Whether you're a hopeless romantic or just heading out of town for a long weekend with the kids, you can enjoy the best of all Chicago has to offer during the Valentine's Day weekend.
From Thursday, February 11 through Monday, February 15, Chicago is home to value-packed hotel packages and free family fun, plus plenty of romantic ways to celebrate with your sweetheart.
Visitors to the city are invited to make their first stop the Visitor Information Center in the Chicago Cultural Center, located at 77 East Randolph Street. For more information on visiting Chicago this February, or to book accommodations, visit explorechicago.org or call 877.CHICAGO.
Ice Skating at Millennium Park
Located in the heart of downtown, ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is one of Chicago's newest and most popular winter traditions. Though the temperature outdoors may be unseasonably warm or cold, the state-of-the-art chiller system ensures the ice remains ready for serious skating action. Highlights include free ice skating lessons for all ages and skill levels on Saturdays and Sundays from 8-10 a.m. and late night ice dance parties on Fridays and Saturdays from 7-11 p.m. There will be a special "Love Songs" theme on Saturday, February 13 with other themes throughout the season. Rink admission is free and skate rentals are $10.
Valentine's for Animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo
This entertaining and educational program for children in grades 1-3 gives them the opportunity to make valentines for their favorite animal, from the roaring lion to the slithery snake. They will also get the chance to meet some of the zoo's animal ambassadors up close and personal. The event will take place on Thursday, February 11 from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. The cost is $20 for zoo members and $25 for non-members.
Chicago Auto Show
Beginning February 12, the Chicago Auto Show returns to McCormick Place. Now in its 102nd year, the nation's largest auto exposition showcases a full range of over 1,000 domestic and imported vehicles, including experimental and concept cars, collectors' antiques and numerous auto-related accessories and exhibits. Adult admission is $11 while children 7-12 are $7, with discounts offered on weekdays and free entry for children under 7 every day. Over the holiday weekend, the show is open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Chinese New Year Parade
On Sunday, February 14, don't miss the annual Chinese New Year Parade. Celebrate the Year of the Tiger with a full day of entertainment and festivities in the heart of Chicago's historic Chinatown. Firecrackers and dragon and lion dances are a surefire way to heat things up this winter. The festivities begin at 11:30 a.m., while the parade steps off at 1 p.m.
Museum Free Days
Chicago is known for its world-class museums, many of which offer special "free days" on select dates throughout the year. During the weekend of February 12 – February 15, museum free days include the Adler Planetarium (2/12); Shedd Aquarium (2/15); the Museum of Science and Industry (2/14); the DuSable Museum of African American History (2/14); and the Chicago History Museum (2/15). Additionally, the Art Institute of Chicago is free every day in February. Admission fees to special exhibits may not be included.
Chicago Cultural Center
Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the Cultural Center every year for its striking beauty and free public events, making it one of the most-visited attractions in Chicago. A free guided tour of the building will take place on Saturday, February 13 at 1:15 p.m., including information on the building's architecture, history, mosaics and the recent restoration of its Tiffany glass dome, which is the largest in the world.
Chicago Winter Dance Festival
Whirl and twirl your way through the holiday weekend on stage at the Chicago Winter Dance festival in downtown Millennium Park. In SummerDance style, visitors will be offered one hour dance lessons at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., followed by open dancing behind the glass doors on the Jay Pritzker Stage. On Saturday, February 13, guests can learn the Honky Tonk Two Step with the help of live music by the Hoyle Brothers. On Sunday, February 14, the tango will be taught to live music by Tangata. Admission is free but space is limited. Doors open 30 minutes before the lessons begin. Early arrival is recommended.
Fireworks over the Chicago River
TOAST on The Magnificent Mile and Moët & Chandon bring luxury champagnes to businesses along North Michigan Avenue. Feel magnificent as you shop, dine, and stay on "One of the Great Avenues of the World". At 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 13 (and every Saturday in February), don't miss winter fireworks over the Chicago River, located at Pioneer Court at 401 North Michigan Avenue.
Experience Broadway In Chicago with August: Osage County
August: Osage County is a grand, gripping play which tells the story of the Westons, an extended family that comes together at their rural Oklahoma homestead when the alcoholic patriarch disappears. Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons stars in this Tony Award winning play, which ends its run on February 14.
Chicago's Downtown Farmstand
Chicago's Downtown Farmstand, located at 72 East Randolph Street, offers edible local products, all produced within 250 miles of Chicago, including fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs in season; a full range of condiments and dry goods items, baked goods and seasonal items as available. The Farmstand is the perfect place to find locally-produced Valentine's Day gifts, including the "Man Bait" maple bacon lollipop from Das Caramels; a chocolate mousse kit from Sweet Girl; and locally produced French macaroons from Macaron Chicago. On Thursday, February 11 from 12-2 p.m., stop by the Farmstand to sample special Valentine's sweets from Das Foods.
>Valentine's Hotel Packages
La Quinta Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown
Thinking about popping the question this Valentine's Day? La Quinta presents "Love on the Ledge," a partnership with the Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower. Guests will receive a King Room with breakfast, a bottle of champagne with two flutes, chocolate covered strawberries and two robes, as well as two tickets to Skydeck Chicago. The Ledge's glass boxes extend out 4.3 feet from the skyscraper's Skydeck on the 103rd floor, providing never-before-seen views of the city. Experience the rush of proposing 1,350 feet above the city. If a proposal isn't in your future, you can still enjoy the sights without interruption (photographer not included!).
Ritz-Carlton Chicago, a Four Seasons Hotel
For an exceptional Valentine's weekend deal, look no further than the Ritz-Carlton's "Couples Retreat" package. Included with your newly redesigned guest room is a $100 per day spa credit for the Spa at The Carlton Club, as well as breakfast in bed and complimentary parking. For an additional charge, you can enjoy a romantic dinner in the Carlton Room with a prix fixe meal and a glass of champagne.
The Affinia Hotel Chicago lets guests choose from a "Naughty" or "Nice" package this Valentine's Day. The "Naughty" package includes a split of chilled champagne, an Agent Provocateur strip poker set and guaranteed late check-out at 4pm. The "Nice" package includes rose petal turn-down service, a romantic in-room movie, a box of Jacques Torres handmade chocolate, and a "52 Ways to Stay in Love Forever" deck of cards to inspire romance.
The Seneca Hotel
The Seneca is offering two unique packages this Valentine's Day, both including a romantic horse and carriage ride. The first package includes a horse and carriage ride and breakfast for two along with a one bedroom suite, with a special discount when you book a second night. For those looking to splurge, you can get a horse and carriage ride, an ultimate dinner for two at Geja's, and in-room bottle of champagne and a deluxe suite with King bed.
Honor President's Day
The weekend ends with President's Day on Monday, February 15. Be sure to check out all of the local events at explorechicago.org, including this one at the Chicago History Museum.
Chicago History Museum
From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Monday, February 15, the museum will recognize and commemorate all past presidents through storytelling, craft activities, dramatic performances and music by the Michael Teolis Singers. Admission is free and no reservations are required.
Visitors and Chicagoans planning to entertain out-of-town guests can receive Chicago brochures, reserve hotel accommodations and receive trip-planning assistance by calling toll-free 1.877.CHICAGO (1.877.244.2246), or visiting explorechicago.org. Brochures and information on Chicago's exciting events and activities are also available at the Visitor Information Centers. The centers are located at Chicago Water Works, 163 East Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 East Randolph Street. For those calling from outside the United States, Mexico and Canada, please call 1.312.201.8847. The TTY toll-free number for the hearing impaired is 1.866.710.0294.
The Chicago Office of Tourism (explorechicago.org) provides a seven-day-a-week Twitter Concierge Service offering advice and suggestions about the city. Visitor service representatives answer questions and provide information with a focus on free and discounted events and activities in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.
The Chicago Office of Tourism, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is the official City agency dedicated to promoting Chicago to domestic and international visitors and to providing innovative visitor programs and services.