It’s bitterly cold, but you can imagine the warmer days ahead at the Chicago boat show. Geared toward boat buyers but also very family friendly, the event really does have something for everyone. The Lion King is also fun for all, but it’ll be leaving the Windy City soon—so get tickets while you still can. And if all that fuss about Star Wars has got you curious about what's going on up there, check out the start of the new film series at the Adler Planetarium.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
Through January 17th | Comedy
The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival
Catch the last few days of the 15th Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (aka SketchFest), which attracts more than 1,000 artists and 10,000 visitors annually. This year, there will be 186 shows over eight days: Every hour on the hour, another show will take place in one of Stage 773’s four performance spaces. Check out acts like Siblings of Doctors, featuring Danny Pudi from TV show Community, and The Cupid Players, stars of the musical sketch comedy Cupid Has a Heart On.
Times vary | Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago | 773-327-5252 | From $37 per day | website
January 14 | Film and discussion
REEL Science: Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
Astronomy, sci-fi, and movie fans should head over to the Adler Planetarium for the start of their new film series, REEL Science, which pairs a Hollywood blockbuster with expert scientific discussion. First up is Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Your ticket gets you access to the museum after hours, to the pre-show trivia, and to a post-show discussion with real astronomers about warp drive and planet creation/destruction. Be sure to come in your best Trekkie and space gear: There will be prizes for the best dressed!
6–9:30 p.m. | Adler Planetarium, 1300 S Lake Shore Dr., Chicago | 312-922-7827 | $22 adults; $10 children | website
January 14–17 | Theater
The Lion King
See this Broadway production before it leaves Chicago. The Lion King won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical—and it’s perfect for everyone, from families to couples. And we weren’t the ones to suggest you sneak a bag of the famous Chicago Garrett’s popcorn into the show (our fave is the mixed caramel and cheese). That’s not allowed.
Times vary | Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago | 312-977-1711 | From $32 | website
January 14–18 | Boat show
Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show
Dreaming of purchasing your own yacht? Climb into a sailing simulator and enjoy boating in the middle of a Chicago winter at this massive boat and RV exhibition. Even if you're not a real boat enthusiast, you'll still have fun pretending to fish and scuba dive. Nearly anything you can do on or near the water, you can do here—and it's great for the kids. Take a break to sail over to the Corona Beach Bar & Cantina, where they’ll be serving up Baha Cali fish tacos, beer-battered fish and chips, and other seafood specialties.
Times vary | McCormick Place South, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago | From $14 for adults | website
January 16–17 | Escape the city
Michigan City, Indiana
Just an hour outside of Chicago is Michigan City, Indiana. Stop first at the Shady Creek Winery, which sits on 20 acres. Stay for some winetasting and a bite to eat, before heading over to take a tour of the 38-room John H. Barker Mansion, which still contains 90 percent of its original furnishings. It was built by John Barker, who was one of the founders of the rail car industry. If that all sounds too wholesome, go let off some steam at Blue Chip Casino, Northwest Indiana’s nicest casino (translation: good ventilation, strong drinks, and a decent buffet). It's turned this area into the equivalent of New Jersey’s Atlantic City, and is a surprisingly fun day trip or even overnighter.
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.