Here are the five coolest things to do in and around Chicago this week
It’s going to be a busy and festive weekend in Chicago, with lots of ways to celebrate Halloween or just get out and enjoy the fall weather. Kids and their furry friends can show off their costumes in a new kid and pet-centric parade that may be even more fun than trick-or-treating, adults can relive their cringe-worthy adolescences at a special Mortified event, and adventurous eaters can indulge in a Kill Bill-themed dinner. If you’re not into dressing up this year, there’s also plenty for the Halloween-averse, including a gorgeous display of flowers and fall foliage at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
October 31 | Festival
Northalsted Halloween Parade
One of the city's can't-miss Halloween traditions is changing—for the better. For its 19th year, this Boystown event will split into two parades: one for kids and pets at 1:30 p.m., and one for adults at 4 p.m. The intermingling of adorable kids in Thomas the Train costumes with dressed-to-the-nines drag queens and creatively gruesome and/or hilarious costumes has always been fascinating to watch, but separate festivities will allow each to shine and will keep both parades moving swiftly. Plus, the little ones will love the new Family Fun Fest along Halsted Street, which includes a magician, the Jesse White Tumblers, and a pumpkin-carving contest.
Family Fun Fest: noon–3 p.m.; parade 1:30–2:30 p.m. | Halsted St. from Aldine Ave. to Cornelia St. | Northalsted Halloween Parade: 4–5:30 p.m. (party till 8 p.m.) | Halsted St. from Belmont St. to Addison St. | Free | website
October 31 | Reading
Mortified’s Halloween Prom Night Massacre
The national storytelling series that's made laughing at your adolescent angst downright therapeutic has a special Halloween event in store. As usual, guests will do live readings of the hilariously terrible adolescent poetry, journal entries, letters, and song lyrics they wrote years ago, when they were teens. There will also be a contest for the worst metaphor in the ex-goth teen Death Poetry Slam, and a performance by the kids of the School of Rock. Come dressed in regrettable prom attire or as your favorite horror movie character (or both) for a chance to be crowned Prom King or Queen.
7 p.m. | Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago | (773) 525-2501 | $20 | website
October 31 | Restaurant Event
Kill Grill at Fat Rice
Want a great meal with your costumes? Make a reservation at Fat Rice’s version of a Halloween party. In an ode to Quentin Tarantino’s epic two-part film, Kill Bill, the Chinese-Portuguese restaurant will become the Kill Grill, a “haunted izakaya.” Don’t worry, it’s not all that macabre—expect five courses of Japanese pub grub (heavy on the blood and guts) and booze pairings for $80 (including tax and gratuity). As the Kill Bill line goes, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Or, in this case, hot off a grill.
9 p.m. | Fat Rice, 2957 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago | (773) 661-9170 | $80 | website
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Through Nov. 1 | Closing
Upton Sinclair would have scoffed at the notion of people strolling, eating, drinking and listening to live music within feet of the Chicago River—not to mention kayaking on that fetid waterway he knew as a repository for factory waste. But by all accounts the $100 million Chicago Riverwalk has been a resounding success, and this weekend is the last time you can enjoy the restaurants and entertainment along its banks until next May. So get out there and explore one of Chicago's newest attractions, which now stretches from Lake Shore Drive to LaSalle St.
South bank of the Chicago River, from Lake Shore Dr. west to Lake St. | website
Chicago Botanic Garden
Fall foliage is at its peak this weekend, and you don’t have to travel far to enjoy it. Just 24 miles north of the Loop, the Chicago Botanic Garden is awash in red, orange, and yellow leaves—as well as the colors of the vibrant mums and other flowers still in bloom. Stroll through the 385 acres of gardens, making sure to take in the crimson maple trees and golden gingko trees in the 17-acre lakeside Japanese Garden. Don’t want to pay the $30-per-car fee to park? Make it a true nature day by riding your bike along the North Branch Trail, which starts at Caldwell and Devon Avenues in Chicago and runs though 17 miles of forest preserves to the Botanic Garden’s front door.
8 a.m.–sunset | Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL | (847) 835-5440 | Free entrance, $30 per car to park | website
Laura Baginski is a Chicago-based writer and editor who specializes in travel and parenting. Because of the latter, the former doesn't happen as much as she'd like.