These venues will make a younger generation feel right at home. › INTERACTIVE FUN Ping-pong plus fun shareable food like Oaxacan nachos, sliders and sweet potato waffle fries makes SPIN CHICAGO a great ice-breaker and casual party hangout. The 18,000-square-foot social club has 20 ping-pong tables, two private lounges and center-court seating with a DJ booth. Slip on bowling shoes for a little friendly competition and team-building at Lucky Strike Lanes. Smaller groups can rent the six-lane private room or billiards room, and full buyouts accommodate 1,200 guests. For a fast-paced and thrilling team-building activity, small groups of up to six people can try to escape from a prison, bunker or zombie lab at Fox in a Box. After your mission is accomplished, celebrate with drinks nearby. › UNIQUELY CHICAGO Get up close and personal with Lake Michigan and feel the sand between your toes at a Castaways beach party. Private parties are only held on weekdays for groups of 50-500 and there’s no rental fee, just a food and beverage minimum. Castaways is a seasonal venue, open from late May through early September. Pilsen’s Thalia Hall hosts regular concerts and performances, and the historic landmark (originally a Czech meeting hall) can accommodate 800 reception-style. Guests can then enjoy dinner at adjacent Michelin-starred gastropub Dusek’s Board & Beer, or spiked punch bowls at Punch House downstairs. Foodies will enjoy the plethora of fast-casual options, from Tokyo-style ramen to gourmet grilled cheese, from the 15 vendors at Revival Food Hall. A semi-private dining room and sixth-floor lounge are available for rent, or book the entire 24,000-square-foot space for up to 650 guests. › BREWERIES & DISTILLERIES Beer connoisseurs will geek out over the taproom at Baderbräu, getting a behind-the-scenes view of the brewing tanks and mash filter system while tasting the finished product. Moody Tongue is another local brewery that hosts private parties (for up to 95 guests) in its mid-century modern tasting room that features one of the largest libraries of beer books in the country. Their culinary brews include limited-edition offerings like black truffle pilsner and bourbon barrel-aged chocolate barley wine. Band of Bohemia is the country’s only brewpub with a Michelin star, so you know the food at this Ravenswood restaurant is exquisite.House-made beers accompany international wines to pair with dishes like fried soft shell crab with red curry aioli and grilled pork collar with sauerkraut puree. The main dining room seats 75, with double the standing capacity. If stronger spirits are more your style, arrange an intimate private tasting or interactive mixology class at KOVAL Distillery, which features their own small-batch whiskeys and liqueurs made from local grains. Rhine Hall Distillery also hosts classes, distillery tours and cocktail parties for up to 45 guests. Fruit brandies and grappa are their specialties. GIVING BACK JENNIFER CATHERINE PHOTOGRAPHY Learn how two planners made their Chicago meetings more meaningful through community service. “We wanted the doctors who treat patients in a clinical setting to have the opportunity to give back at a different phase of the process, by providing comfort kits during chemotherapy. Carving aside time in our meeting to create a community service event that was both meaningful to attendees and didn’t take a huge time out of their busy schedules created a positive impact on the people that participated. We were thrilled to be able to give back to the same community that our doctors treat every day.” Rachel Mecklenburger, Program Manager for Annual Meeting, Logistics Meetings Services American Society of Clinical Oncology “The combined energy of 30,000 Lions from all over the world descending upon Chicago was the perfect opportunity to harness our ‘We Serve’ motto. Facilitating 12 service projects over three days allowed us to bring our members into Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and partner with the city’s vast network of community/ social service agencies. One of the most memorable components was cooking a healthy meal at a homeless shelter and actually sitting down with those we served. It provided a more meaningful experience and put a face to those struggling with homelessness.” Sarah Hermann, CMP, Volunteer Specialist Lions Clubs International
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