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The best things to do in Chicago today

Find the best things to do in Chicago today, including parties, concerts, screenings and other can't-miss events.

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Jeffy Mai
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Not sure what's happening around the city today? Allow us to be of service. Chicago's best attractions, which include beautiful parks, neighborhoods and a free zoo, are always a good start. So are Chicago's best museums, from the Art Institute of Chicago to the Shedd Aquarium. Plus—as always—we're keeping track of the top parties, concerts, museum exhibitions, community events and more interesting stuff happening in Chicago day-by-day. Grab your calendar and check out all the best things to do in Chicago today.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Chicago right now 

Best things to do in Chicago today

  • Kids
  • Lincoln Park
Get your fall feels on at this free festival that begins at the tail end of September. You can snag a photo with a giant pumpkin, watch master carvers at work, enjoy live music and see all kinds of animals. The festival also includes several ticketed experiences such as carousel rides, a bounce house, harvest maze, a slide and more. Take a look at the Lincoln Park Zoo's website for a complete list of activities and events throughout Fall Fest.
  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • price 2 of 4
  • River West/West Town
Returning to a two-acre plot of land just west of Goose Island, Jack's Pumpkin Pop-Up saves you a trip to the suburbs by bringing a huge corn maze, more than 10,000 pumpkins, axe throwing, carnival games, food trucks, twinkling orange light displays and more fall fun to the city. A general admission ticket nets you access to the pop-up, but you can also opt for add-ons that let you take home a pumpkin, grab a drink at one of bars or go axe throwing. 
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  • Things to do
  • Quirky events
  • Wrigleyville
Hosted at tropical bar Bamboo Club, this annual Halloween-themed extravaganza features a multi-level haunted house as well an upstairs bar serving spooky cocktails. Tickets for the haunted house (which is open to attendees ages 16 and older) are $20 or $30 for VIP, which includes a drink and express entry.
  • Art
  • Film and video
  • price 0 of 4
Displaying a 25-story-tall video installation on the side of the Merchandise Mart, ART on THE MART is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, with programming that changes seasonally. ART on THE MART's array of 34 digital projectors show the creations after dusk every evening. It’s best viewed from the section of the Chicago Riverwalk between Wells Street and Franklin Street.
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  • Movie theaters
  • West Loop
Rooftop Cinema Club, the open-air theater perched atop The Emily Hotel, is back for a second season. Guests can catch showings of hand-picked classics, cult films and recent releases while also enjoying sweeping views of the skyline and craft beverages. It’s the perfect summer cinema experience.
  • Things to do
  • Wicker Park
This festival honoring and amplifying the voices and contributions of Indigenous peoples will take place at Wicker Park's Chop Shop over two days. Attendees will be able to immerse themselves in Indigenous music from Canada, the United States and Latin America, with performances by Digging Roots (Canada), Keith Secola (USA), Novalima (Peru), OPLIAM (USA), Raye Zaragoza (USA) and more. There will also be various engaging activities, craft demonstrations and interactive workshops. Admission is free but guests are encouraged to reserve their tickets online.
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  • Things to do
  • West Loop
Put on your best pink attire and let your nostalgia run wild at this pop-up inspired by the iconic doll. Fans will enjoy all-day brunch fare from Master Chef semi-finalist Becky Brown and sip on refreshing cocktails while hanging out on a breezy, beach-themed patio. There are plenty of photo ops—including a life-sized Barbie box—plus exclusive merch to pick up. You can even strap on roller skates and glide around an outdoor rink!
  • Things to do
  • Gold Coast
This haunted Macabre-style cocktail event comes to town September 23 through the end of October. Guests are invited to dress up and roam around the historic Eleanor Robinson Countiss House, where they’ll find live performances, a surreal ghost story, music and flights of mini cocktails. There are three different ticket levels, with gold tickets granting expedited entry, five cocktail tastings and decadent French chocolates.
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  • Kids
  • Old Town
Family retail and entertainment company CAMP has launched a 7,500-square-foot interactive shop-and-play experience in Lincoln Park. The Chicago location features the global debut of Doodles x CAMP—a colorful, comedic adventure created in collaboration with multimedia brand Doodles. Kids can crawl through tunnels into the glowing, mushroom-filled Lost Caves; zip down a rainbow slide; make an arts and crafts masterpiece under 12-foot-tall daisies in the Flower Forest; and more. There’s also a "Canteen" shop filled with toys, clothing, accessories and crafting stations.
  • Theater
  • Loop
Hamilton, writer-composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biography of Alexander Hamilton as refracted through a hip-hop, pop and R&B lens, is a sprawling, stunning, singular achievement. It returns to Chicago for another run this September through December. Check the official website for the full schedule.
  • Music
  • Ukrainian Village
What’s better than a show at the Empty Bottle? A free show at the Empty Bottle. Every Monday, Chicago’s premier indie rock club hosts a free concert. Check the website for a schedule of upcoming performances and to RSVP.
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