzker Pavilion:
The star attraction of Millennium Park is clearly the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. A state-of-the-art amphitheater, the pavilion was created by Frank Gehry. Apart from its aesthetic appeal, the pavilion is also known for its excellent acoustics. The place hosts concerts and other performances like Grant Park Music Festival, Summer Music Series, Summer Film Series, etc. throughout the summer. It has 4000 fixed seats and a huge lawn that can accommodate more than 7000 people.
Lurie Garden is a 2.5-acre botanical garden right in the middle of the city. Located in the southern end of the Millennium Park, the garden is home to a variety of bulbs, perennials, trees, shrubs, and grasses. Apart from being a perfect place to enjoy a picnic, you can also take part in guided walks, interactive demonstrations, and lectures here. Lurie Garden also hosts family festivals. If you want to escape the city life with a good book, there is no better place than Lurie Garden for the same.
A unique sculpture, the Cloud Gate is one of the most photographed attractions not only of Millennium Park but also of Chicago. Nicknamed “The Bean”, Cloud Gate is the creation of British-Indian artist, Sir Anish Kapoor. Taking inspiration from the qualities of liquid mercury, Mr. Kapoor created this glistening archway completely made of steel. 168 stainless steel plates were welded and the polished to create a flawless look. You not only get to see an obscure view of the Chicago skyline here but also take some amazing pictures for social media.
Another highlight of the Millennium Park is the Crown Fountain. Designed by Jaume Plensa, a Spanish artist, the Crown Fountain is an interactive public art/video sculpture. The fountain is a reflecting pool made of black granite, with a pair of 50-foor glass brick towers standing right at its center. The towers display the faces of more than 1000 Chicago citizens every day. The most interesting part is that water spots out from the faces of the people displayed on the screens, during summer. Crown Fountain is fun for both adults and kids.
The Plaza at Park Grill:
Park Grill is the only restaurant at the Millennium Park. Serving a menu that includes all the favorites of American cuisine, it is one of the best places to stop by to enjoy a meal and to take in the view of the Cloud Gate as well as the Chicago skyline. In summers, you can sit at the Plaza, which is the largest outdoor dining venue in Chicago. Apart from the food and the view, you can enjoy some incredible musical performances here as well. In winters, the outdoor sitting area is converted into an ice rink.
Apart from the outdoor amphitheater, Millennium Park also has an indoor theater, Harris Theater, which is ideal for small and medium-sized performances. This 1525-seat theater is located underground and regularly features local groups like Chicago Opera Theater, Joffrey Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. It has also hosted several national and international performances, including the New York City Ballet.
The Millennium Park has two outdoor galleries known as the Boeing Galleries, one in the North and the other in the South. Both these outdoor galleries hold rotating exhibitions throughout the year. Some of the artists whose works have been displayed here include Jaume Plensa, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Chakaia Booker, etc. The best part about this place is that art lovers can sit on one of the several benches placed here to admire and appreciate the artworks displayed.
Important Tips to Remember
- Millennium Park is a public park where you can drink alcohol. However, you cannot drink wherever you want. Drinking is restricted to Park Grill and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
- Pets are not allowed inside the park
- You cannot ride a bike on the park grounds
- While the park is a great place for a picnic, you cannot put a tent here. Barbecue, grills, open flame candles, etc. are also restricted here.
Apart from all the attractions mentioned above, the Millennium Park has several other gems to be discovered. In fact, you can spend hours exploring the park, without getting bored. So when you book your flight tickets and secure your US visa, do visit Chicago and explore this amazing public park.