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The Best Things to do at Night in Chicago

By Olivia Cuccaro

With an after-dark culture as vast as its skyline, Chicago is the perfect playground for any elite traveler. The city is home to gourmet restaurants galore, including chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea that topped the Elite Traveler list of Top 100 Restaurants in the World, as well as luxury hotels with suites and spas that rival those in other major cities. Renowned for its eclectic jazz scene, the city boasts numerous music bars with reputations as impressive as their sounds. If jazz isn’t your thing, then head to the high-rise bars, where you can party the night away with staggering views of Chicago’s architecture as a backdrop. These are our picks of the best things to do at night in Chicago.

The Skydeck

Skydeck - Things to do at Night in ChicagoAnyone who’s been to Chicago has tried the famous deep-dish pizza — but have you tried the delicious Chicago favorite 103 floors up? After the Chicago Skydeck closes to the general public, couples and families can make a dinner reservation to savor a “pie in the sky.” Catered by renowned Giordano’s Pizza, the three-course meal is served at 1,353ft for a breathtaking backdrop of the city.

The Violet Hour

Violet Hour - Things to do at Night in ChicagoRecognized as one of the best cocktail bars in America, The Violet Hour is a must. Drawing inspiration from early 19th century English clubs and French salons, the intimate partitioned seating areas offer the perfect setting to enjoy drinks and conversation. It’s the little details that make this bar so unique; including its custom ice program, offering big ice spheres for bourbon on the rocks and ice spikes for cool, tall drinks. With numbers limited to the amount of available seats and no guest list, calling ahead to arrange VIP reservations is essential and only granted on a case-by-case basis.

Adler After Dark

Adler Planetarium - Things to do at Night in ChicagoEvery third Thursday of the month, Alder Planetarium hosts Adler After Dark; an evening of cocktails, appetizers and stargazing. The event is the only time you can peek through the Doane Observatory telescope, the largest publicly accessible telescope in the Midwest. See Saturn’s rings or Jupiter’s great red spot with your own eyes. The evening also gives you the chance to view the Adler’s exhibitions and take in one of their famous sky or space shows. Tours of Doane Observatory can be reserved when you purchase advanced tickets for this truly unique event.

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The Signature Lounge at the 96th

Signature Lounge at the 96th - Things to do at Night in ChicagoLocated on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center there is no doubt that the lounge’s main attraction is not just the outstanding drinks menu, but the breathtaking views across Chicago.
Gazing out on dazzling 360-degree views of the entire city skyline, while sipping on a selection of specialty cocktails and wines, is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. From a classic Long Island iced tea to the Chicago-inspired Magnificent Mile Manhattan; the Signature Lounge has it covered. Make an evening of it by dining in the adjoining restaurant on the 95th floor for seafood and steaks.

The Chicago Theatre

Chicago Theatre - Things to do at Night in ChicagoOpened in 1921 and built in the French Baroque style, The Chicago Theatre was the first movie palace in the United States. Constructed for $4m by owners Barney and Abe Balaban, and Sam and Morris Katz, some of the world’s greatest stars and productions have graced its stage. From Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin, to comedians like Robin Williams and David Letterman, the Chicago Theatre has established itself as one of the city’s best-loved performance venues. The incredible six-story, vertical Chicago sign is a landmark and beacon on State Street, and sets the standard for the grandeur of the theater’s magnificent interior.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Things to do at Night in ChicagoThe Chicago Symphony Orchestra is hailed as one of today’s leading orchestras and is seen as a musical force around the world. Led by music director Riccardo Muti, the CSO performs over 150 concerts each year at the historic Symphony Center. With performances ranging from jazz to classical to world music, the CSO offers luxurious box seats to enjoy an evening of music.

Chicago Helicopter Experience

Chicago Helicopter Experience - Things to do at Night in ChicagoFly high over the Windy City with a private helicopter tour from Chicago Helicopter Experience. You can choose from a Twilight experience to watch the sun set from above, or a Nighttime tour to take in the city’s twinkling lights. A photograph is included with your experience, so the memories will last forever.

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