The best of what to do in and around Chicago this week.
Eat your fill of great lobster (finally!) in Chicago this week at the newly opened Smack Shack. After dinner, satisfy your culture cravings with the Joffrey Ballet’s production of Cinderella or Millennium Park’s Beyond the Aria opera. If the ‘80s are calling your name, grab tickets to see Cyndi Lauper at the Chicago Theatre.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
Now through May 22 | Ballet
Get swept off your feet with the Joffrey Ballet’s production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella. It’s a classic ballet with big sets, huge costumes, and overflowing beauty. If you’re looking for a quintessential night out at the ballet, this is it. The Joffrey’s dancers are only performing this ballet 10 times, so make sure you snag a ticket stat.
Times vary | Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy, Chicago | From $32 | website
May 14–15 | Escape the city
Put on your hiking boots, grab your camera, and head over to the stateside Ottawa to walk through Starved Rock State Park, where you’ll see the most amazing waterfalls, cliffs, canyons, and views. Plan on hiking for at least half the day; trust us, it’s worth it. Ottawa is only one and a half hours outside of Chicago, so it’s up to you whether you want to stay the night or make it a day trip. Don’t leave without stopping at Ron’s Cajun Connection, which serves the best Cajun food outside of Louisiana.
May 16 | Concert
Have a star-studded country night at the Chicago Theatre, where iconic songstress Cindy Lauper will be stopping to perform classics from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s—think Willie Nelson’s “Night Life” and Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” The show is just one stop on her latest tour, following her 11th studio album, Detour, in which Lauper puts her own spin on classic country songs. The album features several guest vocalists, including names like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and Vince Gill, who will also be making appearances on the road.
8 p.m. | 175 N. State St., Chicago | From $40 | website
Beyond the Aria
Signs of spring are finally showing in Chicago, so the timing is perfect to head to the outdoor stage at Millennium Park. There, see internationally recognized opera stars perform a variety of genres of music including classical, Broadway, and jazz in a super intimate performance called Beyond the Aria. Choose between sitting inside the pavilion or out on the lawn (if the latter, bring picnic supplies for an extra special night out). Singers will include Christine Brewer, Annie Rosen, and Jesse Donner. Even if you know very little about opera, this concert is a must, if only for the experience of being at Millennium Park—the architectural center of Chicago—surrounded by music.
7:30 p.m. | 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago | From $40 | website
Now open | Restaurant
Not to be confused with Shake Shack, this new restaurant focuses on lobster. And, as locals know, year-round lobster in a city that’s consistently frozen for more than six months is a special treat. The West Loop space is massive, so reservations (at least for now) aren’t necessary. Get a group together for a huge lobster boil, a few rounds of lobster rolls, or a happy hour oyster feast. On the weekends, Smack Shack also does brunch, including strong and perfectly spiced Bloody Marys, so we’re sure this will become a go-to spot. It’s the restaurant’s first location in Chicago, though it already has an outpost in Minneapolis (you may have seen that one on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives).
326 N. Morgan St., Chicago | (312) 973-1336 | 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.