Tips and need-to-knows from Chicago's 2017 gay pride parade and festival weekend.
During the Chicago Pride Parade, the streets are lined as far as 12 people deep, while 750,000 people cheer the contingents on and enjoy the show, culture and experience.

Parade and Festival viewing tips
Dining | Getting rest | Hotel rooms | Meeting People | Money | Parade | Parking | Parties | Pride Fest | The Parade | Toilets | Weather | What to wear 

Dining

I would tell them breakfast outdoors at the melrose (on broadway and melrose) is in order... but get there way early
Rich D.

I enjoy watching the parade while sat in some prime realty. Like a great restaurant with a martini in one hand and a waiting fork in the other. I like Zucco as a favorite destination during the parade.
Andy Farriester, Restaurant Review/Editor

There's something for everyone right here in the 'hood. Nookies food is great, its windows overlook the busiest stretch of North Halsted, and it's a BYO! What more could you ask for?
Michael S., Kafka Wine Co.

With half a million people expected to visit Boystown over Pride weekend, they will all be looking to enjoy the great food we have here. Head to the ChicagoPride.com dining channel and make some reservations early!
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, GoPride

As far as the evening is concerned, Boystown has some delicious dining available. Celebrity chef Dale Levitski’s Frog N Snail has some marvelous creations. One of my personal favorites, HB Home Bistro serves up the most inventive in Dutch/American cuisine. Neighborhood favorite Taverna 750 has marvelous eats, designed to be shared. Of course Jack’s, Minibar Ultra Lounge and Café and Yoshi’s Café are all heavy hitters in providing a great meal and good experience.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, GoPride

Brunch is to Boystown as Gay is to Gaga! Some of the gayberhood brunch spots, like Angelina Ristorante, Nookie’s Tree and Jack’s on Halsted offer brunch on Saturday as well as Sunday.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, GoPride

Sunday brunch may be a bit tricky (No pun intended) as the Pride Parade begins at 12:00 p.m. Most popular spots will have a “Pride Package” that day. Taverna750, Divalicious Brunch at Kit Kat Lounge, Minibar Ultra Lounge and Café, and Scarlet’s Liquid Brunch just to name a few.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, GoPride

You might consider heading north just a bit and enjoy dining in the LGBT community of Andersonville! Hamburger Mary’s has some of the tastiest treats ever invented; like the Mary Tyler Smore! Ann Sather boasts some hearty breakfast fare; including one huge cinnamon roll. (There is also an Ann Sather in Boystown; owned by the first openly gay Alderman, Tom Tunney)
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Getting rest

Who is going to sleep Pride Weekend? Seriously though, rooms are hard to come by here in this neighborhood because of the general lack thereof. My best advice is to take advantage of the travel agent info on the net or on our list here.
Brian D.

Eat before you leave for the festivities and get plenty of rest. Long days in the sun can take a toll on your body. Proper nutrition and a good night's sleep will give you the energy to chase floats all day.
Ms. Daisy Mae, BOI Magazine

If there were ever a reason to call-in-gay to work, Pride weekend is it! Don’t be dumb and try to go into work the next day. Wake up without the alarm and enjoy a nice leisurely day. The folks at Intelligentsia Coffee on Broadway sport the perfect blend of relaxation. Perhaps get your nails did or enjoy a massage.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Hotel rooms

If you don't have a hotel reservation yet, then plan on tricking every night.
David H.

Meeting People

Out of towners should figure out a way to advertise they're from out of town...increases trick potential.
David H.

Don't be shy! This is the one day a year where gay people can be themselves and not have to worry about what other people think of them... Be yourself, say hello! Plus, Hit on the photographers, then they are bound to take your picture! Ha ha!
Ryan Kolodziej, "Weekend Snaps" Photographer

Use common sense. And be a good Samaritan, after all it is pride, what a better reason to be kind to your brothers and sisters.
Ms. Daisy Mae

Money

Figure out how much money you want to bring...then double it.
David H.

Parade

It's a long, hot day so it's not the time to try new drinks; stick to what you know and can handle. Pace yourself with some water. Save your voice to cheer for the best float in the Parade this year- the ChicagoPride float.
Andrew Reuland, "Drink to Life" Columnist

Try and get there early and sit/stand in front and don't let ANYONE get in your way! We all know how high those drag queen's wigs can get! Knowing a friend with a Parade-view apartment is a plus, but not a must.
Ryan Kolodziej, "Weekend Snaps" Photographer

Our friends at PRIDEChicago.com have picked out a new parade route this year. Plan your spot now. Living in Boystown all these years I can tell you some folks start camping out at 7am. As always, I say plan a place where you can access the creature comforts. One of the best deals in town is at Cesar’s on Broadway! Not only do they have front row bleachers, but their servers bring you tasty libations throughout the festivities. You can also step in and enjoy a bite or use their facilities.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

With all the attendees and sunshine, one can dry out quickly. Often times the heat exhaustion and dehydration interrupt the fun. Most bars/restaurants will provide bottle water in addition to adult beverages (Starting at 11:00am)
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Just because the parade ends doesn’t mean pride festivities do. Again, plan ahead and check out all the events taking place around the city. Chicago is very friendly to the LGBT community. I’m a fan of the quick disco nap and then heading out and about for the evening refreshed. You’ll be able to play well into the early morning.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

As much fun as Pride can be, we ought not to forget why we celebrate it! Many individuals have fought for our rights to equality. As corny as it sounds, it is those make a difference people we should be proud for. It is equality we should be celebrating. We may have more to achieve, but we can all agree; we’ve come a long way in our community!
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Parking

My best tip is not to drive at all. Take a taxi or use our wonderful public transit system. If you must drive try parking in the neighborhoods west of Wrigley Field. Just remember where you left the car!
Brian D.

Don't drive! The neighborhood's bad enough on a regular day; during a weekend when 400,000 gay boys and girls and spectators come to Lakeview, a car will only make your trip a pain.
David Bohn, Fitness Editor

Parking Passes


This year, we have teamed up with Parking Panda to offer you the ability to purchase guaranteed parking passes for Chicago Pride. Locations within easy walking distance to the parade route are extremely limited and expected to sell out, so we strongly recommend that you purchase your Chicago Pride Parade parking passes now!

Parties

Make friends with the guys who live on the parade route so you get invited to good parties.
David H.

There are quite a few parties going on saturday night.. there are either the circuit parties... or the A-list gay parties...
Rich D.

The bars are insane; stick to the house parties if you don't like lines or crowds
Andrew Reuland, "Drink to Life" Columnist

I found Hydrate to be a lot of fun after the parade.
Derek, "On the Circuit" Photographer

While you’re in Andersonville you should make it a point to enjoy some of the diverse night life. Mary’s Attic, housed on top of Hamburger Mary’s is always a popular destination. @mosphere has some of the hottest dancers in Chicago! The Sofo Tap is a fun neighborhood spot and Big Chicks is a must see! Just a bit further north and you’ll find Jackhammer and Parlour.
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Boystown nightlife boasts more than twenty plus bars for your boy/girl watching pleasure. Ones that should be noted are Little Jim’s, Boystown’s oldest bar celebrating 37 years. If you like to dance, drink, sing, or swagger; there is a place for you in Boystown!
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

Pride Fest

Pay careful attention to the hours of Pride Fest Chicago! Given that there are so many things to see and
Bill Pritchard, SVP Community Affairs, ChicagoPride.com

The Parade

The parade is the culmination of the weekend stepping off at Belmont and Halsted Sunday afternoon. I recommend finding a spot near the beginning of the route, if you can, so you can see the entire parade and then be one of the first at the post-parade festivities in Lincoln Park. Also, bring plenty of sunscreen…Chicago summers are notoriously hot and you will look like a lobster if you don’t!
Brian D.

Unfortunately, the parade route does attract some people who are out for more than a good time. When you walk the streets, don't bring your wallet. Take the cash you need and some sort of identification and put them in a pocket that no-one can slip their hand into. Don't wear expensive jewelry. Basically, don't take anything with you that you would have a hard time replacing if it gets lost.
Jeff G.

Toilets

Clean bathrooms are a difficult thing to find during Parade day. Every business closes their facilities to everyone but paying customers. If your hotel is far from the action, take care of the more important business before you hit the streets. If you need to, plan on buying lunch or dinner and using the restaurant's bathroom before you pay the check! There are "port a lets" scattered throughout the city. However, they have long lines and can be quite an experience.
Mike S.

No matter how "bad" you have to go, do not urinate in the streets. This is a fine way to end up in lock up. Besides, it's not polite. Listen to your body. Get in line before you really have to go. By the time your crossing your legs, you might be at the front of the line.
Jim C.

Weather

Don't bring any clothes you don't want to sweat in.
David H.

Someone seems to have made a deal that Memorial Day weekend sucks (as it has for the last 3 decades), but Pride weekend is usually pretty awesome. A few years ago it looked like we were going to have our first rained-out parade, but then 30 minutes before the parade, the rain stopped and the clouds vanished. It was a great day indeed.
David Bohn, Fitness Editor

Wear sun block, I prefer something in a 100 proof, the fairer your skin the more sun block you will need. Carry a water bottle with you. Dehydration can be a problem going to and from our destinations and especially if we are consuming alcohol, I know it is a liquid, but nothing quenches better than water.
Ms. Daisy Mae

What to wear

The morning of the parade, cars are not allowed on the main parade route streets. So, plan on doing a lot of walking. Comfortable shoes are a must for the serious Pride day reveler.
Jeff G.

Public nudity and public sex is not allowed and the obscenity laws are still on the books. You need to use your better judgement on this stuff. It is possible to get into trouble by showing too much!
Mark F.

Wear layers, you may need them. Sure it may be hot as blazes in the middle of the day but, by evening you’ll be glad you have that sweater tied around your waist.
Ms. Daisy Mae

Lucky Jim
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