The best waterfront and Riverwalk restaurants in Chicago
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 burger spots or even a brewery on the river where you bring your own food. Not sure where to start? Choose from splashy locations along the Chicago Riverwalk 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 rooftop bars in Chicago
The best places to play pickleball in Chicago
Now that it's warm out once again, it seems as if you can hardly pass a public park without seeing a game of pickleball. The paddle sport, which is played in groups of two or four, is the fastest-growing sport in the country, but it can’t be played just anywhere. Pickleball players need courts, both indoor and outdoor and on a variety of surfaces, to be able to serve, volley and dink to their heart’s content. To keep up with the demand, the city plans to build 50 new courts by 2025. In the meantime, there are still plenty of amazing parks and gyms with great facilities that have either been constructed specifically for the sport, or can serve as part-time pickleball courts. So whether you want to play indoors, outdoors, on a wooden surface or on a concrete court, the city has a host of options. Here are some of the best places to play pickleball in Chicago.
Where to stay in Chicago: The best areas and neighborhoods
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 neighborhoods, 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's where to stay in Chicago when you visit. 🏨 Recommended: The best hotels in Chicago🛏️ Recommended: The best Airbnbs in Chicago
The 12 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
The best walks to take in Chicago
As the signs of spring arrive and winter begins to recede from memory, it’s finally time to leave the comfort of the couch—where Chicagoans have been hibernating all season—and explore the outdoors again. Two of the best ways to do that are to go hiking or on a leisurely walk. Whether you want to walk on a wood chip trail, along the waterfront or simply on a nice, paved surface by some trees, Chicago has plenty to offer for anyone who wants to take a stroll. Chicago may be a dense and sprawling urban area, but there are still places to enjoy a calm walk near nature, helping you forget that you’re even in one of the largest cities in the country. So if you’re ready to go for a peaceful jaunt, here are some of the best walks you can take in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Explore the most beautiful Chicago Parks
The best Irish food shops in Chicago
It's that time of year when we salute the Irish part of our city's heritage with a series of meaningless gestures, mostly involving wooly sweaters and dyeing things green (beer, major waterways). But a number of food shops around town offer a more authentic taste of the Auld Sod. Many of the country's archetypal foods—wholemeal breads, cheeses and savory puddings, to name a few—epitomize characteristics that have become culinary watchwords here in the U.S. as of late. They're humble, often small-batch and have embodied nose-to-tail cooking since long before it became popular. So here are seven Chicago-area shops to load up on Irish food this St. Patrick's Day—we promise to not judge if you pair it with a green beer from the city's best Irish pubs. RECOMMENDED: Guide to St. Patrick's Day in Chicago
The best ways to celebrate your birthday in Chicago
Year after year, there’s one day that should revolve entirely around you—your birthday. With a seemingly endless amount of things to do in Chicago, it’s easy to celebrate your big day in style. If you want to spend it with your favorite sports teams, go to a game or catch them in action at one of the best sports bars in Chicago. Rather channel your inner diva? Head to a karaoke bar to belt out tunes. There are also a bevy of movie theaters, comedy clubs, spas and something that everyone enjoys—restaurants. And don’t forget to order a birthday cake from an amazing bakery. So make your special day a memorable one with our guide to the best birthday ideas in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best things to do in Chicago
25 cheap things to do in Chicago
Between all of the restaurants to try, bars to visit and events to attend, it’s easy to have a good time in Chicago. But having a good time on a budget? Well, that’s still pretty easy to do. Although you won’t be stopping at Alinea, or sitting front row at a Soldier Field concert, it’s still possible to do a lot of enjoyable things in the city without breaking the bank. From exploring Lake Michigan and the Chicago River on kayaks, canoes and even water taxis, to visiting some of the city’s most interesting museums, here are some of the best ways to have fun in Chicago for under $20. RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in Chicago
The 20 best gyms in Chicago
As the new year approaches, new resolutions do as well. If yours is to get in better shape, you’re bound to find endless options in Chicago for exploring different approaches to fitness. The best gyms in the city range from high end luxury fitness clubs—complete with massage therapists and nice restaurants on site—or neighborhood gyms that you can work out in 24 hours a day. The city’s best offerings also vary in what sort of spaces they provide, from yoga studios to boxing rings to thousands of square feet with nothing but cardio equipment and weights, or even a repurposed shipping container with spin bikes. Don’t let your resolution result in nothing in promises, head out to some of the best gyms in Chicago and get started on your fitness journey.
The 12 best ice skating rinks in Chicago
You don’t have to stay cooped up inside just because it’s winter in Chicago. The city’s home to numerous ice rinks, both outdoor and indoor, for skaters of all levels. You can hit the ice near some of Chicago’s most iconic attractions, like in Millennium Park and alongside Wrigley Field, or make your way to the indoor skating options, like a rink in suburban Rosemont. The most convenient part is you don’t even need to buy a pair of skates, as all of the rinks have rentals available for skaters of all levels for a small fee. Get ready for an afternoon of wintry fun when you stop by some of our choices for the best ice skating rinks in Chicago. Chicago Park District ice rinks will open November 25. All outdoor rinks operate weather permitting, so call ahead to confirm availability.
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
The 26 best free things to do in Chicago
It’s an old cliche that the best things in life are free, but sometimes that’s actually true, at least in Chicago. While you could have fun (and spend a pretty penny) going to concerts, buying cocktails and cheering on sports teams at costly games, there’s plenty to do throughout the city if you’re on a budget. Explore some of the city’s best museums, learn a thing or two at beautiful libraries, or show off some of your moves at some of the city’s many ice rinks, because even when the weather turns bone-chillingly cold, there are still an abundance of things to do in the city for free. Here’s our list of the best free things to do in Chicago. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the best things to do in Chicago
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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