Chicago Skyline Sunrise Reflection Photography Location from the Adler Planetarium

5 Best Places to See the Chicago Sunrise

5 Best Places to See the Chicago Sunrise

360 Chicago Sunrise

Seeing the Chicago sunrise over Lake Michigan is truly a magical experience but I do not think that it gets the appreciation that it deserves. I know, there is so much to do and not enough time. I get it, with over 77 communities, on over 234 square miles of land, Chicago is the third largest city in the America. It’s big and there is a lot to see but there are a few reasons that you should try and fit the sunrise into your next visit.

Firstly, nothing is open so you really the only thing you have to choose between is either catching a few some more z’s or catching that morning light. That may actually be a hardest decision here but trust me after seeing a few  of my sunrise photography, you won’t regret it. Next is that you can enjoy most of the places if not all without the daytime crowd. It sounds a bit cheesy but there is a sense of serenity when you are all by your self, watching the darkness turn to light, as the city slowly wakes up. And lastly, it’s free! (for the most part)

Are you ready to set your morning alarm and get out there yet? From seeing the morning rays 1000 feet high to sitting on the natural rocks off of the shore, it is truly a beautiful experience. Here are my top 5 best places to watch the sunrise in Chicago.

Chicago Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at Fullerton Beach

The sunrise at Fullerton Beach off of Lake Michigan in Chicago will always have a special place in my heart. This location was the spot in which I photographed my very first morning in the city. I have seen this lookout evolve from a rugged natural piece of the lake shore to a well manicured park, where families and friends stay to hang out.

What makes Fullerton Beach such an amazing spot to catch the sunrise is that it not only gives you a some of the most beautiful views of Lake Michigan but a unique photography shot of the Chicago skyline. The beach is located right off the Fullerton Exit on Lake Shore Dive, which is on the east side of Lincoln Park Zoo and just north of North Avenue Beach. It is quite an accessible location in which you can find free parking all along Cannon Drive. 

See the full collection here at sunrise at the lakefront

Chicago Skyline Reflection Sunrise Photography

North Avenue Beach Sunrise

North Avenue Beach lies just south of Fullerton Beach but it contains a completely different scale to Chicago’s sunrise. This is the most popular beach in the city. During the summer months it is alive with sunbathers, volleyball games and basically any activity that involves fun. In the morning, this beach is quiet and a beautiful place to watch the sunrise. Since it is located closer to the skyline, it gives you a completely different scale compared to Fullerton Beach. I also love the different opportunities for photography here. You can capture interesting photos of the famous wooden nautical boat, play with images from the adjoining bridge, or use lifeguard tower and other beach subjects to create a beautiful early morning scene.

The Chicago Sunrise at Northwestern University's Painted Rocks Lakeshore Path

Northwestern University Lakefront Path

Northwestern University is not as close to Chicago as the other spots on this list but the sunrise view is hard to beat. Located north of the city in Evanston, Northwestern University lies right off of Lake Michigan. There’s a beautiful lakefront path scattered with colorful rocks painted by the students of the university making this such a colorful spot. This is one of my favorite hidden gems for photographing the sunrise, mainly because of the unique landscape as well as the quietness of this place. You can find free parking in the surrounding neighborhoods if you don’t mind the short walk to the lake. If you are planning on visiting, bring a hammock and relax with one of the most beautiful views of Chicago.

Chicago Skyline Sunrise Photography Location at the Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium Sunrise

The Adler Planetarium is by far the best place to see the famous Chicago skyline.  Located right off of Lake Michigan, this spot gives you panorama views of the city from the Shed Aquarium to the Sears tower to Navy Pier. The best part about this spot is seeing the reflection of the city’s architecture mirrored in the lake. Add in the warm glow of the beautiful architecture of the city skyline and you have the recipe of the of the perfect Chicago sunrise. You can park all along Solidarity Dr. It is paid parking but you can get some good shots before the meter starts to charge you.

360 Chicago Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at 360 Chicago

Watching the sunrise from 360 Chicago, is that sort of experience that is truly unforgettable. This is the least accessible of the previous locations on the list, mainly because it is 1000 feet above Michigan Ave in the world renowned John Hancock building off on State street. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to a few sunrise photography meets at this observatory deck and wow. With 360 degree views of the Chicago skyline , the sunrise photo possibilities are endless.

See the Full collection at 360 Chicago Sunrise

360 Chicago Sunrise Photography

Where to Watch the Chicago Sunrise?

Every place on this list offers their own unique Chicago sunrise experience. Pick out one or honestly none of these but all that I ask is that you go and see one for yourself. I promise you that you will not regret it. It’s the little joys like this that makes life so incredibly beautiful. Seeing the morning light rising above Lake Michigan, the sky filled with colors of bright orange, yellow, and red hues reflecting on the crashing waves will always be one of my favorite moments in life. If you have any suggestions or would like to share your sunrise experience, comment below. I’d love to hear about it!

Chicago Sunrise Reflection Photography Location from the Adler Planetarium

What Time is the Sunrise in Chicago?

Check below for sunrise and sunset times


Chicago Sunrise Photography

First Light A Chicago Sunrise

‘Twas the morning before Christmas and all through Chicago, the lakefront was silent apart from the waves below. (I know, I know, I’m quite the gifted wordsmith.)

My eyes slowly opened to the alarm I instantly regretted setting just a few hours ago. It was Christmas Eve morning but the view outside of my window begged to differ. I hazily grabbed my camera bag and stumbled out of my apartment which was still enclosed in the shade of night. Like the every previous time I chased the sunrise, the first 10 minutes being awake I contemplated turning around to the dream of falling back into the comfort of my own bed but how many moments worth remembering started off like that? (rhetorical question…I’m sure many.) Shaking out the cobwebs, I pressed on to my favorite place to watch the sunrise on the lakefront.

It’s always that moment just before the sun rises above the horizon, where the warming hues spill its way through the sky that keeps me forever in awe. Seeing how beautiful the start of a day can be seemed like a fitting way to end off the year. It’s like they say what feels like an end is often a new beginning.

Where to can you watch the sunrise? Click Here to see my favorite Chicago Spots

If you like this, you will love 360 Chicago Sunrise

360 Chicago Sunrise Photography

360 Chicago Sunrise pt. II

360 Chicago Sunrise

360 Chicago Sunrise

360 Chicago Sunrise

I was recently invited by a fellow photographer, Kavita (go check her out) to a sunrise meet, hosted by 360 Chicago and did not quite know what to expect. Firstly it was my first photography event I went to and secondly I have never been to 360 Chicago before. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Sunrises usually means waking up early, and early in the city is a little different than the hustle and bustle of the day. Walking through Chicago at 5 am had an eerie but serene feeling to it. No one was on the street but the world felt so alive. Kind of like the calm before the storm and before I knew it I was on an elevator, 94 floors up to the eye of the storm.

What’s better than a sunrise in Chicago? A 360 panorama of that sunrise 1000 feet in the air. All I can say is wow, I felt like  a kid in a candy shop with these views. Watching the sunlight slowing awaking the city from the shadows is a moment I will never forget.

 

Some Food for Thought

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have this city in my backyard. We tend to only look out the window when it’s scenic, and often forget those everyday moments that make up our lives.

Today I turn 30 and this whole idea of appreciation of where you are and who you have become is more relevant than ever for me. We’re living in this sort of ‘new’ digital era, in which you have information at your fingertips 24/7. Advertisements, engagements, politics, new born babies, credit card breaches, duck faces etc. bombard you 24/7. It is the new normalcy and has become ingrained in most, if not everyone’s life in some aspect. It’s this sort of white noise that has made it hard to think, react and just plain sterile to what’s around me.

I remember how simple and real things used to be. Genuine conversations, face to face arguments and the sound of real laughter. Now, conversations are through text, arguments are through online shaming, laughter is reduced to a simple ‘lol’. I’m not going to lie technology plays a big part in my life. It has opened up the door to possibilities I have only dreamt up. I can’t escape it nor am I demeaning it (its the very reason I get to write this blog). I think I’m just a little bitter that I wanted to grow up so fast when I was younger that I didn’t fully appreciate those simpler days. But it’s not too late. I’m watching less t-v, turning off my phone a few nights, enjoying conversations with people but most importantly, I’m looking around more. It’s pretty amazing what there is to see.

If you like this, you might like Sunrise at the Lakefront

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Chicago Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at the Lakefront

Chicago Lakefront | Sunrise

Photography has led me down on an array of unpredictable paths thus far. It has sent my curiosity on adventures across the world, has kept my mind awake as I drove through the night across the country and has me constantly exploring every aspect of Chicago. This seed of curiosity has always existed, but photography has this uncanny ability to push and drive a person. In this case, the person is me.

My First Time…

The first time I have ever felt this push was on an early Sunday morning. It felt like yesterday (This is definitely the first sign of me sounding old right? Next I’ll be saying “Back in my day we had to listen to music on compact discs…) that I woke up to my 5 am alarm. A difficult feat for a person that usually falls asleep at 2 am, but nonetheless I was determined to see my first ever Chicago sunrise. Still in a daze, I grabbed my camera, tripod and made my way to Dunkin Donuts because well yeah. Once I was able to think again, I made my way to Chicago.

Being my first sunrise, I did not have a clue on where I should go nor did I think of simply googling “where to see the sunrise”. As I was brainstorming possible locations, I found myself on autopilot to a little stretch of the lake shore in Lincoln Park. The Fullerton Beach has always a favorite spot of mine during the day. It had it all; a skyline view, a beach, an endless view of Lake Michigan and my personal favorite, a rocky coast. At around 6:30 am, a warm glow began to spill over the horizon. I was completely alone on this little oasis outside of the city and had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. It was surreal. Ever since that day, photography pushes me to not only wake up, but to continually chase, see and soak in more of these beautiful displays. Although, these pictures are not from this story, I come back to this spot often and think about this day every time I watch a sunrise here. (they updated this location from when I first came here but you can still see the remnants of the rocky coast that I so much enjoyed)

A sunrise is the most honest moment I have ever seen.

I think we all have that place where you can sit without any of the worry and noise of your life, and just… be. This little strip of the lakefront is mine.

Want to see a photo from this story? See my first Chicago Sunrise Here >


If you like this, you might like Natural Moments in Chicago >

 

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Door County Road Trip

Chicago Sunrise Photography

Chicago Sunrise

Chicago Sunrise

There’s nothing like seeing the sun rise over Lake Michigan. The sun slowly shedding light over Chicago as the city begins to wake up. The Fullerton Avenue Beach has always been one my favorite places to not only see the sunrise but the views it offers of the city are simply stunning. It used to be quite rugged & natural and I think that is why I liked it so much. It disassociated itself from Chicago. I would see the rocky lakefront and completely forget where I was. There are still remnants of these urban boulders breaking through the water reminding me of when I first came here. Now concrete slabs cover the ground where rocks once laid but the sun still shines the same way.

Michigan Nature Photography

Lake Michigan Beach

Lake Michigan Recreation Area Photography

The smell of a Lake Michigan beach lingers in the air. I close my eyes and all I hear are the leaves being slowly pushed by the wind. This is where I am most at ease; the most myself. I enjoy it. Waking up with the trees above your head, cooking a meal over a fire, listening to the wood crackle as it burns, all while breathing in the fresh Michigan air.

A couple of weeks ago, I drove up to the Lake Michigan Recreation Area. There was no reason in particular, I guess it just seemed like a good opportunity to get away for a day; to keep it simple, no distractions and to just be. I knew I was getting close as all of the windows were filled with views of endless trees. Perfectly framing every passing moment. A bumpy, dirt road gently carves it way through the forest as to leave the least impact on nature. Once I opened up my door, there seemed to be a sense of relief. The air carried the soft sounds of laughter with a backdrop of Lake Michigan meeting the shore. A natural landscape. I smiled with every step closer to the beach, and as my feet hit the sand I felt like a child again.

Whenever I road trip, hike or just wander by myself, I always feel like I’m at peace; that I have the world in the palm of my hands. Maybe because I can clear my head of every thought and just live in that moment. Here are a couple of those moments that made me smile.

lake michigan photography

Grand Mere State Park

Grand Mere State Park in Michigan

Lake Michigan has some of the most beautiful beaches along the lake front. There are beaches that offer wonderful views of the Chicago skyline. While others are sanctuary of untouched landscape, stretching for miles. Grand Mere State Park is part of the latter. While it is located in Michigan it is just a short drive from Chicago. As a matter of fact, I was trying to find somewhere that was new to me but still close by. As a result, I stumbled upon a little stretch of land along the lake shore a short time ago. This time the air was brisk while the dunes were quiet. It definitely did not feel as if spring was on the brink of returning anytime soon. Trudging up through the sand is a task itself but the view at the top makes you quickly forget that.

The waves quickly made their presence known as it’s reaching it’s way onto the sand. There is nothing soother than the sounds of the waves crashing in. As much as I come to these places for photography, I come here more to rediscover just how carefree life can be. Walking along the beach, it’s almost inevitable that all of your worries, problems, or doubts get washed way. Grand Mere State Park is not a bad adventure to spend on a Sunday.

how far is chicago from grand mere state park michigan map

How far is Chicago from Grand Mere State Park Michigan?

If you are coming from Chicago and driving straight to Grand Mere, it would take around  1.5 hours give or take. This route takes I-90 to I-94.

 

Where is it?

The address to Grand Mere State Park is:

7337 Thornton Dr, Stevensville, MI 49127
Grand Mere State Park map Michigan