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


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Near North and River North 49

Lakeview and the Far North Side 36

Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Bucktown 33


Lincoln Park 9

The Loop, Including West Loop and South Loop 13

Pilsen, Little Italy, and Chinatown 1


Pilsen 1

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Bars/ Pubs 69

Brewpubs/ Beer Gardens 1

Cafes–Nightlife 5

Comedy Clubs 7

Dance Clubs 10

Music Clubs 36

Piano Bars/ Lounges 6

Wine Bars–Nightlife 2

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Gay and Lesbian 8

Trendy 2

Chicago Nightlife

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Andy's Jazz Club

  • Music Clubs

A favorite after-work watering hole with a substantial bar menu, Andy's Jazz Club has live music ranging from swing jazz to bebop. The...


  • Music Clubs

The best thing about B.L.U.E.S. is that there isn't a bad seat in the joint. The worst thing? The crowds—come early if you want to...

Baton Show Lounge

  • Music Clubs

At Baton Show Lounge, boys will be girls. The lip-synching revues with female impersonators have catered to curious out-of-towners and...

Beat Kitchen

  • Music Clubs

North Side stalwart Beat Kitchen brings in the crowds because of its good sound system and solid rock, alternative-rock, country, and...

Blue Chicago

  • Music Clubs

In an upscale part of downtown, Blue Chicago has none of the trademark grit or edginess of the older South Side blues clubs. What is...

Blues Heaven Foundation

  • Music Clubs

For a walk into history, stop by the Blues Heaven Foundation, which occupies the former home of the legendary Chess Records. Breathe...

Buddy Guy's Legends

  • Music Clubs

Relocated from its original location a few doors down, Buddy Guy's Legends has a superb sound system, excellent sightlines, and more...

Carol's Pub

  • Music Clubs

Located in the Uptown area of the Far North Side, Carol's Pub showcased country before it was ever cool. The house band at this urban...

Chicago Blues Festival

  • Music Clubs

The Chicago Blues Festival leaves no doubt about it: Chicago still loves to sing the blues. Each June, the city pulses with sounds from...

Double Door

  • Music Clubs

Double Door is a hotbed for music in Wicker Park. The large bar books up-and-coming local and national acts from rock to acid jazz. Unannounced...


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