It’s almost February, and in Chicago, love is in the air.
Love of food. Love of science. Love of spirits, ales and ciders. Love of cars. Love of chocolate. Love of nature …
What, you thought I was just talking about Valentine’s Day?
If you’re looking to feel the love in the Windy City, here are some events that may set your heart aflutter both before and after Feb. 14.
Chicago Restaurant Week
Through Feb. 8
Now in its 11th year, the annual Chicago Restaurant Week is actually two, which means you have extra time to find to take advantage of great deals at more than 370 restaurants in the city and suburbs.
Here’s how it works: Restaurants offer a three-course lunch (or brunch) for $22, and/or three- or four-course dinner for $33 or $44. Some restaurants feature lunch only, or dinner only, while some offer. In nearly every case, the restaurants’ regular menus also are available.
To research your options, visit eatitupchicago.com for a searchable list of participating restaurants and links to their respective Restaurant Week menus.
Free MSI Days
Every weekday in February, except for the 19th (Presidents Day), the Museum of Science and Industry is free to Illinois residents. All you need is to show a state ID.
Whiskey, Beer & Cider Festivals
Feb. 3, 10 & 17
You can pick your poison this month in Chicago with a trio of festivals celebrating whiskey, beer and cider.
On Feb. 3, Old Crow Smokehouse (149 W. Kinzie St.) will host the Chicago Whiskey Festival (formerly the River North Whiskey Festival), offering more than 30 varieties of whiskey, bourbon and scotch from 1 to 4 p.m. For details, visit rivernorthwhiskeyfestival.weebly.com.
A week later and a few blocks away on Feb. 10, Rock Bottom Brewery (1 W. Grand Ave.) will host the Polar Beer Festival — taking place outdoors on the brewery’s rooftop deck. From noon to 4 p.m., the event will feature strong winter — and also feature a warming area. For more information, visit eventbrite.com.
Lastly, on Feb. 17, more than 150 artisanal ciders from around the world will be on the menu, along with food samples, during Cider Summit Chicago in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The event offers two sessions, beginning at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. For more information, visit cidersummitnw.com.
Chicago Auto Show
Chicago again is offering up its annual wintertime opportunity to witness everything new in the world of cars during what’s billed as the largest and longest-running auto show in America.
Inside this year’s sprawling showcase, held at McCormick Place from Feb. 10-19, nearly 1,000 different vehicles will be on display, along with a wide array of accessories, competition vehicles, collector cars and other auto-related exhibits.
For more information, visit chicagoautoshow.com.
If you don’t get your fill of chocolate on Valentine’s Day, you can on Feb. 17 during “Whimsy, A Dessert Dream Brought to Life,” offering 80 food stations featuring chocolate, pastries, macaroons and ice cream, as well as much more at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel(17 E. Monroe St.).
For more information, visit ftloc.org.
Polar Adventure Days
If you’re the outdoorsy-type, even during winter — and are looking for something more family-friendly than the Polar Beer Fest — then Polar Adventure Days at Northerly Island is right up your alley.
From noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 24, you can see birds of prey and wolves, listen to a storyteller and walk on snowshoes (if there’s snow). The event is free except parking, with the most convenient lot at Adler Planetarium.
For more information, visit chicagoparkdistrict.com.
- DAVE WISCHNOWSKY can be reached by email at email@example.com, or follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/wischlist, on Twitter at twitter.com/wischlist or his blog, wischlist.com.