Erin Yarnall is a freelance reporter based in the Chicago area. Her work has been published in Time Out Chicago, The Chicago Tribune, The Toronto Star and Alternative Press, among other publications. When she's not writing, Erin enjoys going to concerts, trying out new vegetarian restaurants and traveling on the "L" while spacing out over a book.

Erin Yarnall

Erin Yarnall

Articles (33)

The 34 best unique date ideas in Chicago

The 34 best unique date ideas in Chicago

Sometimes, the trickiest part of getting a date to be absolutely perfect isn’t just finding that special someone to share it with—it’s figuring out what on earth you’re going to do. Sure, you could go the classic route and get dinner at a romantic restaurant or see the latest blockbuster at a bougie movie theater, but why not mix it up with a truly unique date idea? Learn more about each other while simultaneously getting the hang of a new skill at classes for every interest, or spend the day exploring each other’s musical tastes at a concert to see if you’re compatible. You also can’t go wrong just getting a drink at one of the city’s riverfront breweries or distilleries. So here are some of our favorite date ideas in Chicago to help ignite your love life. RECOMMENDED: Check out the most romantic things to do in ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best places to meet singles in Chicago

The 14 best movie theaters in Chicago

The 14 best movie theaters in Chicago

Over the years, Chicago has served as the backdrop for films like The Dark Knight, The Blues Brothers and just about every movie made by John Hughes. While it’s always thrilling to see a movie being filmed, it’s just as fun to see the finished product put together at the movie theater. Thankfully, the city’s home to a wide array of great theaters, from multiplexes with massive recliner seats and in-theater dining service to art houses where you can catch up on all of the latest indies or catch an international flick at one of the city’s film festivals. And, like any respectable Chicago institution, many of them come stocked with a long list of beer and cocktail options. No matter what movie you want to catch, you’ll find the perfect place to watch among our list of the best movie theaters in Chicago.  RECOMMENDED: Where to find cheap movie tickets in Chicago

Where to stay in Chicago: The best neighborhoods and places

Where to stay in Chicago: The best neighborhoods and places

  If you're coming to Chicago, there's no shortage of places to explore—and you shouldn't limit yourself to the Loop. If you want to experience the real Chicago, head for the city's 77 community areas, where you'll find some of the most unique things to do in Chicago and many of the best restaurants in Chicago. Keep in mind that Chicago is a city with excellent public transportation, so a trip downtown to Museum Campus or the "Bean" is only a short ride away (and we won't shame you for sneaking away to try the best deep dish pizza Chicago has to offer). From eclectic dining in Logan Square to a free Mexican art museum in Pilsen, here are the best neighborhoods to stay in Chicago when you visit. RECOMMENDED: 🏹 The best hotels in ChicagođŸ›ïž The best Airbnbs in Chicago

The best things to do in Chicago with kids

The best things to do in Chicago with kids

When kids are restless, they get antsy, irritated and, if we're being honest, pretty overwhelming. Why not avoid boredom altogether by taking them on an adventure in Chicago? The city is packed with plenty of kid-friendly things to do, like swimming in a public pool or visiting a children's museum, and many can be experienced for free. Some of the most notable Chicago attractions are perfect for the little ones, too. So here are our favorite things to do with kids throughout the city as well as the nearby suburbs—we’re willing to bet you’ll have as much fun as the kiddos. RECOMMENDED: The best kid-friendly restaurants in Chicago

The best places to go skydiving near Chicago

The best places to go skydiving near Chicago

With a 60-second free fall from up to 14,000 feet in the air, there’s no rush quite like skydiving. The thrill-seeking sport that sees parachuted participants jumping out of a plane is one of the most exciting, and oftentimes most terrifying, ways to get a rush of adrenaline—and it’s possible to take part in the activity all around Chicagoland, with several dedicated locations just a quick day trip away. Skydiving also offers an opportunity to see some of the most beautiful sights possible from thousands of feet up high. Depending on where they’re based, some drop zones afford incredible views of Lake Michigan, while others provide the best views of the city’s skyline. Whether you're a beginner strapped to a professional for a tandem jump or a certified skydiver with countless jumps, these are some of the best places to go skydiving within a few hours' drive of Chicago. RECOMMENDED: The most unique day trips from Chicago

The best Chicago Riverwalk and waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining

The best Chicago Riverwalk and waterfront restaurants for outdoor dining

The best outdoor dining in Chicago shows off all the beauty the city has to offer, from stunning skyline views to vibrant people-watching opportunities. To further enhance your alfresco experience, try dining by the water. Between the different branches of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, there are plenty of options for waterfront dining in Chicago—whether you’re looking for high-end seafood establishments, casual pizza spots or even a brewery adjacent to a music venue along the river. Not sure where to start? Choose from splashy Chicago Riverwalk restaurants or post up with a drink near one of the city’s best beaches for a meal under the sun. If you prefer to stay inside, you can even find covered and heated options for enjoying waterfront dining all year long. See some gorgeous sights and get a top-notch meal at the same time at the best restaurants for waterfront and Riverwalk dining in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: The best outdoor bars in Chicago

11 shuttered CTA 'L' stations and what happened to them

11 shuttered CTA 'L' stations and what happened to them

This summer, the CTA is planning to open up a long-awaited Damen Green Line station, a stop near the United Center. But it’s not entirely new—the station is being constructed on the same site as the Robey station, one of the city’s first "L" stations that was originally in service from 1893 to 1948. When it opens, the Damen Green Line station will become the 146th "L" station the CTA currently operates. However, more than 150 have also closed throughout the agency's existence, like the Robey station. While many of the stations are demolished after they’re closed, some are left completely abandoned, or permanently closed. There are several reasons why "L" stations are shuttered, including low ridership, service cuts, and making way for a new station. Some closed stations have even taken on new lives and been reconstructed decades later. Here are 11 of the city’s "L" stations that have closed, and what happened to them. RECOMMENDED: Discover the best Metra day trips from Chicago

The 9 best crime tours of Chicago

The 9 best crime tours of Chicago

Chicago is well known for its towering architecture, amazing restaurants and beautiful beaches, but the city also has a notorious history of Prohibition-era organized crime and violence. Some of Chicago’s most beautiful streets have dark pasts, and you can explore the oftentimes grisly history on a Chicago crime tour. Guides unearth the city’s darkest stories, and some of them even make stops at local restaurants and bars to help set the scene. While the tours may be a bit eerie, some can be experienced on your own schedule, whether in-person or virtually. Experience Chicago's history hidden in plain sight on the best Chicago crime tours. RECOMMENDED: Check out the full guide to the best Chicago tours This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.

12 Chicago places featured in movies and television shows

12 Chicago places featured in movies and television shows

Chicago doesn’t have the film reputation that Hollywood does, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great city for movies. The city is home to several top-notch movie theaters and impressive film festivals, and also provides the filming locales for countless movies and television shows. Whether film crews are capturing the city’s impressive skyline, beautiful parks or world-renowned museums, television shows, short films and feature-length movies are constantly being filmed throughout the city—and have been for decades. Some of the most beloved American films and shows, including classics like Home Alone, The Dark Knight and the massively successful series The Bear, have immortalized many popular Chicago destinations. While you might not always be able to catch a movie or television show while it’s being shot, these notable sites in and around Chicago are still worth checking out for their significance in pop culture history. RECOMMENDED: The best holiday films set in Chicago, ranked

30 cheap things to do in Chicago for fun on a budget

30 cheap things to do in Chicago for fun on a budget

Between the best restaurants to try, swankiest bars to visit and events to attend, having a good time in Chicago can be expensive. However, there are still plenty of options for fun on a budget. Chicagoans have access to affordable museums around the city, creative activities that don't break the bank and even a cat cafe. Here are some of the best cheap things to do in Chicago for under $25. And for even more cost-effective options, check out the best free things to do in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in Chicago

The best free things to do in Chicago

The best free things to do in Chicago

It often feels like the second you step outside, money is immediately sucked from your wallet. Prices for things like concerts, a fancy latte or trendy bars are getting higher and higher, but that doesn't mean that everything in Chicago will break your budget. There are plenty of activities around the city that don't cost a penny. Give your bank account a rest by exploring captivating Chicago museums during free museum days, checking out a beautiful park or going for a run on one of the city’s best trails. Our list of the best free things to do in Chicago is here to save you some dough. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the best things to do in Chicago

The 25 best gyms in Chicago

The 25 best gyms in Chicago

Whethe it's New Year's resolution or beach body season, there's never a bad time to find ways to move more, feel better and re-energize. The journey of finding a gym can be daunting, but luckily, Chicago has a host of spaces for exercise all over the city for every kind of person, from the glitzy, spa-like clubs with massage therapists and nice restaurants to rigorous, high-intensity gyms to affirming fitness centers that focus on welcoming all kinds of bodies. Whether you want a yoga studio, dedicated personal trainers or the thrill of a climbing wall, you'll find it at the following places. So head out to the best gyms in Chicago to get started on your fitness journey. RECOMMENDED: The best spas in Chicago

Listings and reviews (5)

The Gym Pod

The Gym Pod

If you’ve ever craved a private space to work out beyond your home office or living room, The Gym Pod, a cluster of repurposed shipping containers in Fulton Market, is ideal. The Gym Pod offers five different types of pods, each equipped for various types of workouts—the gym pod, which comes equipped with free weights and a cardio station; the spin pod, where spin classes are available; the flow pod, which offers yoga, dance barre and martial arts classes; the rumble pod for anyone looking to improve their boxing or MMA; and the grit pod, which has three weight training stations.

Rumble Boxing

Rumble Boxing

You don’t have to be ready to rumble in order to have a good workout at Gold Coast’s Rumble Boxing—the gym welcomes first-timers and breaks down each of the six punches they’ll be using during class five minutes before it begins. Like a boxing match without a knockout, classes consist of 10 rounds, alternating back and forth between boxing on bags and strength and conditioning, making sure you’re ready to jab, cross and hook with the best of them.

MagMile CrossFit

MagMile CrossFit

If you’ve heard your really in-shape friends talking about CrossFit and thought you should give it a try, then look no further than MagMile CrossFit. The gym offers several different membership options, including drop-in options for either a day or a week for those who are curious about the workout but not ready to dedicate themselves to it just yet.

Ray Meyer Fitness & Recreation Center

Ray Meyer Fitness & Recreation Center

DePaul University students use The Ray to help avoid the freshman 15, but it’s not just for students. Undergraduate students have the membership cost included in their tuition, but graduate students, staff, faculty and members of the community can purchase memberships with community memberships costing $91 per month. The 12,000-square-foot open fitness area has more than 100 pieces of cardio equipment, free weights and strength equipment. The gym also offers up a six-lane swimming pool, a banked jogging track, racquetball courts and more than 40 group classes each week.

Cinema Chatham, Powered by Emagine

Cinema Chatham, Powered by Emagine

Since opening in 1997, Cinema Chatham has been owned by a number of different companies, and has closed and reopened several times. After shuttering due to Covid-19, the South Side multiplex was purchased by Emagine Entertainment, and reopened in August 2021, showing the latest blockbusters to hit the silver screen.

News (2)

How one pioneering nonprofit is helping Chicago's youth explore their city

How one pioneering nonprofit is helping Chicago's youth explore their city

Before she started working with My Block, My Hood, My City, Ashanti Marshall says that, despite living in Chicago, she and many teenagers like her hadn't actually seen much of the city. Marshall, who's currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, first started working with the Chicago-based nonprofit four years ago and is now much more familiar with the city's 77 neighborhoods—including her own, North Lawndale. My Block, My Hood, My City aims to provide educational programs and field trips to underprivileged youth communities throughout Chicago (which, by the way, was just named the second best city in the world according to Time Out readers). It was founded in 2013 by Jahmal Cole after he spent time volunteering at Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. According to Ernesto Gonzalez, the nonprofit's marketing manager, while working at Cook County Cole heard young people talk about their blocks and their hoods, but never the city as a whole. From there, Cole started an after-school program and the organization grew from there. "We're one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in the city," Gonzalez says. It's very local work, but with a loud purpose For the past five years, My Block has been hosting youth-led community walks through neighborhoods like Marshall's native North Lawndale. She's one of many young people leading community walks through their own Chicago neighborhoods, giving historical context and sharing what makes their blocks special. "I rea

Chicago artist Jenny Vyas shares her favorite spots in the West Loop

Chicago artist Jenny Vyas shares her favorite spots in the West Loop

One of the distinctive features of the West Loop is its vast collection of street art created by numerous artists, present amid the streets lined with restaurants and on the side of overpasses and railway embankments. Painter and muralist Jenny Vyas is one of those artists whose work has helped to shape the former industrial area, adding splashes of color and creativity to the trendy destination for nightlife and dining that it has become. A self-taught artist, Vyas first became inspired to paint while recovering from a breakup in 2013. She said that much of her work is inspired by “a lot of the darkness in life that we don’t really talk about.”. Her latest show, “Awaken,” opened last month and is on display at Pilsen Yards through October 31. The show features 15 of Vyas’ paintings, all of which center on themes of vulnerability and finding strength through exploring one’s own demons. “It’s the show I’ve been working toward for the last five years so it’s been really great to bring it all together,” Vyas said. “It’s my largest body of work, ever.” Although she’s originally from India, Vyas has lived in Chicago for more than two decades and considers the city to be her home. “I love the inclusivity and different cultures in Chicago,” Vyas said. “I’ve been to so many cities in America and the feeling of home that you get, it’s very much integral in Chicago. You can go to a bar and make friends that night.” One of the painter and muralist’s favorite neighborhoods in the city is