Things to do in Chicago today

The day's best things to do in Chicago—including free and cheap activities, concerts, screenings, shows, parties and more. It's your social emergency savior.

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Looking for something to do this evening? Have a friend coming into town who wants to see the sights? You're in luck, because Chicago is a city filled with attractions and things to do (including some that cost absolutely nothing). Seize the moment with our list of today's best concerts, shows, activities and more.

Exit Strategy

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Jackalope Theatre Company at Broadway Armory Park. By Ike Holter. Directed by Gus Menary. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 45mins; no intermission. Theater review by Kris Vire A fiery new work by a Chicago playwright, set in a teachers’ area of a beleaguered Chicago public high school and concerning itself with the systemic limitations those

  1. Broadway Armory Park 5917 N Broadway, at Thorndale Ave
  2. Fri May 9 - Fri Aug 29
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Stupid Fucking Bird

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Sideshow Theatre Company at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. By Aaron Posner. Directed by Jonathan L. Green. With Katy Carolina Collins, Matt Fletcher, Nina O'Keefe, Cody Proctor, Stacy Stoltz, Nate Whelden, Norm Woodel. Running time: 2hrs 10mins; one intermission. Theater review by Kris Vire Con (Nate Whelden), the frustrated young playwright at the

  1. Victory Gardens Biograph Theater 2433 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Sat Aug 16 - Sun Sep 21
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Movies in the Parks

  • Critics choice
  • Free

From June through September, some 150 parks get a big screen for a night or two. Countless films are scheduled this year, ranging from old classics to new hits. All movies begin at dusk. See chicagoparkdistrict.com for the full schedule.  

  1. La Follette Park 1333 N Laramie Ave, between Potamac Ave and Hirsch St
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sat Aug 30
More info

Chicago SummerDance

  • Critics choice
  • Free

All ages and skill levels are welcome at this annual series of jives, twirls and jumps. The dancing breaks out Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. A professional instructor conducts dance lessons for the first hour before you cut a rug on the 4,900 square-foot recycled-materials dance floor.

  1. Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden 601 S Michigan Ave, at Harrison St
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sun Sep 14
More info

Cirque Shanghai: Warriors

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Impressive acrobatics paired with kung fu make an exciting and daring show. Vibrant costumes and traditional martial-arts moves make this show perfect for your inner Jackie Chan. Shows happen regularly Wednesdays at 2, 6 and 8pm; Thursdays at 2 and 8pm; Fridays at 2, 7 and 9pm; Saturdays at 2, 6; and 8pm and Sundays at 2 and 4pm.

  1. Navy Pier 600 E Grand Ave, at Streeter Dr
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sun Aug 31
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"Destination Solar System"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Review by Zach Long If all goes as planned, Virgin Galactic will begin offering commercial flights into space later this year. For those unable to wait (or without $250,000 to spare) the Adler Planetarium’s latest space visualization may be the closest you’ll come to breaking away from these Earthly bounds. Transporting viewers to the year 2096,

  1. Adler Planetarium 1300 S Lake Shore Dr
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Tue Sep 30
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Avenue Q

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Mercury Theater. Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. Book by Jeff Whitty. Directed by L. Walter Stearns. With Jackson Evans, Leah Morrow, Sean Patrick Fawcett, Christine Bunuan, Adam Fane, Daniel Smeriglio, Donterrio Johnson, Thom Van Ermen, Stephanie Herman. Running time: 2hrs 10mins; one intermission. Theater review by Kris Vire Ten years

  1. Mercury Theater 3745 N Southport Ave, between Waveland Ave and Grace St
  2. Wed Apr 23 - Sun Oct 26
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"National Geographic Presents: Earth Explorers"

  • Critics choice

Explore the planet with this new interactive exhibit showcasing Earth's polar regions, oceans, rain forests, mountains, caves and savannas. Experience the globe's different ecosystems and test your ability to survive in various environments, from the Amazon to the Himalayas and the North Pole.

  1. Museum of Science and Industry 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, at 57th St
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Mon Sep 1
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Depraved New World

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Second City Mainstage. Directed by Mick Napier. With Chelsea Devantez, John Hartman, Mike Kosinski, Tawny Newsome, Emily Walker, Steve Waltien. 1hr 50mins; one intermission. Comedy review by Kris Vire The Second City’s 102nd mainstage revue is among the jauntiest in recent memory, even as it mines the most pervasive of our modern social anxieties. The

  1. The Second City Mainstage 1616 N Wells St, at North Ave
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sun Nov 9
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"Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938"

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

When I walk through an exhibit devoted to one artist, I wonder, would that artist have enjoyed the presentation? As I ambled through the Art Institute’s somber and dark Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938, with its paintings set on charcoal walls beneath pools of yellow light, I guessed that Rembrandt would have gotten off on it, but not

  1. Art Institute of Chicago 111 S Michigan Ave, at Adams St
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Mon Oct 13
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North Coast Music Festival 2014: Chet Faker + Mount Kimbie + Fujiya & Miyagi

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The official NCMF pre-party brings some sweet bonus content. Festival player Chet Faker, a James Blake analogue from down under, headlines with two Brit acts, micro-dubhouse delight Mount Kimbie and neo-krautrockers Fujiya & Miyagi, both of which are not on the weekend bill. Faker is touring his debut album of glossy glitch-soul, Built on Glass, while F&M

  1. Concord Music Hall 2047 N Milwaukee Ave
  2. Thu Aug 28
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Since I Suppose

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The Australian theater group one step at a time like this, which brought the astonishing self-guided mobile piece en route to Chicago in 2011, make their highly anticipated return to partner with Chicago Shakespeare Theater on a new piece inspired by Measure for Measure. Audience members, who will be assigned staggered time slots throughout the day, will be

  1. Chicago Shakespeare Theater 800 E Grand Ave, at Navy Pier
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sun Sep 21
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"CHGO DSGN: Recent Object and Graphic Design"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

A new exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center showcases recent work from more than 100 of the city's top designers. The collection was curated by Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award winner Rick Valicenti, who presents 200 works that exemplify Chicago's creative spirit. From DIVVY design documents to delicate utensils designed for Alinea, "CHGO

  1. Chicago Cultural Center 78 E Washington St, at Michigan Ave
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sun Nov 2
More info

"THINK"

  • Critics choice

Presented by IBM, this traveling exhibit explores the history of human innovation, from space exploration to medical advancements. Attendees can watch a short film, interact with a 40-foot gesture wall or one of several giant touch screens. Adults may have a better appreciation of the information presented in the exhibt, but kids can amuse themselves with

  1. Museum of Science and Industry 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, at 57th St
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Fri Oct 31
Buy tickets

"Chicagoisms"

  • Critics choice

The Art Institute's latest exhibit explores Chicago's rich architectural history, enlisting contemporary architects and designers to create installations that demonstrate modern interpretations of the city's distinctive urban qualities. Each of the nine models is accompanied by a manifesto by its creators as well as archival photos from the museum's

  1. Art Institute of Chicago 111 S Michigan Ave, at Adams St
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sun Jan 4
More info
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