20 Things To Do In Chicago At Night

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Chicago is a beautiful and vibrant city in the Midwest of the United States. With more than three million people, this city is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the United States. It’s popularly known as the Windy City and after dark, Chicago has plenty to offer. Enjoy a sporting event, marvel at views of the city’s skyline, dine at fine restaurants or attend a concert, here are 20 things to do in Chicago at night.

Chicago At Night

20 Fun Things To Do In Chicago At Night

1- Climb Willis Tower Skydeck

Things to do at night in Chicago Willis Tower
Checking out Willis Tower is one of the things to do in Chicago at night.

At 412.4 m (1,353 ft), the Willis Tower Skydeck is the country’s highest observation deck, attracting an average of 1.7 million visitors every year.

It’s the country’s third-tallest building and an Illinois landmark.

As part of its design, the Skydeck features a 4 m retractable glass box known as the Ledge, which stretches out into thin air, offering views of the streets below.

From this observatory, you can see four states at once, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana, as well as enjoy the beauty of the city when the lights come on at night.

Willis Tower Skydeck is at 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606.

2- Take a Night Tour

Beautiful Chicago at night
Chicago at night.

Taking a stroll around the city of Chicago at night will reveal a plethora of unique places to stop for refreshments, entertainment, or relaxation.

When it comes to getting a good idea of where to go in Chicago at night, an organised night tour is a great option.

These tours may include pub walks, bus tours and architectural boat tours.

On an architectural tour, you will get to see all three branches of the Chicago River, as well as the city’s gleaming skyscrapers, lit up at night.

Plus, there are several attractions and landmarks available if you would rather explore the city on foot. You can also indulge your appetite at some of the city’s most prestigious restaurants if you get hungry while touring this amazing city.

3- Enjoy A Night Cruise

chicago river at night
Seeing the city on a cruise is another of the fun things to do in Chicago at night.

Night cruises around Chicago offer a unique perspective of the city, with the lights of the buildings illuminating the night sky.

Try the Chicago Architecture River Cruise to see the city’s famed architecture like the Wrigley Building, Navy Pier, and the John Hancock Building.

Other options include the Chicago Sunset Cruise, which also offers a unique view often missed by visitors.

You may consider taking other evening cruises around the Chicago River, some of which provide dining options, live music, and dancing while you learn about the architectural highlights of the city from your tour guide.

4- Attend A Sporting Event

Chicago hood at night Wrigley Field
Watching the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field is a fun thing to do at night in Chicago.

If you enjoy watching professional sports, you will find this city perfect as there are plenty of sporting games to choose from for all seasons.

Whether you’re a hockey fan or not, support the Chicago Blackhawks.

Basketball fans may catch the Chicago Bulls in action in their home stadium, the United Center, from October through April.

You also don’t have to be a football enthusiast to enjoy a live NFL game.

Chicago Bears, who play at Soldier Field during the season, have a chaotic atmosphere that can only be fully appreciated by attending a game.

5- See The Buckingham Fountain

Chicago at night Buckingham Fountain
Seeing the lights of Buckingham Fountain is one of the things to do in Chicago at night.

This historic landmark is one of the most visited attractions in Chicago, drawing in thousands of visitors each year.

This majestic attraction uses as much as 15,000 gallons of water per minute.

It operates from May to mid-October, with regular water shows at night.

Once the sun goes down, visitors can head over to the Buckingham fountain to experience one of the most beautiful fountain displays in the world.

The Buckingham Fountain is at 301 S Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60605.

For more exciting cities at night read:

6- Attend A Live Concert

There are several options for music in the Windy City, from local jazz bands to renowned symphonies such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

There are around 100 concerts held at the Symphony Center in downtown Chicago every year where you might get a chance to enjoy some of the world’s most famous performers.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra is at 220 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604, USA

7- Get A Taste Of Chicago

Chicago has some talented chefs, who prepare a range of cuisine from pizza to Michelin-starred meals.

The city has 24 Michelin-starred restaurants ranging from Mexican to the latest project of former Grace chef Curtis Duffy.

The Windy City is also a cool spot for casual fare like deep-dish pizzas, juicy burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs and dipped Italian beef sandwiches.

For dessert, look for tea merchants, confectioners and bakeries.

It’s difficult to go wrong on a night out in Chicago, as there are so many dining options to choose from.

8- Discover The Art Institute of Chicago

fun things to do in Chicago at night Chicago Art Institute
The Chicago Art Institute is another interesting place to visit in Chicago both night and day.

The Art Institute of Chicago was established in 1879 and is one of the USA’s oldest and largest art museums.

This renowned museum houses an extraordinary collection of artifacts from across the world, different cultures and across time.

The large collection of exhibits here is ever-changing, so this is a place you might consider visiting several times.

There are also dining options on-site for those who would like to combine a meal and a visit to the art museum.

The Art Insitute of Chicago is at 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603.

9- View The City From The Sky

Aerial of Chicago at night
Chicago skyline at night.

A helicopter tour of the city is one of the best ways to experience the architecture and city lights.

You’ll fly over Lake Michigan and see all of the city’s landmarks from a different perspective during the flight.

Several companies in and around the city offer helicopter tours to visitors, lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

A helicopter tour is an exciting option to get a bird’s eye view of the city.

10- See A Show At The Chicago Theatre

Things to do at night Chicago Theather
If you’re looking for something to do in Chicago at night to keep yourself entertained, head to the Chicago Theatre.

The Chicago Theatre is one of Chicago’s most prominent entertainment destinations.

This theatre has a seating capacity of 3,553, and every year hosts hundreds of concerts, comedy shows, special events, and tours.

Visitors are allowed to stand on the historic Chicago Theater stage, explore the rehearsal space, or see the signatures of notable artists on the dressing room walls.

If you don’t want to watch a show, you can take a stroll through the theatre’s massive lobby, spectacular stairway, and majestic auditorium.

The theatre is surrounded by clubs and restaurants, making it easy to plan a night out in the area.

The Chicago Theatre is at 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601.

11- Admire The Art On The Mart

Millennium Park Chicago at night
Wandering around Millennium Park is thing to do in Chicago at night.

Art on theMART is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, rising up to 25 floors and covering almost two city blocks.

Since its inception, Art on theMART has served as a public platform for famous local, national, and international multi-disciplinary artists to showcase their work.

It’s also a meeting place for interior designers, contractors, as well as buyers, and sellers.

Visitors can catch a glimpse of the projections for free from the Chicago Riverwalk jetty area between Wells and Franklin streets.

Art on theMart is at 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza Suite 470, Chicago, IL 60654.

12- Enjoy A Drink In A Rooftop Bar

Chicago city at night Chicago Fizz
Chicago Fizz is a typical cocktail to try in Chicago at night.

Several rooftop bars in Chicago are known for their breathtaking bird’s-eye views.

At the top of the list, Offshore Rooftop & Bar is as big as a football field. The bar is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest rooftop bar in the world.

It offers a fantastic view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, Californian cuisine and excellent cocktails.

At the Peninsula Hotel’s Z Bar, take in the city from every angle while at Upstairs at the Gwen, listen to live music while admiring the city skyline.

You can watch the Chicago River meander by at Raised, a garden-themed bar just over Wacker Drive.

These are just a few options out of the many available rooftop bars in Chicago.

13- 360 Chicago

Chicago downtown at night
Chicago city at night.

360 Chicago is an observatory deck located on the 94th floor of the 100-story John Hancock Center, offering spectacular views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan every evening.

Here, you can find various interactive displays and also access information about the city.

360 Chicago also has an enclosed moving platform called TILT, which extends from the building and tilts to an angle of 35°, providing views of the streets below.

After a thrilling ride on this platform, there’s a cafe and bar on-site where guests can relax and have a drink while slowly taking in the beautiful views around them.

360 Chicago at 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611.

14- Alder Planetarium

The Alder Planetarium is an astronomy and space science museum offering live performances, guest lectures, and exhibitions.

The planetarium hosts Adler After Dark on the third Thursday of each month, and this is the only time visitors can see the night sky through the large Doane Observatory telescope.

This observatory telescope is so powerful that it provides amazingly clear views of our celestial neighbours.

Café Galileo is on-site to serve refreshments as visitors enjoy the planetarium’s nighttime views.

Before visiting, check the schedule on their website, and keep in mind that telescope viewings are weather-dependent.

Alder Planetarium is at 1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605.

15- Visit The Museum Of Contemporary Art

Chicago skyline at night
This Chicago skyline at night is a fairyland of lights.

The Museum Of Contemporary Art (MCA) dates back to 1967 and is an impressive contemporary art museum.

A wide variety of exhibitions, from paintings to sculptures to photography to videos, are available at the MCA.

The MCA’s mission is to encourage experimental works across all mediums and collect contemporary art for future generations.

During July and August, visitors are granted free admission while children under 18 can enter free any time of the year.

The MCA is at 220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611.

16- Explore Navy Pier

Downtown Chicago at night Navy Pier
Exploring Navy Pier is one of the fun things to do in Chicago at night.

The Navy Pier is a 1,010 m (3,300 ft) pier on Lake Michigan and a top spot to visit if you have young children, as there are many activities to keep everyone entertained throughout the night.

Ride the Centennial Wheel or take a spin on an old-fashioned carousel.

This popular lakefront attraction features boat cruises, classic restaurants, shopping opportunities, exhibitions and is the main departure point for many cruises.

Navy Pier is at 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.

17- Party In A Nightclub

For a fun evening, dance the night away at one of the many nightclubs around the city of Chicago.

Pop into the Underground, which is one of the city’s most famous nightclubs, regularly visited by celebrities, or head to the classic Green Mill Cocktail Lounge for a fun night out.

Other excellent options include the Smart Bar, which features some of the top DJs from across the world, or the Sound Bar, which has two levels, nine full-service bars, and a 372-square-meter (4,000-square-foot) dance floor.

Wherever you visit, the vibrant and energetic club atmosphere will keep you entertained.

18- Spend The Night At A Museum

places to go in Chicago at night
The Field Museum is one of the places to go in Chicago at night.

Chicago is a city of museums and many of the major museums in Chicago offer after-hours, adults-only events with cocktails, unique tours, and fewer people seeing the exhibitions.

Admire the collections of the Field Museum Of Natural History, or the National Museum of Mexican Art, which exhibits Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture.

There are around 60 museums in Chicago, with the majority of them providing after-hours visits to a limited number of guests.

There are also museums where kids can sleep over, such as the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Contemporary Art.

19- Stroll The Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk at night
Going on the Riverwalk past the Centennial Fountain is a lovely thing to do in Chicago at night.

The Chicago Riverwalk provides an excellent opportunity to take in the massive skyscrapers constantly illuminated at night.

The Riverwalk is a hidden treasure in downtown Chicago and is six blocks along the Chicago River with restaurants, bars, river-side seats and rest areas.

The Chicago Riverwalk is a 1.25-mile promenade located at Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60601.

20- Play The Escape Game

things to do downtown Chicago at night by car
A city with lots of things to do at night, Chicago is fun to explore.

The Escape Game is a fun and unique experience that allows you to use your grey cells in collaboration with family, friends, or other players to uncover clues, solve puzzles and complete a mission.

It’s 60 minutes of excitement and you can choose from five different missions: Gold Rush, Prison Break, The Heist, Special Ops, and Mission: Mars.

The Escape Games is a fun, hands-on experience and a race against the clock as you test your teamwork and puzzle-solving skills.

The Escape Game is at 42 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611.

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Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.