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Lollapalooza 2016, Sunday
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

15 things to do while everyone else is at Lollapalooza

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Chicago's biggest summer music festival is quickly approaching, but not everyone is looking forward to four jam-packed days of music in the middle of Grant Park. For anyone who doesn't like crowds, loud music or 10 consecutive hours on their feet, Lollapalooza isn't exactly a utopian summer destination. Thankfully, there's plenty to do in Chicago during Lolla weekend, even if you're not bouncing between sets at the festival. We've come up with 15 ways for you to amuse yourself (and take advantage of the mass exodus to the Loop) while everyone else is at Lollapalooza.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Lollapalooza

1. Go see a movie in an air-conditioned theater. You'll be way more comfortable than all those people baking in the heat. The Music Box is showing Christopher Nolan's latest film, Dunkirk, and it's release weekend for The Dark Tower and Detroit at Chicago's best movie theaters

2. Attend a festival devoted to beer. Sure, there's beer in Grant Park, but if you're in the mood for local brews, you should knock back a few cold ones at the Welles Park Craft Beer Fest on Saturday, August 5 from 1 to 4pm.

3. Have a picnic on the Hideout's porch. Lobster corn dogs probably won't be on the menu, but you can enjoy dinner and a show from Kelly Hogan and Scott Ligon during the Hideout's Picnics on the Porch series on Friday, August 4 beginning at 6pm. 

4. Hit the beach. The days of sand and sun in Chicago are dwindling. While everyone is dancing to Migos in Grant Park, you should take advantage of fewer crowds at Chicago beaches and blast “Bad and Boujee” while kicking back on your towel.

5. Spend a day in any park but Grant Park. You can't get into Grant Park without a wristband during Lollapalooza weekend, but nearly every other Chicago park is open for your enjoyment during the first weekend of August. Go see some public art, walk through the Garfield Park Conservatory or hang out at the Humboldt Park lagoon.

6. Take the family to Soldier Field. Yes, it's dangerously close to the high-volume performances and general debauchery transpiring in Grant Park, but the annual Meijer Family Fest at Soldier Field, which occurs on Saturday, August 5 beginning at 11am, includes access to a Bears scrimmage and the opportunity for your kids to run around on the field.

7. Celebrate at a luau. Make the trip to Bridgeport on Thursday, August 3 for an al pastor pig roast at the Duck Inn for just $35 per person. You'll miss sets from Wiz Khalifa, Spoon and Cage the Elephant at Lolla, but we're pretty sure that the $10 Mai Tais will smooth things over.

8. Get a seat at a great cocktail bar. Why spend $10 on a beer in Grant Park when you could be sipping on something at one of Chicago's best cocktail bars for just a few dollars more. With everyone trying to catch headliners like Chance the Rapper and Lorde, you've got a better-than-usual shot at getting into Lost Lake, GreenRiver or the Sixth without encountering a line.

9. Enter the Hamilton ticket lottery. With more than 100,000 people flocking to Grant Park everyday for non-stop concerts, it stands to reason that you might have a slightly better chance at finally winning the Hamilton lottery during Lolla weekend. Don't throw away your shot!

10. Go for a bike ride. Pedal away from the crowds in the Loop and explore some far-flung Chicago locales on two wheels—we've got some great bike routes to get you inspired.

11. Take a trip to Evanston. If you're serious about wanting to put some distance between yourself and the madness in Grant Park, you should consider a trip to Evanston, a city that has essentially become Chicago's kid sibling. It's accessible via the CTA (just hop on the Purple Line) and boasts some of your favorite places to eat (Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Bangers & Lace and Joy Yee Noodle, to name a few).

12. Get a primo restaurant reservation. You'll have to act now to take advantage of this Lollapalooza perk, but it will be worth it. While most festival attendees are stuck inside Grant Park munching on Connie's Pizza and Wow Bao, you could be enjoying a meal at Duck Duck Goat, Quiote or one of the city's difficult-to-reserve dining destinations. 

13. See a Lollapalooza act at an aftershow. If you're still interested in seeing some live music during Lolla weekend, Spoon, the Shins, Sylvan Esso, Ryan Adams and more acts are playing aftershows once the festival ends each night—you won't even have to stand around in the middle of a field.

14. Pull the trigger on that weekend getaway. You've been meaning to escape the city for weeks, so why not leave town during the weekend that everyone else is sticking around for the festival? Whether you want to drink beer in Milwaukee or explore nature in Holland, Michigan, we've got some weekend getaways that should inspire you.

15. Watch Lolla from your couch. Want the music festival experience, but don't want to bother putting on pants? Lollapalooza nearly always livestreams several sets from the festival throughout the weekend—just pour a beer in a plastic cup and you'll feel like you're there. 

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