The best birthday party ideas for adults in Chicago

Make growing a year older a blast with the best birthday party ideas for adults in Chicago, from bowling to dive bars to picnics
Photograph: Courtesy Virgin Hotels Chicago
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Planning a birthday party can be incredibly stressful. From building an invitation list to finding the perfect location to second-guessing whether you should be throwing yourself a party in the first place, it’s often tempting to just call the whole thing off. But we’re here to make party-planning a little bit easier. The best birthday parties for adults are cheap, accessible, fun and perfect for large groups. Celebrate another trip around the sun at the best bars in the city, or blow of some steam by acting like a kid again. Whatever your style, all you have to do is kick back and have fun.

The best birthday party ideas for adults in Chicago

Lagunitas in Douglas Park is one of the many Chicago breweries to offer tours.
Photograph: Martha Williams
Bars

Go on a brewery tour

Brewery tours are the perfect balance of “activity” and “just going to a bar”—you'll feel like you’ve really earned that beer at the end. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to soak up Chicago’s rich craft beer scene. Chicago-area brewery tours range from a booze-fueled, hours-long lesson on beermaking to quick and dirty 20-minute overviews. Why just go to a bar when you can drink the freshest brews in town? It’s your birthday, after all. Do it up.

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Photograph: Michael Jarecki
Bars

Sing your heart out at a karaoke bar

If you're feeling the stress of getting older, you just need three things: a beer, a microphone, and Mariah Carey. Luckily, Chicago is chock full of excellent karaoke spots, ranging from gritty dive bars to gay bars to can’t-miss spots down in Chinatown. So get your vocal chords ready—or, at the very least, knock back a couple drinks—and hit up the best Chicago bars for karaoke.

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Photograph: Courtesy Cerise
Bars

Drink up awesome city views and cocktails

If you’re #blessed enough to have a summertime birthday, what better way to celebrate than at a rooftop bar? Chicago has no shortage of spots to drink while admiring stunning views of the city. From bougie cocktail bars to laid-back beer bars, get elevated on your special day.

Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas
Things to do

Do a beach day

Why deal with reservations and marking territory at bars when you can just hang outside? Instead of all that fuss, just plan a nice, long day at the beach, where your friends can come and hang as they please. We suggest avoiding North Avenue and Oak Street beaches if you're with a big group—unless you're all about that frat star life.

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WhirlyBall has a new location in Bucktown.
Photograph: Hilary Higgins
Things to do

Show off your WhirlyBall skills

icon-location-pin Bucktown

Or, perhaps lack of skills. There's a reason why this totally made-up sport is such a popular party spot. WhirlyBall is played by two teams driving bumper cars and combines elements of lacrosse, hockey and basketball. Needless to say, it's a ton of fun after you've had a few drinks. The Webster Avenue location also boasts laser tag and bowling, in case lacrosse/hockey/basketball/bumper cars isn't your thing.

Photograph Courtesy of Limotainment
Things to do

Rent one of the best party buses in Chicago

There are endless party destinations for Chicagoans, from the best beer bars to the city's constant stream of festivals and concerts. It only makes sense to arrive in style in a flashy party buses. Blast your favorite tunes and BYOB as your driver chauffeurs you through the streets. Chicago offers luxurious stretch limo buses, trolleys and even a bus that looks like a beer barrel. 

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Sox vs Cubs at Cellular Field x600
Photograph: Chandler West
Sports and fitness, Baseball & softball

Go to a White Sox game

Instead of going broke paying for nosebleed seats at Wrigley, take a trip to the South Side for a White Sox game. With less expensive tickets, it's much easier to bring a big group to Guaranteed Rate Field than to the Friendly Confines. Plus, Sox Park has really upped its food and drink game lately. Who wouldn't be up for a can of local craft beer and a 16-inch grilled cheese sandwich?

Lisa Beasley, Tim Ryder, Carisa Barreca, Rashawn Nadine Scott, Eddie Mujica and Scott Morehead in Soul Brother, Where Art Thou? at Second City e.t.c.
Photograph: Todd Rosenberg
Things to do

Go to a comedy show

Chicago continues to be home—or at least a second home—to some of the biggest names in comedy.  Laugh it up on your birthday at some of the city's best comedy clubs to see stand-ups, sketch acts, improv and more comedians. Second City, the Annoyance and iO all have excellent bars in their venues, so you can stick around for a few drinks with your pals after the show.

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Photograph: Martha Williams
Bars

Tuck into a dive bar

Don’t want to make your birthday a “thing,” but still trying to celebrate? Have your party at a casual, no-fuss dive bar. Lord knows we’ve got a ton of them in Chicago. The best dives in Chicago have cheap and craft beers alike, great juke boxes and, most importantly, no fussy dress code.

Photograph: Martha Williams
Bars

Post up at a great outdoor bar

Again, summer babies, you've got it made. After months spent huddling around fireplaces and shivering from inevitable bar-room drafts, you deserve a drink. Outside. And so do all your friends. With the sun beaming down, margarita in hand. These outdoor bars all make for perfect birthday party spots in the summer, the best season in Chicago.

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Spend an afternoon enjoying old-school games and craft beer at the city's best arcade bars.
Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas
Bars

Waste quarters at an arcade bar

Taking a group of adults to Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate a birthday is a little weird, but you can replicate the thrill of pumping quarters into arcade games (sans the chintzy prizes) at an arcade bar. Relive the glory days of your youth on a pinball table, behind the joystick of a Pac-Man cabinet or by blowing up zombies with your friends. Treat your guests to the first round of quarters (the drinks will be on them, after all).

Medieval Times
Photo: Matt Petit
Restaurants, American

Travel back to the Medieval Times

icon-location-pin Suburbs

Yes, we know it's in Schaumburg. Yes, we know it's for children. But think about it: giant chicken legs, drinks, crowns and jousting? With those four components, you'll have a birthday you'll never forget. Schlep out to the 'burbs for an incredibly goofy birthday party (complete with questionable English accents) at Medieval Times.

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Things to do

Have a pingpong party at AceBounce

icon-location-pin Loop

AceBounce is a great spot for a birthday party, complete with a full bar, wood-fired pizza, craft cocktails and a whole lot of ping pong tables. Also, it's right in the Loop (on Wacker Dr), so if you're looking for a good post-work party location, you can clock out and start celebrating with a paddle in your hand in short order.

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