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The best attractions and things to do in Boystown

You'll find cool theaters, LGBTQ institutions and so many more attractions in Boystown

Photograph: Kaitlin Hetterscheidt
Northalsted Market Days 2014

Boystown is a lot more than just fun gay bars and gay parties. And while catching the Cubs game in Wrigleyville is fun, just a few blocks over you'll find a slew of theaters and comedy clubs in Boystown. And along with fun comes LGBTQ landmarks you'll want to experience. It's all here in our guide to Boystown attractions and things to do.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Boystown

Things to do in Boystown

Center on Halsted

This shiny new home for the LGBTQ community opened in 2007 as a LEEDS-certified ecofriendly delight (and check out the gargantuan Whole Foods attached to it!). The Hoover-Leppen Theater hosts LGBTQ-themed events and doubles as a house of queer-friendly worship on Sundays while the Billie Jean King Recreation Hall beckons sports enthusiasts, but it's the wide array of social services that lures LGBTQ youth, seniors and minorities from the South and West Sides. Hint: Don't miss the sparkling rooftop with its stunning neighborhood views.

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The Legacy Walk

Beginning in 2012, North Halsted Street became the world’s first LGBTQ outdoor museum as the Legacy Project began installing a collection of placards on the street’s rainbow-colored pylons (erected in 1998 by then Mayor Richard M. Daley), honoring heroes like Oscar Wilde, Harvey Milk, Antonia Pantoja, Frida Kahlo and Alvin Ailey. New placards are rotated in every year on National Coming Out Day, October 11. There are plans to open a Legacy Project Visitors Center in 2017, which would display those placards retired from the Legacy Walk.

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Annoyance Theatre

Annoyance put itself on the map with its famously distasteful gross-out musical Co-Ed Prison Sluts. Three decades later, it still cranks out bizarre, unconventional comedy. Its new home on Belmont, established in 2014, gives it two performance venues and classroom space all in the same building.

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Laugh Factory

Jamie Masada's SoCal comedy club empire established a Chicago foothold in 2012, refurbishing the former Lakeshore Theater space. The club offers lineups of local comics several nights a week, with the occasional touring headliner.

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Briar Street Theatre

This theater might look unimposing from the outside, but inside you’ll find it seats hundreds. It has to, as most nights it’s packed with crowds that thrill to the colorful techno antics of Blue Man Group, which has occupied the space for years (and shows no signs of vacating soon).

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The ComedySportz Theatre

A ref keeps the score as dueling improv troupes battle it out at the Chicago version of this national brand (which relies heavily on audience participation). In contrast to the Annoyance up the street, most shows here are squeaky clean and family-friendly.

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MCL Chicago

Formerly known as Studio BE, this storefront venue rebranded as MCL Chicago in 2014. The initials stand for "Music, Comedy, Live," reflecting the programming's focus on musical improv and sketch.

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The Leigh Gallery

This eclectic art gallery features works from local and international artists in an inviting and intimate space.

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The Playground Theater

The nation's only not-for-profit co-op theater devoted to the art of improvisation is an excellent place for young teams to practice their craft. The programming is often experimental and incredibly hit or miss, but there's no denying the youthful, infectious energy that pervades the place.

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Steamworks

Outwardly it’s marked only by discreet banners with the building number 3246, but inside this “private men’s gym, sauna and bathhouse” you’ll find gents wearing towels (or less) enjoying three levels of private rooms, gang showers, whirlpool, play areas, workout facilities, a sauna, steam room and more. Play safely.

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