Free Public Art Worth Visiting in Chicago

Travelers visiting Chicago don’t have to spend much money thanks to the city’s public artwork. Pair these free attractions with affordable hotels in Chicago

, and you can have a great vacation without going over budget.

Plan to visit these unique pieces of art in Chicago. They are some of the city’s best, and they won’t cost you a thing.

Cloud Gate in Millennium Park


Photo by Vincent Ramundo via

Cloud Gate is probably the most popular piece of public art in Chicago. The city commissioned Anish Kapoor to build the sculpture in 2004. He finished the piece in 2006.

There are several large sculptures in Millennium Park, but this is the one that people talk about most. Maybe that’s because its curved, reflective surface makes it the perfect opportunity for taking distorted selfies.

If you travel with your dog, don’t bother taking him or her to see Cloud Gate. A cop on a Segway keeps vigilant watch for all canines. Despite how funny it is when she stands on the Segway and threatens to give you a citation, the officer sees nothing humorous about the situation and will make you leave.

Oddly enough, all other areas of the park are dog-friendly.

If you plan to spend a lot of time in Millennium Park, make reservations at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel

. The hotel has affordable prices and nice accommodations.

Nicholas J. Melas Centennial Fountain and Water Arc

Chicago has plenty of popular fountains. Few of them, however, are as impressive as Centennial Fountain along the Chicago River’s north bank. Lohan Associates designed the fountain as a tiered waterfall. Try to arrive near the top of the hour. The fountains shoot a long arc of water across the river every hour on the hour.

The InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile hotel is a good place to stay for anyone who wants to walk the Near North Side neighborhood. Centennial Fountain makes a good stopping point where you can rest and enjoy the sights. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars along the shore.

Lincoln Park Sculptures

Lincoln Park has over a dozen statues. Some of the most famous of them include:

  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Dream Lady
  • Standing Lincoln
  • Signal of Peace

If you want to enjoy a nice, long walk, stay at Millennium Knickerbocker

and walk north to Lincoln Park. The park has several other attractions that you may want to visit, including a zoo, nature museum, and history museum.

All of the attractions are free, so you can spend the whole day exploring Lincoln Park without spending any money.

Buildings of the Loop

Some of the buildings in the Loop are nothing short of public art pieces. Buildings that often get highlighted include:

  • Chicago Cultural Center
  • Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)
  • Federal Center
  • The Monadnock

It takes at least two hours to cover the entire area. You may want to join a Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour

to make sure you spot some of the most impressive architecture. The coolest buildings don’t always stand out until someone shows them to you.

Matthew Thompson is a writer and blogger based in Louisville, KY. You can follow him on Google+

or check out some of his latest travel writing on the Hipmunk



Jason Bartoli
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