50 Fantastic Things To Do in Chicago This November

Elliot McGowan Elliot McGowan

50 Fantastic Things To Do in Chicago This November

Make it a November to remember!

Halloween has passed us by and the big holiday season is revving up for a festive time in Chicago.  After Covid-19 mitigation measures forced many of our favorite festive activities to cancel or adapt in 2020, this year they’re coming back bigger and better paving the way for an extra special November in Chicago.

Whether it’s watching the greenery turn different shades of orange, yellow and brown, celebrating Thanksgiving at an outdoor patio, or enjoying one of Chicago’s excellent light shows, here are our top November activities to do in and around Chicago!

1. Watch the Christmas Tree lights go on in Millenium Park

If there is one date to have in your diary it is the day Millenium Park begins to embrace the Christmas spirit. Yes, some will still complain that November is too early to be celebrating Christmas but when Chicago’s “official” Christmas tree appears few can do little but be imbued with festive cheer.

Every year, the City of Chicago puts up a huge Christmas tree in Millenium Park with thousands of twinkling lights and ornaments. This year the lights go on at 6:30 pm on Friday, November 19, and all-virtual in 2020, this year’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will once again be an in-person event with various viewing locations on huge screens throughout the park.

More information can be found here.

2. Let Blue Man Group blow your mind

While this month will be filled with Christmas events of all kinds, the awe-inspiring Blue Man Group shows are truly in a category of their own. The global entertainment phenomenon has returned to the Briar Street Theatre in Chicago and presents an unmissable opportunity to see the renowned act at work. Known for its award-winning theatrical productions, iconic characters, and creative ingenuity, Blue Man Group performances promise a witty, roller-coaster-paced multisensory spectacle.

Fit for all demographics, be it couples, family, friends, and groups of any shape or form, these visually stunning performances guarantee you’ll be leaving with a grin from ear to ear and a spring in your step.

Grab tickets to these electric performances here.

3. Be entranced by the energy of Teatro ZinZanni

An experience unlike any other, Teatro ZinZanni is a whirlwind of international cirque, comedy, and cabaret served with a multi-course feast. Described as “dynamic, hilarious, and delicious”, the fast-paced action unfolds around, above, and alongside guests. World-class acrobats, musicians, divas, illusionists, madmen, and aerialists fill the intimate Spiegeltent ZaZou, a unique jewel box mirror tent located in the heart of Chicago’s Downtown Theater District. Don’t miss the brunch performance on Sundays featuring 2 for 1 on mimosas!

More information and tickets can be found here.

4. Take to the ice at Maggie Daley Park

There’s no better way to glide into winter than with some winter skating. The ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is one of Chicago’s best winter-time activities. Experience “alpine in the city” skating down a quarter-mile rink in the heart of Chicago.

The winding ribbon of ice curves up and down around a 40-foot climbing wall with the city’s stunning skyline in the backdrop. It’s a must for your winter bucket list. Reservations cost $5 for those who have skates and $16 for those who rent, while the most sought-after dates like Christmas and New Year’s Eve will cost you $20.

More information can be found here.

5. Soar around Rosemont’s Chicago Wolves ice rink

6. Welcome back Chicago’s cherished Christkindlmarket

During the winter months, those annual traditions like Christkindlmarket are our shining lights in times of darkness. As Chicago’s notorious winter sweeps through the city the festive season counters it with jubilance and cheer. Which made the absence of sipping Glühwein in Daley Plaza last winter all the harder to swallow. But worry not, after taking to the internet last year due to the global pandemic the 25th edition of the German-inspired annual Christmas market returns on Friday, November 19th!

Prepare for the smell of roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst, hot spiced wine, and the magic of festive music and glistening lights all in the coziest of atmospheres.

More information can be found here.

7. Don’t miss the Magnificent Mile’s annual lights festival

Friday, November 19th is also the day that over one million lights will begin illuminating The Magnificent Mile for the holiday season. The stretch of Michigan Avenue between Wacker Drive and Oak Street is one of the most magical places to embrace the festive cheer with more than 200 glistening trees offering a phenomenal spectacle in the heart of Chicago.

The holiday tree lighting ceremony will take place at 4 pm in The Wrigley Building Centennial Plaza on Friday, November 19, to kick off the festive weekend before Chicago’s iconic Tree-Lighting Parade will move down North Michigan Avenue on Saturday, November 20.

According to the festival’s Chairman Gail Spreen the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival “is the third-largest parade in the country, televised in over 91 percent of the United States.

More information can be found here.

8-12. Check out Chicago’s incredible array of light shows

Photography by Alex Hewitt

Let there be light! Talking of light spectacles, November is the month that many, many mind-blowing light shows begin illuminating various parts of Chicagoland. Every year more and more dazzling light shows pop up in extraordinary locations all around Illinois. Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Gardens, Lincoln Park Zoo are just a few that guarantee an extra special festive spectacle. Gorgeous natural backdrops, cutting-edge light art installations, and festive cheer all combine providing some magical multi-sensory events like nothing else. Here are a few of our favorites:

Head to our list of 10 magical must-see light shows in and around Chicago for more.

13. Brave a Ghosts of Chicago Night Walk

While light shows are starting up in Chicago, Halloween events have just come to an end but for those who still like a little scare, Ghosts of Chicago: Night Walk offers a spooky experience on the streets of Chicago.

You shouldn’t have swiped right on that dating app. So many warning signs in hindsight: First, it was far too soon after your breakup. Worse, your new date looked so much like your ex: stark cheekbones, white teeth, and arctic blue eyes. Lastly, the place and time you two agreed to meet; the south of Lincoln Park, on All Hallows Eve… Come along on this spooky tour to find out how the story really unfolded!

14-18. Be captivated by a Candlelight Concert

Chicago’s sublime Candlelight Concert series offers breathtaking spectacles throughout the year but it is in the crisp air of autumn when the concerts reach their peak. Flickering candles and melodic sounds combine phenomenally creating magnetic atmospheres and some of Chicago’s most unique outdoor settings. When the nights are chilly a wonderful array of concerts in indoor venues offer a delightful refuge.

Some of our favorite concerts taking place this month are:

See the full list of candlelight concerts taking place in Chicago here.

19. Enjoy an intimate live jazz show at Le Piano

When it comes to live music, few places offer a better jazz experience than Chicago. There are so many wonderful places to see live jazz in its rawest form here in the Windy City. Alongside esteemed venues like South Loop’s The Jazz Showcase, and Uptown’s Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Le Piano has emerged as a phenomenal new jazz hideout.

In the middle of Le Piano sits a magnificent grand piano where some of Chicago’s most talented pianists and jazz performers come to play. Here you will find a mind-blowing musical experience merging dinner and intimate performances. Immersive Live Jazz & Dinner for Two and Immersive Live Jazz & Cocktails both ensure a memorable nights of dining, drinking, and the magic of jazz in a truly vivacious venue.

Grab tickets for Immersive Live Jazz & Dinner for Two here and Immersive Live Jazz & Cocktails here.

20. Marvel at musical masterpieces in a repurposed landmark church

West Loop’s Epiphany Center for the Arts has announced a new Acoustic Music Series that will take place within the recently restored landmark venue and it looks like a match made in heaven.

Stepping inside the illustrious 19th-century national landmark is already an experience in itself. The fortress-like former church and its iconic bell tower have long towered above the West Loop skyline since it was first assembled back in 1885. What lies inside is a glorious architectural achievement with exposed beams and sweeping arched trusses.

Now, despite being decommissioned and listed as permanently closed a decade ago, the venue’s heart beats louder than ever before with an ongoing lineup of live performances that showcase the extraordinary acoustics found within.

More information and tickets can be found here.

21. Attend The Queen’s Ball

Your presence is requested at the most exclusive ball of the season! Now is your chance to secure your invitation to an immersive experience transporting you straight to the Regency era. Prepare to mingle with other members of the Ton as you sip on cocktails and partake in an evening of music and dance. Rumour has it that Her Majesty Queen Charlotte is looking for the diamond of the season, but will you be the one to win her favor?

Grab tickets to the Queen’s Ball here.

22. Check out the Princess Diana Exhibit coming to Chicago

Talking of royalty, for the first time ever, world-famous royal photographers (Anwar Hussein and his two sons Zak and Samir) will be sharing their experiences with the iconic princess and her family from the beginning of December and tickets are selling fast.

Princess Diana, by most accounts, is the most photographed human in history. She grew up in the public eye. One of the people that was there capturing the biggest and most important moments was Royal Photographer Anwar Hussein. Later, his sons Zak and Samir joined the family business.

The exhibition, about to arrive in Chicago, will be told from their perspective: what they heard, what they saw, what they witnessed first-hand will all be shared. This is not a story you have heard before. Whether you are a hard-core fan or new to her legacy, you will be blown away by the fascinating depth and detail shared by the Hussein family.

Grab tickets to the Princess Diana Exhibit here.

23. See a Drunk Shakespeare show

Another brilliant experience taking place this November comes in the form of a live Drunk Shakespeare show. Taking place on a stage in a hidden speakeasy located behind the Chicago Theater, guests will find a glam cocktail bar and library with over 10,000 books. Five classically-trained actors meet as members of “The Drunk Shakespeare Society”. One of them has had at least 5 shots of whiskey and then they (quite over-confidently) attempt to perform a major role in a Shakespearean play! Hilarity and mayhem ensue while the four sober actors try and keep the script on track. Every show is different depending on who is drinking… and what they’re drinking!

Grab tickets to a Drunk Shakespeare show here.

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24. See the largest official interactive ‘The Office’ experience in Chicago

The largest official interactive The Office experience has now opened in Chicago. Through January 17th, fans of the long-running hit series will be able to immerse themselves in the world of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company and celebrate their favorite characters and iconic moments from the hit show.

The interactive two-story experience will feature 17 rooms filled with original props, costumes, set re-creations, and more. Celebrating the series’ major characters and timeless charm there will be photo ops at places like Pam’s desk, Michael’s office, Ryan’s closet, Schrute Farms, and others as well as a themed retail store replicating the Warehouse

More information can be found here.

25. Kick back with goats and beer

Some days you just need some one-on-one time with a pasture full of adorable goats, you know? Experience the pinnacle of wholesomeness by hanging out with the billy kids over at GlennArt Farm and afterward, double down on those warm fuzzy feelings with a few flights of delicious craft beers on the rooftop of One Lake Brewing with this exclusive Brews n ‘Baahhs’ experience. If there’s one way to relax and let your mind unwind it’s with a pasture full of adorable billy kids followed up by a selection of craft beer.

Grab tickets to Brews n ‘Baahhs’ here.

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26-28. Be beguiled by a burlesque show

Drunk Shakespeare shows aren’t the only rip-roaring live performances taking place this November. A number of fantastic burlesque shows offer an exhilarating night out in Chicago. Featuring world-class acrobats, drag performances, unbelievable stunts, and immersive entertainment, these following burlesque performances are our top picks for this month:

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29. Check out the WNDR museum

Let’s Survive Forever by Yayoi Kusama – Photo Credit WNDR Museum

Voted one of the top five immersive art experiences in the country by USA Today’s Reader Poll, the WNDR Museum provides an unmissable immersive experience right here in Chicago.

The 10,000-square-foot space in West Loop is home to more than 20 all-new installations offering guests an utterly unique and ever-evolving encounter far from your regular museum excursion and unlike anything you’ll find anywhere in the Midwest.

The multifaceted museum is now housing a reimagined 2021 collection and a refreshing, brand-new adventure for those who have visited before.

More information can be found here.

30. Peruse Chicago’s legendary array of street art

Image from Unsplash

While there are an array of acclaimed museums in Chicago offering exception experiences, you need not look further than the streets of Chicago themselves for mesmerizing art. Stepping outside into Chicago’s streets you can find vibrant creations on every corner.

Today murals do more than just provide an extraordinary spectacle for our eyes. They pay homage to icons, fight for equality, celebrate different heritages, and honor the heroes of society. Some of Chicago’s murals are so esteemed that they’ve embedded themselves in the very fabric of Chicago and are now as much part of the Windy City’s identity as its iconic sculptures and landmarks.

If you’re not familiar with Chicago’s art scene and would like to learn about its history and the inspiration behind some of its famous murals you can head to our Must-See Chicago Murals article or jump on a West Town Street Art Walking Tour of Chicago’s famed mile-long street art corridor known as the B_Line.

You can grab tickets to an art walking tour here.

31. Unleash your inner artist at a Spray ‘N’ Sip Urban Art Party

If perusing the many marvelous street art murals in the Windy City has your creative juices flowing there’s no better place to let your inner artist run wild than at Chicago’s incredible BYOB Urban Art Workshops.

Taking place weekly within Studio W.I.P. at The Chicago Kedzie Plaza, there’s no pressure and no presumptions, just creativity and fun flowing in all forms. Trained professional artists will teach you the tricks of the trade as unleash your inner artist on a mural with your favorite drink in one hand and a spray can in the other.

Grab your tickets to a Spray Paint ‘n’ Sip Urban Art Workshop here.

32. Catch a showing of Art On TheMART

Another place you’ll find artistic inspiration is on the Merchandise Mart. Once again the 25-story-tall face of the Merchandise Mart has fired up all 34 digital projectors for an Art on theMART showing featuring brand-new moving art displays. The summer program of contemporary artwork and shows inspired by exhibitions The Obama Portraits and Frida Kahlo: Timeless made way for work by conceptual artist Barbara Kruger last month.

“Untitled (Questions) 1990/2021” will run from September 17 until November 25 and will debut alongside the Art Institute of Chicago’s presentation of Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You., an in-depth look at four decades of Kruger’s practice.

The 30-minute shows will run nightly through November 25th. You can read the full article here.

33. Catch a glimpse of the Leonids Meteor Shower

The Leonids are one of the many natural wonders to light up the sky each year and this year the Leonid meteor shower will peak in the dark hours between midnight and dawn on the morning of November 18.

The Leonid meteor showers occur every year in November. Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, leaving behind a trail of debris that vaporizes in the atmosphere. Stargazers can expect to see fireballs, which are bigger, brighter, and last longer than the average meteor, as well as earth grazers, low-flying meteors with long colorful tails that traverse close to the horizon.

34. Explore Illinois’ natural wonders in  their autumnal allure

The Leonids are one of the many natural wonders to light up the sky but if you’re craving some natural spectacles and you’re prepared to head outside of the city and into the wilderness, there are some fantastic natural escapes close to hand. Although our state may not boast wonders with the universal magnitude of the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park, Illinois is teeming with diverse ecological landscapes and natural spectacles that will take your breath away.

We’ve selected the 7 natural wonders of Illinois which all offer breathtaking natural spectacles within a few hours drive from Chicago and they’re all the more magical with the colors of fall.

You can find the full list here.

35. Check out the changing leaves

Or course, you don’t have to leave the Windy City to find natural escapes and the beauty provided by their changing leaves. Chicago is certainly no far friend from nature, there are many places you can get back in touch with Mother Nature right here in the city and see the autumn shades sweep through the city turning trees and parks from green to crimson.

We’ve picked out 10 of the best spots to view the changing leaves in Chicago for those who can’t get enough of the golden fall foliage, or just feel like doing a cannonball into a big ole pile of crackling leaves.  Follow the link to discover our favorite places to watch the changing of the seasons in Chicago!

36. Try a mystery picnic in Chicago

To spice up any park or garden experience in the city you can book an exciting mystery picnic experience. This self-guided food adventure is the perfect way to explore Chicago’s best neighborhoods and avoid the crowds! Starting with a picnic basket, have fun solving personally curated clues and riddles sent to your smartphone that’ll take you on a journey to collect your special gourmet picnic food bit by bit.

Each clue you solve will lead you closer to your next picnic food pickup and even closer to your final stunning secret picnic spot. You can expect a 3-4 hour all-inclusive stress-free date with this fantastic picnic experience. Grab tickets and select the date here and everything will be planned for you.

37. Learn how to make sushi

While a mystery picnic in the park makes for a memorable date while the autumn sun shines, for those days Chicago’s weather is temperamental making your own sushi offers another fantastic alternative date.

In this hands-on and interactive cooking class, a highly experienced chef will teach you step by step how to make sushi rolls from scratch. You will learn the basics of cooking and preparing the perfect sushi rice, practice knife skills to prepare the ingredients, and make a special dipping sauce. Then, of course, comes the most fun part: laying the seaweed papers and all ingredients onto the bamboo mat and rolling! Using fresh sushi-grade tuna, salmon, vegetables such as cucumber and avocado, and some secret ingredients presented by the chef, you will be surprised how easily you can recreate these recipes at home once you master the skills. It’s super easy and fun as a couple’s date night, a family activity, or as a way to spend quality time with friends!

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38-40. Go to town on these three premium dining experiences

Those surprise packages come with a little extra adrenaline than the average date and if you consider yourself an adventurous eater, we’ve got three premium dining experiences made for you and yours. This season, Fever and Wegame have cooked up a quartet of culinary experiences that include a chauffeured gastronomic journey to a mystery restaurant, a personal chef-crafted dinner in your own home, and more!

  • With Find the Dinner, you’ll be whisked away to a surprise restaurant in the city via chauffeur to then be treated to up to seven delicious dishes!
  • Bring The Dinner: A Surprise Menu at Home offers four excellent culinary experiences that range from a simple, 3-course meal to a deluxe menu that includes a premium appetizer, dish, side, and dessert, as well as a bottle of wine.
  • Find the Chef transports expert chefs to your kitchen, so that you can dine on an exquisitely crafted menu in the comfort of your own home while also learning about the details in every dish.

⭐️ Sponsored⭐️

41. Enjoy a bottomless Friday at Hubbard Inn

If fancy isn’t your thing but bang for your buck is look no further than Bottomless Fridays at Hubbard Inn. Happy hour just got a whole lot happier! Head to this trendy destination in the heart of River North for an evening of good food and drinks. Enjoy two hours of bottomless beer, house wine, and more at the patio and multi-level restaurant while devouring a delicious cheeseburger with fries. Expect contemporary dining in a great environment!

Grab your tickets here.

42. Kick back on Chicago’s biggest patio

Talking of patios, Recess’s gigantic patio in West Loop features over 14,500 square feet of bars, food stands, and cabanas housed in shipping containers.

Already holding the title of Chicago’s largest patio, a revamp has now boosted the multi-level outdoor space offering even more space on which to kick back and relax. Extra seating has been installed in many of the shipping containers and cutting “windows” into the sides means the vibrant patio now has excellent covered seating with amazing views. There are few better places to grab a drink this fall!

43. Revel in rooftop igloos

Whilst Chicago’s largest patio certainly offers a unique experience, once the weather turns it might be time to seek refuge in a cozy den. At The Godfrey Hotel’s rooftop you can enjoy being outdoors on an open rooftop whilst enjoying the warmth from within a transparent igloo.

Chicago’s largest indoor-outdoor rooftop with a retractable roof has the versatility to transform into any type of venue it desires. Luckily that means that retracting the roof officially makes it an outdoor space where fine dining and extraordinary views can be enjoyed. Heated igloos of various sizes have been erected for a winter wonderland that includes fire pits, fire dancing, live DJs, s’mores, and, of course, themed cocktails.

44. Enjoy a night of Spanish cuisine at Jaleo and Pigtail

Whilst Joy District has been around for a while there are some new additions to Chicago’s hospitality scene. When world-renowned Chef José Andrés opened a new restaurant in River North recently, it came with it the promise that he would also open his first-ever speakeasy directly below.

The popular chef’s new Jaleo restaurant has been met with excitement and acclaim since it opened its doors and sure enough, a bespoke cocktail experience named ‘Pigtail’ has now officially opened in an intimate lower level space. The basement speakeasy, like its restaurant above, channels the flavors of modern-day Spain only this time it draws inspiration predominantly from Spain’s trendy cocktail scene.

You can find more information here.

45. Try Chicago’s new futuristic hot pot restaurant

Now open at 1147 S Delano Court East inside the Roosevelt Collection Shops, The X Pot, features robot servers, HD 360 projections, 5D interactive animations, and “an interactive light show that displays directly onto guests’ dinner plates.”

According to co-founder David Zhao​, ​who opened a similar dining experience with Haibin Yangin in Las Vegas last year, said “Our main goal is to bring interactive dining to the next level. With light projections and robot servers, we will be able to achieve that. Once The X Pot Chicago has officially opened its doors, the atmosphere and aesthetic will be unmatched. From guests’ first steps into the restaurant until their last, they will be fully immersed.”

More information can be found here.

46. Play mini-gold at the exciting new Puttshack

Another addition to Chicago comes in the shape of Puttshack – a new 25,000 sq mini-golf concept bar that has opened in the Oakbrook Center with a full cocktail bar and a globally-inspired dining menu. It’s the first of many new mini-golf bars the UK-based Puttshack is bringing stateside.

Now open in the huge space previously inhabited by the Lord & Taylor store in the Oakbrook Cente, the exciting new bar has been kitted out with four custom-made, tech-infused mini-golf courses powered by Puttshack’s patented Trackaball™ technology.

You can find more information here.

47. Enjoy the adult playground at Kanya Lounge

Want to turn it up a notch? Another exciting experience can be found down at Kanya Lounge’s exclusive 2-story adult playground. Five Axe Throwing Lanes allow you to test your inner lumberjack and blow off some steam while a Rage Room Experience offers 3 unique custom-made rage rooms providing the ultimate stress reliever after the torrid months we’ve had. Either way, signature cocktails and a bucket of beers can be enjoyed in the bar and lounge area while you’re at it.

48. Sign up for a surprise extreme sport experience

There are fantastic activity for adventurers and thrill-seekers all over Chicago. From kayaking and climbing to sky-diving, it is all possible here in the Windy City. With Find the Adventure: an extreme sport experience, however, you can enjoy an incredible surprise experience for only the most adventurous among us!

If you’re one of those people who like an adrenaline rush, sports, and outdoor activities….Find The Adventure is perfect for you! A unique experience where fun and adventure are guaranteed. All you have to do is indicate which activities you would NEVER do and Wegame will organize an unforgettable experience adapted to you. With transport to and from the activity included, you don’t need to worry about anything! But that’s not all! With the ” Mont Blanc” y “Everest” Find The Adventure experiences, you’ll also enjoy a delicious gourmet meal to recharge your batteries before enjoying one of the most extreme sports.

Grab tickets to surprise adventure here.

49. Hit up the largest outdoor adventure park in America

Photo: @theforgelemont

For even more taste of the action, this November take a short drive down to Lemont, where The Forge: Lemont Quarries offer an all-around day of fun. From mountain biking and climbing walls to yoga to a tactical laser tag course, the 300-acre park is packed with everything you can think of with something for everyone!

Read the full article here.

50. Check-off some Chicago bucket list experiences

With Chicago back to normal and the events of the last year teaching us to never take life for granted, it’s not a fall to hold back. While we wait for international travel to return to the smooth process it once was, we should check off those bucket-list experiences close to home. As well as embracing the city’s most adored spots once again, this fall and winter are seasons to fill with memorable once-in-a-lifetime type experiences. We don’t just mean bungee jumping, swimming with dolphins, and the usual bucket list experiences, but all manner of memorable activities in Chicago for both locals and tourists alike. Some of them have been mentioned above, but you can check our condensed and refinedChicago bucket list here.

[Featured Image from Unsplash]

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