By Jacky Runice, Chicago Local Expert
Once only a place for conventioneers and those looking for a cheaper cup of joe than offered at the airport, the city of Rosemont has evolved into an entertainment and shopping magnet for locals, tourists and conventioneers. Located next to O'Hare International Airport, and along major expressways, it has become a possible place to eat, play and shop in the nearby 'burb.
In addition to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and the Allstate Arena, which hosts concerts and shows, Rosemont has a buzzing entertainment complex called Parkway Bank Park. The large outdoor venue is surrounded by several restaurants, huge movie theater and bowling alley. There's a football field-sized grass area in the center where they host many free outdoor events, ranging from ice skating to concerts and summer is especially full of events.
It's a popular place to party, especially for groups, because of the many large, loud restaurants. Teens and twenty somethings pack Sugar Factory for its over-the-top desserts and the drinking crowd likes to raise a pint at the German bar, Hofbrauhaus.
Fashionistas will love the new Fashion Outlets of Chicago with high-end design shopping at spots like Burberry, Neiman Marcus, Nike and Prada and its helpful amenities including airline baggage check-in and boarding pass issuance for those traveling through O’Hare International Airport. There's complimentary round trip Casino Shuttle service to and from Fashion Outlets of Chicago and Rosemont's first boutique hotel, The Rose Hotel, opens in fall, 2018.
10. Hofbrauhaus Chicago
Yes, Hofbrauhaus is faux Munich, but people flock here because it may be the nearest they'll ever get to Germany. The massive beer hall - which can easily hold 1,000 people - is designed like its sister beer hall in Munich where people drink beer out of large steins, and order Teutonic edibles like Bavarian sausages or Apfelstrudel, a homemade apple streudel with ice cream. Live performers, often wearing lederhosen, get the crowd singing and dancing with a wide range of music. The live music and gaeity attracts hordes of people and if you linger you'll likely hear the same tuneage and toasts more than a few times. Every few minutes the performers toast their steins with the whole restaurant and say "Prost!". Seating is on long communal tables which adds to the party atmosphere.
9. KINGS Dining & Entertainment
KINGS Dining & Entertainment is a 27,000-square-foot complex featuring 20 ten-pin bowling lanes, a full-service restaurant, table games and the Draft Room – a modern riff on the sports bar. It has three 14-foot HD LED display panels, made-from-scratch cuisine and 40 draft beers. Meant as a destination for get-togethers with friends, fun dates, special occasions, corporate events, family outings and watching the game, the facility offers roomy player accommodations, upscale bar fare, craft beers and signature cocktails. Stand out menu choices include Buffalo wontons, pan seared ginger soy glazed salmon and award-winning wings. Burgers are made from a premium proprietary mix of brisket, Angus and chuck and seared on a flat-top grill. A late-night DJ spins tunes to encourage a visit to the dance floor after 10 p.m. and during summer, three garage doors open to an expanded beer garden-style patio.
8. Rivers Casino
Rivers Casino, the first casino in the world to achieve the LEED Gold certification has become one of the most popular casinos in Illinois since it opened in 2011. It's technically in Des Plaines, but adjacent to Rosemont and close to O'Hare International Airport. It's tiny compared to the mega casinos of Las Vegas but it fits the bill when you're looking for some gaming entertainment near the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center or the airport. It's home to nearly 50 table games and more than 1,000 slots in denominations ranging from 1¢ to $100. Sign up for the Rush Rewards card (it's free) and get dining discounts an other perks. You cannot lose dining at the onsite outpost of Hugo's Frog Bar & Chop House for Gibson's steaks, crab legs, lobster, fresh fish, salads and sandwiches.
7. Big Ten Experience
If you're a fan of Big 10 sports then you'll want to visit this unique museum in Parkway Bank Park. It's dedicated to the history and highlights of the mens' and womens' sports teams from the Big 10, a division which consists mostly of colleges in the Midwest. The museum includes 13 interactive exhibits, a theater, and even things like a photo op with the Heisman trophy. Look up stats, learn about the league's sports legends, listen to famous TV or radio calls from certain games, or play an interactive game where you catch a football, stop a soccer ball or block a hockey puck.
6. iFLY Chicago-Rosemont
iFLY lets fliers experience the thrill of skydiving in the safety of an indoor, vertical wind tunnel. Located in Rosemont, just minutes away from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the indoor skydiving attraction lets fliers feel the wind in their face and the rush in their bones as they float effortlessly into the air. The experience begins with a safety lesson and tutorial, and then the friendly instructors help you fly. Sometimes the instructors will do some tricks for the crowd, which circles the glass tunnel. Videos of your flight are available for purchase. It's a popular activity for couples, families and even seniors. It's worth a go at least once.
5. Allstate Arena
Allstate Arena's 18,500 seats make it one of the largest indoor entertainment facilities in Chicago. It hosts A-list music concerts, family shows like Disney on Ice, sporting events, and a massive flea market in the parking lot on Sunday mornings. The arena is home to the Chicago Wolves (AHL) and monster truck shows. Some of the big shows in 2018 include ELO, REO Speedwagon, Demi Lovato and Chicago, as well as Elton Jon's Farewell Tour in 2019. Video screens and good sight lines make it easy to enjoy the show regardless of where you are seated. There is plenty of on-site parking although as expected, it can take some time to leave the lot after a popular performance or game. LYFT recently won a contract with the city so you can call a car, too.
4. Fashion Outlets of Chicago
Fashion Outlets of Chicago opened in 2013 and quickly became one of the most popular shopping spots near Chicago for tourists and locals. The mall's upper level has high end stores like Burberry, Longchamp and Prada, with the first-floor occupied by favorites like Nike, GAP, PUMA and Saks. There's a free shuttle to the mall from O'Hare International Airport, which is just a few minutes away. The mall's guest services area offers a wide range of travel-related services, including airline baggage check-in and boarding pass issuance. The mall also has several good food options, including health food from Freshii, Vegetarian at Maoz, or confections from Lindt, Häagen-Dazs or Godiva.
3. Impact Field
The world-class ballpark, Impact Field is a brand new $63 million development with 6,300 seats, seven private seating experiences, a 360-degree open concourse, and tons of stadium garage parking spaces. The equally new Chicago Dogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball run the bases here during home games. The team is named after Chicago's and baseball's favorite food and if you compare the Chicago Dogs' logo to the city's flag, you'll notice the same colors and stars surrounding the hot dog graphic. The 2018 inaugural season features 50 home games and Butch Hobson, who manages the Boston Red Sox for three seasons, is the first manager of the Chicago Dogs. Locals will be thrilled to know that the world's second Wiener's Circle location will call the ballpark home. Expect signature items like char dogs and char burgers.
2. Dave & Busters
The new outpost of the indoor amusement chain adds over 40,000 sq. ft. of HDTV's, glowing cocktails, nearly 160 arcade games, private event space and sports bar menu of apps, burgers and tacos to the Pearl District of Rosemont. It's Vegas-lite for kids, laugh-out-loud fun for adults playing air hockey, racing and shooting games, and high-tech carnival-type games of chance. The menu is over the top (burgers with three types of bacon); features mash-ups of popular bar food (e.g. a "pizzadilla"); and many massive shareables like "Mountain o' Nachos." There are also steaks, pasta and some seafood choices as well as a handful of salads if you don't want to go over your calorie count for the next three days. Kids can wear themselves out in the arcade while parents sip Glow Kones containing a flashing cube that may help Junior locate Mom or Dad.
1. Parkway Bank Park
Parkway Bank Park is home to 12 venues including restaurants, live music spaces, Zanie's Comedy Club, state-of-the-art 18-screen movie theater, bowling and more. The entertainment district also boasts a common area for outdoor seasonal activities, including a climate controlled NHL sized ice rink for skating during winter and free concerts in the summer. There's an interactive digital museum, The Big Ten Experience, offering free admission and iFLY, an indoor skydiving experience. Among the many eateries, you can dine at Bub City for Southern favorites and live band karaoke; Adobe Gila's for Mexican; Fogo de Chao for meat heavy Brazilian fare; German beer hall, Hofbrauhaus; and Five Roses offers an Irish pub atmosphere and eats. The aptly named Sugar Factory sells specialty candies and ice cream and also has a café menu (think Red Velvet pancakes and Cotton Candy Cosmopolitans).