There is nothing like an amazing view to completely overwhelm you. The Chicago skyline with Lake Michigan is one of the more iconic skylines and we’re lucky enough to be living right here to enjoy it. It’s even better when you can enjoy an amazing meal to go along with it. Unfortunately, great meal + amazing view = usually high prices. Because of the pricey meal, it’s best to save these places for a special occasion.

Located at the end of the Magnificent Mile, Spiaggia sits at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street and overlooks the Oak Street Beach. One of the fanciest Italian restaurants in Chicago, they have catered to the Obamas, Julia Roberts, the late Princess Diana, and of course, Oprah Winfrey. Enjoy Porcini mushroom pasta, gold die spaghetti with Beausoleil oysters and steelhead trout roe, or potato gnocchi with ricotta sauce and Savini black truffles. Top off your meal with homemade gelati and sorbetti or a cheese torte.

They claim that they have one of the city’s loveliest settings. North Pond is located within the grounds of Lincoln Park at the edge of a pond overlooking the Chicago skyline. The building was built in 1912 as a warming shelter for ice skaters. Chef Bruce Sherman has been nominated by the James Beard Foundation in the “Best Chef: Great Lakes Region” category for 2011. Take pleasure in eating seared duck foie gras, pumpernicket-crusted Great Lakes walleye, and pan-roasted sea scallops.


Ok, so Navy Pier is Navy Pier and has a bad rap with Chicagoans as being a tourist trap…but it does offer Riva. Come to Riva if you are looking for a dining experience with premium seafood and prime steaks and great views of the skyline and Lake Michigan. And if you can time it right, get a reservation during the summer, and make sure to be there for the fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday nights. If you’re going to see a play at the Shakespeare Theatre, this is a great place to go to before or after to enjoy the only Chicago seafood restaurant on the waterfront.


Sitting at Fulton’s alongside the Chicago River will allow you to have amazing views of the downtown all lit up at night. Fulton’s offers classic seasonal seafood, the finest steaks and oysters from around the world. Not all tables are near the window, so you might want to request one when you make a reservation. In the summer it is nice to be able to sit outside under the umbrellas and watch the tour boats and water taxis float by. And don’t forget dessert. They were voted best steakhouse dessert by Chicago Magazine in November 2008.


It’s either save the best for last, or it’s the automatic shoo-in. But The Signature Room offers by far some of the best views of the city and if you’re lucky Indiana too. With floor-to-ceiling windows everywhere, it takes your breath away when you first walk off the elevator and look straight down into Lake Michigan. Come here for either brunch, lunch or dinner. It is the ultimate location for special occasions. If you don’t want to break the bank, you can visit the lounge one floor up on the 96th. Sunny days and clear nights are best, but being here during a thunderstorm was one of the craziest experiences I’ve had and would highly recommend it.

Rachel Azark is a writer, and lives on Chicago’s northwest side. Read more of her work on her blog