It’s a week of excess in Chicago. Start by planting yourself in theaters throughout the Windy City during Theater Week—tickets are $30 or less. Then eat dumplings to ring in the Chinese New Year, followed by a tour of hundreds of cars at the Chicago Auto Show. Finally, swing by the Art Institute, which will add to its already vast collection with a temporary Van Gogh exhibit, or ramp up the Valentine’s Day love with a trip to a couples-only Wisconsin hotel.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
February 11–21 | Theater
Chicago Theater Week
Theatergoers, rejoice. Chicago Theater Week means that more than 100 productions ranging from musicals to classic plays (and everything in between) will be performed throughout the city for $30 or less. Check out bigger shows at theaters downtown, or go see the smaller productions at intimate storefront stages. Aurora’s historic Paramount Theatre is the place to be on the 11th and 17th for Hairspray live, while the direct-from-Broadway show Cabaret takes over the PrivateBank Theatre downtown all week.
Times vary | Locations vary | From $15 | website
February 13–21 | Auto show
Chicago Auto Show
This is where your dreams begin: about that Porsche you’ll drive to dinner, that Ferrari that will live in your garage, that Mercedes you’ll take around the block just because. With about 1,000 vehicles on display, the Chicago Auto Show has every brand, make, and model you could hope for. It’s more than America’s largest car show—the Chicago Auto Show also has concept cars, interactive displays where you can hop behind the wheel, and exhibits on what makes these autos tick.
9 a.m.–10 p.m. Feb 13–20 and 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Feb 21 | McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago | $12 | website
February 13–15 | Escape the city
Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Canoe Bay, a couples-only 300-acre property located a five and a half hour’s drive from Chicago. Choose to stay in one of many stand-alone cottages with vaulted ceilings, wraparound decks, and peaceful, private views. Spend your weekend outdoors, cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, or even ice fishing. Or, stay in and relax in your Jacuzzi tub while you wait for a licensed therapist to come give an in-room massage. Breakfast is by default complimentary and delivered straight to your room, while dinner—a multi-course seasonal meal with an award-winning wine list—is available in a glass-enclosed lakeside dining room.
W16065 Hogback Road, Chetek | (715) 924-4594 | From $350 | website
February 14 | Parade
Chinese Lunar New Year Parade
The Lunar New Year festivities that started on Monday hit full force over the weekens. Ring in the Year of the Monkey with more than 30,000 fellow revelers in the heart of Chinatown. A dancing lion, an 100-foot-tall paper dragon, floats, and performances will fill the streets. After the parade, warm up inside Triple Crown Restaurant with green tea and dim sum. Don’t be put off by the line there. It may be long, but it moves quickly.
1–2:30 p.m. | Archer and Wentworth Ave., Chinatown, Chicago | Free | website
February 14–May 10 | Art
Van Gogh’s Bedrooms
Known for housing greats like Degas, Seurat, and Picasso, the Chicago Art Institute has a hard time topping itself. With the museum’s new exhibit, it’s managed to do just that. Van Gogh’s Bedrooms gives art lovers a special look at the master’s three takes on his bedroom in Arles, France between 1888 and 1899. The exhibit includes 33 additional works, as well as some of the artist’s personal belongings and a digital reconstruction of the famous bedroom that alllows visitors to get into the mind of the artist.
10:30 a.m.–5 p.m. | 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago | 312-443-3600 | From $30 | website
Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.