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.

Since I Suppose

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

one step at a time like this and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Running time: Approximately 2hrs 20mins. Theater review by Kris Vire Three years ago, the Australian company called one step at a time like this brought its astonishing self-guided mobile piece en route to Chicago as part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s World’s Stage series. Not long

  1. Chicago Shakespeare Theater 800 E Grand Ave, at Navy Pier
  2. Thu Aug 28 - Sun Sep 21
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Methtacular!

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

About Face Theatre at Theater Wit. Written and performed by Steven Strafford. Directed by Adam Fitzgerald. Running time: 1hr 30mins; no intermission. Theater review by Dan Jakes Decades before anti-drug agencies helped rebrand methamphetamine and spread awareness about the terrifying scourge that it is, the aphrodisiac and party drug was known in the gay

  1. Theater Wit 1229 W Belmont Ave, between Racine and Lakewood Aves
  2. Thu Aug 21 - Sun Sep 28
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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. Wed Sep 17 - Tue Sep 30
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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. Wed Sep 17 - Mon Oct 13
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"Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This free public exhibition of Vivian Maier's photography displays images that she captured during the 1950s through the 1970s. In addition to her candid street photography, the collection includes pictures from Maier's travels in France. The exhibit is located on the library's 9th floor.

  1. Harold Washington Library Center 400 S State St, at Van Buren St
  2. Wed Sep 17 - Sun Sep 28
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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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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. Wed Sep 17 - Sun Nov 9
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Death Tax

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

Lookingglass Theatre Company. By Lucas Hnath. Directed by Heidi Stillman. With Deanna Dunagan, J. Nicole Brooks, Raymond Fox, Louise Lamson. Running time: 1hr 25mins; no intermission. Theater review by Kris Vire It may have been Ben Franklin or Daniel Defoe who coined the phrase about life's two certainties, the ones that constitute the title of Lucas

  1. Lookingglass Theatre 821 N Michigan Ave, at Pearson St
  2. Tue Sep 2 - Sun Oct 12
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"Simon Starling: Pictures for an Exhibition"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Over the past few years, Turner-award winning artist Simon Starling tracked down the location of 18 sculptures by Constantin Brancusi and photographed each one. "Pictures for an Exhibition" collects these photos as well as the anecdotes he collected during his journey. The exhibition coincides with a display of Starling's work at the Museum of

  1. Arts Club of Chicago 201 E Ontario St, at St. Clair St
  2. Wed Sep 17 - Fri Sep 26
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Comedians You Should Know

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This weekly night of comedy, curated by a group of funny dudes, puts local stand-ups on your radar.

  1. Timothy O'Toole's 622 N Fairbanks Ct, at Ontario St
  2. Wed Sep 17 - Wed Dec 24
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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. Wed Sep 17 - Sun Nov 2
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"Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The extent of Frida Kahlo's influence in the art world, apart from her signature unibrow, is widely known. Her graphic self-portraits portray her psychological and physical self, usually accompanied by lots of blood and body parts. The MCA is honoring her memory by displaying several works inspired by Kahlo's style of rebellion and cultural reflection

  1. Museum of Contemporary Art 220 E Chicago Ave, at Mies van der Rohe Way
  2. Wed Sep 17 - Sun Oct 5
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"The Chicago Effect: Redefining the Middle"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The Art Institute turns 75 this year and plans to reflect on its original purpose since opening doors in 1939. Later, the Art Center was created to connect art with people, and now the Art Center recreates a bond between art and modern day Chicagoans through reinventing cultural representation.  

  1. Hyde Park Art Center 5020 S Cornell Ave, at 51st St
  2. Wed Sep 17 - Sun Nov 23
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"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. Wed Sep 17 - Sun Jan 4
More info

ACTIVATE

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The newest series of events presented by Chicago Loop Alliance transforms mundane, downtown alleys into glowing laser light shows. Each month, the party will move to a different alley in the city, transforming the space for a single evening. In September, the festivities move to Couch Place (behind the Gene Siskel Film Center), where a light and water

  1. Gene Siskel Film Center 164 N State St, at Randolph St
  2. Wed Sep 17
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