If you can get past the really cold part, winter is actually kind of beautiful. From the pale sky to the treetops frosted with white, things are downright picturesque. As proof, we’ve rounded up the city’s ten best places to snap a winter wonderland-worthy photo (bonus: five of them are completely free). So get on your coat and get out your phone—#nofilter necessary.
The 10 Best Places to Snap a Winter Wonderland Photo
Now watch the "likes" rack up
Chicago Botanic Garden
With every tree branch bedecked in snow and a peaceful quiet throughout, this beloved North Shore institution becomes the most picturesque of secret gardens in winter.
1000 Lake Cook Rd.; 847-835-5440 or chicagobotanic.org
Chicago Water Tower
In all your frantic holiday shopping on Michigan Avenue, you may have missed it: The historic Water Tower building is absolutely gorgeous when lit up at night.
806 N. Michigan Ave.
University Of Chicago
On a gloomy winter day with UChicago’s gothic buildings looming over it, this park takes on haunting qualities—don’t be surprised if Instagram commenters ask if you just back from Europe.
1130 Midway Plaisance; 312-745-2470
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond
This tucked-away spot bursts with vibrant lily pads in summer, but it’s equally as photogenic when covered over with ice in winter.
125 W. Fullerton Pkwy.; 773-883-7275 or lincolnparkconservancy.org
Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon
When it comes to wintry photo ops, the only thing better than a skating rink is a skating ribbon. This one winds past evergreens and the Chicago skyline.
337 E. Randolph St.; 312-552-3000 or maggiedaleypark.com
Trees of all sizes, shapes and types covered in snow. It doesn’t get much more winter wonderland-y than that.
4100 IL-53 in Lisle; 630-968-0074 or mortonarb.org
Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary
Play amateur nature photographer and find out which birds are crazy enough to stick around all winter in Chicago.
4400 N. Simonds Dr.
The Godfrey Hotel Rooftop
The Godfrey keeps rooftop season going through February with heated igloos, fire pits and otherworldly illuminated trees.
127 W. Huron St.; 312-649-2000 or godfreyhotelchicago.com
Oak Street Beach
The DJs and bartenders have packed up for the summer, but Oak Street Beach is still bumpin’—if you consider massive, icy waves bumpin’.
Enter at East Lake Shore Drive and North Michigan Avenue
Garfield Park Conservatory
If you’ve forgotten what green is, spend an afternoon capturing every succulent, cactus and fern in this urban oasis.
300 N. Central Park Ave.; 773-638-1766 or garfieldconservatory.org