Chicago: tired of staying in the house? Need a change of pace? Although local and state officials still recommend staying home as much as possible to maintain social distance, many businesses have opened and have begun operating under new COVID-safe guidelines.
If you want to get out of the house for a socially responsible and safe venture, check out CM’s COVID-19 city guide to the Windy City.
Chicago has plenty of roof-top and city view bars, but have you ever wanted to see a rooftop view from Lake Michigan? Navy Pier recently opened its first open-air bar, Offshore. The bar actually advertises as “the nation’s largest rooftop venue.” “The atmosphere was really fun and people were dressed up for a nice summer dinner! It was nice to be outside during COVID, and the weather was so beautiful! The view was the best part too from Navy Pier,” Northwestern sophomore Tyce Christian said. Right at the end of the pier, you can sit here and watch the cityscape as the sun falls behind it. The bar currently runs under social distancing guidelines and requires a mask for entry until you reach your seat. For an insider tip: try going early afternoon for mimosas and their brunch menu for some tasty avocado toast or overnight oats.
2. London House Chicago
This rooftop bar sits right in River North. If you want the emphasis on the rooftop, look no further. This bar has sweeping 360-degree views of the Windy City. “The rooftop bar at London House was a great opportunity for me to get downtown and enjoy the city while being able to practice social distancing measures and stay outside,” Northwestern sophomore John Blumenthal said. Insider tips: Reservations on the weekend are currently quite hard to come by and backed up as of now. Try going for dusk/night time on a weekday for a chance to snag a spot. The drinks here can run up a bill, so consider eating at one of Chicago’s various COVID-safe restaurants before heading on up for a nightcap.
3. Lakefront Path
The lakefront path officially opened June 22 after the stay-at-home order lifted in Illinois. Right now, all along the lakefront, tennis courts, parks, playgrounds and walking/biking paths have opened to the public. “The lakefront in Evanston has been a great place to exercise throughout the past couple of months. People are very good about social distancing and wearing masks and I have felt safe on my runs. It’s been great to still enjoy the outdoors and be able to see the Chicago skyline while I work out,” Northwestern Sophomore Colin Chase said. Take advantage of these fun ways to get out of the house and explore all that Chicago’s lakefront trail has to offer. Social distancing guidelines stay strictly enforced all along the route. Get your fix of Lake Michigan and the outdoors with the lakefront path.
4. Kayaking in the Chicago River
Want to go to the city but stay outside? Go kayaking in the Chicago River. Multiple places along the riverfront offer social distanced and COVID-19 safe rentals with enhanced cleaning protocols and mask requirements everywhere but the kayak itself. Check out these vendors–Water Riders or Kayak Chicago–for price and time comparison to get your fill of the city from the river.
5. Grant Park
If you don’t need to structure as to what you want to do but know you want to spend time outside, try one of Chicago’s many parks. Currently, Grant Park stays open to the public under new guidelines. Social distancing is enforced daily by park staff by patrolling and using clickers to watch capacities. Bring food from home to have a picnic, support local businesses, do COVID-safe take-out or simply admire the cityscape from the Loop at Grant Park.
6. Drive-in Movie Theatre
Yes, you can tell your parents the drive-in has come back. Drive-in movie theaters have begun to pop up all over the greater Chicagoland area. Each has its own COVID-19 protocols, admission rates and capacities, so check with your nearest drive-in for their own policies. ChiTown Futbol currently offers movies for $33 per car up to five people. They also include their own ChiTown Grille which delivers hot food to your car during the film. For more information on ChiTown Movies go to this link. Lincoln Yards holds showings Thursday-Sunday at 8:30 p.m. To ensure social distancing, only 30 cars can get in per show. Make sure to get there early and secure your spot. For more information on Lincoln Yards click here. Perfect for social distancing, patrons and households remain in their cars and can tune their radios to get the movie’s sound.
This Mediterranean gem located right in the Fulton River District means another great outdoor seating option to allow you to maintain distance. Being to the west of the city, you get a more outside-looking-in view than you would a restaurant located in River North or the Loop. Stay for the full dinner menu or order drinks and small plates for something lighter like their kebabs or house-made hummus platter–this place has it all.
8. Happy Camper
Looking for something out of the ordinary? The decor at Happy Camper will surely impress all who enter. This bar has a lot of spacious patio seating with a full drink menu of housemade and specialty cocktails like their ‘Matcha Mama’ or their ‘Pink Flamingo’–all house recipes. Although a 21+ establishment, Happy Camper has a second reputation for some delicious pizza. You surely must see the neon decor and kitchen accessories in person, so take a trip down to Old Town for some change of atmosphere.
9. Pizzeria Portofino
If you want a spot right on the Chicago River, this is the spot. The pizzeria has plenty of ample patio seating, perfect for any COVID-safe lunch or dinner. The pizza comes hand-tossed and they also have an extensive selection of seafood. This place runs on the pricier side, making it great for a date night or celebratory meal of any kind. For those of you with a boat, Pizzeria Portofino offers docking at the Downtown Docks. More information about this can be found on their website here.
10. Want to stay in?
Check out the sweet, secret spots Chi-town houses. @bored_in_chicago is a Tik Tok account that provides viewers with new and hidden spots all throughout Chicago. You can discover gems like public art and lesser-known restaurants. For example, there is a yellow-brick road street that leads to the house where the Wizard of Oz was written. For those that simply do not want to leave the house under any circumstances, the account gives a new way to see the city. Watch them to get excited for when you’re ready for your next outing.
*The state of Illinois has required people to wear masks in stores and other places where social distancing is not possible. All state and local ordinances should be followed in the visiting of any of the spaces above.