‘Tis the season for family holiday photos, everything all families love right? (hah). After some research and crowdsourcing, I’ve put together a list of the best Chicago locations, both outdoor and indoor, to get those beautiful holiday photos!
*For some of these locations, you might need to apply for a photo permit ($45) with the Chicago Park District*
Clark Richard Park
This park is directly behind Lane Tech high school, which I believe is technically considered Avondale. The trees right now are so pretty and would make a great backdrop of holiday photos. It runs along the North Branch of the river and has a paved running/bike path, paddle boats rental (during the summer), 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.
DePaul University’s Quad
We actually took our engagement photos here late October and the trees are just beautiful. It’s been our go-to hangout spot when we need fresh air and space. Plus the backdrop is pretty to look at.
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.
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 there too!
This is my absolute favorite tree and we have taken photos infant of it before! It does get crowded so I would recommend going early! We also warmed up and used the bathroom at Nordstrom’s on Michigan Avenue 🙂
I personally think this has one of the best views of the skyline. There is also the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary so there is lots of space to take your time. Maybe set up a picnic with the skyline as your backdrop.
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!
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.
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.
This park is located in Lincoln Square and has the prettiest trees that make a beautiful backdrop. Then grab brunch at Gather after (so good!)
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. 🙂
Some holiday outfit ideas!
White Dress with bow // Bow Earrings // Cropped plaid puffer // Plaid button down // Women’s silver clutch // Women’s Tuxedo Dress // Women’s pleather pants // Women’s red sweater dress // plaid dress with bow // Black chunky heels // White booties // gold clutch // pleather skirt
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! The entire mall is decorated really nice and if you head upstairs, you can grab a drink in their Library, which has pretty views over Michigan Avenue.
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 or anywhere along the river for some quick photos outside
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. The Art of Brick (over 1 million Legos in the shape of art, dinosaurs, etc) will also have a holiday set up as well. That exhibit is an extra charge but it was one of the kids absolute favorite!
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 at the Garfield Conservatory.
Find an igloo or decorated bar
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, Hotel Zachary, and The Godfrey Hotel has had them in the past. Bars like Santa Baby (kids allowed before a certain time) and Butch McGuire’s (photo below) is one of our favorites and kids allowed before 7pm. There is a huge train that circulates around the bar. Obviously you’d have to dine there as well. No photographer? Ask the waitress or use self timer while inside!
Find your favorite hotel
There are so many beautiful hotels in Chicago, like the JW Marriott, Hotel Zachary, 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 holiday photos! Some tips I learned to create the best photos is:
- Bring snacks, toys and even a mug with cider/hot chocolate.
- A warm blankets and layer the kids with thermals.
- Look through the dollar section at Target. I found 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.