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.
For up-to-date entertainment listings, check the local newspapers and magazines, particularly the Friday editions of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times; the weekly magazine Time Out Chicago, which has excellent comprehensive listings; and the Chicago Reader or New City, two free weekly tabloids with extensive listings. The Tribune's entertainment-oriented website, www.chicago.metromix.com; the Reader's website, www.chicagoreader.com; and Time Out Chicago's website, http://timeoutchicago.com, are also excellent sources of information, with lots of opinionated reviews.