15+ Birthday Ideas in Chicago

CityDays’ guide to finding birthday ideas in Chicago that you’ll actually want to do.

It’s that time of year again - you’ve taken another trip around the sun and you’re in need of some birthday ideas in Chicago!

Whether this is your first birthday in the Windy City or you’ve run out of ideas after spending pretty much every birthday to date in Chicago, we’ve come up with a guide to help you celebrate the way you want to.

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After all, that’s what it’s all about - this is your day, and whoever you plan on spending your birthday with, it should be something that you want to do!

So, if you’re ready to find out how you’ll be spending your birthday in Chicago, read on!

And just so you know, nobody pays us to be featured on this list. They’re just our recommendations to you, so you can find the best things to do in Chicago.

Best Birthday Ideas in Chicago

Get “Lost in The Loop” on a Scavenger Hunt

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Location: The Loop, Chicago

Looking for birthday ideas in Chicago that work for 2-10+ people? This is for you.

Scavenger hunts like these are the perfect activity to fill a few hours with birthday fun during the daytime - especially if you have a dinner reservation or tickets for something in the evening.

The concept is super easy: you get texts sent to you via WhatsApp that include riddles, clues, and puzzles for you to solve with your friends or family, and eventually, you’ll be taken on an immersive route around Chicago’s iconic Loop. 

They’re totally self-guided so you can decide when you want to play, rest up, take a detour or, do what I did and stop at a bar or two for birthday drinks!

Along the way, you’ll pass iconic landmarks and hidden gems, grab a few selfies, laugh a ton and find stuff you never even noticed before. Basically, it’s the perfect middle-ground between a walking tour and an escape room - but with way more freedom attached. 

Practical information: Book tickets at here. Cost is $20 per person and all you need is a phone, comfortable walking shoes, and a few hours to spare! 

Let the Games Begin at Whirlyball

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Location: Whirlyball, Chicago

This is going to sound like a bad joke, so stay with me here: what do you get if you cross lacrosse, hockey, basketball, and bumper cars? One incredibly fun and hilariously chaotic game called Whirlyball, of course!

If you haven't played Whirlyball before or even heard of it, let’s just say it's a unique way to celebrate a birthday - and for all the right reasons. It’s funny, enjoyable, entertaining and yes, totally childish and awesome. 

Practical information: Open daily. Booking in advance is recommended and can be done through Whirlyball. Prices vary by time and group size.

Have an Urban Adventure In The City

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Location: Various

What’s that? You’ve never been on an urban adventure before? That’s what makes it one of the best birthday ideas in Chicago. 

Whether you were born and raised in Chicago or you’re just visiting, there is so much more to this city than meets the eye. And to find it, you’ll have to work together using your wit and guile – and some mobile data.

Urban adventures are like scavenger hunts or escape rooms for the inquisitive explorers out there. If you love puzzles, history, discovering awesome quirky places or just going for a walk, these are for you (and remember to check out the bar and cafe recommendations along the way!). 

Practical information: Book your tickets and get more details on specific adventures here.

Putt Your Way into a New Age and Era

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Location: Big Mini Putt and Puttery, Chicago

Call me old fashioned, but nothing gets me psyched as much as a round or two of mini golf.

Honestly, someone with my coordination should stay as far away from this game as possible, but alas, my heart proudly beats for those tiny putters, creative courses, and the million to one chance that I get a hole-in-one (it has happened TWICE now, thank you very much!). 

So I might be terrible at it, but thanks to my almost pro mini golfing partner and friends, I know where the good spots are to play. 

I’d recommend checking out Big Mini Putt Club (9 holes, perfect for bigger groups, the staff are great and the drinks are awesome) or Puttery (incredible cocktails, the courses have amazing, elaborate themes - the library is my favorite - and has a nice, laid-back atmosphere). 

Practical information: Both locations require bookings, which can be made on their websites. Prices and hours vary by location.

Play Shuffleboard at Royal Palms

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Location: Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, Chicago

Bring tropical vibes to Chicago and your birthday with a game of shuffleboard at Royal Palms!

With a laid-back, beachy atmosphere, this is the perfect place to chill, play, and celebrate. If you haven’t played Shuffleboard before, this is a great place to learn how - and take it from me, this is a “more the merrier” type of game. 

Rent a cabana for added privacy and exclusivity, and make sure you book in advance, you can wait in line for hours at a time as a walk-in (still, worth it!). 

Practical information: Cabana rentals and entry details are available at Royal Palms. Opening hours are typically from noon until late. Prices for shuffleboard and cabanas vary, so booking in advance is recommended.

Fun Birthday Ideas in Chicago

Party like It’s the 13th Century at Medieval Times

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Location: Medieval Times, Chicago

Looking for Chicago birthday ideas that won’t make you feel old? I can’t wind back the clock for you, but I can recommend stepping back in time for a few hours…

Medieval Times is where you go to sit back, enjoy a royal feast while knights joust before your eyes (and inevitably get carried away cheering on your knight).

It’s everything you’d expect to be: cozy but crazy, fun, spectacular, immersive, and a real treat, regardless of how old you’re turning.

Practical information: Visit Medieval Times for show times and ticket prices. Reservations are recommended. 

Let Drunk Shakespeare be Your Entertainment

Location: Drunk Shakespeare, Chicago

Experience Shakespeare like never before with a twist at Drunk Shakespeare, where classical theater meets hilarious improvisation. 

The formula is simple: One actor has five shots of whiskey and then attempts to lead the cast through a Shakespearean play. 

It's irreverent, spontaneous, and outrageously funny. In other words, it’s a recipe for great birthday memories! 

Practical information: Shows are available at Drunk Shakespeare. Tickets and showtimes vary; booking in advance is highly recommended.

Exceed Optical Expectations at a Magic Show

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Location: The Magic Lounge and The Magic Parlour, Chicago

There’s nothing like a birthday to give you the excuse of doing something a little out of the ordinary, and that’s exactly how I would describe going to magic shows.

Even the hardest cynics have a hard time denying how cool magic is, especially when it’s put together in an immersive, inspiring show. There are two venues I’d most recommend in Chicago for seeing extraordinary magic shows, The Magic Lounge or The Magic Parlour.

Both of these are great options if you’re looking for a sophisticated but fun environment for a mysterious, enchanting birthday celebration. They both offer a combination of illusion and storytelling, and you can expect your jaw to be on the floor at regular intervals!

Practical information: Book tickets in advance on their websites. Showtimes and ticket prices vary.

Indulge Yourself and Get a Massage

Location: Various

Following on from our solo birthday ideas in Chicago, something I think we should all do more of, but can definitely get away with on our birthdays: getting a massage.

If you want to go all out “spa”, then I’d recommend you head to AIRE Chicago (perfect if you’re in need of some hydrotherapy, there are baths, scented steam rooms and even cold plunge pools for the brave and willing!). 

If you’re looking for a cheaper option and have some knots in your muscles that could use kneading out, check out Lang Ocean Spa or Intuit Healing.

Practical information: Visit each spa's website to schedule appointments and check for special packages or promotions. 

Hit up Chicago’s Best Game Bars

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Location: Various

Looking for birthday ideas in Chicago that are low-key and can involve a bunch of people? You’ve gotta check out Chicago’s game bars.

You don’t really need me to tell you why playing games on your birthday is fun, so I’ll keep this short. Depending on your idea of what makes a good game will sort of dictate where’s best for you to go, so here are my recommendations:

Headquarters: Vintage and classic arcade games – think Pinball, Donkey Kong, NBA Jam, Rampage and Frogger. Also has an awesome beer selection and hilariously named cocktails!

Snakes & Lattes: The best board game cafe in town! It has all your classic board games as well as tons of modern games you might not have heard of. Great fun for all ages, and they also have themed rooms you can hire if you want to host your own tournament or party!

The Catcade: Why just play with games when you can also play with cats? The most adorable game bar probably ever, this place is for anybody who’d rather spend their birthday with cats (but, like a cat, will tolerate the company of a few loved ones too!). 

Practical information: Check each venue online for hours and specific event listings on individual websites.

Play Something That is (Probably) Entirely New at Chicago Curling Club

Location: Northbrook, IL

Looking for cool Chicago birthday ideas? Well, it *literally* doesn’t get cooler than curling.

If you don’t tune into the Winter Olympics as fanatically as I do (guilty as charged), you’d be forgiven for not knowing what curling is. It’s a sport that originated in Scotland, and to the uninitiated, it looks like a crossover between life-sized air hockey with mops, but the pucks are giant blobs of smooth granite. Interested now? I thought you might be!

Honestly, it’s a ton of fun to play and if you’re looking to do something different for your birthday, you could do a lot worse than drag your family or friends along to this. It requires a lot of technique but you can pick up the basics pretty quickly - and best of all, it’s available to try right here in Chicago!

Practical information: Visit Chicago Curling Club for session times and membership details. Prior booking is required.

Sing Your Heart Out in Chinatown’s Karaoke Bars

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Location: Karaoke Bars in Chinatown, Chicago

Real talk: who hasn’t sung in the shower and secretly thought to yourself that there’s a chance nobody’s realized you have what it takes to be America’s next big deal in the music scene?

Hopefully that’s not just me…but I’ll level with you. I actually sound so much better in a choir of about, let’s say, a hundred people. Even better if I don’t make a single sound. But you know what? That doesn’t stop me from tearing up a karaoke bar with my dulcet tones. 

Karaoke is never a bad idea and if it’s your kind of thing, you’re in luck: there are loads of great places to give it a try in Chicago. 

If you’re part of a younger crowd and don’t mind singing in front of a bunch of strangers, go to Trader Todd’s (this place has an awesome patio in the summertime too).
Sakura in Chinatown also has a public stage if you’re brave enough, but also has private rooms you can hire - and it’s a total vibe inside, good times for all! 

Sakura https://www.sakurakaraokebar.com/

Trader Todd’s https://www.tradertodd.com/

Practical information: Most bars are walk-in friendly, but reservations are recommended for larger groups or special occasions.

Check Out Chicago’s Quirky Museums

Location: Various locations around Chicago

Looking for birthday ideas in Chicago that you can do by yourself or with others?

Listen, there’s no shame in spending your birthday alone. If you’re new to the city or haven’t made any new friends yet, it’s easy to feel isolated, especially if you’d really like to be out there celebrating.

Well, I have a solution for you: have a “you” day. Do things you want to do, and for me, that’ll always involve indulging my curious side.

Chicago is home to tons of quirky museums, some smaller, others are bigger - but it’s all about finding what you’re into and paying them a visit. Here are some of my favorites to give you some inspo:

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Money Museum (Federal Reserve): Sooo many Chicagoans sleep on the money museum and I can’t figure out why. Here, cash is king in the sense that it’s all about putting your money where your mouth is and learning about all things money. I find the counterfeiting exhibits particularly interesting.

Field Museum's Grainger Hall of Gems: All that glitters is not gold but that doesn’t mean you haven’t stumbled across a real gem! If you’re into sparkly things, jewelry, or would never dream of leaving your rose quartz behind at home, this place will knock your socks off.

International Museum of Surgical Science: Kinda creepy, a little morbid, but absolutely fascinating. Not one for those with weak stomachs, this place takes you through the history of surgical medicine over four floors of incredible artifacts. 

Museum of Contemporary Photography: I find it hard to believe that this place is free sometimes. Contains photography exhibits that showcase diverse and outstanding moments captured through a lens - totally free of charge!

Practical information: Visit their respective websites for operating hours, locations, and any admission fees. 

Create Your Own Masterpiece at a Sip and Paint Session

Location: Various studios across Chicago

Looking for Chicago birthday ideas that allow you to unleash your creativity? Head to a Paint ‘n Sip. 

If you haven’t been to a Paint ‘N Sip class before, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: it’s a session where you paint, sip on your favorite beverage (typically BYO), and enjoy a laid-back, creative hour or two. 

No experience is necessary, so it’s a fun, inclusive activity for all your guests, or you can go it alone and join a group of like-minded individuals. 

Check out Bottle and Bottega, Sip Paint Bling, and Muesica to find studios and classes that are most convenient for you. 

Practical information: Venues typically offer scheduled classes and private event bookings. Prices vary. 

Head Out to Montrose Beach and Bird Sanctuary

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Location: Montrose Beach and Bird Sanctuary, Chicago

No matter whether your birthday occurs in the spring, summer, fall or winter, a beach day is never a bad idea.

Obviously, sunshine is preferable for most people (but look how incredible Montrose Beach looks in the winter, guys!), either way, it's beautiful.

I’m not sure why, but even though Montrose Beach (and the nearby bird sanctuary) is less than a 15 minute drive from Central Chicago, it seems to fly under a lot of Chicagoans’ radars. 

Of course, that might be because we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to beauty spots around Lake Michigan, but Montrose Beach is my favorite. It feels unspoiled, which is part of the reason I love it so much.

The biggest pluses for Montrose Beach is how much there is to do there: if you’re not much of a beach person, you can go for a leisurely stroll around the Bird Sanctuary, spot some feathered friends, get some fresh air or try out some watersports!

Practical information: Open daily with free admission. More details at Chicago Park District.

Find More Things to Do in Chicago with CityDays


So there you have it! 15+ Chicago birthday ideas to help you celebrate your day in style!

Remember that no matter what you decide to do on your morning, afternoon or evening out with your date, friends, family, or coworkers, there’s nothing like teamwork to make the dream work.

That’s why we at CityDays create fun, interesting and challenging trails around the world to help you immerse yourself in a city’s culture, history and curios. 

Want to find out more?

Check out all our available activities in Chicago here and embark on an adventure in the city you’ll never forget: CityDays awaits!