Chicago's bustling energy isn't confined to daylight hours. The city offers loads of after-hours entertainment, including Broadway musicals, world-class classical music, and a theater scene that rivals New York's. Late-night hangouts run the gamut from sleek lounges to classic neighborhood taverns -- and most are refreshingly attitude-free.

The international talent on stage at both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago is appealing to culture vultures, while theater buffs can choose between high-profile companies such as Steppenwolf and the scrappy groups that spring up in storefronts around the city. The theater scene here was built by performers who valued gritty realism and a communal work ethic, and that down-to-earth energy is still very much present. Music and nightclub haunts are scattered throughout the city, but Chicago's thriving music scene is concentrated in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Wicker Park, where clubs are devoted to everything from jazz and blues to alternative rock and reggae.

While the city has its share of see-and-be-seen nightspots, Chicagoans in general are not obsessed with getting into the latest hot club; for the most part, chilling out with buddies at a neighborhood bar is the evening activity of choice. To join the locals, you only have to pick a residential area and wander -- it won't be long before you'll come across a tavern filled with neighborhood regulars and friendly bartenders.

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Connect to the Chicago fine-arts scene by perusing the Chicago Tribune (www.chicagotribune.com) and its dining/entertainment/nightlife website; the Chicago Sun-Times (www.suntimes.com); and the Daily Herald (www.dailyherald.com) newspapers, which offer comprehensive weekly listings in their Friday entertainment sections and online. Other reliable sources of reviews and commentary are Chicago (www.chicagomag.com) and Make It Better (www.makeitbetter.net) magazines. For out-of-the-mainstream performances, pick up the Chicago Reader (www.chicagoreader.com) and New City (www.newcitychicago.com), the leading free alternative newspapers, and check out the local online guide, Time Out (www.timeout.com/chicago). The site Theatre in Chicago (www.theatreinchicago.com) rounds up what’s playing where, and even offers discounted tickets. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.