For the past few years that we’ve put out our Best of Chicago issue, we’ve asked our readers to submit photos via Instagram that express what’s best about Chicago—and every year we receive photos that beautifully capture the spirit of the city. Our critics’ picks and the results from our readers’ poll may be debatable, but one thing’s for sure: the best things about Chicago are the people who call it home.

Here’s a collection of some of our favorites.