What’s New and Happening in Chicago – Winter/Spring 2023

The New Year brings a plethora of new opportunities to explore Chicago. Whether it’s the host of new, hot restaurants, haute shopping experiences, or high-energy, immersive shows and attractions,

it’s clear: the Best Big City in the U.S. (six years running!) isn’t resting on its laurels. In fact, it’s just getting started.

January signals the triumphant, sold-out comeback of First Bites Bash after a three-year hiatus. The all-inclusive January 19 event inside the iconic Field Museum kicks off the 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, celebrating the area’s acclaimed culinary scene across 17 days and more than 300 top restaurants. Restaurant Week includes special prix fixe menus ($25 for brunch or lunch and $42 and/or $59 for dinner).

These signature events are a great way to indulge in around-the-world delicacies without leaving the city. Immersion takes on a new form with Stage 773’s WHIM, a walk-thru experience inviting guests to partake in a whimsical night out inside a world where every art form comes together – paintings, music, sculpture, street art, and live performance – all by Chicago artists.

And, on the heels of Black History Month, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center debuts The Negro Motorist Green Book, an exhibit dedicated to African American travel in the Jim Crow era.

February is well-known for being a month dedicated to and all about love, and this year, there’s no shortage of events to fall in love with.

This month marks the beginning of a bevy of bold performances at stages across the city, from Broadway in Chicago, the Belmont Theatre District and the Joffrey Ballet. And with the return of Chicago Theatre Week (now in its 11th year), that means these can’t miss live performances are available from February 16-26 for $30 or less!

The Chicago Auto Show, the largest auto show in North America, returning to McCormick Place Feb. 11-20. And throughout the month, raise a glass to great American writers at the American Writers Museum’s new Get Lit happy hour series.

Complete with the 60-plus-year tradition of dyeing of the Chicago River green, March makes a colorful point to the world that no city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day quite like we do. From the signature parade downtown to neighborhood-specific festivities, Irish history and culture run deep in neighborhoods like BeverlyAlbany Park, and Mt. Greenwood.

With so much in store this year, go ahead: Discover big-city culture, Midwestern hospitality, and urban adventure. Come explore the city that feels like home! Visit ChooseChicago.com for more information.

Please click here for the full list of What’s New in Chicago for Winter/Spring 2023: https://www.choosechicago.com/press-media/whats-new-in-chicago/whats-new-and-happening-in-chicago-winter-spring-2023/

6 Unique Things to do in Chicago That Every Local Should Know About

Check out the recent Redfin article written by Ana Guzman that Travel/Food was featured in.

If you’re living in Chicago, chances are you’ve seen popular tourist attractions like Cloud Gate, also known as the Bean, or have walked around the Navy Pier. Although these attractions make Chicago unique, have you ever wondered what else is out there? If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. We’ve gathered Chicagoans to share their favorite unique things to do in Chicago to give you some fresh ideas. So whether you’re ready to shake up your routine or new to the city looking for apartments for rent in Chicago, check out locally approved attractions you want to take advantage of.

Are you looking to step back in time? The Art Institute of Chicago will help transport you as you like. The museum houses one of the country’s largest permanent collections and other centuries-old artwork.

1. You can’t go wrong with the Art Institute of Chicago

Martin, a local Chicagoan from SmartMoneyMatch, a network that connects the global investment community, recommends the Art Institute of Chicago when the weather is terrible. “It’s always worth a visit. It’s filled with masterpieces from every era, from Georges Seurat’s iconic painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte to Andy Warhol’s print of actress Elizabeth Taylor.”

2. Visit the Chicago River in the summer

In the summertime, Chicago becomes an outdoor oasis for all residents and visitors. From the various parks and the waterways, you’ll find a place you’ll love to explore.

“My favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is to go kayaking on the Chicago River in the summer,” says May, a Chicago local from Nutrition Happens, a space dedicated to health, wellness, and nutrition. “Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, there’s nothing better than soaking in the famous skyline views with a peaceful paddle down the river.”

Chicago local Jane Simon Ammeson agrees. “Rivers were the highways of the past, but the Chicago River offers uniquely modern adventures for me. I can paddle its waters and shiver at scary stories during a Ghost and Gangster kayak tour, and sip a Spanish Rioja while gazing at the city lights. I love to stroll along the Riverwalk, choose a favorite place to dine, and plan my next adventure while watching the boats go by.”

3. Take a visit to the Shedd Aquarium

A unique helicopter view of the John G. Shedd Aquarium on Lake Michigan, Chicago.

Bungee QC Fitness shares that their favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is visiting the Shedd Aquarium. “With over 1,500 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates from around the world, the Shedd Aquarium showcases an impressive array of aquatic life. 

The Shedd Aquarium is one of the country’s oldest and most respected aquariums. If you’re in the area, you don’t want to miss it.

4. Explore nearby neighborhoods

Chicago is full of charming neighborhoods like River North and Edgewater. You’ll indeed find beautiful places in Chicago that will blow you away within a matter of minutes from each other. So grab your shoes, head out the door, and get ready to explore.

“Chicago is a great city for food and family fun,” says Jenny and Sheena, local Chicagoans from “And Then We Had Kids” Podcast. “Park & Field, located in the Logan Square neighborhood, is an excellent restaurant for all ages, and they even host fun family events and a bottomless boozy brunch on the weekends. If you’re looking for a place to host your event, Park & Field features fee-free party rentals. And the best part is they’re dog-friendly.

5. Dine in local favorite restaurants

Whether you’re searching for homes for sale in Pilsen because of the authentic eats or just looking for hidden gems in Chicago, you’re sure to find something that will make your mouth water. 

If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to check out the Irish Nobleman Pub on the West Side. Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine while enjoying the lush foliage, flowers & hummingbirds in the summer. The patio is lined with AstroTurf, so it’s like a green oasis near downtown Chicago – and that also makes it super comfortable for bringing my dog along. It’s not just a Chicago favorite spot to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; the summertime patio is an attraction on its own.

Are you looking for a fancy night on the town? Vess, a local from Bus Connection, a sophisticated transportation service, recommends stopping by Bavette’s Bar and Bouf. “One of Chicago’s finest steakhouse restaurants, Bavette’s Bar and Bouf is truly a hidden gem. Feel the swanky ambiance of a prohibition-era speakeasy, softly lit with red velvet wraparound booths and sultry jazz music soundtracks. It’s the most unique and intimate place to wine and dine.”

6. Go to any event hosted by Sofar Sounds

Sofar Sounds connects the community with secret concerts in unique spaces. You’ll receive the address of the event within 36 hours before the event. You’ll experience different shows, from musical genres and comedy to dance. 

“My recommendation for a unique thing to do in Chicago is to go to events hosted by Sofar Sounds,” says Emily from Mezz Entertainment. “Through this experience, you can attend intimate gigs throughout the city, like the loop and Lincoln Park. I love discovering new artists to listen to from these shows.” 

About Ana Guzman

Ana is part of the Redfin content marketing team and enjoys writing about home improvement and life & style. Her dream house would be a contemporary style with lots of natural light.

Choose Chicago Announces a Relaunch of the Chicago Greeter Program

Just in time for the  summer 2021 season, the Chicago Greeter program will now showcase the city’s diverse neighborhoods through four different initiatives

Chicago, IL – June 17, 2021 – Choose Chicago announces a relaunch of the popular and world renowned Chicago Greeter program. The program now includes four different initiatives bringing the knowledge and passion of this network of 200 volunteer guides to locals and visitors alike in new ways, while remaining free to the public: the original In-Person Greeter experiences, Welcome to Our Neighborhood walks, InstaGreeter Downtown meetups and Self-Guided Greeter tours presented by Bank of America.

From Chinatown to Pilsen and Greektown to Little Italy, Chicago’s neighborhoods tell the stories of the people who made the city their home throughout history. Since 2001, Chicago Greeter has shown how these neighborhoods have remained just as vibrant today, with bustling cafes, restaurants, museums, public art and more.

“Choose Chicago is proud to relaunch and expand the renowned Chicago Greeter program this summer and share authentic Chicago neighborhoods with locals and visitors alike,” said Jason Lesniewicz, Director of Cultural Tourism for Choose Chicago.  “We now have four great ways to experience fascinating histories, diverse cultural traditions, iconic landmarks and off-the-beaten-path gems.”

Chicago Greeter Experiences

A recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for over ten years, the original In-Person Chicago Greeter experiences offer deep dives of 2-to-4 hours of the Chicago neighborhood of your choice. Guests are paired with a friendly, local volunteer based on their neighborhood and subject of interest for a personalized experience. Tours are available in over a dozen languages and are available to book now.

Welcome to Our Neighborhood Walks

Explore Chicago’s neighborhoods with these new, free walks led by diverse community groups and neighborhood organizations. Walks will dive deep into the highlights of each community’s unique stories, top attractions and under-the-radar finds, all through the eyes of people deeply embedded in the community. The first of these tours to launch will be through Chinatown in collaboration with the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute on June 19 and July 17.   

InstaGreeter Downtown Meetups

The InstaGreeter downtown meetups, returning July 2nd, were designed with those who are pressed for time or looking for a more flexible option in mind. These free, hour-long tours of Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood operate Friday, Saturday and Sundays departing at 11:30 am. No reservation is required and InstaGreeters depart from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Welcome Center located at 77 E. Randolph Street.

Self-Guided Greeter Tours

The new Self-Guided Greeter Tours, presented by Bank of America, provide visitors and locals alike curated, virtual tours designed by local experts to showcase each neighborhood’s unique history, culture and hidden gems. 

Through the power of video, blog and social content, this series will shine a spotlight on six Chicago neighborhoods by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the Chicago Greeter volunteers. Each part will feature a different neighborhood, including a unique Chicago Greeter itinerary and logistical instructions on how to best explore the neighborhood in person.

The digital content will launch this month, with a blog post highlighting a self-guided walking tour of Chicago’s South Loop. Additional content will follow on a monthly basis, with Kenwood, Bronzeville, Bridgeport, Pullman and West Ridge to follow. 

“Chicago’s neighborhoods are teeming with history and culture, and that deserves to be celebrated,” said Paul Lambert, President of Bank of America Chicago. “We’re honored to partner with Choose Chicago to spotlight communities across the city’s South and West sides, to encourage people to visit these local landmarks, and to drive economic activity where it is needed most.”

This self-guided program is an extension of the successful 2020 International Greeter Day “do-it-yourself” tours, which was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual series highlighted Ukrainian VillageUptownPilsenHyde ParkChinatown and the Chicago Riverwalk.

For additional information about the newly updated Chicago Greeter program, visit https://www.choosechicago.com/chicago-greeter/.

# # #

About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit choosechicago.com. Follow @choosechicago on Twitter and on Instagram. Like us on Facebook.

Opening the Doors of Chicago’s Best Places & Spaces: Open House Chicago

Blackstone exteriorOpen House Chicago (OHC), now in its eighth year, is for anyone who has ever walked past a building, questioning what it was like inside, wanted to investigate a neighborhood and understand its history and visit spaces and places in the city never before explored.

“OHC is a showcase to understand the basic fabric of Chicago’s neighborhoods and what makes the city unique,” says Eric Rogers, Manager, Open House Chicago and Community Outreach for the Chicago Architecture Center.  “In choosing more than 250 sites we looked for those that are important to the city and wanted to have several in each of the neighborhoods. We wanted  diversity with what each has to offer.”driehaus-museum-michael-courier

Making it even more fun, OHC, which runs this Saturday and Sunday, October 13th and 14th, is completely free and requires no registration or tickets.

Blackstone1

Three new neighborhoods were added this year including Beverly where visitors can explore Givins Castle, Chicago’s only castle, a crenulated home built in 1887 at a cost of $80,000 and now the Beverly Unitarian Church. Also in Beverly, take a taste at Wild Blossom, Chicago’s first meadery and winery and the sole producer of honey wine on the Northern Illinois Wine Trail and then tour Optimo, the city’s  only custom men’s hat maker.  Here you can see hat making in action. The company, known for their straw Panama hats, trilbys, homburgs, fedoras that come in a variety of styles (who knew?) such as the classic, teardrop and fastback, even designs a limited edition hat modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature headwear.ericallixrogers-hpuc-web-12

“It’s a very unique working museum of hats and hat making,” says Rogers, noting that the old firehouse on 95th Street where the company is headquartered was renovated by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), consolidating  Optimo’s operations into one 7,500-square-foot space.Blackstone interior

In architectural speak, the building’s “design imparts an industrial aesthetic enhanced by a palette of refined, understated materials like blackened steel, walnut and cork.”

In nearby Morgan Park, another newly added neighborhood to this year’s OHC line-up, the doors of the Ingersoll-Blackwelder Queen Anne-style mansion, once home to both real estate magnate John Ingersoll and then Isaac Blackwelder, president of what was at the time the independent Village of Morgan Park. More notably, at least to me, Gertrude Blackwelder, his wife, was not only a founder of the Morgan Park Women’s Club but was the first woman to vote in Cook County.EricAllixRogers-stsvo-13

The home is filled with antique treasures and built-ins, many salvaged by another owner, artist Jack Simmerling who retrieved them from now destroyed but once imperial mansions in Prairie Avenue, Englewood and other tony Chicago neighborhoods.

The extravagant insides of the neo-Gothic facade Morgan Park Academy’s Alumni Hall are also available for perusal. Now a K-12 independent, co-educational school, Morgan Park was founded shortly after the Civil War and has served as a military academy and preparatory school for the University of Chicago. Unlike the schools most of us attended, its interior boasts dramatic spaces such as an upper school library featuring a vaulted ceiling, double staircase, grand fireplace and wraparound mezzanine. Other accents are wrought-iron chandeliers and ornate woodwork.driehaus-museum-debbie-mercer-original-03

Also participating in OHC is the Gold Coast neighborhood with its rich plethora of homes designed by well-known architects Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Dankmar Adler. Here such sacred places as St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church, St. James Chapel and Holy Name Cathedral. There are also cultural centers as the International Museum of Surgical Science, The Newberry Library, The Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts and The Richard H. Driehaus Museum and such cutting-edge hotels, style-wise, as the Millennium Knickerbocker and Fieldhouse Jones.ericallixrogers-mpaalumnihall-full-5

Neighborhood offerings include Garfield Park, Washington Park, West Ridge, West Town, Ukrainian Village, South Loop/Prairie Avenue/ South Shore, Downtown, Uptown and Hyde Park.rockefeller_chapel-eric_allix_rogers-full-16

OHC offers such programs as Live Painting Restoration, a LEED Tour of Rotary International, Free Stand-up Comedy at Lincoln Lodge, Artist installation outside Edgewater Beach Apartments, Live Piano at Ingersoll-Blackwelder House and family-friendly activities at the Chicago Architecture Center. All are designed to give visitors a wide range of experiences range different OHC sites.rockefeller_chapel-eric_allix_rogers-full-10

“We have a full list of those participating, programs and events,” says Rogers. “And to make it easy to decide what to do, our website is very sophisticated with tools that filter by sites and neighborhoods to make it simple to plan where you want to go.”

Ifyougo:

What: Open House Chicago, explore more than 250 cool places all over Chicago, from iconic downtown skyscrapers to hidden gems in the city’s diverse neighborhoods and suburbs.

When: Saturday and Sunday, October 13-14

Where: All over Chicago

Cost: Free

FYI: Visit their website to choose your itinerary. openhousechicago.org