If you are in town and wondering what there is to do in Chicago at night, you will be happy to know that there are loads of after-dark activities in Windy City. Choose from night tours, recreational fun and games, music, museums and so much more!
Here are 25 great things to see and do in Chicago at night!
Top Fun and Unique Things To Do In Chicago At Night
1. Be awed by the dazzling Chicago skyline
Chicago’s two skyscraper observation decks are some of the best places to go in Chicago at night for spectacular views. Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the third tallest building in the Western Hemisphere! The views of the twinkling lights of Chicago will dazzle you. It's open until 10 pm every night of the week.
For equally spectacular views, the 360 Chicago on the 94th floor of the Hancock Tower is open until 11 pm. If you are seeking ideas for romantic things to do in Chicago at night, dine at the Signature Room on the 95th floor. It’s open until 9:30 pm on weeknights and 10 pm on weekends.
One floor above is the Signature Lounge if you’d rather just have drinks. It’s open until midnight on weeknights and until 1 am on weekends.
2. Play an escape game
Looking for an exciting way to spend the night? Playing an escape room at The Escape Game Chicago will do the trick! Put your thinking caps on to solve riddles and crack codes if you want to escape a ‘locked’ room in time. Each game has a unique theme and mission so you can choose one that intrigues you the most. Plus, every game has multiple rooms to hunt for clues.
In The Heist, you must retrieve a priceless Monet painting stolen by an evil museum curator. Mission: Mars challenges you to repair your spaceship that’s broken down on Mars before a deadly solar flare strikes. In Special Ops: Mystery Market, you are a special operations agent tasked with stopping a global attack before it’s too late!
The Escape Game Chicago is open late, with the last game starting at midnight, making this one of the most fun late-night things to do in Chicago!
3. Visit Navy Pier
One of the best things to do in Downtown Chicago at night with kids is to go to Navy Pier, built more than a century ago. At Pier Park, there are amusement rides like the famous Centennial wheel as well as nostalgic rides all with spectacular views of the skyline and the waterfront.
You can also walk along the boardwalk and dine at one of many food establishments, or grab a drink at the Offshore Rooftop & Bar, the nation’s largest rooftop bar! A fireworks display is held during the summer on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
4. Take a Chicago night boat tour
Chicago’s amazing architecture is one of the top sights of the city. Many people take an architecture cruise during the day, but these tours taken at night along the Chicago River are extra special. The sparkling skyline offers you a different perspective of Chicago’s iconic buildings. Any of these night cruises is perfect for a romantic date night in Chicago.
Tours run at sunset, or later depending on the time of the year and tour operator. There are also dinner cruises on the river. Any night cruise is Find out about some of the cruise companies here.
5. Go to a Sports Event
The Windy City has several sports teams so there is always a game going on practically any time of the year, making this one of the top things to do in Chicago at night for visitors. If baseball is your preferred sport you can see the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field and the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
From mid-October to mid-April, the incredible Chicago Bulls play basketball at the United Center where legendary Michael Jordan played. The Chicago Blackhawks NHL ice hockey team also plays those months and shares the United Center with the Bulls. From August through December, see a Chicago Bears football game at Soldier Field.
Need an idea for a work party in Chicago? Take the crew to see a sports event!
6. Learn about Chicago’s ghosts on a night tour
If you want to learn about the city’s dark side, take a spooky ghost tour of Chicago at night! While these tours are also offered during the day, if you take a tour after dark, the atmosphere of these excellent tours is enhanced. Guides genuinely love sharing the true, spine-tingling tales about the city’s lost souls lingering around Chicago.
The 3-hour Original Chicago Hauntings Ghost Tour takes you to the city’s haunted locales by bus. If you like a bit of mob crime thrown in with your ghost stories, try this 2-hour Chicago Gangster and Ghost Tours walking tour where you’ll hear about famous gangster Al Capone and the 1893 World’s Fair serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes.
Free Tours By Foot offers a pay-what-you-like Chicago Haunted History & Ghost Tour. This is by far one of the best free things to do in Chicago at night.
7. See a show in Chicago’s Theater District
Given the amazing quality of the productions that come through the city, seeing a musical or play is one of the best choices of things to do at night in Chicago. See shows like The Book of Mormon, Into The Woods, Disney's Aladdin, Hadestown, To Kill A Mockingbird, Hamilton, and others.
Not only will you see top-notch performances, but you will also do so in some of the most lavish, historic theaters in the country!
The sumptuous Cadillac Palace Theatre opened in 1926 and was inspired by the palaces of Fontainebleau and Versailles. The equally magnificent CIBC theatre opened in 1906 as the Majestic Theatre and cost over one million dollars - a lot at the time! Other landmarks are the James M. Nederlander Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, and the Auditorium Theatre. See what’s playing here.
8. Pose with The Bean in Millennium Park
You’ll want a photo with this iconic giant lima bean measuring 66 feet long by 33 feet high and weighing 110 tons. Its real name is Cloud Gate, the creation of British artist Anish Kapoor and is made up of polished stainless steel plates. The Chicago night skyline will be reflected off the bean’s surface for an extra special photo. Posing with the Bean is a must if you are traveling to Chicago with teens -- that photo will be on their Instagram feed before you can say 'cheese'!
The Bean is in Millennium Park which is open until 11 pm every night. In the warm months, there are different events to enjoy. Check the calendar for the Jay Pritzker Pavilion which hosts free concerts and other types of performances in the warm months.
9. Go to the Chicago Theatre
Not to be confused with the Chicago Theater District, the Chicago Theatre is a beautiful landmark venue built in 1921. It was the first large, luxurious movie palace in the United States. The French Baroque-style theater is seven stories high, more than one-half of a city block wide, and almost as long! They don't make ‘em like they used to! With a seating capacity of just 3,600, the theater offers an intimate atmosphere as well as performances of all kinds.
Musicians from all genres play here. Some recent headliners have included Natalie Merchant, Seal, Wilco, Bonnie Rait, Gladys Knight, and so many other greats. Top comedians perform there as well. Just a sampling: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, Trevor Noah, and Colin Jost. With line-ups like these, you should really consider spending a night at the Chicago Theatre.
10. Take a night bus tour
You may have considered taking a daytime sightseeing bus tour or a hop-on-hop-off bus tour as a means of seeing Chicago in a comfortable fashion. But if you will be seeing the city mainly on foot during the day, why not take a bus tour of Chicago at night?
Panoramic night tours are generally shorter than daytime tours and focus more on taking to the landmarks and sights that are especially attractive at night. Big Bus is the primary operator of night tours in Chicago.
If you want a more focused night bus tour, take the nighttime Chicago Crime Tour Bus tour beginning at 7:30 pm. Hear all about the famous gangsters of the Windy City like the notorious Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and Frank Nitti, and learn about the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
11. Head to a comedy club
The stand-up comedy scene in Chicago is one of the best in the country and has given birth to some of the finest comedians ever, many of whom got their start at The Second City. Several Saturday Night Live cast members like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Tina Fey, and John Belushi, found their early success here.
12. Explore the Magnificent Mile
Magnificent Mile is a vibrant eight-block stretch of Michigan Avenue that is a great destination at night in Chicago. First and foremost, there are a staggering 275 restaurants of every kind of cuisine you can imagine. Next, Magnificent Mile has some of Chicago’s best attractions including more than 50 historic landmarks. There are comedy clubs, theaters, and other night entertainment.
The streets of Magnificent Mile are lined with ‘magnificent’ architecture like the 1920s steel DuSable Bridge, the Gothic Revival style Tribune Tower, and the famous Wrigley Building, inspired by a Spanish Cathedral. Take a night stroll, see a show, and enjoy the dazzling lights.
Chicago Museums Open at Night
With over 300,000 pieces of art from around the world spanning over 5,000 years, the Art Institute is extraordinary. Notably, the Art Institute has the largest collection of Impressionist art outside the Louvre. See masterpieces from Monet, Manet, Degas, Seurat, and others. It is open until 8 pm on Thursdays.
14. WNDR Museum
The 30,000-square-foot WNDR Museum showcases contemporary art installations that change periodically to highlight different artists' works. The museum offers guests a multi-sensory interactive experience that combines art and technology. It is open until 8 pm Monday through Friday.
In sharp contrast to the Art Institute, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art focuses solely on artwork dated 1945 and after. The goal is to expose the public to the work and ideas of living artists within the societal and cultural context of today. Open Tuesdays until 9 pm.
The Adler is open every Wednesday until 10 pm and its hands-on approach to science and space makes a visit here one of the most fun things to do in Chicago at night. Their award-winning sky shows held in the giant domed theater will draw you into the universe like nothing else.
Museums with after-hours events for adults only
17. Shedd After Hours
The Shedd holds regularly scheduled house parties where adults 21+ can chill out over food and drinks to the tunes of popular DJs and bands while surrounded by the extraordinary creatures of the aquarium. This is surely one of the most unusual things to do in Chicago for adults over 21! Check the schedule here.
18. Museum of Contemporary Art Prime Time
The MCA’s after-hours series features a diverse mix of live music, performance art, film screenings, and interactive programs. In the summer, the MCA holds “Tuesdays on the Terrace” with evening jazz accompanied by a full bar and food menu. Check the schedule here.
19. Adler After Dark
Every third Thursday of the month, from 4 pm to 10 pm, the Adler Planetarium hosts “Adler After Dark” when visitors ages 21 can enjoy open access to the exhibits, unlimited sky shows in the domed theater, and live entertainment. Check the schedule here.
Chicago’s Music Venues For A Night Of Song
20. Riviera Theatre
The Riviera Theatre, which seats 3,600, offers a variety of great acts and performances that appeal to all ages in an intimate atmosphere. Like so many of Chicago’s theatres, it was built in 1917 as a movie palace. Concerts at the Riviera are extra special because of the beauty of the theatre itself, and not just the awesome music you can hear there.
21. The Hideout
This Chicago institution is almost literally a frame house with a bar up front and a stage in the back room. The live music is an eclectic mix. You can also attend dance nights, see live comedy, and enjoy Bingo nights! For a different kind of Girls' Night Out in Chicago, come to The Hideout!
This former speakeasy dates back to 1907. Today, it is the longest continuously-running jazz club in the nation. See jazz every night in an atmosphere that harkens back to Prohibition-era speakeasies.
A cultural hub that celebrates the arts in all forms. Nearly every day of the week, from 5 pm to 8 pm, you can hear an array of performers for free! Check out the line-up that includes jazz, blues, rock, pop, house, soul, and more.
24. United Center
This massive venue holds close to 24,000 people and hosts today’s top bands like Jay Z, Rihanna, U2, and other performers of that magnitude. This is also where the Chicago Bulls basketball team and the Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey team play.
25. Allstate Arena
Another of Chicago’s large venues with a seating capacity of just over 18,000 the Allstate Arena also hosts popular bands of all genres. You can also see touring events like the circus and ice shows which are great if you are in Chicago with your family.
Find out about more things to do in Chicago here.
For suggestions on how to plan your time, check out our 2 day Chicago itinerary!