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News / City Life

12 things we can't wait to see in Chicago this year

Chicago skyline from Lincoln Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/erikccooper

Earlier this year, we told you why 2016 will be an epic year in Chicago. We're already enjoying Chicago's very first cider bar, the Northman, and the the Field Museum's great Terracotta Warriors exhibition. Thankfully, we only have more to look forward to in the coming months. Just like last year, there are even more things we can't wait to see in Chicago this year. Only a fool would think otherwise!

Riot Fest's brand new Tesla

Riot Fest's Bitchin' Camaro has been through quite a bit over the past year. First, it was forced to navigate the muddy grounds in Douglas Park, and then it was "stolen" from its parking space as part of a PR stunt orchestrated by the festival's organizers. Don't expect to see the bright red convertible at the festival this fall—we've learned that Riot Fest has traded in the Camaro for a brand new set of wheels: the Totally Rad Telsa. The electric car (emblazoned with the festival's logo, of course) will debut at a promotional event this summer.

David Bowie's return to the MCA

When David Bowie passed away earlier this year, millions of his fans mourned the loss of one of the world's most interesting pop artists. His death was especially hard for anyone who witnessed the Museum of Contemporary Art's groundbreaking "David Bowie Is" exhibition last winter, which featured a treasure trove of the musician's costumes and memorabilia. Later this year, guests will be able to experience the exhibit at the MCA once again—this time as a virtual reality experience. Using Oculus Rift headsets, attendees can navigate a virtual re-creation of the collection of Bowie artifacts, complete with the original soundtrack.

Navy Pier's new Ferris Bueller-themed Ferris wheel

The surprises at Navy Pier aren’t over. Along with the influx of new dining options, new theater spaces and planned public areas, Navy Pier is also revamping its new Ferris wheel with a Ferris Bueller theme. The bigger, better wheel will be recast as an attraction called “Ferris Wheeler’s Day Up,” and gondola passengers will be greeted with a familiar “chick-a chick-ahh” soundbite. Matthew Broderick has been tapped to narrate the history of Navy Pier, Lake Michigan and other visible landmarks as the wheel slowly turns.

The Violet Hour made over by Bar Rescue

After a desperate search for a Chicago bar willing to be rescued, Bar Rescue head honcho Jon Taffer has finally settled on one of the city's original cocktail destinations. This summer, the Violet Hour will be featured on the Spike TV show, allowing Taffer and his experts to make their mark on a Wicker Park institution. Expect louder music, a sports bar atmosphere, at least four domestic drafts and some gigantic LED signage on the side of the currently unmarked building—it’s time to start pleasing everyone.

Divvy hoverboard rentals

Those bright blue Divvy bikes have become a fixture of Chicago's streets, ferrying residents and tourists from station to station across the city. Now Divvy is preparing to unveil its latest innovation, embracing a controversial new form of transportation: the hoverboard. Battery packs with a tendency to spontaneously burst into flames have gotten these devices banned from airplanes, Metra trains and college campuses, but there are still plenty of people who want to try them out. Before you hop on your Divvy hoverboard (it's light blue, naturally) you'll need to sign a digital waiver, releasing the company from responsibility for any injuries or disgusted stares you may incur during your ride.

Stan's Chicago-style doughnut

Stan’s Donuts may hail from Los Angeles, but it's showing our city some love with its upcoming Chicago-style doughnut, topped with mustard frosting, tomatoes, sport peppers, onions and celery salt. The savory fried dough will be filled with slices of Vienna Beef hot dogs, poppy seeds and pickles. Rumor has it that Hot Doug's proprietor Doug Sohn was brought in to consult on the new doughnut, and of course he insisted on the absence of anything resembling ketchup.

Uber's latest killer app, UberDates

Finally, Uber is primed to roll out its best service yet—matchmaking. The ride-sharing app’s latest service, UberDates, is set to launch in Chicago this summer and is part of a partnership with Tinder (though we know some of you have already been trying to make a date using UberPool). Soon, you and a match on the dating app will be able to select the “pick us up” option, and your driver will take you to a romantic location (or dive bar) of your choice.

A fifth star on the Chicago flag for Kanye

Kanye West may not call Chicago home anymore, but he's convinced that his existence is just as momentous as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. The hip-hop star has proposed the addition of a fifth star to the iconic municipal flag of Chicago, honoring his accomplishments as a musician, fashion designer and humanitarian. To differentiate it, Kanye would like the fifth star to be formed from two Adidas logos—a nod to his multimillion dollar contract with the shoe manufacturer. Kanye already received an honorary degree from the School of the Art Institute, so this distinction makes just as much sense.

Vince Vaughn's condo-turned-restaurant

Unable to sell his penthouse condo in the Palmolive Building, Chicago native Vince Vaughn is revamping the space into a wine-focused Italian concept restaurant dubbed Vino by Vaughn. Spanning three stories, each of the five bedrooms in the 12,000-square-foot space will focus on wine from a different region in France. What was once the formal dining room, with its world-class view of Lake Michigan, will focus exclusively on Champagne. Plus, Vaughn is offering free gourmet breadsticks to snack on throughout each meal.

A Kuma's Corner kiosk at U.S. Cellular Field

Just as Hot Doug's teamed up with the Cubs to serve gourmet sausages in Wrigley Field, we've learned that Kuma’s Corner is getting ready to open up shop at a concession stand in U.S. Cellular Field. In keeping with the restaurant's metal theme, burgers served at the Cell will be named after White Sox player walk-out songs, so get ready to sink your teeth into a David Robertson "Kashmir" burger. Portion sizes will be consistent with those served at Kuma's regular locations, but each order will come with a White Sox bib, so you don't get melted cheese on your replica jersey.

An underwater Lucas Museum

The lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks has effectively blocked the construction of the Lucas Museum on Chicago's lakefront, so Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking some drastic steps to ensure the institution remains in the city. The city will soon issue a permit allowing for the creation of a series of underwater structures in Lake Michigan that will house George Lucas's extensive collection of narrative art. Modeled after the aquatic Gungan city featured in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the museum will be accessible by a small fleet of submarines that will ferry guests to and from the network of interconnected, translucent bubble-like buildings.

The Chicago Riverwalk's new waterslide

As part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's ongoing efforts to bring commerce and entertainment to the area around the Chicago River, a large waterslide will open in July near the Chicago Riverwalk. When the attraction opens, you'll be able to add a trip down the slide to your architectural riverboat tour for $10. The price of admission includes an inner tube and a shower to wash off all of that totally-not-polluted river water.