One of the most visited and liveliest attractions in Chicago is Millennium Park. The park, which opened four years behind schedule in 2004, is full of events, activities for families, art exhibits, and more. Built over a large parking garage, it’s also technically the world’s largest rooftop garden. It’s located at the northwest end of Grant Park.
The most popular section of Millennium Park is AT&T Plaza, which contains Cloud Gate, a huge stainless steel sculpture affectionately known as “The Bean”. It was designed by Anish Kapoor and is polished to give a distorted reflection. 168 stainless steel plates were welded together to construct it but there are no visible seams in the entire work. It’s one of the most photographed attractions in the entire city.
Underneath Cloud Gate is the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink. This plaza in winter months is converted into a hugely popular outdoor skating rink in an amazing setting under the Chicago skyline. In the summer months, it serves as an outdoor restaurant, Park Grill.
To the south is the Crown Fountain, a work of video art designed by Jaume Plensa. It consists of two huge video screens opposite each other with faces of local residents rotating every five minutes. As water flows over the screens on both sides, the faces smile and blink and also “spit” water out of the fountain. The space between the screens is used as a respite from the summer heat with many children playing in the water.
To the north is Wrigley Square, which contains the Millennium Monument. The monument is a peristyle that was built to replace another peristyle that sat on the same spot between 1917 and 1953. It is dedicated to the benefactors of Millennium Park.
The Harris Theater and Pritzker Pavilion are the park’s indoor and outdoor performing arts venues. The Harris Theater is used for small indoor performances. The Pritzker Pavilion is used for large performances including both free and paid concerts. It was designed by Frank Gehry and has a capacity of 11,000. There is an assigned seating area and open seating on the grass behind it, with stainless steel beams criss-crossing the entire open area.
Behind the Pritzker Pavilion is the Lurie Garden, which is full of flowers, shrubs, and trees. It’s bisected by a boardwalk and canal.
The BP Bridge is a serpentine pedestrian bridge connecting Millennium Park to Maggie Daley Park. It was designed by Frank Gehry and is accessed to the east of Pritzker Pavilion. It crosses over Columbus Drive.
Maggie Daley Park, one of the newest parks in the city, opened in December 2014. It contains rock climbing walls, a playground, miniature golf, and an ice skating ribbon in the winter. It’s at the northeast end of Grant Park.