10 Ways to Kick off the New Year

A new year ushers in pressure to resolve old habits, expedite health goals, and adopt a fresh attitude. It’s also a chance to see your surroundings with a year wiser eyes. Chicago is waiting. Get out there, and play!

1. Turn up your laugh.

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Photo: Michael Courier Photography

Calling all those who chuckle, giggle, cackle, and snort. Join over 180 groups that really like laughs. Stage 773 presents The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival from January 5-15. Watch the pros poke fun at everything from double chins to groundhogs while also stirring up ice cream fights and plenty of awkwardness.

2. Chow down on warm, cheesy goodness.

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Photo: Time Out Chicago

Instead of a “not reaching fitness goals fast enough” breakdown, choose Time Out Chicago’s Grilled Cheese Meltdown. Thalia Hall welcomes some of the best in sandwich vendors like Cheesie’s Pub & Grub, Wyler Road, Jerry’s, South Water Kitchen, and Dusek’s Board and Beer. Sample to your heart’s content, and pick a winner January 15.

3. Start a Riot.

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Judy Ledgerwood, Sailors See Green, 2013 (photo: Nathan Keay, MCA Chicago)

10 female artists are making waves at MCA Chicago. The exhibit is Riot Grrrls, and their strokes are hyped. Strap in for an abstract and acclaimed collection that challenges rampant sexism in the arts. New year, forward-thinking.

4. Take the plunge for someone.

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Photo: Josh Kotowski & Tony Toto, LPBC

Embrace the season’s frigidity with The Chicago Polar Bear Club and their annual Polar Plunge. 100% of proceeds reach local families in need, so invite your own family and friends or anyone else wild enough to chill. After party at Old Town SocialRegister yourself, or donate in the name of another’s plunge. Oak Street Beach will host on January 28.

5.  Surrender to fried cake invasion.

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Photo: Chop Shop

Donut Fest is back and doughier than ever. Journey to Wicker Park’s Chop Shop for 2017’s sampling of crullers, rings, and long-johns. Chicago bakers put their best goods on the line. Crown a winner among Glazed and Infused, Doughnut Vault, Longman & Eagle, and more on January, 29. Tickets range from $35-$50.

6. Stay culturally caffeinated. 

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Photo: Oromo Cafe

Lacking means to globe-trot? No problem. Lincoln Square’s new cafe Oromo offers sips of Africa, India, and Turkey with a Chicago zip. Discover more worldly flavors plus organic, gluten-free, and superfood-infused options.

7. Skip to a different beat.

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Photo: Tomorrow Never Knows

If you’re a fan of catching local acts, absorbing new sounds, and living in another reality (for five days), meet Tomorrow Never Knows. This nonstop party rallies concertgoers, old stagers, and new kids on the block in music and comedy. Lincoln Hall, Schubas, Metro, and The Hideout shuffle up sets starting tomorrow through January 15.

8. Attempt an eight-course meal.

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Photo: Temporis

Feeling exclusive? Want to feel exclusive? West Town’s new 20-seater provides an artful and integrative experience for anyone who appreciates plating as much as what’s on the plate. Time to make a reservation at fine dining draw Temporis.

9. Get elevated.

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Photo: Chicago Elevated

Whether winter decides your every move or hardly bothers, “see the underbelly” with Chicago Elevated. Explore the city’s most well-known and best-hidden sights without sacrificing warmth. Hop on The Chicago Pedway Tour or The Badass Winter Tour today.

10. Book a room.

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Photo (and feature photo): Chicago Athletic Association

Embrace the concept of “staycation” at one of the city’s most refined clubs, Chicago Athletic Association. What began as a billiards & bourgeois hub in 1890 now offers laymen the opportunity to dine, play, and spend the night. Fancy a rooftop cocktail? Call on Cindy’s which overlooks downtown’s strip of lakeside icons.

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