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Lollapalooza 2017
Photograph: Carolina Mariana Rodríguez

15 things to do while everyone else is at Lollapalooza 2018

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Even though it's Chicago's biggest summer music festival, Lollapalooza isn't for everyone. If you'd rather avoid the crowds, exorbitantly priced drinks and porta-potty lines, there's no shortage of alternative ways to spend the four days that the fest sets up in Grant Park. Here's what we recommend doing if you won't be joining the 100,000 attendees at Lollapalooza this year.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Lollapalooza

1. See a Lollapalooza aftershow. When acts like Vampire Weekend, Lizzo, Brockhampton and Tycho come to the city for a weekend, they don't exclusively take the stage in Grant Park. You can catch Lolla aftershows at venues all over the city.

2. Go to any park that's NOT Grant Park. Chicago's front yard will be packed with people for four days, but there are plenty of other beautiful green spaces where you can go to relax or read a book without being subjected to deafening EDM beats. Find a spot with the help of our guide to Chicago's best public parks

3. Snap an epic selfie. Still haven't stepped into the world's largest indoor confetti dome at the Happy Place pop-up? It's the installation's final weekend in the city—with so many people flocking downtown, it could be the ideal time to flesh our your Instagram account.

4. Spend an afternoon on a patio. If you want to avoid Lolla hordes, Loop patios and rooftops are out of the question. Thankfully, there are amazing places to have a drink in the sun that are far from Grant Park. Head north to enjoy IPAs just outside of Half Acre's Balmoral Brewery or go south to Bridgeport and snag a table on the Kimski patio.

5. See 30 plays in 60 minutes. The Neo Futurists's Infinite Wrench (formerly known as Too Much Light Makes Baby Go Blind) is one of the most singular experiences you'll have inside a theater in Chicago, as the hilarious cast rushes to perform a series of miniature plays in the span of an hour. While everyone is trekking home from Grant Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you'll be inside a theater in Andersonville.

6. Sample some local beer. Forget about drinking overpriced Bud Lights in the middle of a field—you can spend $20 and get 10 three-ounce samples of beer made by the best breweries in Ravenswood at the latest installment of the Friday Night Flights series, beginning at 6pm on Friday.

7. Spend an afternoon on the beach. If the weather holds up during Lolla weekend (a string of days that is usually hot and sunny), then one of Chicago's best beaches is the place to be. Feel free to bring along a speaker to blast some Bruno Mars tracks at a moderate volume.

8. Have a picnic on the Hideout's porch. A concert during the Hideout's weekly Picnics on the Porch series is far more intimate than any set you'll see in Grant Park. Stop by on Friday to catch a performance from avant-garde folk singer Kath Bloom, accompanied by dinner from Local Foods.

9. See an outdoor masterpiece. The Art Institute is bit too close to the crowds in Grant Park for comfort, so why not experience some of the city's amazing public art instead? You can track down Hebru Brantley murals, Yoko Ono's Skylanding installation and the Fountain of Time without getting in earshot of a Walk the Moon set.

10. Take a trip to a Medieval festival. Before music festivals were invented, people gathered to watch guys dressed in metal suits try to knock each other off of horses with pointy wooden sticks. The Bristol Renaissance Faire allows present-day people to experience this antiquated entertainment—you just need to get yourself to Wisconsin.

11. Take your shot at Hamilton tickets. Still trying to score some seats via the Hamilton lottery? The odds may be slightly more in your favor this weekend, with so many people queued up to Lil Uzi Vert at Lolla.

12. Trek through an indoor jungle. A trip to Garfield Park Conservatory is always a great way to escape the noise of a busy summer weekend. And if you want to feel like you're an Coachella, just post up in the conservatory's desert room and listen to the Weeknd.

13. See (tributes to) Pink Floyd, ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin. There's a classic rock theme at this year's edition of the Jeff Park Arts and Music Festival, which take place in Jefferson Park from August 3 through 5 and features live performances from acts that will recreate your favorite tracks from Dark Side of the Moon and Houses of the Holy.

14. Pretend you're on Saturday Night LiveTrack down the Museum of Broadcast Communications (it's in River North) and check out costumes, sets and props from all eras of the classic late-night comedy show on display in the Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibition.

15. Watch Lollapalooza from your couch. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a ticket when you can see the same bands, for free, without having to put on pants. Red Bull TV is airing this year's live stream of Lolla, so you'll be able to watch sets from the festival throughout the weekend, even if you don't have a wristband.

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