Happy Valentine's Day, Chicago! Everyone wants to talk about flowers and chocolate and going out to dinner on Valentine's Day, but of course my mind wants to put an architectural twist on romance. Here are a few ideas for great architectural special spaces in Chicago to sneak away and kiss your Valentine today.
1) Lurie Garden and Nichols Bridgeway in Millennium Park
In the winter, you don't find crowds here like any other time of year, and then of course you will have to keep each other warm! You can curl up on a bench or simply wander arm-in-arm while enjoying Chicago's skyline with some seclusion in our big metropolis. You can also explore Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion as well as Grant Park, both ripe with romantic spaces to kiss and canoodle. After these wanderings you can walk up the Nichols Bridgeway to the Art Institute and perch for a picture-perfect kiss overlooking Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park and the Art Institute. Then you can head inside to warm up with my second architectural space for romance.
2) Ando Gallery in the Art Institute of Chicago
When you enter the small, somewhat hidden Ando Gallery, you are confronted by 16 tall wooden poles evenly spaced in a darkly lit room. The darkness invites you to linger before approaching the exhibit which are in dimly lit "L"-shaped cases. Architect Tadao Ando designed the space, which provides lovers with a haunting and beautiful architectural space for kissing Valentines. I've certainly spotted some romance in this gallery.
This isn't any secret, I know, but here you can enjoy the best panorama of the Chicago skyline to see all of its architecture from high above. Sunset is around 5:15pm this time of year, so I would get there by 4:30pm and you might want to consider getting there even earlier on Valentine's Day since you probably aren't the only one with this grand idea.
My first thought in finding romantic architectural places for Valentine's day was something warm. Garfield Park Conservatory is heated and makes you feel like you are in a tropical climate. Under the iron and glass canopies of its six greenhouses you will find stone pathways that wind among exotic plants, ponds, waterfalls and fountains. And there are also numerous hidden spots for a quick smooch, such as behind the vanilla vines. And there is free and plowed parking.
Bonus: Studio Gang's Wood Pavilion at Lincoln Park Zoo (picture above)