In a city as vibrant as Chicago, making everyday decisions — where to order dinner, get a haircut, push your kids on the swings — can feel downright dizzying. Enter our (eighth annual!) Best Of awards: You shared your favorite spaces and places, we tallied the votes, and together we’ll celebrate all that makes our beloved communities shine.
Here are the Best of 2018: Arts & Entertainment winners:
Best Live Music Venue (City)
1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-733-9463
Part winery and restaurant, part concert hall, City Winery is perfect for date night or your next private event.
Best Live Music Venue (Suburbs) | Best Music Festival (Suburbs)
418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, 847-266-5100
There’s nothing like a summer evening at this popular North Shore destination.
Best Music Festival (City)
Grant Park: Columbus Drive, Chicago
This year’s lineup features Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, and Jack White.
Best Neighborhood Festival (City)
Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Wilson, Chicago
This Lincoln Square festival will feature more than 60 acts, food and craft beer, family activities, and more July 13-15.
Best Neighborhood Festival (Suburbs)
Winnetka Music Festival
This popular festival returned for its second year in June with acts like ZZ Ward, A Thousand Horses, Andrew Belle, and Jake Allen.
Best Museum (City)
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-443-3600
Current and upcoming exhibits include Charles White: A Retrospective (through Sept. 3) and John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age (July 1 to Sept. 30).
Best Museum (Suburbs)
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, 847-967-4800
The mission of this museum is to “Remember the Past, Transform the Future,” and the groundbreaking Take a Stand Center is a must-visit.
Best Children’s Museum (City)
Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-527-1000
Here, kids can “create, explore, and discover” while they play in popular exhibits like WaterWays and Dinosaur Expedition.
Best Children’s Museum (Suburbs)
Kohl Children’s Museum
2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview, 847-832-6600
This favorite spot for families features 17 permanent exhibits, including City on the Move, Ravinia Festival Music Makers, and SpotHero Car Garage.
Best Live Theater (City)
1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312-335-1650
This premier ensemble theater has received numerous accolades, including the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards.
Best Live Theater (Suburbs)
325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, 847-242-6000
The Wall Street Journal has called this “the top regional theater in the nation.”
Best Children’s Theater (City)
Emerald City Theatre
Founded in 1996, Emerald City Theatre is Chicago’s largest theater for young audiences and creates programs that “motivate young people to creatively face the world.”
Best Children’s Theater (Suburbs)
Children’s Theatre of Winnetka
Winnetka Community House: 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, 847-446-0537
Here, children star both onstage and behind the curtain during two annual productions.
Best Comedy Venue (City)
The Second City
Chicago Mainstage: 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago, 312-337-3992
This “comedy empire” entertains 1 million people every year and boasts famous alumni like Bill Murray, Martin Short, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey.
Best Comedy Venue (Suburbs)
Improv Comedy Club
5 Woodfield Road, Woodfield Mall Store K120B, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001
Need a good laugh? Make your way to this club that welcomes some of the biggest names in comedy every week.
Best Art Gallery
Anne Loucks Gallery
309 Park Ave., Glencoe, 847-835-8500
This Glencoe gallery represents more than 40 emerging and mid-career artists and curates six exhibits every year.
Best Auction House (Tie)
980 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1815, Chicago, 312-475-7900
Founded in 1744, this auction house is “the oldest and largest internationally recognized firm of fine art auctioneers in the world.”
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
1338 W. Lake St., Chicago, 312-280-1212
This fine art auction house has more salesrooms in the U.S. than any other auction house and organizes more than 60 auctions every year.
Best Family Outing (City)
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-742-2000
This free zoo is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary.
Best Family Outing (Suburbs)
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, 847-835-5440
In 2017, more than 1 million visitors explored this top Chicago destination.
Best Hotel (City)
The Peninsula Chicago
108 E. Superior St., Chicago, 312-337-2888
This award-winning hotel features “Far Eastern graciousness together with Midwestern hospitality.”
Best Hotel (Suburbs) | Best Staycation (Suburbs)
Stone Terrace Bed & Breakfast
1622 Forest Place, Evanston, 847-859-2198
This B & B is just steps away from Lake Michigan and offers amenities like heated bathroom floors, massage and exercise rooms, and an outdoor terrace.
Best Staycation (City)
Chicago Athletic Association
12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 844-312-2221
If you want to get away, but can’t get that far away, make plans to stay at this 241-room boutique hotel, complete with multiple “innovative culinary experiences.”
Best Overlooked Tourist Spot | Best Midwest Destination | Best Midwest Family Destination
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
A day (or several!) in this beautiful Wisconsin city, which offers endless options for activities, shopping, dining, and events, is less than two hours away.
Best Chicago Sports Experience
Wrigley Field: 1060 W. Addison St., Chicago, 800-THE-CUBS
Nothing beats a summer day at Wrigley Field (well, maybe a summer night…).
Best Artist With Local Roots
Kaya is a Chicago abstract artist who says, “When you see my work up close, I want you to see the paint moving, the details of the strokes, the layers of paint and then back away form the piece to see a new world.”
Best News Anchor
When you want the latest news, you turn to NBC Chicago’s longtime newscaster Allison Rosati.
Chicago’s weather can be unpredictable, but you trust WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling to always keep you in the know.
Best Radio DJ (Tie)
Fans of vintage rock and roll love 93 XRT and Lin Brehmer, the station’s morning DJ for 26 years.
You’ve voted and say mornings are better with 101.9 The Mix’s Eric in the Morning host.