Chicago Nightlife

Chicago's entertainment varies from loud and loose to sophisticated and sedate. You'll find classic Chicago corner bars in most neighborhoods, along with trendier alternatives like wine bars and lounges. The strains of blues and jazz provide much of the backbeat to the city's groove, and an alternative country scene is flourishing. As far as dancing is concerned, take your pick from cavernous clubs

to smaller spots with DJs spinning dance tunes; there's everything from hip-hop to swing. Wicker Park/Bucktown and River North have the hottest nightlife, but prime spots are spread throughout the city.

Shows usually begin at 9 pm; cover charges generally range from $3 to $20, depending on the day of the week (Friday and Saturday nights are the most expensive). The list of blues and jazz clubs includes several South Side locations: be cautious about transportation here late at night, because some of these neighborhoods can be unsafe. Drive your own car or ask the bartender to call you a cab.

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Fodor's Choice

Area

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Lakeview and the Far North Side 36

Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Bucktown 33

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Lincoln Park 9

Near North and River North 33

The Loop, Including West Loop and South Loop 7

Pilsen, Little Italy, and Chinatown 1

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Pilsen 1

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Category

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Bars/ Pubs 57

Brewpubs/ Beer Gardens 1

Cafes–Nightlife 5

Comedy Clubs 6

Dance Clubs 6

Music Clubs 32

Piano Bars/ Lounges 6

Wine Bars–Nightlife 1

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Best For

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Gay and Lesbian 8

Trendy 2

Chicago Nightlife

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The Violet Hour

  • Bars/Pubs

The Violet Hour channels a Prohibition-era speakeasy—an unmarked door in the mural-covered facade leads to a mysterious, curtained...

The Whistler

  • Bars/Pubs

If you love unusual cocktails, free live music, and a laid-back vibe, the Whistler is the bar for you. It can get crowded, but downing...

The Wild Hare

  • Music Clubs

This is the place for infectious live reggae, world-beat music, and Caribbean cuisine Tuesday through Sunday. Take a breather at the...

Three Dots and a Dash

  • Bars/Pubs

This Near North Side hot spot specializes in tiki drinks served in a full-on luau environment. The signature cocktail? Bunny’s banana...

Transit

  • Dance Clubs

Despite being hidden away underneath the El tracks in a spooky stretch west of downtown, Transit is wildly popular with young clubgoers.

Uncommon Ground

  • Cafes–Nightlife

The original location of Uncommon Ground is roomy and inviting, with a hand-carved bar and large street-facing windows offering views...

Vertigo Sky Lounge

  • Bars/Pubs

Trendsetters hit the scene on the 26th floor of the Dana Hotel and Spa for cocktails with penthouse views or gravitate toward the fire...

Webster's Wine Bar

  • Bars/Pubs

This cozy, candlelit, bookshelf-lined bar is a romantic place for a date. It stocks more than 500 bottles of wine (at least 30 are available...

Zanies Comedy Night Club

  • Comedy Clubs

Zanies books outstanding national talent and is Chicago's best stand-up comedy spot. Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jackie Mason have...

Zebra Lounge

  • Piano Bars/Lounges

Small and funky with zebra-stripe lamps and other kitschy accoutrements, this lounge attracts an interesting crowd of dressed-up and...

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