Let's face it: A lot of bachelorette party ideas are lame. The thing is, they don't have to be—especially not in Chicago. Step away from the penis straws, phallic cakes and nude inflatables. Instead, plan a memorable—and dare we say classy—event that's filled with activities that will appeal to locals and out-of-towners alike. There's always time to squeeze in a meal at one of Chicago's best restaurants or grab drinks at the coolest cocktail bars, but these group-friendly ideas will keep the bride and her friends on their toes. From a noodle-pulling class to a full-blown staycation at a downtown hotel, these are our favorite bachelorette party ideas.
The best bachelorette party ideas in Chicago
Stepping out with a group of foodies? Consider taking a hands-on class at Imperial Lamian, a modern Chinese restaurant in River North. Choose to craft your own noodles or dumplings with workshops called "Teach Me How to Noodle" and "Do you Even Dim Sum?" Your group will work with the restaurant's executive chefs to create (and devour) glutinous morsels. Each class can accomodate 20–25 guests, and tickets go for $45 per person.
Whether your group is going out or staying in, getting the glam treatment is always a good idea. The staff at Goldplaited at Lakeview is here to help: The salon offers primping party packages for groups as large as 30. Each guest will get a dry blowout and makeup application, but you can tack on party lashes, airbrush foundation and braids, too.
One of the first things you'll have to figure out when planning a bachelorette party is where everyone will stay. Hotel rooms can get expensive and aren't always ideal for big groups. Instead, turn to Chicago's vast short-term rental market, which offers one-of-a-kind homes that are filled with funky touches. Cruise Airbnb or check out BANGTEL, a boutique company offering 10 party-friendly Chicago homes that suit groups of 10–21. Each space is decorated in cheeky neon signs, bright artwork, high-end finishes and plenty of common space—perfect for a party. The company also offers bachelorette add-ons including decorations, dinner with a private chef, hair and makeup, yoga sessions and more.
If bottle service at a bumpin' club isn't the bride's cup of tea, consider an evening at the Chicago Magic Lounge, where you can catch a show every night of the week. Between card tricks and awe-inspiring illusions, sip cocktails like the Smoke and Mirrors, a blend of mescal, amaro and fernet. On Friday and Saturday evenings, magicians hit the stage at 7:30 and 10pm, and tickets go for $35–$45. Just be sure to book early to ensure your whole group can sit together.
We seek out Chicago's top brunch restaurants every Sunday, but this isn't any ordinary weekend. For something a bit more hands-on, check out the Social Table, where you'll whip up a family-style breakfast feast with your best gals. Choose from dishes like breakfast strata, Swedish pancakes and cinnamon streusel coffee cake, and then work with a talented chef instructor to pull it all together. The kitchen and cozy dining room are yours for the morning. Priced at $85 per person, each menu includes one round of complimentary mimosas, but the kitchen is BYOB-friendly, so remember to stock up on bubbly before you go.
Working with a small group? Go all in at Aire Ancient Baths, a wildly different spa experience in Chicago. The stunning subterranean space, which is built inside an old factory in River West, looks like a hidden bunker designed for peaceful retreats. Once inside—and with an appointment—guests can enjoy numerous baths of different temperatures and indulge in spa treatments called "rituals." Detox in the relaxation area, rest on warm marble stones, go swimming in hot and cold tubs and finish your afternoon with a relaxing massage.
If you're looking for a one-stop shop to keep your group entertained for an entire evening, check in at the Chicago Athletic Association, a stunning hotel in the Loop. Start with an upscale dinner at the Cherry Circle Room, where you'll find oysters by the half-dozen, grilled octopus, cavatelli and a stacked cheeseburger. From there, loosen things up with frozen cocktails and a rousing round of shuffleboard in the Game Room. End the night with a round of drinks at Cindy's, the hotel's rooftop bar, which offers prime outdoor space, sweeping views of the city and cozy fireplaces.
Does the bachelorette have a competitive streak? Face off at AceBounce, a sprawling underground ping-pong lounge in River North where your group can grab a table and paddles, dance to music provided by rotating DJs and indulge in spicy tuna tartare, coconut shrimp dumplings, Hawaiian pizza and a menu of boozy beverages. Plus, AceBounce puts you within walking distances of River North's finest late-night bars if the party continues into the wee hours of the morning.
Detox before an indulgent night out with a trip to AIR Aerial Fitness, with locations in River North, Lincoln Park and South Loop. The classes here utilize long, colorful silks that hang from the ceiling, allowing you get upside down in ways you didn't know possible. It's just as fun as it looks, but be forewarned: You'll be sore the next day. Call ahead to book your bachelorette party; beginner-friendly workshops start at $395.
Why not plan the ultimate staycation for the bride-to-be and her best friends? Virgin Hotels Chicago rolls out the red carpet with comfortable rooms, excellent food and drink options and a beautiful, DJ-equipped rooftop. We recommend grabbing a dinner reservation at Commons Club, the hotel's flagship concept which offers "cheeky, inventive contemporary American" cuisine. And if you feel like getting outside, Virgin is located within walking distance of Millennium Park, the Art Institute and the Chicago Riverwalk.
If you're a Chicagoan, you've probably been on countless tours with friends and family visiting from out of town. Maybe you even think you've seen the city from every possible angle. But, have you been on one of Chicago's helicopter tours? Talk about a highlight of your night. Fly high over the city, then come down—just a bit—for fancy drinks at one of the top rooftop bars in town.
For groups that prefer Donkey Kong and Frogger to strippers and penis straws, Emporium Arcade Bar is a safe bet. With locations in Wicker Park and Logan Square, these massive arcades are used to hosting groups big and small, and for parties under 30 people, they'll usually let you reserve a table free of charge. The bring-your-own-food policy means you can nosh on pizza, Chinese food, Taco Bell or whatever else the bride is craving. Stock up on tokens and let the fun begin.
Find the best attractions in Chicago
Whether you're entertaining out-of-town guests or simply want to act like a tourist in your hometown by revisiting the best Chicago attractions, iconic venues and historical spots, make sightseeing a lot easier by consulting Time Out's definitive guide to the best sights, top attractions and things to do in Chicago. We've compiled our favorite popular sights in the city, featuring the best Chicago beaches, best Chicago museums and hubs of arts and culture.