Top 10 Outdoor Wedding Photo Locations in Chicago for 2021

When getting married in Chicagoland area, one of the top choices for any couple are the wedding photos locations.

As you know, Chicago has lots of choices, anything from the wonderful and famous skyline to gardens that make you forget you're even in the city.

Many locations are under strict rules that require you to get a permit days in advance, although there are a couple locations where, you and your entire wedding party, can go and just spend time with your photographer without worrying about a permit.

I have photographed in many of these  locations and I have chosen the VERY top 10 (and more) Chicago best places that everybody loves in 2021.

Let's dive right in...


Chicago Botanic Garden

  • A must for the nature lovers. This very large garden has it all, trees, flowers, scenic bridges, oriental and English gardens, as well as ponds. Whatever your heart desires, you find it there, including plenty of shade and open areas.  
  • The Chicago Botanical Garden is equally perfect for large or small wedding parties. Parking is available for only $20.00 and there is no entry fee, but it requires a permit that you can get upon arrival.
  • Great location because they also have a full restaurant and patio, as well as restrooms if needed by any of the guests.


Address:  1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022 

Phone: (847) 835-5440

Parking: It's only $20-$30 to park, depending on the size of the car.

Personal Suggestion : Get there earlier than needed so you'll have time to get the permit.



  • Located in the west suburbs of Chicago, this extremely large and wonderful place is most definitely worth the drive.  It has around 700 acres of land and it can all be visited.  But because it's so large, I suggest driving around or picking your favorite spots ahead and just going there. 
  • It has lots of vegetation and beautiful backdrops. Endless flower beds and bridges make for great photos.  Though my favorite location within the arboretum is near the Thornhill Education Center. The arboretum has lots of lakes and gardens which only make it harder to pick the perfect location if you have a small time frame.
  • Permits are required, but easily obtainable by calling.  You do get a discount if you are a member.  Though parking is free, entrance is not, must pay per person.  However, this doesn't discourage anyone from going there, because it's most worth it. 


Address:  4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL 60532

Phone: (630) 968-0074

Parking: Free parking in their parking lot.

Personal Suggestion : Although the arboretum has lots of amenities, bring hydration with you because it's so large that you'll need to drink something.


Baha'i Temple

  • Located in Wilmette, it's somewhat of a drive from Chicago, but if your wedding is in the north suburbs, it's perfect. This temple is a beautiful building with great architectural detail. It is surrounded by gardens and 7 pools that make for a great backdrop.  
  • Whether it's a large or a small party, you will have great natural background. It doesn't require a permit and you can photograph anywhere the gardens are. They have free parking, which is a plus.
  • They also have a great welcome area, where restrooms are available during business hours.  Great location especially in the warmer days, when everything is in bloom.


Address:  100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091

Phone: (847) 853-2300

Parking: Free parking just in front of the welcome center, as well as free parking on Linden Ave.

Personal Suggestion : Perfect in the summer time, although you can go anytime, there's really nothing green in the winter.



  • Lots of green, spectacular, beautiful green.  This is the place that you go to if you want to have that wonderful, tropical look.  It has 3 different large rooms and it's the ideal location for any occasion. 
  • In my opinion, it's perfect for engagement and/or family photos.  Small wedding parties are also perfect.  I don't think it's ideal for large parties as the place is tight and it always has lots of visitors.
  • It has large restrooms, so if you want to change outfits, that's not a problem.  The entrance is free, but donations are always welcome.  It does require a permit, but that's easily obtainable by calling the conservatory.  It's definitely worth the visit.


Address:  300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624

Phone: (312) 746-5100

Parking: Lots of parking just in front on Central Park Ave.  Never had a problem with parking.

Personal Suggestion : Absolutely perfect in the winter-time, great location year round though.



  • Located in north side of Chicago, this beach offers a very large variety of looks.  You'll find a little bit for everyone's interest.  From the long piers to the great city skyline and great preserve, you'll get a different look for as many outfits as you'd like to change into.
  • If you want your pets to be part of your photo-shoot, that's not a problem, as the area not only allows dogs, but also has one of the largest dog beach in Chicago.
  • There isn't a permit required for engagement/family photos, but if you have a large wedding party, best is to check with the Chicago Park District as to which part of the beach needs a permit and which doesn't.


Address:  4400 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60640

Phone: (773) 363-2225

Parking: Plenty of free parking on the street, as well as parking in paid parking lots.

Personal Suggestion : Great location for large wedding parties and plenty of amenities for everyone (especially in the summer time).


Jackson Park

  • Located right behind the Museum of Science and Industry, this has become one of my top choices mainly because of Garden of the Phoenix (former Osaka Garden), which is situated right in the middle of the park between the east and west lagoon.
  • Of course, the park offers many other locations, but the Japanese Garden has a very exotic feel to it, not to mention the amount of plants and flowers that's overwhelming.  Parking is very easy for they have a pretty large parking lot. However, right now the bridge that takes you to the Garden is now being remodeled, so it's easier to be dropped off.
  • They require permits for most of this park, but I suggest calling the Chicago Park District ahead just to make sure that the area you choose needs one. Although permits vary in cost, it's most definitely worth it.


Address:  6401 S. Stony Island Ave., Chicago, IL 60637  (S Cornell Dr., Chicago)

Phone: (773) 256-0903

Parking: Not easy as the bridge that takes you from the closest parking to the garden has been in renovation for the past 2 years.  Best is to be dropped off.

Personal Suggestion : Awesome garden that has an elegant and classy look, but not too big that you get lost.  It's just large enough to get amazing shots and various looks without getting tired.



  • Located in the heart of Chicago, this great landmark is part of what makes this city great.  If you have in mind to truly capture the heart and soul of this city, then Chicago Theatre is a must on your list.  
  • No permits are required, as you'll be on the streets and that's public property.  Most times no-one will say anything even if you're in the median.  In my opinion, this is the best place to capture the theatre and the feel of the streets.
  • No photo-shoot takes a long time here as the location is not very big and there's not too much to do besides getting the big sign in the background.


Address:  175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: (312) 462-6300

Parking: As with any Chicago landmark, parking is an issue, best is to be dropped off if you have a larger party.  Otherwise, there will be lots of walking involved.

Personal Suggestion : Beautiful landmark that's worth having in your photos at any time, but night-time photography is my favorite.


Lincoln Park - The Lily Pool

  • For the nature lovers, this small lily pond is a great place with a small waterfall and great background. I wouldn't suggest it for a very large wedding party as everything is very tight, but smaller ones would have great photographs here.  
  • Parking is also pretty decent because you can park on the street (free parking on Stockton St.) behind the pond or in the Lincoln Zoo parking lot, which is on the east side of the pond. Either way, you have to walk a few minutes to enter.  The entrance is actually on Fullerton Ave, but look carefully, because you might miss it, as the entrance is not easily noticeable
  • This pond is great mainly in the summer and autumn, it is closed in the winter time.  But because it's part of Lincoln Park, it's surely to be a hit.  Permit is a must for photography, so make sure to talk to the Lincoln Park Conservancy, as it's not part of the Chicago Park District.


Address:  125 W Fullerton Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614

Phone: 773) 883-PARK

Parking: Parking can be easily done at the Lincoln Park Zoo parking lot, or on streets.  Either way, you have to walk to the entrance.

Personal Suggestion : Amazing little pond with great natural look right in the city.  Wonderful, nature look and absolutely a must.



  • Beautiful gardens and very well maintained natural looks.  It has a beautiful Chicago backdrop as it's so tight and cozy that you can make it look like you're in a meadow.  It's large enough to walk through and get great shots, but not ideal for large wedding parties.
  • This place requires a permit from the Chicago Park District, and it take about 2 weeks to get one, so if this is a must on your list, make sure you get the permit in time.
  • It's very close to the Bean and it's just south of the Great Lawn.  This location is ideal if you want to get variety of looks to your photo-shoot.  It always has visitors so you'll probably never be alone in the park, but it's worth a walk.


Address: E Monroe St., Chicago IL 60601 (Just between the Bean and Maggie Daley Park)

Parking: Just like with the Bean, the only parking garage is the Millennium Lakeside Garage, but street parking can always be found.

Personal Suggestion : One of my favorites especially if you want city and nature looks together.  Great downtown backdrop and right by the Bean.



  • North Avenue Beach is a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike.  It offers a great view of the city (north side of the city) not just from the pier, but from the boardwalk as well.  A great plus is the lighthouse they have at the end of the pier, which makes for great photos. 
  • The beach is large and you can even bring your pets.  There's no permit required and you can stay for as long as you want.  Though, if you go in summer afternoons, you'll have lots of people in the background, as this is a favorite location for all types of athletes.
  • In the season (May-October) you have full amenities, the restrooms and bars are open at Castaways, so you could easily change outfits.
  • It's a 2 min. walk to the Lakefront Trail and that also offer great downtown and lake views for photos.


Address:  1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60613

Phone: (773) 363-2223

Parking: Parking is easy as they have their own parking lot.  Though not large enough, if you go in a busy summer day, you might have to park on a city street and walk to the beach.

Personal Suggestion : One of my favorites!  Great view of the city and lots of amenities.


The Bean/Cloud Gate

  • The Bean is one of the newest attractions in Chicago, and by far one of the most visited. Known by its official name as "Cloud Gate", it is situated right in the heart of Chicago, on Michigan Avenue's Millennium Park.
  • The sculpture offers some great shots of city reflections as well as great views of the downtown area. In a sunny day it offers no shade; however, right to the north of it you can find nice small parks with plenty of shade, but it takes away from the view of the bean.
  • Although the Bean is amazing and beautiful, being able to photograph without visitors in the background is impossible, for it's always visited, day or night and parking is possible mainly in the city parking garage without being towed; however, so far they don't require a permit for Photography.

Address:  201 E. Randolph St., Chicago IL 60602 (between Michigan Ave and Columbus Ave)

Phone: (312) 742-1168

Parking: There is no direct parking for the Cloud Gate, however the larges parking garage is the Millennium Garage, or street parking.

Personal Suggestion : Be prepared for a good walk and don't be surprised if there are lots of people in the background.


Buckingham Fountain

  • For the summer season, this fountain is absolutely stunning, especially as a backdrop for a large wedding party, it has lots of space so that even if there are lots of visitors, and you can still find a space to make it your own.
  • It is one of the largest fountains in the world, so the bigger the wedding party, the better. It has a nice, elegant and regal feeling to it. Also, around it you have the North and South Rose Gardens and the city view in the background which adds splendor to the photographs.  
  • If it gets too hot, you can get the shade in one of the gardens and still have the fountain in the background, you won't be very close to it, but you won't look sweaty in the photos.
  • This location and gardens around it requires a permit and parking is not very direct. If you're lucky to find parking on Columbus Drive, you still have to walk a bit to the fountain, but in my opinion, it's well worth the walk.


Address: 301 E Columbus Dr., Chicago IL, 60605 (Columbus Dr and Congress Pkwy)

Phone: (312) 742-7529

Parking: Most times you'll find parking on Columbus Dr., but regardless of where you park, it's a bit of a walk to the fountain, so if you have a large wedding party, it's best to be dropped off.

Personal Suggestion : Great location for large parties, as they have full amenities in the area.


Navy Pier-PFC Milton Olive Park

  • This is an alternative to the Chicago downtown skyline. You do not get the entire skyline, mainly the north side of town (Gold Coast), but you get enough for everyone to recognize it as Chicago, as you have the Hancock tower and Ohio beach in the background.
  • This is a favorite of mine because to the south it offers a splendid view of one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the world, to the west the lake, and to the north the city.  You have many photographic choices here and they are all great.
  • Also, you can always just pop into Navy Pier for a few photographs, though you'll never be able to not have someone in your photographs because of the amount of people that are always there.
  • Parking is fairly easy if you park in the Navy Pier parking lot and walk to the park, it's about 5-10 minutes.  Or you can easily park on the city streets and the walk is about the same. I greatly recommend it.
  • This place is great during all seasons.  Though summer time, the trees are all in bloom so it gives it a nicer, warmer feel.


Address:  600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago IL 60611 

Phone: (312) 595.PIER Toll Free: 1.800.595.PIER

Parking: You can always park at Navy Pier, but it's a daily flat fee, so if you're staying for just 1-2 hours, it's easier to park in the city (Ohio/Ontario St.) and walk to the location.

Personal Suggestion : Be prepared to walk to the beach area after the park, for more variety in your photos.


Chicago Riverwalk

  • For all those architectural lovers out there, this is the best location for you to be. You get to have in the background some of the most famous buildings ever made. There are several little areas to take photos, but one of the most used is in the median of the street to get the image of North Michigan Avenue intersecting with Wacker Dr..
  • One of my favorites, especially for large parties, is the spiral staircase that leads down to the Chicago River, as well as the new courtyard between the Trump Tower and the Wrigley Building.
  • Parking is as hard as any other downtown Chicago location, but if you're dropped off, you have nothing to worry about.
  • One of my favorite bridges is the Clark St. bridge for it has the "S" shape to it.  Also, walking from one location to the other is fairly easy and can be done pretty fast.


Address:  355 Chicago Riverwalk, 112 E Upper Wacker Dr.,Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: (877) 300-6746

Parking: Parking can be done anywhere it's easiest as you have to walk to the RiverWalk.

Personal Suggestion : Bring comfortable shoes as it requires walking and decide in advance which areas of the Riverwalk are a must for photos.


Chicago Bridges and Streets

  • For all those architectural lovers out there, this is the best location for you to be. You get to have in the background some of the most famous buildings ever made. There are several little areas to take photos, but one of the most used is in the median of the street to get the image of North Michigan Avenue intersecting with Wacker Dr.
  • One of my favorites, especially for large parties, is the spiral staircase that leads down to the Chicago River, as well as the courtyard between the Trump Tower and the Wrigley Building.
  • Parking is as hard as any other downtown Chicago location, but if you're dropped off, you have nothing to worry about.
  • One of my favorite bridges is the Clark St. bridge for it has the "S" shape to it.  Also, walking from one location to the other is fairly easy and can be done pretty fast.


Address:  100 E. Wacker Dr., 500 E. Wacker Dr. - 300 W. Wacker Dr. Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: N/A

Parking: Depending on where you'd like to be, street parking is your best bet.  Sometimes hard to get, so parking garages are a great choice.

Personal Suggestion : Bring comfortable shoes to walk from location from location.


Lincoln Park

  • In this very large park, just about any place looks great, so you can either have a very nature-like feel to the photographs or even the skyline from different areas. It is hard to pinpoint an exact location, but I always seem to be drawn to the South Pond, where I find more room to stretch out if I go with a large wedding party, and it also is just as great if I'm with just the bride and groom.
  • From the pond facing south, the city looks incredible and you can get some great shots, especially from the Nature's Boardwalk Bridge. You have plenty of shade if need be and you also have many sculptures you could use as props or backgrounds. For example, one of the most used sculptures is the Peoples Gas Education Pavilion (aka "The Honeycomb"), but I personally prefer the arches and tunnel under the Ulysses S. Grant Monument.
  • This place is great as it not only offers restaurants and patios (especially in the summer), but also restrooms and free parking (on Stockton St.) year round.
  • As far as permits are concerned, some areas in the park require a permit while some don't, so you have to check with the Chicago Park District to see which is which.


Address: 1901 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614

Phone: 312.742.PLAY (7529)

Parking: Parking is available for free on Stockton St. and Lincoln Park West.  Paid parking on Clark St. and parking lots.  Also, you can easily park in the Lincoln Park Zoo Parking Lot.

Personal Suggestion : This is the place where it's easiest to change outfits for various looks and backgrounds.



Adler Planetarium

  • This location is one of the most popular for doing scenic backgrounds, for it has the incredible Chicago skyline and also the lake behind the planetarium as well as the beach, that makes for great alternative to the city. Also there are lots of trees and flowers, in the season, that make for great shade for the entire wedding party.
  • Northerly Island Park is one of my ultimate places around the planetarium and is to the south of it (about a 5 minute walk), past the 12 Street beach and the touristic area.  
  • In my opinion this is the best view of the city. The great thing about the Planetarium is that it does not require a permit, so you're free to stay and photograph as long as you want.  Parking can be done on the street, or in the parking lot.  However, must keep a look out for events on Museum Campus as there is no parking those days.

Address: 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago IL 60605

Phone: 312.922.STAR (312.922.7827)

Parking: Street parking available on Solidarity Dr., and also in the parking lot.  However, these may be closed if an event is taking place, in which case, it's best to be dropped off.

Personal Suggestion : Great location if you want a variety of backgrounds (city skyline, lake, beach and park)


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