We're all about living the high life, and sometimes we mean that literally. So what better way to experience Chicago than by taking in the entire cityscape from hundreds of feet in the air while relaxing with a craft cocktail and gourmet food? But extreme heights aren't always necessary for the best views, just check out North Pond or Terzo Piano, below. Whether you go high or low, these spots offer some of the best vistas in the city, so get your Instagram ready.
Nestled alongside the Chicago River, this tri-level behemoth offers a line of sight down Chicago’s main aquatic thoroughfare. The first-level indoor bar accepts reservations, while the second-level outdoor terrace is first-come first-serve and the third level is reserved for statement-making private events. Chef Jacob Verstegen helms the broad American menu, which features everything from chicken wings to dry-aged duck breast. 85 E. Upper Wacker Dr., 312.357.1200
A rare ground-floor restaurant with stunning scenery, North Pond lives up to its name: It’s located directly on Lincoln Park’s meticulously manicured shore. Chef and partner Bruce Sherman, who earned the prestigious James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Great Lakes Region in 2012, created the French-American menu which includes items such as wild pheasant and grilled swordfish 2610 N. Canon Dr., 773.477.5845
Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, there’s hardly a time when Cindy’s isn’t a good choice for booze and bites. Overlooking Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, the Chicago Athletic Association’s crown jewel features a glass-covered, airy interior restaurant and terrace complete with a cozy fire pit. Chef de Cuisine Keith Potter keeps the menu fresh with seasonal changes, while “spirit guide” Nandini Khaund has created an innovative drink menu chock-full of complex cocktails like the Kentucky Island time (
westward single malt whiskey, Elijah Craig small batch bourbon, Smith + Cross overproof rum, carpano bianco, lemon, angostura, cane sugar). 12 S. Michigan Ave., 312.792.3502
Take in the city, Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan all at once, rain or shine. The top of the Hotel Lincoln features a retractable roof, making this 140-seat bar one of city’s few all-season hotspots. During the summer, a young crowd gathers to sip $5 Tecates or splurge on bottle service. 1816 N. Clark St., 312.254.4747
The downtown skyline is perhaps the only thing that can rival the beauty housed in the Art Institute, which is why the museum’s restaurant is a must-visit. The interior was recently redecorated in chic shades of gray and brown, while chef, partner and James Beard Award-winner Tony Mantuano refreshed the contemporary Mediterranean menu. 159 E. Monroe St., 312.443.8650
If you’re going for pure altitude, there’s no beating the Signature Room, which sits 95 floors up at the Hancock building. Executive chef Cardel Reid focuses the menu on sustainable ingredients—especially seafood—sourced as locally as possible. Word to the wise: Reservations are highly recommended. These views are a prized commodity on clear nights. 875 N. Michigan Ave., 312.787.9596