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THE 15 BEST INDOOR THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO

APR 2022
22
THE 15 BEST INDOOR THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO

The best places to escape the freezing cold, pouring rain, or horribly humid days in Chicago.


Looking for cool indoor activities in Chicago on a freezing cold day or a heavily rainy day?


Wanna have an awesome Chicago experience, while avoiding public spaces?


I’ve put together the 15 coolest indoor activities in Chicago for you. Have a great time, regardless of how the weather outside is!

15 Fun Indoor Things To Do In Chicago

Our favorite places in Chicago to keep you entertained throughout the year (whether it be good weather or bad).


Including a few activities for very young children!


    • Find your inner artist at The Art Institute of Chicago

    • Descend into a coal mine at The Museum of Science and Industry

    • Check in with Sue at The Field Museum of Natural History

    • Have a soothing dip at AIRE Ancient Baths

    • Enjoy a spell of blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends

    • Team up for an adventure at Fox in a Box Escape Rooms

    • Savor some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s

    • Catch a show at the Music Box Theater

    • Get the 360 CHICAGO view of Chicago

    • Get your luxury shopping done at 900 North Michigan Shops

    • Drop in at the Chicago Cultural Center

    • Sift through the titles at Quimby’s Bookstore

    • Catch some of the action at Diversey River Bowl

    • LOL at The Second City

    • Indoor activities in Chicago for kids

    Find your inner artist at The Art Institute of Chicago

    article-image-1

    Image credit: The Art Institute of Chicago


    One of the oldest and largest art museums in the world, the Art Institute includes everything from Medieval and Renaissance paintings to 20th and 21st century art (in its Modern Wing)...


    And even exhibits like the Arthur Rubloff Collection, which features over 1400 glass paperweights from different periods.


    Apart from the permanent collections, they frequently have rotating exhibitions so remember to visit their website and see what they have going during the time of your visit.


    Tip: Check if their guided tours are available when you visit. You can also search for private tours by art experts and artists.


    Website: Visit their website


    Address: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603


    Email: Check their contact page

    Face a tornado at The Museum of Science and Industry

    article-image-2

    Image credit: The Museum of Science And Industry


    MSI is the largest science museum in the Western hemisphere, but that’s hardly the best reason it’s such a ‘cool activity’ in Chicago.


    On the other hand…


    Descending into a coal mine, climbing aboard a WWII German submarine, standing in front of a towering tornado - all of which, and a whole lot more you can do at MSI.


    Now we’re talking!


    Tip: MSI offers free entry to Illinois residents, on showing proof of residency on certain free days.


    Website: Visit their website


    Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


    Address: 5700 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637


    Phone: (773) 684-1414

    Check in with Sue at The Field Museum of Natural History

    How’s this for a record? The museum with the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex in the world.


    Find that hard to believe?


    Do yourself a favor, visit the Field Museum, and seek out Sue, their resident Tyrannosaurus Rex.


    And while you’re there, check out some of the other specimens and objects they have down there (they have 30 million of them).


    It’s so vast the walking will wear you out but on the bright side they have an excellent restaurant and plenty of vending machines for you to replenish yourself.


    Tip: Just like MSI, the Field Museum also offers free days to Illinois residents.


    Website: Visit their website


    Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


    Address: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605


    Phone: (312) 922-9410

    Have a soothing dip at AIRE Ancient Baths

    Located in a restored 1902 factory, AIRE has six refreshing thermal baths, modeled after the ancient Greek, Roman, and Ottoman traditions.


    You’ll enjoy gazing at the original exposed brick, wooden beams, and industrial columns (all of which have been preserved) as you indulge yourself.


    And follow it up with some of their spa treatments.


    Definitely one of the best things to do in Chicago for adults.


    Website: Visit their website


    Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


    Address: 800 W Superior St, Chicago, IL 60642


    Email: bookingchicago@beaire.com


    Phone: (312) 888-7099

    Enjoy a spell of blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends

    One of Chicago’s most popular music venues, helmed by the legend - Buddy Guy - himself, and drawing performers from near and far.


    You can catch both relative newbies as well as established musicians like Larry Carlton perform here. If you’re lucky you’ll be there when Buddy Guy himself is one stage (yes, he still plays).


    Plus there’s the amazing New Orleans-inspired menu. If you’re visiting for the first time, don’t forget to try out their Catfish Po’ Boy, the Louisiana style Gumbo and the Blues Margarita!


    Website: Visit their website


    Address: 700 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605


    Phone: (312) 427-1190

    Team up for an adventure at Fox in a Box Escape Rooms

    Lead your team of up to 6 players on a thrilling adventure in one of our escape room games.


    You’ll be led into the game room; the door will close behind you, and the countdown begins. You have exactly one hour - 60 minutes - to solve clues, do tasks, and spot clues in order to accomplish some objectives and find your way out.


    To win, you must put your observation, quick thinking, and team skills to the test.


    There are multiple escape room games, based on diverse themes, for you to play here.


    Can you beat them all?


    Website: Visit the homepage


    Address: 47 W Polk Street, Ste L5 Chicago, IL 60605


    Email: info@foxinaboxchicago.com


    Phone: (312) 878-7899

    Savor some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s

    Deep dish pizza is one of Chicago’s iconic foods.


    As far as we’re concerned, pizzas were meant to be voluminous (no fat-shaming pizzas, please), with oodles of goodies stuffed into it, and a generous sprinkling of toppings.


    And where else to have that signature Chicago dish than at Lou Malnati’s? I prefer the one on South State Street.


    Tip: Order some wings and Caesar’s salad with your deep dish delight…you won’t regret it!


    Website: Visit their website


    Address: 805 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605


    Phone: (312) 786-1000

    article-image-3

    Image credit: The Music Box Theater.


    If your idea of watching movies is Netflix and chill…ed beer at home, that’s fine.


    BUT


    If you like the retro theater experience (the old type of seats, films in 70mm and so on),


    If you have a hankering for reruns of old movies (like the original The Thing, independent features and foreign films,


    Then you’ll want to check out what they’re showing at the Music Box Theater.


    Tip: Get popcorn and remember to ask for butter (you get the real deal here).


    Website: Visit their website


    Address: 3733 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613


    Email: Check their contact page.


    Phone: (773) 871-6604

    Get the 360 CHICAGO view of Chicago

    Breathtaking views of Chicago from over a THOUSAND feet above the Magnificent Mile?

     - Check (from the 94th floor observatory).


    A mouthwatering meal as you enjoy the view?

     - Check (food at the 95th floor Signature Room, and drinks at the 96th floor Signature Lounge).


    Something even more thrilling to wrap things up?

     - Check (via TILT, a ride that literally tilts you over Michigan Ave from the 94th floor).


    Tip: If you’re a photographer, you should know that they allow tripods all day on Mondays.


    Website: Visit their website


    Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


    Address: 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611


    Phone: (888) 875-8439

    Get your luxury shopping done at 900 North Michigan Shops

    Located on the first 7 levels of the 900 North Michigan skyscraper, 900 North Michigan Shops are a stunning shopping destination on the Mag Mile.


    Anchored by Bloomingdale’s, they are a one-stop destination for everything from luxury brands like Gucci to multiple spas, a restaurant (the Aster Hall ‘food hall’) and even an indoor sports simulator (the Topgolf Swing Suite).


    Over 70 luxury retailers including Gucci, Montblanc, Tesla and Aritzia have showrooms here, making it a truly inclusive as well as exclusive shopping experience.


    Website: Visit their website


    Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


    Address: 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611


    Phone: (312) 915-3916

    Drop in at the Chicago Cultural Center

    If you’re searching for free indoor things to do in Chicago, this is one of the best! The Chicago Cultural Center is a municipal center and it’s completely free!


    A stunning Chicago landmark with fantastic art nouveau decor, mahogany doors, fascinating mosaics and two stunning stained glass domes (including the world’s largest Tiffany Dome).


    You’ll want to visit only to gaze in awe at the sheer beauty of the architecture; but they do hold art shows from time to time, featuring works of both great and lesser known artists so search for what’s going on when you’re there.


    Also remember to check out the gift shop!


    Tip: They have a shop called Buddy that focuses entirely on smaller and less well-known artisans and manufacturers, so if you want to support small and local artists and businesses, visit Buddy.


    Website: Visit their website


    Address: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602


    Phone: (312) 744-5000

    Sift through the titles at Quimby’s Bookstore

    Remember how I said the Music Box Theater focuses on indies, foreign features and reruns of old movies?


    Quimby’s is roughly the same, only it sells books.


    All you fans of zines, minicomics, graphic novels and other books catering to niche topics, flock to Quimby’s!


    Website: Visit their website


    Address: 1854 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622


    Phone: (773) 342-0910

    Catch some of the action at Diversey River Bowl

    Riverfront bowling alley with typically a mixture of old-timers and young amateurs. A great place to escape the outdoors, especially during bad weather.


    After all, what could be better than gorging on beer and pizza, and hitting the lanes while it’s scorching hot or freezing cold outside?


    Website: Visit their website


    Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


    Address: 2211 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60647


    Email: Check the contact page


    Phone: (773) 227-5800

    LOL at The Second City

    Calling all SNL, Just For Laughs and Whose Line Is It Anyway fans in Chicago!


    Wanna experience all that, up close and personal? You can, at Second City.


    Grab some drinks and snacks and settle down in comfortable seats for some of the best, on-point improv, standup and sketches you’ve ever seen in your life!


    Website: Visit their website


    Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


    Address: They have multiple theater locations


    Email: customerservice@secondcity.com


    Phone: (312) 337-3992

    Indoor activities in Chicago for kids

    article-image-4

    Image by Rachel on Unsplash.


    While older kids and teenagers will enjoy most of the above activities (of course, barring the activities that are for adults), here are a few indoor Chicago attractions where your little kids (including toddlers) will enjoy themselves.


    Chicago Children’s Museum on the Navy Pier features displays and activities like the Dinosaur Expedition where kids can become archeologists. Great for kids aged 0-10.


    Thomas Hughes Children’s Library in the main branch of the Chicago Public Library is a favorite with kids, not least because it hosts puppet shows from time to time.


    Look for storytimes at public libraries and cultural centers.


    Brooklyn Boulders has climbing walls for kids.


    And if you’re really craving some peace and quiet, let ‘em loose at Razzmatazz. They’ll have burnt most of their energy and become tired and sleepy by the time they’re done!

    Tips for enjoying your days out in Chicago

    If you’re planning on visiting multiple indoor attractions within a few days, you should consider getting yourself all-inclusive passes like the ones offered by Go City and CityPass.


    Couple that with a 7-day CTA pass (as the city passes are valid for between 5 to 9 days).


    Wherever you want to go, book in advance. You’ll never be faced with “sorry, we’re sold out right now”, and sometimes booking even a day in advance can save you some money.


    Have these apps installed and working on your phone:

    • The Ventra app to load balance on your Ventra card. It also displays arrival/departure info for CTA, Metra and Pace.

    • The Transit app will help you find the best route to get from A to B in Chicago. It’s well known for tracking El trains and CTA buses.

    • If you’re driving, the ParkChicago app lets you pay for parking from your phone. You can even add time from your phone.


    If you’re new to Chicago, here are some things you should NEVER do before a Chicagoan!


    Finally, if you found this post useful, bookmark Chicago’s best special events and activities blog.


    Featured image by batavia60510 from Pixabay.



      BLOGS
    THE 15 BEST INDOOR THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO

    The best places to escape the freezing cold, pouring rain, or horribly humid days in Chicago.


    Looking for cool indoor activities in Chicago on a freezing cold day or a heavily rainy day?


    Wanna have an awesome Chicago experience, while avoiding public spaces?


    I’ve put together the 15 coolest indoor activities in Chicago for you. Have a great time, regardless of how the weather outside is!

    15 Fun Indoor Things To Do In Chicago

    Our favorite places in Chicago to keep you entertained throughout the year (whether it be good weather or bad).


    Including a few activities for very young children!


      • Find your inner artist at The Art Institute of Chicago

      • Descend into a coal mine at The Museum of Science and Industry

      • Check in with Sue at The Field Museum of Natural History

      • Have a soothing dip at AIRE Ancient Baths

      • Enjoy a spell of blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends

      • Team up for an adventure at Fox in a Box Escape Rooms

      • Savor some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s

      • Catch a show at the Music Box Theater

      • Get the 360 CHICAGO view of Chicago

      • Get your luxury shopping done at 900 North Michigan Shops

      • Drop in at the Chicago Cultural Center

      • Sift through the titles at Quimby’s Bookstore

      • Catch some of the action at Diversey River Bowl

      • LOL at The Second City

      • Indoor activities in Chicago for kids

      Find your inner artist at The Art Institute of Chicago

      article-image-1

      Image credit: The Art Institute of Chicago


      One of the oldest and largest art museums in the world, the Art Institute includes everything from Medieval and Renaissance paintings to 20th and 21st century art (in its Modern Wing)...


      And even exhibits like the Arthur Rubloff Collection, which features over 1400 glass paperweights from different periods.


      Apart from the permanent collections, they frequently have rotating exhibitions so remember to visit their website and see what they have going during the time of your visit.


      Tip: Check if their guided tours are available when you visit. You can also search for private tours by art experts and artists.


      Website: Visit their website


      Address: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603


      Email: Check their contact page

      Face a tornado at The Museum of Science and Industry

      article-image-2

      Image credit: The Museum of Science And Industry


      MSI is the largest science museum in the Western hemisphere, but that’s hardly the best reason it’s such a ‘cool activity’ in Chicago.


      On the other hand…


      Descending into a coal mine, climbing aboard a WWII German submarine, standing in front of a towering tornado - all of which, and a whole lot more you can do at MSI.


      Now we’re talking!


      Tip: MSI offers free entry to Illinois residents, on showing proof of residency on certain free days.


      Website: Visit their website


      Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


      Address: 5700 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637


      Phone: (773) 684-1414

      Check in with Sue at The Field Museum of Natural History

      How’s this for a record? The museum with the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex in the world.


      Find that hard to believe?


      Do yourself a favor, visit the Field Museum, and seek out Sue, their resident Tyrannosaurus Rex.


      And while you’re there, check out some of the other specimens and objects they have down there (they have 30 million of them).


      It’s so vast the walking will wear you out but on the bright side they have an excellent restaurant and plenty of vending machines for you to replenish yourself.


      Tip: Just like MSI, the Field Museum also offers free days to Illinois residents.


      Website: Visit their website


      Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


      Address: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605


      Phone: (312) 922-9410

      Have a soothing dip at AIRE Ancient Baths

      Located in a restored 1902 factory, AIRE has six refreshing thermal baths, modeled after the ancient Greek, Roman, and Ottoman traditions.


      You’ll enjoy gazing at the original exposed brick, wooden beams, and industrial columns (all of which have been preserved) as you indulge yourself.


      And follow it up with some of their spa treatments.


      Definitely one of the best things to do in Chicago for adults.


      Website: Visit their website


      Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


      Address: 800 W Superior St, Chicago, IL 60642


      Email: bookingchicago@beaire.com


      Phone: (312) 888-7099

      Enjoy a spell of blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends

      One of Chicago’s most popular music venues, helmed by the legend - Buddy Guy - himself, and drawing performers from near and far.


      You can catch both relative newbies as well as established musicians like Larry Carlton perform here. If you’re lucky you’ll be there when Buddy Guy himself is one stage (yes, he still plays).


      Plus there’s the amazing New Orleans-inspired menu. If you’re visiting for the first time, don’t forget to try out their Catfish Po’ Boy, the Louisiana style Gumbo and the Blues Margarita!


      Website: Visit their website


      Address: 700 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605


      Phone: (312) 427-1190

      Team up for an adventure at Fox in a Box Escape Rooms

      Lead your team of up to 6 players on a thrilling adventure in one of our escape room games.


      You’ll be led into the game room; the door will close behind you, and the countdown begins. You have exactly one hour - 60 minutes - to solve clues, do tasks, and spot clues in order to accomplish some objectives and find your way out.


      To win, you must put your observation, quick thinking, and team skills to the test.


      There are multiple escape room games, based on diverse themes, for you to play here.


      Can you beat them all?


      Website: Visit the homepage


      Address: 47 W Polk Street, Ste L5 Chicago, IL 60605


      Email: info@foxinaboxchicago.com


      Phone: (312) 878-7899

      Savor some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s

      Deep dish pizza is one of Chicago’s iconic foods.


      As far as we’re concerned, pizzas were meant to be voluminous (no fat-shaming pizzas, please), with oodles of goodies stuffed into it, and a generous sprinkling of toppings.


      And where else to have that signature Chicago dish than at Lou Malnati’s? I prefer the one on South State Street.


      Tip: Order some wings and Caesar’s salad with your deep dish delight…you won’t regret it!


      Website: Visit their website


      Address: 805 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605


      Phone: (312) 786-1000

      article-image-3

      Image credit: The Music Box Theater.


      If your idea of watching movies is Netflix and chill…ed beer at home, that’s fine.


      BUT


      If you like the retro theater experience (the old type of seats, films in 70mm and so on),


      If you have a hankering for reruns of old movies (like the original The Thing, independent features and foreign films,


      Then you’ll want to check out what they’re showing at the Music Box Theater.


      Tip: Get popcorn and remember to ask for butter (you get the real deal here).


      Website: Visit their website


      Address: 3733 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613


      Email: Check their contact page.


      Phone: (773) 871-6604

      Get the 360 CHICAGO view of Chicago

      Breathtaking views of Chicago from over a THOUSAND feet above the Magnificent Mile?

       - Check (from the 94th floor observatory).


      A mouthwatering meal as you enjoy the view?

       - Check (food at the 95th floor Signature Room, and drinks at the 96th floor Signature Lounge).


      Something even more thrilling to wrap things up?

       - Check (via TILT, a ride that literally tilts you over Michigan Ave from the 94th floor).


      Tip: If you’re a photographer, you should know that they allow tripods all day on Mondays.


      Website: Visit their website


      Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


      Address: 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611


      Phone: (888) 875-8439

      Get your luxury shopping done at 900 North Michigan Shops

      Located on the first 7 levels of the 900 North Michigan skyscraper, 900 North Michigan Shops are a stunning shopping destination on the Mag Mile.


      Anchored by Bloomingdale’s, they are a one-stop destination for everything from luxury brands like Gucci to multiple spas, a restaurant (the Aster Hall ‘food hall’) and even an indoor sports simulator (the Topgolf Swing Suite).


      Over 70 luxury retailers including Gucci, Montblanc, Tesla and Aritzia have showrooms here, making it a truly inclusive as well as exclusive shopping experience.


      Website: Visit their website


      Contact page: Visit their contact page (enquiry form)


      Address: 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611


      Phone: (312) 915-3916

      Drop in at the Chicago Cultural Center

      If you’re searching for free indoor things to do in Chicago, this is one of the best! The Chicago Cultural Center is a municipal center and it’s completely free!


      A stunning Chicago landmark with fantastic art nouveau decor, mahogany doors, fascinating mosaics and two stunning stained glass domes (including the world’s largest Tiffany Dome).


      You’ll want to visit only to gaze in awe at the sheer beauty of the architecture; but they do hold art shows from time to time, featuring works of both great and lesser known artists so search for what’s going on when you’re there.


      Also remember to check out the gift shop!


      Tip: They have a shop called Buddy that focuses entirely on smaller and less well-known artisans and manufacturers, so if you want to support small and local artists and businesses, visit Buddy.


      Website: Visit their website


      Address: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602


      Phone: (312) 744-5000

      Sift through the titles at Quimby’s Bookstore

      Remember how I said the Music Box Theater focuses on indies, foreign features and reruns of old movies?


      Quimby’s is roughly the same, only it sells books.