New Years Eve Chicago: Best places to ring in 2016

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Do you have unlimited funds and energy? Or are you looking for something causal and budget friendly? Either way, you are in luck. There are literally thousands of celebrations in town, near town or a short ride in any direction.

We’ve included some new buzz worthy spots and some traditional favorites at all price points with midnight toasting beverages from Dom Perignon to PBR’s.


New this year, Cindy’s on top of the beautifully renovated Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (12 S. Michigan Ave.) is a rooftop bar and restaurant with an awesome view of Millennium Park and Chicago’s official Christmas tree. Their New Year’s Eve celebration will feature festive drink specials curated by Nandini Khaund (if you like Negronis, you may want to try the Aegean Sea) and food specials by Christian Ragano along with the regular menu.The restaurant is open on December 31 from 3 pm. until 2 am. Call 312 792-3502 to make reservations or email



Rebar overlooking the Chicago river

Rebar inside Trump Chicago (401 N Wabash Ave), yes that “Trump,” offers a range of dining and imbibing packages for New Year’s Eve from their Glitz Package accommodating up to two guests for $345 that features a 750ml Veuve Clicquot Rosé and hors d’oeuvres and desserts to their Big Bang Package accommodating up to 10 guests for $1695 that includes a Double magnum of Dom Pérignon, deluxe hors d’oeuvres, desserts and preferred window seating from where you can see the Chicago river and the Chi-town Rising celebration

Pricing excludes tax and gratuity. Reservations are required for all packages and may be made by calling (312) 588-8031 during hours of operation.


No longer new…but still a happening spot, Eataly (43 E Ohio St.) is offering an $85 celebration at Ristorante Mezzanotte that includes full access to all the drinks, dishes, desserts, and dancing you can handle.

Chi-town Rising

Artist rendering of what we can expect to see as Chicago raises its NYE star

Artist rendering of what we can expect to see as Chicago raises its NYE star

Chi-town Rising promises to be a new tradition. Although there’s been some bumps along the way this privately funded event by Arena Partners has Choose Chicago and the city on board. The BIG EVENT features a STAR that will ascend 36 stories up the Hyatt Regency Chicago’s West Tower for the midnight countdown. The rising star will hit its mark culminating in a fireworks show that can be viewed along the Chicago river from Wabash to Columbus (or on television at NBC 5 or Telemundo TV). In addition, a host of other activities as well as ticketed events will be taking place throughout the afternoon and evening. For the complete schedule of events, click here.

Geja’s Cafe

Geja’s Cafe (340 W Armitage Ave.) is an oldie but goodie. Named Chicago’s Most Romantic Restaurant by USA TODAY–and always a Valentine’s Day hot spot, Geja’s Café, is offering three New Year’s Eve special reserved seatings for the BIG night.

All packages include a four-course fondue dinner with cheese fondue appetizer, Geja’s salad, Jumbo shrimp, Beef tenderloin and a Lobster entrée. The meal will be topped off with a flaming chocolate dessert fondue.  The 5 pm. seating is $85 per person and includes a glass of Scharffenberger Cellars Brut. The 7:30 pm. seating is $95 per person and includes a glass of Scharffenberger Cellars Brut Rosé. The 10 pm. seating is $105 per person and includes a glass of Roederer Estate Brut and party favors for the countdown to midnight. To make a reservation, call 773 281 9101 or visit Geja’s Cafe.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum at night

Milwaukee Art Museum at night

Yes, it’s in Milwaukee but since Chicago’s museums have yet to open their doors for New Year’s Eve celebrations (exception Kohl’s and Chicago Children’s museum’s kid parties) if you’re looking for an elegant evening in a beautiful setting–it’s Milwaukee or bust.

Guests will ring in the New Year with the backdrop of the Calatrava-designed Windhover Hall and floor to ceiling windows overlooking Lake Michigan. The celebration starts at 8 pm. with a  specially crafted holiday dinner, live entertainment, dancing and, of course, magnificent art. The tab: $195 ($175 members).  To purchase tickets, contact Heather Korte at or 414 224-3297.

Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier

Crystal Garden NYE party.

Crystal Garden NYE party.

Back to Chicago…Crystal Gardens 10th Annual New Year’s Eve celebration takes over the tropical one-acre botanical garden inside a six-story glass atrium on the second floor of Navy Pier. Tickets start at $99 per person (price may increase based on ticket sales). VIP Tickets  are available starting at $149 per person.

General Admission tickets include drinks and a food station package from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with access to over 20 premium liquor bars, party favors, and a champagne toast at midnight. Plus music from DJ Dante and a premier view of the midnight fireworks show from a private terrace for Crystal Garden’s guests only. Party-goers will also receive an official after-party wristband.

To purchase tickets, visit Crystal Gardens NYE. For VIP tickets, table reservations and more information, call 312 560-4422 or email

Yard House

Yard House in two locations will open at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, December 31, and will feature a midnight Beer Toast. Guests can order from the regular menu. Locations are in Chicago at 1500 N. Clybourn, 312 951-7317, in the New City complex, and in Glenview at 1880 Tower Dr., 847 729-9273.

First Night Evanston

If you want to feel good the next day, First Night Evanston may be just your ticket. The celebration offers an alcohol free family New Year’s Eve line-up of activities and events that take place at various locations around Raymond Park (Chicago and Davis in downtown Evanston).

A single admission button gets you into all the venues. Tickets are on sale online for $30 until Dec. 31 or “at the door” on NYE for $35. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Riva Crab House

Riva Crab House offers an oasis from the maddening crowd with one of the best spots to view the Navy Pier fireworks and still stay warm. Located almost halfway down Navy Pier, once inside you can relax in the main dining room on the second level with dinner served from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. NYE diners can order from the regular menu which will include chef specials, party favors and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Reservations can be made via OpenTable or by calling 312 644-7482.

On the lower level things get a little louder with a New Year’s Eve dance party from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. including complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast at midnight, party favors, cash bar and a DJ. plus the fireworks. The party is free to dinner guests or $15 at the door for walk-ins. Must be 21 years and older to be admitted.

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