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Jackson Park cherry blossoms
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Park District

Things to do in Chicago today

Find the best things to do in Chicago today, including parties, concerts, screenings and other can't-miss events.

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Ready to enjoy yourself in Chicago? As the weather gets warmer and rooftop bars welcome back visitors, the city is coming alive in ways that we haven't experienced in quite some time. While capacity limits are still in place at many businesses, you can still see amazing museum exhibitions, visit the Chicago Riverwalk or just spend an afternoon taking in the sights at a beautiful Chicago park. Not sure what's happening around the city today? Grab your calendar and check out all the best things to do in Chicago today.  

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Chicago right now 

maggie daley park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park

Skate around a city ice rink

Things to do

Got a pair of ice skates tucked into your closet somewhere? Fantastic—you can skate at city rinks for free, as long as you make a reservation online ahead of time. If you don't have skates, you can rent a pair for a nominal charge (usually around $7–$15) and reserve a spot online. 

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Photograph: Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo

Tour sparkling Christmas lights

Things to do

Whether you're a holiday lover or more of a "bah-humbug" type, it's tough to deny the appeal of wandering amid strings of glittering Christmas lights in the early winter. Chicago and the nearby suburbs are home to scores of incredible light installations, so plan an evening to bundle up and check them out. And if you prefer to avoid the cold, there are even a handful of drive-through exhibitions where you can see lights from the comfort of your car. 

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etta, jaclyn rivas, food, restaurant, wicker park, pizza
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Order takeout from your favorite local restaurants

Restaurants

We're officially over cooking. Anyone else? Lucky for us, some of the best restaurants in Chicago will bring the feast straight to your doorstep thanks to the modern convenience of delivery service. Whether you're craving pepperoni-studded pizza, crispy fried chicken, soul-soothing ramen or one of the tastiest burgers in Chicago, the options at your fingertips are nearly endless.

Jack's Winter Walk Pop-Up
Photograph: Courtesy WeLovePopUps.com

Grab drinks at an outdoor holiday pop-up

Things to do

Even though classic holiday events like the annual Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza have been canceled, you'll still find tons of holiday pop-ups—both outdoors and virtual—to satisfy your itch for festive cocktails and shopping. Grab a mug of glühwein to go and pick out a few special ornaments to gift to the fam. 

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Drive-in movie theater
Photograph: Shutterstock

Catch a flick at a drive-in theater

Things to do

Drive-ins aren't just a summer thing anymore. At these local theaters, you'll find screenings of classic flicks, on-site concessions and access to restrooms, if you need them (don't forget to bring along a face mask). The majority of drive-ins charge admission by the carload, so get together with a group of movie-lovers and park yourself in front of the big screen.

sledding
Photograph: Shutterstock

Grab a toboggan and go sledding

Kids

Once we get the first real snowfall of the year, the city's sloping hills become perfect sites for an afternoon of wintertime fun. Adults and older kids can check out thrill-seeking slopes—like a 200-foot hill in Beverly or the famously steep Mt. Trashmore in Evanston—while younger tots will be happy rolling down smaller inclines. Don't forget a pair of snow pants! 

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Tasha onstage at Hideout
Photograph: Sarah Larson

Stream a show from the Hideout

News Music

There's no saying when we'll get to pack into venues again for live shows, but in the meantime, the Hideout has launched a bulked-up schedule of streaming programming via the artist-friendly streaming platform NoonChorus. Tune in for shows and other regular content, like Hideout bartender Lawrence Peters' weekly happy hour and the A Scientist Walks into a Bar talk show.

Bikers on Chicago Lakefront Trail
Photograph: Shutterstock

Go for a long ride on a bike trail

Things to do

Hopping on your bike and going for a ride is a great way to unwind, but riding through the streets of Chicago can often feel less than relaxing. Luckily, a variety of bike trails in and around Chicago offer opportunities to go for a long ride without having to dodge cars. With routes that take you north, west, south and along the lakefront, you can take in amazing skyline views, visit a new brewery or just spend some time speeding through a forest.

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Lyft Divvy e-bike
Photograph: Courtesy Lyft

Take a Divvy e-bike for a spin

News Transport & Travel

In addition to its regular fleet of sky blue bikes, Divvy recently added a smaller selection of black e-bikes, which use a small electric motor to help riders cruise at speeds of 18 miles per hour. That makes them perfect for long-haul trips across the city—just be sure to consult our list of key takeaways about the new bikes before you hop on.

Photograph: Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Go on a mini road trip

Travel

Your grand vacation plans might be on hold for the time being, but that doesn't mean you can't still have a little out-of-town fun. Pack up your car and get out of Chicago for a day at one of these nearby Midwest destinations, ranging from bustling cities to quaint farm towns.

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Calder's Flamingo
Photograph: Shutterstock/Dawid S Swierczek

Take a walking tour of Chicago’s public art

Things to do

From towering sculptures by the likes of Picasso and Calder in the Loop and breathtaking murals by local artists such as Hebru Brantley and Hector Duarte in Pilsen, you can spot beautiful creative works in all corners of the city. Pick out some of your favorites and plan a day around visiting them—you could easily spend an afternoon ambling amid artworks downtown or in Pilsen.

Starved Rock winter
Photograph: Shutterstock

Embrace the great outdoors at a nearby hiking trail

Things to do

OK, so we're hardly living among the mountains out here, but the Chicago area is still home to tons of gorgeous hiking opportunities, both in and very near to the city proper (and yes, even in winter). Drive three hour downstate to ogle frozen waterfalls at Starved Rock or head to the Northwest Side for a peaceful walk on the North Branch Trail; either way, you're sure to get your fill of biophilic bliss. 

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Ping Tom Memorial Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

Watch the sunset against the skyline

Things to do

Chicago is home to some pretty amazing attractions, but the best of all might be our towering skyline. Head to one of these vantage points as the sun starts to set for a lights show that's equal parts man- and nature-made—as the sky turns pink and purple, the buildings light up like twinkling stars.

Greenhouses at the Darling
Photograph: Jason Cook

Dine in a private greenhouse in the West Loop

News Eating

Restaurant owners around the world have had to get creative with socially distanced dining as they cautiously reopen to the public. Sophie Huterstein, the owner of The Darling in the West Loop, found inspiration more than 4,000 miles away in Amsterdam, where celebrated eatery Mediamatic reopened with miniature greenhouses primed for private dining. When she found out that Randolph Street would be participating in the city's Open Streets program, Huterstein ordered the few remaining greenhouses she could find online. Reserve one and enjoy a secluded meal with friends!

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The Forge: Lemont Quarries
Photograph: Courtesy The Forge: Lemont Quarries

Check out a massive outdoor adventure park in the suburbs

News Sports & Fitness

Located just over 20 miles from downtown Chicago, the sprawling 300-acre space at The Forge: Lemont Quarries is packed with activities for dedicated (and casual) thrill-seekers. There are multiple ziplines, climbing walls, a mountain bike course, hiking trails and a body of water you can kayak or canoe in—it's essentially a one-stop shop for outdoor activities. Day passes will run you anywhere from $55–$70, but if you're on a budget, you can still stop by to enjoy the biking, running and walking trails.

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