After the post-holiday slump, February gives us plenty more to look forward to — like celebrating Black History Month and Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re looking for something new to do, want to celebrate the love in your life or just want a fun-filled weekend, there’s something for everyone in our list of the best things to do in Chicago and the suburbs this month.
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The Orchid Show: Magnified
Big, bold and beautiful, those are the words Chicago Botanic Garden is using this year to describe the splendor of their exhibit The Orchid Show: Magnified — running from February 11-March 26. Become one with the bloom and enjoy sites such as hanging floral columns and even a 25-foot-wide orchid. More information on the show and access to tickets can be found on the Chicago Botanic Garden website.
1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, Illinois
Black History Month Tours
Few places throughout Chicago’s history can rival the iconic innovation and creation that has come from Bronzeville — like Gospel music and revolutionary medical practices, for starters. For Black History Month, award-winning, nationally-recognized, internet-loved Chicago Historian Dilla Dilla is offering tours of the neighborhood that with “his unique perspective aims to uplift the city and instill value in all of Chicago’s history.” Get tickets for this in-depth look at one of the city’s most prosperous neighborhoods at Black History Month Tours.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical
Based on Mo Willems’ award-winning book, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” comes a musical of the same name that brings Pigeon to life, in all his excitement and perseverance. The show is one hour long and intended for all ages — especially PreK to 3rd — and is on run from February 4-26 at Greenhouse Theater Center. Visit Young People’s Theatre for dates and tickets.
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
The powerful and true story of Toni Stone — the first woman to play professional baseball — is taking to the stage at Goodman Theatre through February 26. Stone, a Black woman, knew the game through and through and could dominate the field, too, but audiences will watch as she overcomes the obstacles in her life to become a legend in the sport. Tickets and more information at Goodman Theatre.
170 N. Dearborn St.
North Shore Restaurant Month
If Chicago Restaurant Week wasn’t enough, expand your horizons to the larger North Shore area, where this month they celebrate all things dining. Many eateries are running special deals all month long, making it the perfect time to try something new. View the full lineup of participating restaurants: North Shore Restaurant Month.
The Heart’s Knowledge: Science and Empathy in the Art of Dario Robleto
On display now through July at The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern, is an exhibition of artist Dario Robleto’s work, specifically of the last decade. The bulk of his work, including this show, centers on the idea that “artists and scientists share a common aspiration: to increase the sensitivity of their observations.” Medicine, biomedical engineering, sound recording and space exploration are all prevalent themes as well. Find out more about the artist’s career and how to see the exhibit: The Block Museum of Art.
40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, Illinois
What do illusion and medicine have in common? They are the main threads of Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz’s new program Physician Magician, a show of magic and whimsy by the “internationally regarded illusionist and award-winning physician.” Tickets are on sale now for his performances — running through April — at Rhapsody Theater, find more information at Physician Magician.
1328 W. Morse Ave.
Every Saturday and Sunday from February 18-March 19, Lifeline Theatre Kid Series will perform “Extra Yarn.” The play follows a young girl who finds endless yarn, and her journey to share it with others no matter the cost. Suitable for all ages, though attendees should note that masks are required. Information, tickets and more at Lifeline Theatre.
6912 N. Glenwood Ave.
Hearts & Kisses Balloon Experience
Enjoy the colorful, vibrant Hearts & Kisses Balloon Experience this Valentine’s Day season from Luft Balloons. From now until the big day, immerse yourself in 3,000 balloons or join them for one of their many events — such as Balloons & Bubbles, which comes with champagne and an aura reading, plus events for kids and the anti-Valentine. Head to Luft Balloons for more information on this unique, pop-tastic experience.
1900 W. North Ave.
February 1: Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month (JDAIM)
Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is celebrated in February, and the Jewish Community Center Chicago is putting the spotlight on the topic by continuing their monthly film series. On February 1, there will be a virtual screening of the award-winning film “My Disability Roadmap” — about a 21-year old who navigates his young life as a person with a disability — plus, a post-film discussion. More information on this screening and other services at JCC Chicago.
February 2: Woodstock Groundhog Days
What other minor holiday has a cult classic film such as Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day? For all you fans, the tradition is still alive and well in the filming location of the movie, Woodstock, Illinois. Just outside of Chicago, the quaint, historic downtown has everything from men in suits and top hats to their very own weather predictor Woodstock Willie. And stick around for Groundhog Day Dinner, where you can dance, drink and watch the movie in the historic Harold Ramis theater. More information is available on the Groundhog Days website.
February 3-5: Fika Fest
Always celebrating its roots, this year, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce will be hosting Fika Fest — a play on Swedish tradition, coming from the phrase “a coffee and cake break.” This neighborhood-wide event uplifts local cuisine and cafes, also in participation with Chicago Restaurant Week. The fest is meant to connect the community over a shared love of good food and drink. More information can be found at Fika Fest.
February 4: Narrative — A Semicolon Concept at The Gray
Semicolon — a Black woman-owned bookstore — will be hosting a literary pop-up event downtown at The Kimpton Gray Hotel. The evening kicks off Black History Month and will feature music from DJ Ca$h Era, not to mention plenty of bubbly to go around. The event will also take a portion of the profits and donate them to Chicago Public Schools.
122 W. Monroe St.
February 4: Cider Summit Chicago
Hard cider has made a resurgence as a beloved beverage, and now fans of the drink can taste to their heart’s content at the Cider Summit Chicago — returning after a COVID-motivated hiatus. Try samples of over 150 cider selections from over 50 local and international producers of cider-like cocktails, mead, spirits and more. This 21+ event will be hosted at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier — grab your tickets at Cider Summit Chicago.
800 E. Grand Ave.
February 4-14: XO: a Pop-up Valentine’s Boutique
There are many ways to share your love with the people in your life, and one of those ways is to gift them a little something special. Stop into the XO: a Pop-up Valentine’s Boutique at Space Time Chicago in Logan Square from 11am-6pm for a one-stop shop to get V-Day gifts for your special someone — even if that someone is you. Head over to the boutique’s event page to find out what vendors will be there and additional dates this month.
3419 W. Fullerton Ave.
February 10: Valentine’s Day Dinner at Morton Arboretum
Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone while overlooking breathtaking sites at Morton Arboretum. Enjoy a view of Meadow Lake while you dine on a five-course meal, sample wine pairings and listen to the music of local musician Jim Perona.
4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, Illinois
February 11: Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo
As a light-hearted nod to tradition, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is an all-male ballet company. This internationally-recognized troupe will be coming to Auditorium Theatre this month for one night only. Catch the beauty and parody of their art form as “men can, indeed, dance en pointe.” Tickets and more information at Auditorium Theatre.
50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr.
February 12: Puppy Bowl Party & Benefit
Looking for a dog-friendly establishment for you and your pooch, stop by Cody’s Public House where this month they are hosting a Puppy Bowl Party & Benefit — proceeds from which will go to support ALIVE Rescue, a pet rescue and sanctuary. Enroll your little friend in the costume contest, or join them for the human and pet contest — both complete with prizes.
1658 W. Barry Ave.
February 12: Messy Day at the J: Sensory Friendly Edition
Head over to the Bernard Weinger JCC in Northbrook and join other families in having fun and getting messy. Activities range from slime-making, kinetic sand art, painting and more! This event is perfect for children ages 3-10, and is well suited for kids who may be prone to sensory overload — which is why the event offers noise canceling headphones and is equipped with quiet zones and sensory-friendly lighting. The event is free but registration is required online at JCC Chicago.
300 Revere Dr., Northbrook, Illinois
February 14: The Rambler’s Valentine’s Day
This one is for all you trivia buffs, whether you take your sweetheart or fly solo, the Valentine’s Day trivia event at The Rambler in North Center is a red-hot place to be. Tackle love song music trivia while enjoying special priced drinks and food. First and second place winners get to take home a collection of V-Day appropriate gifts — not to mention bragging rights. Reserve a spot on The Rambler website.
4128 N. Lincoln Ave.
February 15-26: Anna Karenina
The Joffery Ballet returns with another year of stellar programming at the Lyric Opera House, including Anna Karenina, running for one week only this month. “The famed psychological drama returns to the Joffrey for the first time since its successful world premiere.” Grab your tickets while you can by visiting the Joffrey Ballet website.
20 N. Wacker Dr.
February 18: 1980s Trivia Night at the Y
It’s 1980s Trivia Night at the North Suburban YMCA, so grab the family and dust off your memories of the bygone era. Perfect for a date night or an evening with friends, since your ticket also gets you beer, wine, soda and snacks as well as the chance to win the cash prize. Bringing the kids? They can enjoy gym time with either a movie or activity like dodgeball. Costumes are highly encouraged! Visit the NSYMCA website for all the details you need.
2705 Techny Rd., Northbrook, Illinois
February 16-23: Chicago Theatre Week
Chicago theater fans come out in droves for Chicago Theatre Week. This week-long lineup includes over 100 performances, with shows through Chicagoland from The Loop to the suburbs. Special-price tickets are available now on the Choose Chicago website — where insider-info on special dining offers can also be found.
February 18: Chlorine Sky
Steppenwolf for Young Adults is back with another complex, must-see performance aimed at students — Chlorine Sky. The story follows two best friends who find themselves changing as they age, but will the girls’ friendship change, too? Find out in this production — based on the book by Mahogany L. Browne — which runs from February 14-March 11. Tickets and production details can be found on the Steppenwolf website.
1650 N. Halsted St.
February 19: Fabio Live! At Bar Siena
Looking to up your game in the kitchen? This cooking demonstration and meal with Top Chef Fabio Viviani will give you all the tips you need to make Bar Siena-quality food at home. Bring your spouse or friends to this event that marries education with delicious dining and wine sampling. The four-course meal includes: Grilled Octopus, Gnocchi, Halibut Parmesan and Bomboloni. Sound delicious? Visit the Fabio Live! website for more.
4999 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie
Fairy Brunch at Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk
Get swept up in the awe of the Fairy Bruch — a family-friendly afternoon “where fairies play to escape the winter snow” at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk. Partake in an extravagant brunch buffet, hair styling, a read-along, cookie decorating, craft-making and so much more. Brings the kids — costumes are encouraged — and enjoy the child-like wonder of fairy magic. Registration and more details can be found on the Fairy Brunch webpage.
301 E. North Water St.
February 20: Critical Conversations: Combating Antisemitism
Spertus Institute, as a part of their 2023 Critical Conversations Program, is hosting a discussion on antisemitism at which high-profile experts and activists will address the issue. “This year our presenters will focus on antisemitism — its current manifestations and what can be done to combat it, both within and beyond Jewish communities.” This event can be viewed either in-person and online — visit the Spertus Institute for more information.
610 S. Michigan Ave
February 23: Free Family Day at Chicago Children’s Museum
Take the family down to Navy Pier where you can enjoy free entry to the Chicago Children’s Museum as well as the other workshops and activities at the Pier — preferred for kids 10 and under. These free days only come around once in a while, take advantage while you still can. Visit the Chicago Children’s Museum for more information and future dates.
800 E. Grand Ave.
February 25: Purple Party Cradles to Crayons
Cradles to Crayons has been filling in the gaps for children and families in Chicagoland for years. Join them as they celebrate Mardi Gras, which they dub a “purple party experience.” Festive attire is heartily encouraged for a night of beverages, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and a few surprises. Support this organization as they continue to do their important work, and have fun doing it! Event details can be found on the Cradles to Crayons website.
2500 W. Bradley Pl.
February 26: Northbrook Cultural Fair
In celebration of the rich cultural heritage around their community, the Village of Northbrook’s Community Commission is hosting a Cultural Fair, in partnership with the North Suburban YMCA. Local organizations and attendees will be able to share in artistic displays, musical acts, dance demonstrations, education tables, henna artists, samples of food from different cultures and tons more. Join the community-wide celebration, and visit the Village of Northbrook website for more information.
2705 Techny Rd., Northbrook, Illinois
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Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.