Chicago

The Ultimate Guide to LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Chicago

Here's how to celebrate and party this Pride Month in Chicago.

Photo by Liz Devine
Photo by Liz Devine
Photo by Liz Devine

June is upon us, and in Chicago, that means three things: construction season is once again in full swing, it’s finally warm enough to transition from sweatpants to basketball shorts, and the queers are taking to the streets in honor of this year’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month festivities. And thanks to a drop in COVID infections and a general easing of citywide restrictions, most events are back and better than ever, ready to welcome revelers from all walks of life to a bounty of parades, street fairs, music fests, sports games, dance parties, film screenings, drag performances, and so much more. Here’s everything you need to know to get the most bang for your Pride Month buck in Chicago this summer.

Dip your toes into Shedd Aquarium’s Pride Night

Wednesday, June 1
Shedd Aquarium
Because a queer party at an aquarium is an obvious recipe for fun. Dive into the thick of it at this bash held in partnership with A Queer Pride, where multiple DJs set the tone for a nautical drag show, networking opportunities, and more.
Cost: Admission starts at ​​$14.95 per person

Netflix and chill at the Pride Film Festival

Wednesday, June 1 – Wednesday, June 15
Montrose Harbor
See what creative LGBTQIA+ filmmakers are up to at this two-week-long short film festival. Look Me Over: Liberace, a documentary focused on the flamboyant piano player, drops on June 1, followed by The Schoolmaster Games, a Swedish feature set an all-boys highschool where being gay is standard operating procedure, screening from June 8 to June 15.
Cost: Festival passes run $25 per person

Gigi Madid
Gigi Madid
Gigi Madid

Pair dumplings with divas at Furama Restaurant’s Dim Sum & Drag Brunch

Saturday, June 4
Furama Restaurant
Chinatown favourite Furama is pulling out all the stops this month, hosting a spectacular dim sum brunch featuring some of Chicago’s most talented drag queens of Asian descent. Expect two all-ages seatings (11:30 am and 2:30 pm), all the delicious eats complete with vegetarian versions and an optional drink pairing, and captivating entertainment courtesy of Club Chow, Rani Ko-he-nur (star of Queen Of The Universe), Aunty Chan, Gigi Madid, K’hole Kardashian, and Mac K. Roni.
Cost: Reservations start at $35 per person

Celebrate the season at Andersonville Midsommarfest

Friday, June 10 – Sunday, June 12
Foster Avenue to Catalpa Avenue
Beloved queer hub Andersonville will transform into a little slice of Sweden on the weekend of June 10 for the 56th annual Midsommarfest (no, not the scary kind). Immerse yourself in Scandinavian culture by way of food and drink vendors, craft showcases, drag shows, cabaret performances, and live DJ sets on the Balmoral Pride Stage, and so much more.
Cost: No cover; additional prices vary

eyeeaters
eyeeaters
eyeeaters

Dress to impress at Eye Eaters Society’s CATEGORY IS: PROM

Saturday, June 18
DANK Haus German American Cultural Center
Dust off that boutineer and break out the ball gown for this glitzy fourth-annual Pride event from Eye Eaters Society. The 21 and up LGBTQ+ prom benefits JASMYN, a Florida-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting queer young folks. Two complimentary cocktails by bar newcomer Bunker, a cash bar fueled by Jim Beam and Perrier, pizza from Lou Malnati’s, treats from Pretty Cool Ice Cream, corsages and boutonnieres by Exfolia Botanical sweeten the deal, while drag shows, soft cowboy music by Andrew Sa, and a performance by the Salvajes Reggaeton Dance Team bring the heat.
Cost: Tickets start at $60 per person

Dominique Robinson/Shutterstock
Dominique Robinson/Shutterstock
Dominique Robinson/Shutterstock

Take to the streets for Chicago Pride Fest

Saturday, June 18 – Sunday, June 19
North Halsted from Addison to Grace Street
The annual street fair is back in action after its pandemic-fueled hiatus, hitting North Halsted for two days of live performances, 150 diverse vendors, arts and crafts expos, and a Sunday Pet Pride Parade. If that wasn’t enough, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alaska Thunderf*ck, popstar Dorian Electra, and local rapper CupcakKe top the star-studded artist roster.
Cost: Admission runs $15 suggested donation per person

Boogie down for a cause at the Chicago History Museum’s Dancing for Life Benefit

Thursday, June 23
Chicago History Museum
In a one-two punch honouring Pride Month and the Year of Chicago Dance, the Chicago History Museum is throwing this dance-centric symposium for folks of all ages and backgrounds. A special dance performance kicks things off, followed by a panel discussion and reception commenting on the history of HIV/AIDS here in Chicago, the dance community’s relationship with the ongoing epidemic, and the future of HIV/AIDS advocacy.
Cost: Tickets start at $15 per adult ($5 for youth and seniors)

Get wild at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Adults Night OUT: Pride Party

Thursday, June 23
Lincoln Park Zoo
What’s even more fun than a queer party at an aquarium? A queer party at the zoo, of course. Party with the primates at this after-hours LGBTQ+ shindig expressly for grown-ups. Grab a cocktail and roam the grounds while a live DJ, Drag Queen Bingo, interactive animal experiences, and more serve as the evening’s entertainment.
Cost: Tickets start at $15 per person

Proud To Run Chicago
Proud To Run Chicago
Proud To Run Chicago

Sweat it all out at Proud to Run 2022

Saturday, June 25
Montrose Harbor
Partied a little too hard this month? Feel those toxins slip away along this lakefront 5K, 10K, or half marathon benefiting the local LGBTQ+ community.
Cost: Registration runs $50 per person

Navy Pier
Navy Pier
Navy Pier

Party with the fam at Navy Pier Pride

Saturday, June 25
Navy Pier
A decidedly family-friendly Pride fest is touching down at scenic Navy Pier on June 25, rolling deep with a full lineup of inclusive, fun-loving events. Gear up for Storytime with Drag Queens, live shows and screenings, and Queer at the Pier, a fashion and music bash led by special guest CeCe Penistone.
Cost: No cover; additional prices vary

Paint Rogers Park pink at Pride North Chicago

Saturday, June 25 – Sunday, June 26
Glenwood Avenue between Morse and Lunt
The northside is all glitter and rainbows on June 25, when DJs and other fabulous entertainers spread across two stages keep the crowd pumping all weekend long. Food and drink vendors and more family-friendly festivities round things out.
Cost: No cover; additional prices vary

Pride in the Park Chicago
Pride in the Park Chicago
Pride in the Park Chicago

Rock out at Pride in the Park

Saturday, June 25 – Sunday, June 26
Grant Park
A power-packed lineup of artists are taking over Grant Park in the name of pride on June 25 for two full days of fun-in-the-sun performances. Highlights include the Chainsmokers, Alesso, Joel Corry, Shea Coulee, Daya, Saucy Santata, and Rebecca Black of “Friday” fame, among others.
Cost: Single-day passes start at $50 per person

Back Lot Bash
Back Lot Bash
Back Lot Bash

Give it up for grrrl power at Back Lot Bash

Saturday, June 25 – Sunday, June 26
5238 North Clark Street
Relive your Lilith Fair glory days at this al fresco Andersonville indie music fest highlighting fiercely out and proud women and nonbinary artists. G Flip, DJ Mary Mac, Cristy Lawrence, Nicolina, Too Much Molly, UltraBeat, Beyond The Blonde, and more will be crooning to the 21 and up crowd, alongside after parties and the accompanying Pride Family Fest.
Cost: Single-day passes run $20 per person

Take things to a new level at Chicago Urban Pride: Rooftop Pride in the Sky

Sunday, June 26
The Promontory
Elevate your Pride Month agenda at this annual South Side soirée hosted by Hyde Park staple, the Promontory. The open-air gig promises sets by DJ Superman and emcee Trina Tru Luv plus good vibes and even better views.
Cost: Tickets start at $20 per person

Strut your stuff at the 51st annual Chicago Pride Parade

Sunday, June 26
Uptown
It’s back, y’all. The Pride Parade will be stepping out onto Montrose Avenue in Uptown at noon on Sunday, June 26, snaking its way all the way down to the corner of Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road in Lincoln Park. Post up along the route and join in on the madness as colourful floats and teams of marchers representing all corners of the city show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Cost: No cover; additional prices vary

Knock it out of the park at Chicago Cubs Pride Night

Wednesday, June 29
Wrigley Field
While the Red Stars and the Sky held their official Pride Nights earlier in the month, the Cubbies are extending the fun with this end-of-month showdown at the Friendly Confines. Your ticket gets you entry to the game as well as a Cubs branded LGBTQ+ Pride cap, while $5 from each sale goes toward Center on Halsted and TPAN.
Cost: Tickets start at $42 per person

Pride South Side
Pride South Side
Pride South Side

Close things out in style with Chicago Black Pride 2022

Friday, July 1 – Sunday, July 3
Multiple locations
Bid Pride Month adieu at this annual South Side three-day spectacle honouring Chicago’s amazing Black LGBTQ+ community. A host of events mark the occasion, including a leadership conference, parades, a white party, outdoor concerts, a mini ball, and so much more.
Cost: Admission prices vary

Chicago

8 Reasons to Drive to Galena, Illinois

You're just a short day trip from preserved-in-time architecture, pristine farmland, and singular history.

Shutterstock/Michael John Maniurski
Shutterstock/Michael John Maniurski
Shutterstock/Michael John Maniurski

In all its sky-scraping towers and equally sky-scraping deep-dish pizzas, Chicago is a decidedly un-subtle city that tends to dominate the cultural conversation in Illinois, but beyond the confines of America’s third largest metropolis, there’s a whole world of pastoral prairies, rolling green hills, and charming towns that are well worth the cost of gas. Galena is one such place. Located on the northwesternmost corner of Illinois, near the Mississippi River and the Iowa border, it’s a breath-of-fresh-air town that’s basically the antithesis of Chicago. While only a three-hour drive, it feels more like a three-century drive with its preserved-in-time architecture, pristine farmland, and singular history covering everything from US presidents to Kraft Cheese. So the next time you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Chicago, and its tourist-snarled summer streets, here are 8 reasons why you should make the drive to Galena, Illinois.

VisitGalena.org
VisitGalena.org
VisitGalena.org

The town is like a time warp

A stark contrast to Chicago’s shiny towers and even shinier Bean, Galena is the town that time forgot-and we mean that with love. It’s nice to hole up someplace that feels of a simpler era-one filled with barn dances and ice cream parlours. The downtown area still looks the way it did in the 19th century, replete with brick walkways and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Much of this is on full display along Main Street, where more than 100 businesses-from candy counters and wine bars to restaurants and toy stores-are nestled inside original buildings from the 1800s.

Beyond shopping and snacking, history is everywhere in Galena. This is particularly prominent with its Presidential lore, as the town was home to President Ulysses S. Grant, whose former abode is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and is available for tours. President Abe Lincoln also had Galena ties, including a famous speech he made from the DeSoto House Hotel. The Victorian-style inn is the oldest operating hotel in the state, and Lincoln impersonators still host old-timey dinner theater events on the property, complete with chicken Fricassee and apple pie. For more historic eats and sips, check out Mulgrew’s Tavern & Liquor Store, one of the oldest bars in Illinois (in operation since 1921), famed for its cheap beer, foot-long chilli dogs, and slot machines. Then there’s Council Hill Station, an 1850s general store-turned-saloon, with live music, country breakfasts, and summer barn dances.

Goldmoor Inn & Dining
Goldmoor Inn & Dining
Goldmoor Inn & Dining

Farm-to-table dining doesn’t get any purer

In general, for a town with a population of a few thousand, Galena’s dining scene impresses with its array of restaurants and its mix of old and new, from adorably dusty saloons to a newfangled queer-owned bakery slinging empanadas and Argentinian cheese bread. Considering the town is surrounded by bucolic farmland and fresh water, it’s not surprising that much of its restaurants are seasonally driven and locally sourced, like cedar-planked walleye and espresso steak at Fried Green Tomatoes, or artisan cheese plates and Illinois wines at Woodlands Restaurant & Lounge. The belle of the ball when it comes to local fine dining, though, is the Goldmoor Inn, a historic manor-like hotel that applies a modern interpretation to its farm-fresh fare. For the ultimate Galena foodie vibe, dine at the chef’s table overlooking the kitchen and feast on 10-hour sous vide pork belly, lamb loin with za’atar carrots and chorizo jus, and housemade agnolotti with morel mushrooms, candied hazelnuts, charred leeks, and dashi beurre blanc. In the morning, rise and shine at Galena Bakehouse, a contemporary cafe owned by husbands Geoff and Alex Arroyo-Karnish, who moved to Galena from Manhattan in 2019 to ply the town with a mix of scratch-made American pastries (e.g. muffins, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes) and well-travelled treats (empanadas, tres leches cake, and Argentinian cheese bread called chipas).

Flickr/Michael John Maniurski
Flickr/Michael John Maniurski
Flickr/Michael John Maniurski

Outdoor recreation abounds

In Chicago, outdoor recreation is typically limited to urban beaches and drinking cocktails on rooftops. In the quieter, wide-open terrain of Galena, however, outdoor activities are a bit more bountiful. Hiking and biking opportunities can be found throughout the town’s parks, forests, and prairies, including the nearly nine-mile long Galena River Trail, Apple River Canyon State Park, and Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve, where you can traverse trails and theorize about ancient Native American effigy mounds in the Earth.

With waterways criss-crossing the region, there are plenty of aquatic options to choose from too, including fishing on Lake Galena (just be mindful that bald eagles might provide some competition, since Illinois is home to the second largest wintering population outside of Alaska). Or you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards from Galena River Outfitters, offering guided jaunts on the tranquil Galena River. After exploring Galena by land and water, it’s time to buckle up and hit the sky-Long Hollow Canopy Tours provides adrenaline-pumping zip line tours through Tapley Woods, at speeds up to 40 mph and heights that reach 75 feet.

Hoof It - Galena
Hoof It – Galena
Hoof It – Galena

You can commune with goats

Since literally any outdoor activity is improved by the presence of goats, Galena is a veritable paradise of cute outings with hooved critters. A company called Hoof It Goat Treks does exactly what their name promises, taking guests on leisurely guided hikes through prairies and forests with baby goats in tow. For adults, the company also provides goat trek/wine tasting combos, wherein hikers can stroll the forest with a glass of wine, followed by a tasting of wine and goat cheese (naturally). Even those not able to make it to Galena can get in on the goat action-in quite the pandemic pivot, Hoof It now provides “goat calls,” so you can have a goat join your Zoom business meeting.

Goat yoga is another popular local pastime, best experienced with Galena Goat Yoga on Silver Linings Farm. Each 45-minute session, the perfect combination of stretching and snuggling, provides yoga mats in an air conditioned studio. Or if you’d prefer something more relaxed, the studio offers hour-long coffee breaks in a furnished corn crib with pastries and about a dozen goats. The company also provides private goat events, in case you’d really like to take your bachelorette party to the next level.

It’s the birthplace of Kraft Cheese

It isn’t just goat cheese in Galena. If you prefer your dairy products with an unnatural orange hue and a curiously high melting point, then you’re gonna want to drive to Galena for the cheese alone, as the town is the birthplace of Kraft. Everyone’s favourite thinly sliced cheese product was born in the tiny suburban town of Stockton, and the company’s all-American lore is on full display at the Stockton Heritage Museum. The pint-sized museum tells the story of J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co., who opened their first cheese plant in the town and began delivering milk from local dairies to the facility via horse-drawn wagon. Nowadays, museum visitors can snap selfies with one of said wagons, gain inspiration from Kraft-inspired cookbooks, and learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the invention of Velveeta.

Chestnut Mountain Resort
Chestnut Mountain Resort
Chestnut Mountain Resort

The mighty Mississippi is teeming with activities

In terms of epic all-natural Americana, it doesn’t get much mightier than the Mississippi River. The iconic waterway traverses the western border of Illinois, along the edge of Galena and the state of Iowa, so naturally such a major body of water is going to provide some staggering scenery. Visit the riverside Chestnut Mountain Resort for a choose-your-own-adventure of Mississippi-adjacent activities, from the Soaring Eagle Zipline to mini golf courses and an Alpine slide that zooms down the banks of a forested palisade to the shores of the river. The resort also provides Mississippi River cruises, for an informative guided immersion into the river’s ecosystem and wildlife.

Chestnut Mountain Resort
Chestnut Mountain Resort
Chestnut Mountain Resort

There’s no shortage of family-friendly fare

As evidenced by the surplus of zip lines and baby goats, Galena is a wholesome wonderland for families and kids. For food and activities alike, most everything in this quaint town caters to visitors of all ages-except maybe the wineries and wine bars, of which there are surprisingly many. Galena is a sweet tooth paradise, teeming with old-timey ice cream parlours and candy shops, including the 50-year-old American Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Carnival for all your taffy, popcorn, and mini donut needs. In terms of shopping, Gabby’s Gifts is a quirky spot filled with kid-friendly knickknacks like puzzles, toys, and childrens’ books, while the P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre is sure to be a hoot with its silly theatrics and close-up sleight of hand. One ongoing activity that’s fun for the whole brood is Live at the Plaza, held every last Thursday of the month at Green Street Plaza through September. The free events offer something for everyone and all ages-live music, food, extended hours in nearby shops, and other performances, all with different themes like diversity and inclusion, or Hispanic heritage.

Lacoma Golf
Lacoma Golf
Lacoma Golf

It’s a goldmine for golfers

In addition to paddling, hiking, and screaming for ice cream, golf is another mainstay activity in Galena County, as the lush region boasts some of the most meticulously manicured greenways in the Midwest. There are 11 courses in the area, ranging in size and scope from leisurely nine-hole courses to championship-level courses for the seasoned golf pro and/or masochist. Standout options include the Apple Canyon Lake Golf Course, with nine holes weaving by canyons, hills, and bluffs, and Lacoma Golf Course, a veritable Disneyland of golf that’s grown from a nine-hole course in 1967 to a 45-hole complex consisting of three different courses, plus a driving range, full practice facilities, a pro shop, and a bar. If you’re looking to try something a little more novel and a little less rage-inducing, try your hand (or your foot) at FootGolf, a soccer-golf hybrid at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. Essentially, it looks like a jumbo version of golf, with soccer balls in place of golf balls, and over-sized holes and flags to aim for.

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Matt Kirouac is a travel writer working on a memoir about the epic ups and downs from life on the road as a gay couple-and the lessons learned along the way. Follow him on IG @mattkirouacofficial.

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