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Why The Bean In Chicago Is The Must-See Attraction Of The City

Published On: January 9, 2023Categories: Monuments, Tourist attractionsTags:

There’s no denying that Cloud Gate AKA ‘the Bean’ is one of Chicago’s most famous attractions. Whether you want to visit the Bean to marvel at one of the city’s best works of art or simply use it as an opportunity for an awesome backdrop for the ‘gram, this is one landmark that you just can’t miss.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Bean including its location, history and why it’s such an iconic attraction in the Windy City.

Keep scrolling for the lowdown…

What is ‘the Bean’?

The Bean – known by its actual name Cloud Gate – is a piece of outdoor public artwork that serves as a famous symbol of the city. It’s also Instagram famous as it’s one of Chicago’s most photographed attractions.

The artwork was created by British artist Sir Anish Kapoor and was unveiled at the opening of the city’s Millennium Park in 2004 – although it wasn’t actually completed until 2006.

What makes the Bean so unique?

The surface of the Bean is what truly makes it stand out. Inspired by liquid mercury, this 110-ton sculpture is made up of a collection of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect Chicago’s famous skyline in a ‘mirror effect.’

This is thanks to the Bean’s all-aluminum body which helps to reflect a multitude of angles all at once. Depending on the time of the day and the angle, the Bean becomes almost indistinguishable from the sky.

Another reason why the Bean is so unique is that its construction defies reality. When visiting it, many question the sheer possibility of how it was built. The Bean’s seamlessness and ability to look so light (when in reality it has a massive tonnage) captivate everyone who views it.

Where in Chicago is The Bean?

You’ll find the structure in the heart of downtown Chicago inside Millenium Park on the AT&T Plaza. It’s bordered by Randolph Street to the north, Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east and Monroe Street to the south.

Open from 6 am to 11 pm daily, admission to the park and The Bean is totally free.

How to take a great picture at The Bean

One of the best times of day to get a photo of the Bean is first thing in the morning.

If you want to beat the crowds, it’s best to get up early and head to Millennium Park as soon as you can. The morning light just after sunrise makes for an awesome shot of the Chicago skyline and sky that’s reflected on the surface of the Bean.

In reality though, while it might be busy, there’s never a bad time to photograph this amazing structure.

How can I get there from Freehand Chicago?

If you’re planning on seeing this iconic landmark during your stay at Freehand Chicago, then good news – The Bean is only a short walk across the river from our hotel. There are a few options you have to reach the structure:

  • Walk (approx 18-20 mins): Head east on E Ohio St and turn right onto N Michigan Ave. Keep walking straight until you reach Millenium park on your left.
  • Taxi (approx 6 minutes)
  • Bus (12 minutes including walking): Catch the 147/151 from Michigan Ohio to Michigan Washington