Best Places for Holiday Photos (indoor & outdoor)

November 20, 2019

‘Tis the season for holiday photos, everything all families love right? (hah). This is the second year we have decided to take family holiday photos. We loved our photos so much last year (we used Michelle Cox Photography 2 years ago and very happy with our photos) we wanted to do it again. This year we are using Chicago Andrea and can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Taking photos outside in late fall is cold yes and we were freezing! But they turned out so cute and I am really glad we did it.

After some research and crowdsourcing, I listed some indoor and outdoor places because we know the Chicago weather 🙂 Here are some places, indoors and outdoors, to take holidays photos!

There are some affiliate links below at no charge to you to click through!

*For some of these locations, you might need to apply for a photo permit ($45) with the Chicago Park District*


1. Clark Richard Park

This park is directly behind Lane Tech high school, which I believe is technically considered Avondale. It runs along the North Branch of the river and has a paved running/bike path, paddle boats rental (not during COVID), a bike park and it’s just such a pretty part of the city. It’s a secluded area and never crowded, which is always nice while taking pics. Bonus, there’s always tons of parking right on Rockwell street. I would bring a blanket because there are very few benches.


2. DePaul University’s Quad

We actually took our engagement photos here late October and the trees are just beautiful. With COVID right now, school is not in session and there’s no one around. It’s been our go-to hangout spot when we need fresh air and space. Plus the backdrop is pretty to look at.


3. Lincoln Park Zoo

I really like this location for a few reasons. There are SO many shooting locations. There is the honeycomb, the bridge, the lawn in front of the conservatory, the Lily Pond, the tall grass along the petting zoo and more! We even did our baby announcement with Mila here. Plus you can always run inside the zoo for the bathroom (not during COVID unfortunately)

Lincoln Park and Honeycomb photos for the holidays. This outdoor location makes a great location for family photos!
Lincoln park is great to take holidays photos

All the outfits above our from last year, but I put together some similar looks below. We take out photos soon, so I will update this post once we get the pictures back.

Lincoln Park Honeycomb has Chicago in the skyline and the warm colors of the trees and tall grass make a great place for photos.
The fall colors are absolutely beautiful around Lincoln Park. They make for some really pretty photos.

4. Humboldt Park

There’s a lot of tall grass and wide open spaces to take some really great shots in front of the boat house. It’s also a bird and wildlife sanctuary, you might get a few animals in your shot. I think with a layer of fresh snow, it would be beautiful!

There are a few small bridges that would look nice as well to stage some pictures thee too!

5. Montrose Beach

I personally think this has one of the best views of the skyline. There is also the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary which is not open now, but there is lots of space to take your time. Maybe set up a picnic with the skyline as your backdrop.

6. 31st Street Beach

Just south of the Museum Campus is the 31st street beach. This is actually one of my favorite beaches in the city, there’s beautiful skyline views and easy parking. It’s right off the highway!

7. Tom (Ping) Memorial Park

Located in Chinatown, this park has more of an industrial feel, but could be something different for your photos! This park offers a ton of things like an athletic field, playground, walking paths by the river, and a boat house, which is open for kayak rentals during the summer only.

8. Milton Lee Olive Park

If you are looking some some up close skyline views, this park is for you. This location is also perfect for engagement photos! It’s located just north of Navy Pier and just east of Ohio Street Beach. We did try and go here this past summer during COVID and it wasn’t open, so I would definitely scope it out before going.

9. Winnemac Park

This park is located in Lincoln Square and has the prettiest trees! I am not sure what these trees are called, but it would make for a beautiful backdrop.

Winnemac park is a great post for holiday photos

10. Museum Campus

This area is where the Shedd, Planetarium and Field Museum are all located at. You get the best views of the city plus during the winter there are way less people and parking is so easy. Fun fact-my parents got engaged in that area. 🙂

Example family outfit ideas

holiday photo outfit ideas

  1. Toddler Boys shirt: Children’s Place
  2. Long Sleeve Women’s Mini Dress (similar style dress linked here): Nordstrom
  3. Holiday red lipstick (my favorite): Sephora
  4. Toddler girls plaid dress: Children’s Place
  5. Baby girl plaid dress: Children’s Place
  6. Women’s V-neck dress: H&M
  7. Baby headbands (Mila is wearing the black one): Amazon
  8. Women’s long sleeve mini dress: Nordstrom
  9. Women’s shift dress: Nordstrom
  10. Men’s sweater (Manny is wearing this exact one. I like it because it balances out all the red we had on): Target
  11. Women’s wrap dress: Nordstrom
  12. Women’s jersey shirt dress: H&M


11. 900 Shops

This is located in the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building. They have such a pretty tree, santa and just decorated beautifully. You could take some really nice holidays photos in front of the tree!I would double check and see their COVID restrictions right now, I haven’t there since last year.

12. Union Station

Union Station decorates beautifully for the holidays! The architecture would make for some really unique holiday photos. Plus, you can head out to the Adams Street bridge for some quick photos outside! The train station is open (we were just there), but you need to wear a mask, but you could probably snap some photos with them on or off really quickly.

13. Museum Science and Industry

They have their annual Christmas Trees Around the World Exhibit. It actually started in 1942! There are several tree and holiday lights that would make nice backdrops for holiday cards. They are still going to have it this year for 2020, which is great news!

14. Conservatories

The Lincoln Park or Garfield Park Conservatory are both perfect for family photos! The lighting is always great and it’s nice and warm! We have taken photos at the Lincoln Park Conservatory when the weather is bad even in the summer. They turned out great. See below of our baby announcement! Both are open, but you might need a reservation right now.

The Lincoln Park Conservatory has great lighting and always nice and warm! Makes a great location for family photos

15. Find an igloo!

Right now, igloos are gaining popularity for dining out but I think it would make for a cool backdrop for photos. I know City Winery, Bar Cocina, and The Godfrey Hotel has them. Obviously you’d have to dine there as well. No photographer? Ask the waitress or use self timer while inside!

16. Find your favorite hotel! (this one might be way harder with COVID restrictions)

There are so many beautiful hotels in Chicago, like the JW Marriott, Zachary Hote, The Drake, or Langham that decorate beautifully! I would just give them a call and ask to talk to a manager. Otherwise, taking them outside could always be an option if all else fails.

There are so many more places, but here are a few spots that would make great family photos! Some tips I learned to create the best photos is:

Extra tips

  • Bring snacks and toys for the kiddos!
  • A warm blankets
  • Look through the dollar section at Target. I found these lights and confetti to add some props to your photos

Let me know what you think and if you took any this holiday season! You can find me on Instagram here.


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