Nightlife & the Arts in Chicago

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Chicago Nightlife

Despite their hardworking Midwestern image, Chicagoans know how to let loose. And, unlike that big city on the East Coast (ahem), the city that plays as hard as it works is refreshingly devoid of attitude. Sure, some nightclubs trot out the velvet ropes or feature exclusive, members-only VIP rooms, but for the most part Chicago's nightlife scene reflects the same qualities that make the city itself great: it's lively, diverse, and completely unpretentious.

Entertainment options abound every night of the week. The challenge won't be finding something that suits your mood and budget, but rather narrowing down the seemingly endless array of choices. Should you hit the theater for a Broadway-in-Chicago spectacle followed by a post-performance cocktail? Or explore the city's dynamic fringe theater scene? Catch some first-rate improv? Or get your dance on at a trendy nightclub?

Music lovers will find much to adore in Chicago. The city is justifiably famous for its blues scene, which still thrives in clubs from the South Side to the North Side, but it's equally fertile ground for classical, folk, rock, alt-country, or whatever genre captures your fancy. The summer's free concert series in Grant Park and Millennium Park—from the jam-packed blues and jazz festivals to low-key weeknight concerts—consistently draw top-tier performers.

If your idea of the perfect evening means kicking back with a local brew or a glass of wine, there are bars and lounges catering to every taste—from neighborhood dives to sports bars to swanky spots where patrons dress to the nines. Some of these locales also feature entertainment in the form of karaoke, trivia competitions, readings, and poetry slams.

In the summer, Chicagoans thankful for an end to the long winter head out in droves to the city's many rooftop bars and patios. The hotel bar scene has exploded, and now features some of the city's trendiest nightspots, including a number of rooftop lounges with bird's-eye views of the city.

There's only one thing you won't find in Chicago: the urge to hole up in your hotel room at night.

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