50 BEST Things to do in Chicago at Night in 2023 (From a Local!)

Looking for fun things to do in Chicago tonight? Below are the best things to do in Chicago at night in 2023.

Whether you are visiting Chicago or have lived here all your life, you will find something unique and new to do in the city in the evening.

Best Things to do in Chicago at Night (2023)

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Below are the top things to do in Chicago in the evening.

Join a Mob or Crime Tour

Chicago is known for its history of organized crime and being the home of mafia figure Al Capone. There are several fun mob tours in the evening for those that want to learn more about the history of organized crime.

Listen to Music at an Intimate Candlelight Concert

Chicago’s Candlelight Concerts is a series of special classical music concerts that take place in beautiful venues bathed in candlelight. Upcoming candlelight concerts include:

Candlelight: A Tribute to Taylor Swift
Candlelight: A Tribute to Adele
Candlelight: A Tribute to Beyoncé
Candlelight: From Bach to The Beatles

You can find the full list of candlelight concerts in Chicago here.

Listen to Concerts Under The Stars

Enjoy classical music concerts on a rooftop. Upcoming concerts under the stars include:

Sinatra Under the Stars at AIRE
ABBA Under the Stars at AIRE
Amy Winehouse: Jazz Under the Stars

You can find the full list of Concerts Under The Stars here.

Take an Architecture River Cruise

Chicago has amazing architecture and the best way enjoy it is by going on an architecture river cruise.

Take a Lake Cruise

skyline from lake cruise in Chicago in the summer
If you enjoy being on the water, a lake cruise is also a fun activity at night. While you don’t get to see the buildings up close like on a architecture river cruise, you do get to enjoy skyline views.
If your time is short, you can do a combination river and lake cruise.

Watch Fireworks

Navy Pier puts on free fireworks shows every Wednesday (at 9 pm) and Saturday night (at 10 pm) all summer between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.

You don’t have to visit Navy Pier to enjoy the fireworks, you can see them from the lakefront and various restaurants.

You can see fireworks from the water on a fireworks lake or river cruise.

You can also see the fireworks on a fireworks kayak tour or fireworks segway tour.

Enjoy the Views from 360 Chicago

360 CHICAGO (formerly John Hancock Observatory) on the 94th floor of the 875 North Michigan Avenue (the building formerly known as the John Hancock Center) has an observatory with great panoramic views of Chicago. The highlight is TILT an enclosed moving platform that tilts you out over Michigan Avenue. You can also visit BAR 94 which has a full 360-degree view of Chicago. If you prefer to enjoy the same views over a meal or a drink, there is an upscale restaurant on the 95th floor named the The Signature Room at the 95th, and a bar on the 96th floor called The Signature Lounge at the 96th which are open late in the evening.

Click here to buy a skip the line ticket.

Enjoy the Views from the Skydeck at Willis Tower

The Skydeck at Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower and what locals still call it) is the most well known of Chicago’s two tall skyscrapers with public observatories. The Willis Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and was the tallest building in the world from 1974 until 1998. If you are not scared of heights, stand on The Ledge, a glass balcony extending four feet outside the 103rd floor of Willis Tower!

Click here to buy a skip the line ticket.

Open until 10pm

Have Fun at Navy Pier

Navy Pier is a must do if you are visiting Chicago with toddlers or kids. There are fun attractions at Navy Pier including restaurants, bars, rides and games and a large Ferris wheel (click here to purchase a fast pass ticket and skip the long line).

Through September 10, 2023, Navy Pier is home to Pixar Putt, a pop-up, open-air 18-hole mini-golf course featuring characters from Pixar films. There are After Dark sessions for adults 18+ only after 7:00pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

Navy Pier is also the starting point for various sightseeing tours, boat rides and cruises. Navy Pier puts on a free fireworks show on Wednesday and Saturday nights in the summer.

Open to 10pm Sunday-Thursdays and midnight on Friday & Saturday

Push Pin Travel Maps

Spray Paint ‘n’ Sip Urban Art Workshop

Grab some spray paint and unleash your inner street artist at a Spray Paint ‘n’ Sip Urban Art Workshop. This interactive spray paint workshop will teach you the ins and outs of working with spray paint and other elements of graffiti and street Art as you create your own painted mural. Click here to purchase tickets.

6 p.m. & 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays – Sundays

See Famous Works of Art at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S Michigan Ave) is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States and is frequently found on lists of the top museums in the world. In addition to its large permanent collection of art from around the world, you can see rotating exhibitions.

Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines.

The museum is open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

Museum of Illusions Chicago

The Museum of Illusions Chicago (25 E Washington St) offers an interactive, immersive and fun experience for both adults and kids. Visitors can engage in over 80 astonishing and mind-bending exhibits that will teach you about vision, perception, the human brain and science. You can buy a timed entry ticket here.

Museum of Illusions Chicago is open until 8 p.m. on Sunday – Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

See the Water Displays at Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain in Chicago at night
Buckingham Fountain, a well known Chicago landmark in the center of Grant Park, is one of the largest fountains in the world. When the water is turned on, it produces a major water display for 20 minutes every hour with a center jet shoots water to a height of 150 feet into the air. Beginning at dusk, a spectacular light and music display accompanies the major water display.

Buckingham Fountain runs to 11:00 p.m. daily from mid-May to mid-October.

Relax on the Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk, a 1.25-mile long path along the south bank of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago from Lake Michigan to west of Franklin Street. It is one of the best spots in Chicago for boat and people watching. There are restaurants, bars, benches and steps to sit and relax. You can see a map of attractions on the Riverwalk here.

Open until 11 p.m. daily

Watch Digital Art at Art on theMart

Art on the Mart in the evening Art on theMART is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART. Free 30-minute program of projections are shown twice nightly. Spectators can watch the show from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

Nightly projections run twice nightly

Take a Ghost Tour

Explore Chicago while learning about its haunted past and visiting the sites of some of the most gruesome disasters and murders in Chicago’s history.

This haunted segway tour and Halloween bike tour are only offered in the fall.

Adler at Night

The Adler Planetarium is open late every Wednesday night. Experience hands-on, minds-on activities, experiences, and shows about the universe and see their award-winning sky shows. Every Wednesday is free Museum Entry for Illinois residents with proof of residency. Tickets must be purchased online in advance.

Open late on Wednesdays from 4:00 pm–10:00 pm

Admire Chicago’s Skyline

Chicago has an amazing skyline and it is even more beautiful at night when it is all lit up. Here are the best places to visit in Chicago for skyline views.

See the Skyline from a Helicopter

Looking for a romantic activity in Chicago? If you are able to splurge one of the best ways to see the beautiful skyline is from a helicopter tour.

Watch Movies on a Rooftop

Want to watch classic movies against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline? You can watch movies outdoors Rooftop Cinema Club, a rooftop located in Fulton Market.

Rooftop Cinema Club is located on the fifth floor terrace of The Emily Hotel (311 N Morgan St). This is a high end movie experience complete with tropical decor, lawn games, state-of-the-art LED screens, individual wireless headphones and a range of seating options including lounge chairs and loveseats. Guests can also order drinks and snacks.

Have Dinner and Drinks on a Rooftop

Chicago has several rooftop bars and restaurants with amazing views of Chicago. Here are some of the best rooftops in Chicago:

LH ON 22 (85 East Wacker Drive) – Enjoy classic cocktails and small bites from the outdoor LH terrace of LondonHouse Chicago which offers great views of the Chicago River, Lake Michigan and the Magnificent Mile.
Cindy’s (12 S Michigan Ave) – Restaurant and bar on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel located across Millennium Park which offers panoramic instagram worthy views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.
The J. Parker (1816 N Clark St) on the rooftop of the Hotel Lincoln with great views of Lincoln Park.
Kennedy Rooftop (1551 W North Ave) on top of the Hyatt Place Wicker Park, has amazing skyline views.

Adults Night at the Trampoline Park

Have fun jumping on trampolines during adults night (21+ only) at Altitude Chicago Trampoline Park (404 N Armour St). Have fun with over 30,000 square feet of indoor trampolines and other attractions, including trampoline basketball, extreme dodgeball, foam pits, trapeze swing, rock wall, wipeout and more. You will also receive a cold beer at the end. Check here for upcoming dates.

Once a month on select dates from 7:30 pm – 8:30pm.

See a Magic Show

Join Trickery Chicago Magic Show (3453 N Halsted Street), Dennis Watkins’ The Magic Parlour (Palmer House Hilton, 17 E Monroe St) and Chicago Magic Lounge (5050 North Clark Street).

Listen to Live Jazz Music

Listen to live jazz music at a historical Chicago spot. The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge (4802 N Broadway) is known for its live jazz and its connection to Chicago mob history. It was a prohibition era speakeasy and one of Al Capones favorite spots to hang out.

Le Piano (6970 N Glenwood Ave), an elegant jazz bar inspired by the Latin Quarter of Paris, is perfect for a date night in Chicago.

Listen to the Blues at Kingston Mines

Kingston Mines is the oldest blues bar in Chicago and has hosted blues legends like Magic Slim, Koko Taylor and Joanna Connor since opening in 1968.

See a Burlesque Show

For adults looking for some sexy fun, a burlesque show is a unique evening activity. Newport Peek-Easy Burlesque Show is one of the best burlesque shows in Chicago.

WNDR After Dark

Visit the WNDR Museum, an immersive art and technology experience, for a special “WNDR After Dark” event where guests can enjoy a live DJ as they walk through the museum during extended hours. All ages are welcome. Alcohol will be available for purchase for guests 21+. Tickets to WNDR Museum must be purchased in advance at https://www.wndrmuseum.com/chicago/events.

Runs one Friday night a month.

READ: Best Indoor Things to Do in Chicago on a Cold Day for more indoor Chicago attractions.

Go Kayaking in the River

A fun and active way to explore the city is to go kayaking in the Chicago River. There are several companies that offer kayaking tours in Chicago including Urban Kayaks, Kayak Chicago and Wateriders. There are several tours to choose from including sunset tours, moonlight tours and fireworks tours.

Please note that you will get a little wet so bring a waterproof case for your phone and water-resistant or quick-drying clothing.

Take Photos at The Bean

If you have seen photos of Chicago on social media, chances are you have seen photos of Cloud Gate (also called The Bean), the famous mirrored sculpture in Millennium Park. Although The Bean is very very touristy, don’t skip it. It is a great photo spot and a must on any Chicago bucket list.

Open daily to 9pm.

Watch Outdoor Movies in the Evening

There are several places you can watch free outdoor movies in Chicago in the evening including Millennium Park, Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville and various Chicago public parks.

Listen to Free Outdoor Music Concerts at Millennium Park

One of the best things to do in Chicago during a nice summer day is listening to free concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Grant Park Music Festival runs on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and the Millennium Park Summer Music Series, runs on Mondays & Thursdays on select dates in the summer.

Listen to Free Music at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tuesdays on the Terrace

The Museum of Contemporary Art hosts the popular Tuesdays on the Terrace in the summer. Enjoy free music highlighting artists from Chicago’s internationally renowned jazz community at at MCA’s Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden. For the first time, Tuesdays on the Terrace expands beyond its jazz focus to include more diverse genres and styles that have unique Chicago roots. Light refreshments and a full bar with cold beverages, wine, and cocktails are available for purchase on the upper terrace.

When: Every Tuesday evening until August 29, 2023

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Cost: Reservations are limited and will be available starting May 24, 2023.

Jazzin’ at the Shedd

Listen to live jazz music at the Shedd Aquarium in the summer. The popular midweek Jazzin’ at the Shedd series combines Jazz music, the city skyline, fireworks and animals. Relax with a drink on the breezy terrace and take in their unbeatable city view or stroll the aquarium.

When: Every Wednesday evening until August 30, 2023

Where: Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605

Cost: Price varies by date.

Have a Hot Dog at Wieners Circle

Stop by Wieners Circle, the iconic hotdog stand known for its late night verbal abuse and crude humor between the customers and the employees.

Open to 1:00 am Sunday to Tuesday, 2:00 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 4:00 on Fridays and Saturday

Play Indoor Mini Golf

Play indoor mini golf at night with drinks in a fun, lively setting at several indoor mini golf courses in and around Chicago.

Play Games at a Barcade

Chicago has several arcade bars where you can combine drinking with arcade games including Logan Arcade (2410 W Fullerton Ave), Emporium Logan Square (2363 N Milwaukee Ave), Emporium Wicker Park (1366 N Milwaukee Ave), Headquarters Beercade (213 W Institute Pl) and Replay Lincoln Park (2833 N Sheffield Ave).

Visit Lincoln Park Zoo After Hours

Although Lincoln Park zoo closes at 7 p.m. in the summer, the zoo host several after hour events year round where you can see the animals after dark including Tacos & Tequila Fest at the Zoo – Adults Only Evening (October 13, 2023) and Adults Night Out: Howl-o-ween (October 26, 2023).

When: You can find the zoo’s calendar of events here.

Attend an Neighborhood Festival

Enjoy food and music at one of Chicago’s many neighborhood festivals that you can check out in the evening including: Oktoberfest St. Alphonsus (September 22-24, 2023), Lakeview East Oktoberfest (September 29- October 1, 2023), St. Benedict’s OktoberFest (September 29- October 1, 2023) and Lincoln Park Wine Fest (October 6-8, 2023).

Eat at a 24 Hour Diner

If everything else is closed you can always have a meal at a 24 hour diner. As long as you order food and refill your drinks you can usually stay for several hours. Some of the best 24 hour diners in Chicago include:
Diner Grill (1635 W Irving Park Rd)
Golden Nugget Pancake House (2406 W. Diversey)
Golden Apple Grill & Breakfast House (2971 N Lincoln Ave).

As you can see there are many fun and unique things to do at night in Chicago.

Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:



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