Wondering what to do in Chicago at night? Below are the best things to do in Chicago at night.
Things to Do in Chicago in Night
Looking for fun things to do in Chicago tonight? The are tons of unique things you can do in Chicago at nighttime. If you are visiting Chicago in the summer, exploring the city after dark is more pleasant as you can avoid the strong sun and heat. Here are the top things to do in Chicago in the evening.
- Things to Do in Chicago in Night
- Relax on the Riverwalk
- Watch Digital Art at Art on theMart
- Have Fun at Navy Pier
- Go Kayaking in the River
- Take an Architecture River Cruise
- Take a Lake Cruise
- Join a Mob or Crime Tour
- Take Photos at the Bean
- See the Water Displays at Buckingham Fountain
- Enjoy the Views from 360 Chicago
- Admire Chicago’s Skyline
- Have Dinner and Drinks on a Rooftop
- Things to Do in Chicago in Night in the Summer
- Holiday Things to Do in Chicago in Night
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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 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 at 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. through November 25, 2021
Navy Pier can be somewhat of a tourist trap but it is a must do if you are visiting Chicago with toddlers or kids. There are fun attractions at Navy Pier including a large Ferris wheel (click here to purchase a fast pass ticket and skip the long line), rides and games, restaurants and bars. 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
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 an Architecture River Cruise
Chicago has amazing architecture and the best way enjoy it is by going on an architecture river cruise. In addition to cruises throughout the day, there are also architecture cruises available in the evening.
Take a Lake Cruise
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. Lake cruises depart from Navy Pier or the Michigan Avenue bridge.
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.
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.
Open daily to 9pm.
See the Water Displays at Buckingham Fountain
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, typically from early May through mid-October, depending on weather.
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.
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. If your time is short, you can join these tours to see Chicago at night:
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:
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LH Rooftop rooftop bar located on top of the LondonHouse Chicago hotel has great views of the river.
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.
Things to Do in Chicago in Night in the Summer
These nightly activities are only available in the summer.
Watch Free Fireworks
Navy Pier puts on a free fireworks show twice a week in the summer. While you can watch the fireworks show from Navy Pier, you can also watch it from various spots along the lakefront and some restaurants and bars. Another great option for watching the fireworks is a lake cruise or river cruise which will stop on the water for passengers to enjoy the show.
Watch Free Movies in the Park
Every summer you can watch free movies in the evenings in Chicago’s public parks with the annual Movies in the Parks series. Movies in the Parks is part of Night Out in the Parks, which will feature more than 350 outdoor cultural & arts events in parks throughout the city this summer. Movies start at dusk. Click here to see the schedule.
Holiday Things to Do in Chicago in Night
Here are the best things to do at night in Chicago during the Christmas holiday season.
Visit an Authentic German-Style Christmas Market
Christkindlmarket is an authentic German-style outdoor market. Visitors can shop for Christmas ornaments and products from around the world and try various German food and drinks such as roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst, and hot spiced wine. They will have 2 locations for 2021: the downtown market in Daley Plaza and Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville.
Downtown location open to 8pm on Sundays – Thursdays and 10pm on Fridays & Saturdays
Wrigleyville location open to 9pm Mondays – Thursdays, 10pm Fridays & Saturdays and 7pm on Sundays.
ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ at Lincoln Park Zoo is a cheerful, family-friendly holiday event in the heart of the city. Zoolights features hundreds of luminous LED displays and seasonal experiences, all under the glow of millions of lights.
Open to 10 p.m. on select dates from November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022
See Holiday Lights
There are many places to see holiday lights in the Chicago area at night. Here are the best places to see Christmas and holiday lights in Chicago.
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:
- Weekend in Chicago: The Perfect 3 Day Itinerary
- 24 Hours in Chicago: The Perfect One Day Itinerary in Chicago (According to a Local)
- Most Instagrammable Places in Chicago
- 50+ Free Things to Do in Chicago