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The 5 Best Places to Fly a Drone in Chicago

A list of the best places to fly your drone in Chicago, Illinois.

In this article, we’ve scouted out the best places to fly a drone in Chicago, Illinois.

If you live in (or are traveling to) Chicago, please use this page as a resource to better understand not just where to fly, but also where it’s legal and illegal to fly a drone. We provide guidance on regulations to help you stay compliant with both federal and local rules.

fly drone chicago

 A Sectional Chart of the airspace surrounding Chicago, IL. Source: VFR Map

Chicago Drone Laws — Recreational vs. Commercial

The first thing to understand about flying a drone in Chicago (or any city for that matter) is that under federal FAA regulations, you are either operating recreationally or commercially.

Drone operators are no longer required to independently contact air traffic control when flying within five miles of an airport. Instead, both recreational and commercial flyers can use the automated LAANC system to request airspace authorization to fly in controlled airspace around and above many airports. If you’re operating in Class B, C, D, or E controlled airspace, you’ll need to request airspace authorization. You may do this through LAANC or through FAADroneZone in areas where LAANC is not available.

When we list locations below, we’ll share whether they sit in controlled or uncontrolled airspace.

Get up-to-date airspace information, including temporary flight restrictions, using tools like B4UFLY, Kittyhawk, or Airmap.

Interested in becoming an FAA-certified drone pilot so you can operate under the Part 107 regulations and make money flying your drone? Check out our industry-leading, online training course over at Drone Pilot Ground School.

So those are the federal rules.

But what about local Chicago drone laws?

Here’s a guide we put together for drone laws in Illinois. Make sure to consult that to see if there are any local drone ordinances you should follow in Chicago. When in doubt, use good judgment and follow the FAA’s guidelines.

Note: The content on this page is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of legal counsel. If we missed something, or if you have further questions, please send an email to support[at]uavcoach[dot]com, and we’ll do our best to help you out.

Where to Fly a Drone in Chicago

Alrighty—without further ado, here are our top picks for the best places to fly a drone in the Chicago area. We selected these locations based on airspace restrictions, accessibility, and attractions. You’ll find that most of the locations we’ve chosen are located in uncontrolled, Class G airspace where you don’t need to request permission to fly. Additionally, we made sure to highlight any locations with designated sUAS/remote aircraft fields.

1 — Grant Park

337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

Grant Park is a large urban park located within close proximity to downtown Chicago, in the central business district. The park was founded around the establishment of Chicago and was originally known as Lake Park. It was later renamed to honor U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. One of the most notable features of Grant Park is the Buckingham Fountain. The fountain was built in 1927 and is one of the largest fountains in the world. The fountain was made to represent Lake Michigan and the four states that border the lake. Daily water shows and nighttime light displays make for some great drone footage. The park’s sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline are sure to excite any drone pilot.

fly drone grant park

Source: Giuseppe Milo

2 — Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60601

The Chicago Riverwalk is a strip of waterfront located downtown on the southern bank of the Chicago River. The original design and construction of the Riverwalk began in 2001. There have been various phases of the development and the final portion was completed in 2017. The Riverwalk features restaurants, entertainment, seating, boat rentals, and other recreational activities. The river is lined with bridges and skyscrapers that are sure to make for some epic drone footage.

fly drone Chicago riverwalk

Source: Ihar Mahaniok 

3 — Promontory Point

5491 S Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60615

Promontory Point is a man-made peninsula made from a landfill and limestone that extends out into Lake Michigan. The banks of the peninsula are constructed of large limestones that consist of four stepping layers. The park features a raised meadow in the center of the 12 acres of land. There is a historic field house constructed from Lannon stone that is located towards the end of the point. The park is known for its expansive view of the downtown skyline and some of the best views of Lake Michigan that Chicago has to offer. Ample flying room and downtown views provide the perfect spot for flying a drone.

fly drone promontory point

Source: Marco Verch

4 — Montrose Avenue Beach

4400 N Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60640

Montrose Beach is located on the shores of Lake Michigan near the Uptown neighborhood. The beach offers concessions, volleyball, and kayak rentals. The wide-open space that sits along Lake Michigan is great for drone footage. The park is also home to a natural bird migratory sanctuary. Drone pilots should remain vigilant of heavy bird traffic during the migratory seasons. Behind the beach is Montrose Harbor, offering more diversification in the scenery.

fly drone Montrose beach

Source: JohnPickenPhoto

5 — Ned Brown Model Airplane Flying Field

Golf Rd, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008

The Ned Brown Model Airplane Flying Field is located in Rolling Meadows, IL. Pilots at this airfield will need to have an AMA membership. The airfield has areas for both drones and model aircraft. The field is located near the Ned Brown Preserve, which also contains Busse Lake. It should be noted that part of this airfield sits in O’Hare Class B airspace. Always remain extra vigilant when operating near controlled airspace.

fly drone ned brown

Source: Google Maps

Have Another Place You like to Fly Your Drone in Chicago?

We hope this list was helpful.

Do you have any other locations in Chicago where you like to fly your drone?

Let us know in our community forum over here: https://community.uavcoach.com/topic/5870-where-to-fly-a-drone-in-chicago/

Take a Drone Flight Training Class in Chicago

If you’re new to drones or looking to take your flight skills to the next level, we offer hands-on drone flight training in the Chicago area. Our classes start at 2-hours long, and our expert instructors walk you through what to do before, during and after your flight—you’ll practice intelligent flight modes and learn how to stay safe but also how to get the shots or data you need. During the class, you’ll also get a chance to ask questions about regulations, software, flight operations management, checklists and more.

Sign up for a hands-on drone flight training class in Chicago.