The summer months are fleeting in Chicago, so take advantage and make your next event an alfresco affair. There’s an amazing selection of Chicago venues with outdoor spaces to choose from, so we’ve put together a list of the 10 best, with options that include everything from leafy sculpture gardens to terraces with scenic skyline views and rooftop bars perfect for mingling.
Venue: Rooftop Terrace at Navy Pier
Best: Lake Michigan Views
Details: The Rooftop Terrace offers stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. The huge 27,000-sq.-ft. space is equipped with a 50-by-100-ft. tent, accommodating 350 for a sit-down dinner or 1,000 guests on the entire terrace. The seasonal space provides a front-row seat for Navy Pier’s spectacular summertime fireworks.
Best: Millennium Park View
Details: Inspired by a Great Lakes beach house with its glowing string lights and picnic table seating, this rooftop restaurant perched atop the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel features jaw-dropping views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan beyond. Book the private Library (up to 30 seated/45 reception) and you can reserve the south section of the adjacent outdoor terrace.
Venue: ROOF on theWit
Best: Year-Round Rooftop
Details: This lively rooftop lounge on the 27th floor of theWit hotel keeps the party going all year round, thanks to its retractable roof. With its modern design, glittering city views and nightclub vibe, it’s no wonder Travel + Leisure named it one of the Top Three Rooftop Bars in the world. The entire ROOF can accommodate 300 reception-style.
Best: Museum Terrace
Details: The Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden provides stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Museum of Contemporary Art’s sculpture garden. Tent the terrace, sculpture garden or both for seated dinners (up to 500) or a reception for 900. As a bonus for your guests, book a private tour of the museum’s renowned galleries.
Venue: Streeterville Social
Best: Seasonal Space
Details: Chicago’s largest outdoor rooftop terrace is located atop the Loews Chicago Downtown Hotel. Two bars, comfy lounge seating, stretches of park-like green space, and lawn games that include a giant jenga set make this a fun seasonal venue. Plan a private event for 50+ guests.
Venue: Joy District
Best: Rooftop Dining
Details: Dine on the rooftop with panoramic River North views while indulging in Joy District’s imaginative American cuisine that includes a Lollipop Menu with small bites like fried Amish chicken and phyllo-wrapped shrimp. Colorful murals on the brick walls, funky furniture and a DJ booth add to the electric atmosphere. Plan a buffet-style dinner or cocktail reception.
Venue: Kaiser Tiger
Best: Beer Garden
Details: Located in the trendy West Loop, this gastropub features loads of brews (including hard-to-find craft beers), gourmet sausage and unique bacon dishes. In the outdoor Beer Garden, guests can play bocce ball and bags during warm weather months. The Beer Garden accommodates 200 seated/300 cocktail.
Best: Park Venue
Details: Located in the midst of Lincoln Park Zoo, the historic Café Brauer was built in 1908 in the beautiful Prairie School style of architecture. The dramatic second-floor Great Hall features a soaring skylit roof, gorgeous stained glass windows and outdoor stone balconies overlooking a pond and the surrounding park. The Great Hall can accommodate up to 300 for a seated dinner; 400 reception-style.
Venue: Salvage One
Details: Once your guests have marveled at the amazing collection of architectural pieces (including ornate chandeliers and vintage furniture) at this two-floor venue, take the party outside to the lush garden Courtyard surrounded by ivy-covered brick walls. The Courtyard accommodates 200-250 guests.
Venue: Bridgeport Art Center
Best: Indoor/Outdoor Space
Details: The Sculpture Garden at this loft venue offers 6,000 square feet of covered outdoor space. Dramatic French doors lead from a gallery out to the Sculpture Garden that features brick archways and works by local artists. The Sculpture Garden sits 650 guests or 900 for a cocktail party. As an added bonus, the Bridgeport Art Center offers large, free parking lots.