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Fireworks at Navy Pier

5 waterfront venues

Take advantage of one of Chicago’s best assets, its beautiful Lake Michigan waterfront, to make your next meeting or event a splash.

Whether you’re planning a corporate meeting or a fun, beachy cocktail party, you’ll find breathtaking lakeside venues that put Chicago’s beautiful blue Lake Michigan and the scenic Chicago River front and center.

1. Navy Pier

Navy Pier Rooftop Terrace
©Navy Pier Rooftop Terrace

This iconic Chicago landmark dramatically juts out into Lake Michigan, providing dazzling water and skyline views. Navy Pier offers two exhibit halls and 36 meeting rooms. But the real stunners are the nostalgic 18,000-sq.-ft. Aon Grand Ballroom, which is original to Navy Pier’s 1916 construction and features an 80-foot-tall domed ceiling (accommodating up to 1,100 for dinner, with additional seating for 300 in the balcony); and the Offshore Rooftop & Bar, a 36,000-sq.-ft. all-seasons and all-weather venue that comes complete with a full-service bar and kitchen, plus a 20,000-sq.-ft. terrace that includes seven fire pits, an entertainment and gaming area, and several gathering spaces. The venue offers a front-row seat for Navy Pier’s spectacular summertime fireworks.

2. Shore Club

©Shore Club
©Shore Club

The seasonal Shore Club (open May-October) is located right on popular North Avenue Beach. The luxe resort-inspired lakefront dining destination features the casual open-air Patio, the upscale Restaurant (with floor-to-ceiling windows boasting sweeping Lake Michigan views) and The Oasis, outfitted with beachfront cabanas for lounging. The Shore Club welcomes private events (for 20-1,200) and offers in-house catering, along with a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system.

3. The Lakefront Restaurant/Theater on the Lake

The Lakefront Restaurant at Theater on the Lake
©The Lakefront Restaurant at Theater on the Lake

Acclaimed Chicago chef Cleetus Friedman helms The Lakefront Restaurant, part of the Theater on the Lake. The 125-seat farm-centric restaurant can host private dinners, and features the seasonal 80-seat Skyline Patio with breathtaking Lake Michigan and skyline views. The year-round Theater on the Lake includes a 330-seat main theatre, along with a flexible event space that can accommodate up to 1,500 guests. The building dates back to 1920, and was designed by Prairie School architect Dwight H. Perkins, who also designed Lincoln Park Zoo’s Café Brauer and the nearby North Pond restaurant.

4. Castaways

Castaways Cabana

Take advantage of Chicago’s beautiful lakefront and plan a beach party! Located on North Avenue Beach in an ocean liner-inspired boathouse, Castaways is the perfect summertime venue, combining Lake Michigan surf and sand with great people watching from a rooftop perch. Private parties are available for groups of 50 to 500, and can only be held on weekdays. There is no rental fee, just a food, and beverage minimum. Menu themes include Back Yard BBQ and Taste of Chicago, offering Chicago-style pizza and hot dogs.

5. City Winery

City Winery
City Winery Chicago Riverwalk ©Ranvestel Photographic
Plan a reception for up to 200 guests in the breezy wine garden of City Winery on the Chicago Riverwalk. You’ll have semi-private use of the outdoor City Winery Riverwalk space, located along the Chicago River waterfront. Enjoy unlimited offerings of four City Winery wines, such as the house Riverwalk White or Rosé, and two craft beers throughout the event (spirits can be added for an additional charge), with dedicated staff. The basic Mediterranean menu choice of seasonal crostini can be upgraded to include mini sandwiches that are perfect for a summer party.

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