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Katie Sagal

New Year’s Things to do in Chicago

Spending the last moments of 2014 in the Windy City? We hope you’ve got your travel arranged, hotel all set, and plans finalized. But just in case you don’t, here are a few of our favorite Chicago New Year’s Eve events to give you some ideas. They range from free to a bit pricey, family-friendly to adults only, but they’re all top Chicago attractions and great ways to spend the new year. Let us know what you think of these ideas, or share your own plans in the comments below.

New Year’s Eve with Kids

Got some little ones in tow? Take them to LEGOLAND Discovery Center for a very special New Year’s Eve celebration. You’ll get to see a grand balloon drop, special LEGO exhibits, 4-D movies, and LEGOLAND’s iconic rides in this family-friendly theme park celebration. This event is separately ticketed from park admission. Are your kids animal lovers? Then check out “Zoo Year’s Eve” at the Brookfield Zoo. Included with the price of zoo admission, this fantastic event has a live DJ, festive games, giveaways, and an early evening countdown to get you in bed at a reasonable hour.

Image of City, Nature, Outdoors, Scenery, Landscape, Metropolis, Urban, Water, Waterfront, Fireworks, Cityscape, Party Time!

Are you someone who loves to celebrate New Year’s Eve at hot spots and exciting nightclubs? You won’t want to miss the Big Night Chicago New Year’s Eve Gala, held at the Palmer House Hilton. This event will have it all. From champagne to dancing, live cover bands, tasty hors d'oeuvres, and one heck of a decorating job, this is THE party to be at on New Year’s Eve. This event is for adults only, and costs between $135 and $190 (for regular or VIP admission). Prices will increase as we get closer to the event date, so finalize plans soon.

Dining Out

For many, New Year’s Eve is best celebrated with a delicious night of dining out. Some of Chicago’s best restaurants have dedicated New Year’s Eve menus, designed to tickle your taste buds and entertain you until the big moment. Many of your options will be prix fixe dinners or tasting menus, hosted by restaurants like 312 Chicago, avec, Bistronomic, Fig & Olive, and many more. Cuisines vary from French and Italian to daring fusion or mixed kitchens. Of course, you don’t have to go super fancy to enjoy a NYE dinner – we hear tell of a ramen tasting at Locallective Loft that might be worth checking out! Keep in mind that most of these options are likely to be decently pricey per person, so budget accordingly. We recommend making reservations ASAP if you haven’t done so already.

Image of Fireworks, Cityscape, Urban, Water, Waterfront, An aerial shot of the Navy Pier Fireworks.

Fun for Everyone

Of course, sometimes you just want to enjoy a good, old-fashioned countdown to midnight. What better place than one of Chicago’s most popular attractions? Head to Navy Pier to enjoy rides, attractions, and entertaining performances at the various venues located at this city hotspot during the day, then stick around at night for midnight fireworks, synchronized to festive music. The whole family will love this experience, but it’s bound to be pretty busy, so plan to arrive at Navy Pier earlier in the day. Want to see the fireworks from a different vantage point? Why not check out a Lake Michigan dinner cruise? You’ll enjoy a great view of the light show, tasty dinner, wonderful drinks, and, of course, a champagne toast, all on the open water. If you want to do some sightseeing while you’re in town, consider an all-inclusive Go Chicago Card. Prefer to customize your own itinerary? Try an ecofriendly Build Your Own Pass on your smartphone. Whatever you end up doing, enjoy your New Year’s Eve!

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