As much as I love conferences, you have to admit that they can get a little grueling. If you’re coming to Chicago for the ALA Annual Conference this year, make sure you take some time to enjoy the city! If you’re looking for entertainment, here are some places to check out.


Oriental Theatre by Mike is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Chicago has an incredible Off-Broadway scene, with o  rnate theatres and world-class shows.  Enter your available dates on this site to find shows playing.  There are still a few tickets for Hamilton at the PrivateBank Theatre, but be prepared to spend upward of $200 for a not-so-great seat.  Disney’s Aladdin at the beautiful Cadillac Palace Theatre has tickets starting at $45.  Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I is playing at the Oriental Theatre.  Even seats in the back of these shows can be pricey.  While it’s always cool to be in front, if you can only drop the cash for one of the nosebleed seats, it’s still well worth the price.


There are hundreds of smaller theatres throughout the city, too. The Goodman Theatre will be performing Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! during the conference.vvIf you can make it out to Lincoln Park, it’s worth the trip for Steppenwolf Theatre.  They’ll be performing Pass Over.  To see what’s playing in other theatres around the city during your stay, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website.

Chicago Illinois ~ Cadillac Palace Theatre ~ Historic Lobby by Onasill ~ Bill Badzo ~ Vacation ~ Happy Spring is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

BOAauditorium.jpg by kimberlyhobart is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0


If you’re interested in Chicago’s famous comedy scene, check out the shows running during the conference at The Second City.  Second City alumni include Dan Akyroyd, John and Jim Belushi, John Candy, Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler and a bunch more.  We’ve got plenty of other great comedy clubs too.

Music and Poetry

If you’re looking for some famous Chicago jazz, head over to Green Mill.  This historic jazz club has performances every day of the conference.  They also host the Uptown Poetry Slam, which is THE event for local poets.  There’s one on Sunday night.  Another musical event I recommend is the Gospel Bunch at the House of Blues.  You can search for concerts in town by date on this website.

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Chicago by BriYYZ is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


The World Champion Chicago Cubs will be out of town during the conference, but you may be able to catch a tour of Wrigley Field.  (This will also bring you right to the heart of Boystown, and it’ll be Pride Weekend.  Pride will be covered in a future blog post.)  The White Sox have a home game almost every day.  They’ll be playing the Oakland Athletics, then the New York Yankees.  Get tickets here.

Chicago: Wrigley Field by Wally Gobetz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Up for something fun and weird?  Chicago is home to the Blue Man Group at Briar Street Theatre.

Finally, no tourist trip would be complete without a visit to the Sears Tower Skydeck. (It’s technically the Willis Tower now, but don’t call it that.)  There you can stand in a box extending out from the 14th-tallest building in the world with nothing but a sheet of glass between you and 1,353 vertical feet of dead air.  If you’re hitting multiple attractions, you can get Skydeck tickets as part of a CityPass package.


I took this photo from the Skydeck in winter.

A downward view. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the dizzying drop.

Want some more ideas for our trip? Visit We’re excited to welcome you to our city!

About Kylie Peters

Kylie Peters is the Middle School Librarian at Geneva Public Library in Illinois. She is passionate about building relationships and community, social justice, comics, middle school literature, gaming, technology, and reader’s advisory. She writes about middle school literature at

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