“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
It's a phrase we’ve heard all too often at 1:54 a.m. In fact, we laugh in the face of an early bedtime. Some nights are too fun to put a cap on. Enter Chicago’s limited, but still plentiful 4 a.m. liquor licenses. They’re a beautiful thing. These bars all pour until 4 a.m. every night of the week (5 a.m. on Saturdays) and are frequent hangouts for night owls, service industry workers and other characters you’d never meet in the daylight.
Photo via Facebook/The Original Mothers
26 W. Division St. - Gold Coast
A late night at The Original Mother’s is a right of passage for any Chicago twenty-something-year-old. This Gold Coast classic has been a staple since opening in 1968. It’s also a source for live music and relatively cheap drinks for the neighborhood.
56 W. Illinois - River North
Because 2 a.m. clubs just aren’t a thing here, The Underground doesn’t even open its doors until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. (It’s closed every other day of the week.) Say bye-bye to brunch tomorrow morning.
3534 W. Belmont Ave. - Avondale
Goth discos, grunge nights and new wave music video parties are all regular happenings at Late Bar and we love it. It’s a left-of-the-dial late night spot for Chicagoans from all walks of life.
photo via facebook/bourbon on division
2050 W. Division St. - Wicker Park
Both the name of the bar and what you’ll be drinking until the wee hours of the morning, Bourbon On Division is a great source of live music for the first half of the night and an oasis for late nighters as the night drags on.
photo via facebook/sound-bar
226 W. Ontario St. - River North
Catch internationally touring dance music acts like Nero and Boys Noize at this River North club and venue. If you think the artist you’re hyped to see is going to start spinning before midnight, you’re fresh out of luck. This is the kind of music that gets better the later it gets.
2801 W. Chicago Ave. - Humboldt Park
Sorry if we missed something, but when did a 4 a.m. night become a bad thing? Ditch that misconception at this Humboldt Park dive and prepare to be welcomed by a packed house of like-minded drinkers. Expect to engage in regrettable wagers over games of pool, encounter questionable bathroom conditions and make all kind of friends whose names you won’t remember in the morning. We’ll always love this place.
photo via Facebook/Berlin Nightclub
954 W. Belmont Ave. - Lakeview
Is it really even a true night at Berlin if you leave before 2 a.m.? We’ve been dancing through the decades at this LGBTQ+-friendly club since it opened in the early '80s. Our favorite thing about Berlin is its everlasting lack of pretention. Everyone is welcome here. Come as you are. Just be cool and respectful. That’s all.
1534 N. Kingsbury Ave. - Lincoln Park
Do those bottle service sparklers mesmerize you? Do you love EDM? Looking to sleep through Sunday morning? Here’s your spot. PRYSM delivers the classic nightclub experience along with some of the top names in electronic and hip-hop music. Dillon Francis, Tiësto and Migos are just a few of the past guests.
2548 N. Halsted St. - Lincoln Park
People generally associate bass-heavy beats with late-night bar soundtracks, but not in Chicago. Our blues music heritage shines through at Kingston Mines where the performances keep coming all night and so do the drinks.
4802 N. Broadway St. - Uptown
The Green Mill is another excellent live music alternative when the clock strikes 2 a.m. Jazz performers play late into the night at this legendary bar and venue. If Al Capone, a former frequent customer at the Mill, could make it until 5 a.m., so can you!
806 N. Rush St. - Gold Coast
There aren’t a ton of 4 a.m. options near Michigan Avenue, but Pippin’s is definitely one of them. This friendly little tavern is a stalwart of the constantly changing shopping district and it certainly keeps different hours than the Nike store.
16 W. Division St. - Gold Coast
You know what to expect here after 2 a.m. just from looking at the name of the bar! Between beer pong, karaoke and pool tables, there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself late into the night.
646 N. Franklin St. - River North
Techno and house music bump until 4 (or 5) in the morning here on weekends. DJs from all over the world have played this high energy club.
photo via facebook/streeter's tavern
50 E. Chicago Ave. - Gold Coast
Start playing one of the many bar games that inhabit this bar (pool, Jenga, etc.) and before you know it, you’ll only have a few hours left before the sun comes up.
14 W. Elm St. - Gold Coast
It’s all about the music at this lovable divey dance club. The first floor is always a source of Top 40 hits, but the basement gets extra groovy with '70s and '80s throwback tunes playing all night.
2521 N. Milwaukee Ave. - Logan Square
The Owl is a longtime source for late-night fun in Logan Square. There’s generally a DJ spinning or local bands playing on the small stage in back, but it’s the post-2 a.m. crowd that provides the real “entertainment” here.
20 W. Division St. - Gold coast
The corner of Division and State streets is a good place to find yourself if you’re in need of late-night bar options. Butch Mcguire’s has been pleasing its night owl patrons since the 1960s.
3759 N. Kedzie ave. - Irving Park
This corner bar has all the makings of a classic 4 a.m. dive: pool, a lack of natural lighting and friendly, welcoming bartenders to keep you company.
3730 N. Clark St. - Lakeview
Wrigleyville has changed a lot over the years, but Smartbar always stays the same. Visit this subterranean dance floor and find the world’s top electronic and house DJs behind the decks. Reoccuring parties like house music and drag night Queen! are known to attract lines down the block well past 2 a.m.
1136 W. Lawrence Ave. - Uptown
The next time you find yourself getting out of a show at The Riviera Theater or Aragon Ballroom and think the night is over, think again! Keep the good times rolling at this classic craft beer and cocktail bar. You might even find yourself inspired enough to take the stage yourself for a round of karaoke.
1315 W. North Ave. - Bucktown
Open until 4 a.m. or later seven days a week, 365 days a year, Exit is as dependable as the hangover you’ll have in the morning. Hear punk, industrial, electronic and more at this split-level late-night classic.
image via Facebook/celeste
111 W. Hubbard St. - River North
We admit it’s tough to stay classy past 2 a.m., but Celeste offers that opportunity in central River North.
2013 W. North Ave. - Wicker Park
Between the cozy candle-lit high top tables, an excellent jukebox and diner-style eats, it’s hard not to lose a few hours (in the a.m. or p.m.) at Estelle’s.
5 W. Hubbard St. - River North
Watch the sportsball game at Mother Hubbard’s on one of the bar’s 45 televisions, then stay late to celebrate or commiserate over the outcome.
3556 W. Belmont Ave. - Avondale
You know you’re in a serious late-night karaoke spot when the performances don’t even start until 11 p.m. Alice’s is a stomping ground for Chicago’s most serious of karaoke singers four nights a week (Wednesday through Saturday). We promise there’s not much more entertaining than watching a vodka-soaked rendition of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” at 4:15 a.m.
2020 N. Halsted St. - Lincoln Park
The ol’ Beaumont is something of a right of passage for DePaul students and other 20-something-year-olds new to the Lincoln Park area. It’s a completely different neighborhood after 2 a.m.
1010 W. Belmont Ave. - Lakeview
Affectionately nicknamed “Big Sh*tty,” this Lakeview dive bar offers everything you’ll need to make tomorrow fuzzy including Jell-O shots, a dancefloor and an adjacent liquor store also selling until at least 4 a.m.
3251 N. Western Ave. - Roscoe Village
One thing you’ll notice about 4 a.m. bars: There are more old ones than there are new. We know it has more to do with city permits, but we’d like to think it’s really because you can’t improve upon places like BlueLight, open since the early 1970s.
3726 N. Broadway - Lakeview
Charlie’s is a well-known, Western-themed offshoot of Boystown for cowboys looking to pack a couple more hours of fun into their nights.
3325 N. Broadway - Lakeview
Entertaining Boystown’s late-night crowd since the ‘70s, The Closet can cater to rowdy drinkers wanting one more go at the dancefloor or casual friends who need one more round before the night’s over.
3458 N. Halsted St. - Lakeview
There’s nothing low energy about this Boystown nightclub. Nothing.
photo via facebook/fireside chicago
5739 N. Ravenswood Ave. - Ravenswood
Fireside is so cozy, so homey, so easy to lose track of time in, that its 4 a.m. liquor license tends to sneak up on you.
photo via facebook/the jackhammer complex
6406 N. Clark St. - Rogers Park
This multi-layered funhouse is one of the northernmost LGBTQ+ late-night hangouts in the city. You never know what you’ll walk into here. Karaoke, drag shows, live music, fetish events and more are on the menu.
325 N. Jefferson St. - West Loop
Options for 4 a.m. bars are a bit slim just west of the river, but you’ll find a solid standby in this no-nonsense neighborhood bar.
134 S. Wabash St. - The Loop
Miller’s, open since 1935, has been serving the Loop’s late-night drinkers for more than 80s years. The kitchen is open until 2 a.m. most nights, too.
701 S. State St. - South Loop
This diner-style bar and restaurant is a South Loop staple—if the name didn’t tip you off!
photo via facebook/ spectrum bar & grill
233 S. Halsted St. - Greektown
Find a window seat and enjoy some entertaining people watching while staring out at the streets of Greektown. The kitchen is open until at least 3 a.m. every night!
photo via facebook/o'callaghans
29 W. Hubbard St. - River North
This Irish pub provides a slightly tamer (emphasis on “slightly”) atmosphere than Hubbard Street’s surrounding bars. Come on in and have a breather (and a Guinness).
16 W. Ontario St. - River North
Step down into this basement-level piano bar for a taste of classic Chicago. This spot even has a cigar club!
photo via facebook/social twenty five
25 W. Hubbard St. - River North
This swanky two-floor clubsteraunt offers bottle service, nightly DJs and everything else you’d expect for an after-hours bar in this neighborhood.
622 N. Fairbanks Ct. - River North
Most people arrive at O’Toole’s in search of excellent food and a place to watch sports, but its 4 a.m. license attracts quite a few night owls, too.
1516 N. Milwaukee Ave. - Wicker Park
Late nights on the beer garden at Nick’s are habit forming. Not that we’d know.
219 W. North Ave. - Old Town
Often considered to be the greatest dive bar in Chicago, Old Town Ale House is a frequent hangout for comedy performers after a show at Second City across the street. Legends like John Belushi and Dan Akroyd have taken advantage of the bar’s 4 a.m. license.
1447 N. Wells St. - Old Town
Burton Place is a neighborhood staple that offers 24 different draft beers and three floors of fun. Stop by during the week to hang out on the first floor and on the weekends to engage in the whole experience!
2002 N. Halsted St. - Lincoln Park
The Store is a great place to visit if booze is the only thing on your shopping list. In addition to a 4 a.m. license this bar also offers live music, open mics, comedy shows and more entertainment throughout the week.
photo via facebook/remedy
1910 N. Milwaukee Ave. - Bucktown
Remedy skips the usual “hole in the wall” 4 a.m. bar schtick and provides a classier hang for industry folks just getting off work and other lingering drinkers. Its fireplace, massive fish tank and other quirky elements give Remedy extra cozy points!
7041 S. Jeffery Ave. - Jackson Park
The Jeffery provides LGBTQ+ folks with a late-night hang that’s not on the North Side. Catch drag performances and more at this pub.
5336 N. Lincoln Ave. - Lincoln Square
What’s not to love about this late-night karaoke spot? The crumbling floor tiles, cracked under the feet of past performers? The Red Bull-like energy drink that’s served straight out of a soda gun, keeping us singing into the a.m. hours? The general wild card feel of the crowds the Cove attracts? Everything here is great.
photo via facebook/the elixir lounge
3452 N. Halsted St. - Lakeview
This cocktail-forward lounge and bar in the heart of Boystown makes for a pretty good date spot—not something we often say about places you can drink until the sun comes up.
2624 N. Lincoln Ave. - Lincoln Park
The Barrelhouse Flat attracts such a strong crowd during “normal bar hours” that we sometimes forget it doubles as a 4 a.m. hang. Its classic cocktails and elegant interior give this Lincoln Park standby its appeal.
6809 N. Sheridan Rd. - Rogers Park
Rogers Park’s go-to dive bar also just happens to have a 4 a.m. license. The neighborhood isn’t necessarily known for its nightlife but you wouldn’t know based on the crowds at this place at 3 a.m. on a Saturday.
photo via facebook/the flat iron
1565 N. Milwaukee Ave. - Wicker Park
The Flat Iron is a classic destination for neighborhood industry professionals, late-night games of pool and decisions that will likely result in a hangover.
3611 N. Ashland Ave. - Lakeview
Pop-a-shot (literally) at this spot. Tai’s has a playful vibe and is always full of long term patrons, not afraid to admit how many nights they’ve forgotten here.