No matter what milestone you’re celebrating, there’s always a reason to clink glasses at becoming another year older. Whether you’re a homebody who enjoys a tranquil evening sipping effervescent champagnes or someone who revels in twirling to the tunes of blues music until sunrise, there are gobs of activities to choose from. This day of the year is designed to revolve around you, so make your day one to remember with this guide to fabulous birthday ideas in Chicago.
1. Tour Chicago’s food scene with your friends
Deciding what restaurant you want to make a reservation at can take time and effort—and who wants that on a birthday? One way to appease everyone is to give them a little of everything on the Chicago Loop Secret Food Tour.
Listen to a local tour guide share hidden gems around the city and celebrate by galavanting around Chicago’s streets as you devour delicious delicacies, from a deep-dish slice to the classic Italian beef sandwich.
2. Relax with a spa day
If dancing all night and downing drinks doesn’t seem amusing because you’re left lying limp on the couch with a 48-hour raging headache, then take an alternative birthday route. Unwind at one of Chicago’s best soothing spas and let your muscles relax as you sequester and drift away with ease.
3. Become dazzled by a candlelight concert
Forget a cake with a couple of candles—how about a room filled with hundreds of candles while listening to covers of your favorite songs? This Candlelight concert series invites everyone to travel to historical and majestic venues across Chicago while a string quartet performs music by Adele, Fleetwood Mac, Mozart, and other notable artists.
4. Get boozy at bottomless brunch
When you hear the word brunch, bottomless almost always comes to mind. Spend your morning munching on benedicts, waffles, breakfast burritos, and other mouth-watering treats while sipping an endless supply of mimosas and bellinis. Check out some of our favorite places to spend a morning in the city.
5. Catch a flyball at a baseball game
Waving down a beer vendor and stacking up a tower of beer cups is not just for those who relish sports. Soaking in the sun with a classic Chicago hot dog in one hand while trying to catch a flyball with the other is a perfect way to celebrate a birthday with friends. (You don’t even have to be in the stadium.)
What’s best about living in Chicago is that between the Cubs and White Sox, finding a game to suit your birthday won’t be tough.
6. Belt out at a karaoke bar
It doesn’t matter if you’re celebrating your 30th birthday in Chicago or 50th, grabbing a microphone and echoing the lyrics, “B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets” is a pastime for all ages.
While there are a plethora of karaoke lounges sprinkled across Chicago to commemorate, our favorites include Sakura, a trendy subterranean located in the heart of Chinatown, and Trader Tod’s, a tropical melody oasis plotted at the tip of Lakeview.
7. Cruise through the scenic Chicago River
This is one of our favorite birthday ideas in Chicago because is there anything better than spending the day sailing down the river and seeing the city’s skyline lit up from afar?
If you want to rent a luxurious yacht or learn about Chicago’s history, there are an array of boats to choose from. And the Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour happen to be one of our favorites.
8. Plan an overnight getaway
Although we love the windy city, embarking on an overnight or day getaway outside Chicago is the perfect birthday escape. Whether you want to rent a home on the beachfront or have a glamping experience, there are numerous places in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, or southern Illinois to choose from.
9. Grab a putter for a round of indoor golf
Celebrate with some friendly competition at one of Chicago’s indoor mini-golf courses. These aren’t the run-of-the-mill courses you grew up playing, but at Puttery and the Big Mini Putt Club, every hole has a rigorous design with a minibar 15 feet away for celebratory cheers.
10. Pop Bottles in a Champagne Cave
Purchasing a ticket to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at sunset on your birthday takes strenuous planning and a large budget. However, that shouldn’t stop you from having the decadent and Parisian experience you’ve always dreamed about in Chicago.
In the basement of Marchesa lies a Champagne and wine cellar decorated with luxuriously velvet sofas and a limestone fireplace perfect for toasting to another year getting older and wiser.
11. Play free arcade games all night
What makes Replay so unique isn’t that from the moment you enter the arcade bar, you’re transported to a 70’s bar, a Tay Tay Partay (Swifties unite), or whatever the monthly decorated theme is—it’s that all of Replay’s arcade games are free. Yes, you heard right. If you’re on a budget but don’t want to relinquish the fun, head to this bar for a birthday spectacle.
12. A special movie night with cocktails and bites
What’s lovely about this city is an elevated version of every amusement you can conceptualize. If seeing a movie to mark a birthday is too monotonous for your taste, let us introduce you to the Alamo Drafthouse in Wrigleyville.
Sit back, relax, and configure your first-class seat into a sloping position as a waiter comes around to take your order and bring food throughout the movie. Watching a film with spirits, dinner, and eternal popcorn has never felt so refined and celebratory.
13. Channel your inner lumberjack with axe throwing
Nothing like adding a little adrenaline to your birthday party by launching a steel blade with a flick of the wrist into the target ahead. If you want an unforgettable birthday party where everyone will release endorphins and undoubtedly have a zesty time, Bad Axe Throwing is the ideal place to celebrate. And don’t worry—there will be a throwing coach to guide you.
14. Invite your friends to rooftop drinks
There are birthday drinks at a crowded cellar bar—and then there are birthday drinks on top of a 20-story building with unobstructed city views. Whether it’s the middle of winter or amid summer, if you’re looking for a birthday idea in Chicago, rooftop season is perennial and always a jovial time for a celebration.
15. Frolic to music all night long
We might be biased, but Chicago’s live music scene is a chef’s kiss. Whether you’re looking to spend your birthday evening with the blues, head to Kingston Mines or the Green Mill, or if you want to sing along to your favorite tunes, head to our favorite piano bars, Zebra Lounge and Howl at the Moon.
16. Experience the magical world of Hogwarts™
If you grew up waiting outside Barnes and Noble for the next book in the Harry Potter series or have watched the films repeatedly, this experience was specially made for you. Spend your birthday at the Harry Potter™: Magic at Play, drinking butterbeer™, casting patronus spells, and attending potions class at the wizarding world.