Chicago’s suburbs, from the North Shore to Southland, are positively hopping with fun experiences for groups when the sun sets.
After-hours opportunities include celebrating the day’s business over a locally made meal and adult beverage, enjoying an active pursuit with co-workers, ranging from indoor skydiving to jumping on trampolines, and taking in a performance, whether it’s a night of soccer or stand-up comedy.
Chicago’s North Shore is home to several robust meetings-friendly communities, including Skokie and Evanston.
For evening outings, groups should check the schedule of performances at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, which offers group sales for tickets to plays, concerts, stand-up comedy and more. The venue is also available for group gatherings.
In Evanston, groups can toast the day’s meetings at Sketchbook Brewing Co., Temperance Beer Co., or Few Spirits, a purveyor of whiskey and gin that accommodates private tours and tastings.
Lake County is also home to a distillery, the Green Oaks-based North Shore Distillery, where groups can unwind at the end of the day over a cocktail made with handcrafted vodka, gin or absinthe.
Vernon Hills-based WhirlyBall, a sport that combines basketball, hockey, lacrosse and bumper cars, is another option for after-hours fun, according to Jonathan S. Jones, marketing communications coordinator at Visit Lake County. The facility also offers laser tag, video games and pool tables.
In the Chicago Northwest region, groups will find several entertaining venues for more excitement after a day of business.
Private events complete with food and beverages are accommodated at Topgolf Wood Dale, where the signature game involves driving a golf ball to hit a target; the Schaumburg-based Level 257 for bowling, ping pong and video games; and Punch Bowl Social, also in Schaumburg, where groups can bowl and perform karaoke.
Rosemont MB Financial Park is a 200,000-square-foot entertainment and dining complex that’s home to, among others, Big Ten Experience, an interactive attraction highlighting Big Ten college sports, iFLY Indoor Skydiving, Zanies Comedy Club and Joe’s Live, a music venue.
“MB Financial Park is also home to a variety of seasonal events, including a free summer concert series and free ice-skating during the winter months,” said Chris Stephens, executive director of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. “There’s something for everyone and all venues offer great packages available for groups.”
An interesting option for an evening outing in Oak Park is a visit to the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home and Museum, which offers a discount to groups of 10 or more.
“Group tours are welcome outside of regular hours, so the sites can be enjoyed at a more relaxed pace with extra time for questions and photo-ops,” said Kevin Kilbride, marketing manager for Visit Oak Park.
At the Riverside-based Quincy Street Distillery, groups can enjoy an evening tour and artisanal cocktails in the on-site speakeasy bar.
“Guides share humorous tidbits about customs in distilling through history,” Kilbride said.
Located in a historic railcar roundhouse in Aurora, Two Brothers Roundhouse offers a brewpub, music venue and banquet space for large events.