Chicago is an amazing city – for food, architecture, and especially, Lollapalooza. Are you headed to Lollapalooza this year?

What is Lollapalooza?

Lolla is an four-day annual music festival held in Chicago with loads of musical acts. The classic East coast music festival is on its 31st birthday and it’s still going strong. Held in Grant Park, Lolla is to the East coast what Coachella is to the West. Watching your favorite band with the sun setting over Chicago’s skyline can’t be beat!

Entrances to Lollapalooza

Gates open at 11 am at:

North Side
Monroe & Columbus
It’s a bit farther from the action, but the North entrance is usually less busy because you need to walk more to get to the action. That being said, there is definitely less of a line up for bag searches.

West Side
Michigan & Ida B. Wells
This is classically the main entrance and thus tends to be busier than the North Side. But it’s also where the Lollapalooza sign is!

What to bring

  • Bags – Go ahead and bring a bag, if it’s 6×9 inches and smaller, it doesn’t need to be clear, it just needs to have only one pocket. If your bag is bigger, it has  to be clear and no bigger than 12x6x12 inches. Obviously, all bags will be searched.
  • Water bottles – You can bring one; in fact there are free hydration refill stations everywhere, so bring a water bottle or hydration pack, just make sure it’s empty before entering.
  • Blanket – you might want to bring a blanket to sit on. The day is long and why not have a little rest and relaxation. Anything goes: a sheet, beach towels, blankets, your choice.
  • Cameras – same as most other concerts, basic point and shoots without detachable lenses are allowed. No selfie sticks, tripods, or GoPro mounts allowed.
  • Sunscreen – make sure you bring this!! It’s an all day affair and you’ll want to reapply. Just make sure it’s not a spray and it’s 3.4 oz or less.
  • Hat – you’ll need a hat or visor for shade. keep sun safe!
  • Others – Lollapalooza wristband, wallet (including ID, credit card, and some emergency cash), hand sanitizer, portable charger, sunglasses, and especially ear plugs because you should protect your ears! Oh, definitely check the weather report because it’s rained a bunch of times. In case there’s rain forecasted, a tiny portable poncho is alway a good bring.

What to wear

Chicago is hot in the summer. Festival fashion is a thing, but so is comfort. The weather in the Windy City is fickle, so wearing layers and bringing something with long sleeves for when the sun goes down is ideal. Comfy foot wear is key. Grant Park is BIG and you’re going to be on your feet walking from stage to stage plus standing while watching the shows, so I recommend shoes that you’ve already vetted and worn, ones that you know are cool, comfortable, and non blister-inducing.

Lolla has a huge mix of musical genres from K-POP to rap to DJs. You’ll find a similarly huge amount of variation in the festival fashion. Really, what I’m saying is: wear what you like and who cares what other people say, anyway.

Where to find air conditioning at Lollapolloza

If you’re hot (and who isn’t, considering it’s in the mid 80s and sunny) a respite from the sun and a bit of free air conditioning is where you’ll want to go. Take the heat seriously because I saw 4 people miss the NewJeans show after camping all day because they weren’t feeling well. You can find free air conditioning at:

T-Mobile Club Magenta

If you’re looking at the T-Mobile stage, look right and you’ll see a bright magenta tent with an outdoor seating area. You can get some free air conditioning and charge your devices if you tag a post with #tmofrontrow on instagram. Super simple and a great break.

Official Lolla Merch Tent

Sure, you might have to line up for a bit, but take a looooooooong time shopping and enjoy the air-conditioned wonders of the merch tent. Side note, the official band merch is located outdoors and the line is ferociously long.

Bonus: not air conditioning, but there are giant cooling misting fans right after the main entrance on Ida B. Wells

lollapalooza map


Have you really been to a music festival if you don’t buy merch? I say no. Yes, it’s expensive, but so was your ticket and a tee will help you remember your unforgettable experiences. There are merch tents all over Lolla. My recommendation is to head to them right away when you get in to scope them out. The have the most inventory right at the beginning of the festival and the shortest lines, so take advantage of that.

What to eat at Lollapalooza

You’re not allowed to bring in outside food and beverages, so everything you’re going to eat will be inside the gates. Luckily Chow Town has a huge amount of selection featuring some of Chicago’s favorite restaurants and food vendors. They have all kinds of offerings! Chow Town is located on Columbus Drive inside the festival.

What we’re looking forward to eating at Chow Town

The best of Chow Town

  • Chicago-style Italian Beef
    There are two places that are going to be serving up a Chicago classic, Italian beef: juicy, thinly sliced roasted beef piled high on to a fluffy bun loaded with spicy giardiniera or sweet peppers with a side of jus for dipping. We might just have to try both: Frannie’s Beef and Novi’s Beef.
  • Boxcar Betty’s
    Boxcar is a South Carolina chain known for their fried overnight brined chicken sandwiches, featuring pimento cheese and peach slaw. I love chicken sandwiches and this is a great opportunity to try a SC classic without visiting Charleston.
  • The Budlong
    Known for their Nashville-style hot chicken, this is the place you’re going to want to hit up if you like it HOT. You can get it classic, hot, or extra hot, in sandwiches or tenders. Tendies, with all the ranch for dipping please!
  • Harold’s Chicken Shack
    An iconic Chicago chicken chain – go here to support local! Try the mild sauce, it’s sweet, tangy, and a perfect complement to the chicken.
  • Lou Malnati’s
    When people picture Chicago deep dish pizza, they’re picturing Lou Malnati’s. The trademark buttercrust is just the thing to hold in the massive amounts of sauce and cheese. Gooey, thick, satisfying, and a definite Chicago classic.
  • Shake Shack
    Shake Shack is from NYC but it’s so good that I have to mention it here. Get a double shack and prepare for burger heaven.
  • Bacci’s
    If you want a GIANT – I’m talking bigger than the size of your head) slice of pizza, you want Bacci’s.
  • Cafe Tola
    The empanadas from Cafe Tola’s are a festival favorite for good reason: handheld, delicious, and filling. They have 25 sweet and savory flavors so you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Sweet Stuff on Dessert Island

  • Cloud Cookie
    Cloud Cookie is a local Chicago favorite that serves up giant, soft, fresh cookies. I’m definitely looking forward to the cloudoodle.
  • Harris Ice Snow Cones
    Chicago’s eminent ice seller brings snow cones to the festival. It’ll probably be the LONGEST line you’ll stand in, but who doesn’t love snow cones, especially when it’s hot.
  • Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding
    A local father-daughter duo created Lorenzo’s frozen pudding back in 2011 and now it’s a beloved city favorite. Their classic is banana pudding and I’m definitely going to be eating a scoop or three!
  • Normita’s Conchas
    If you love fluffy buns, you have to check out Normita’s Conchas, a Latina owned business specializing in modern flavors of conchas. They’ll also be serving up ice cold horchata and other types of pan dulce. I hope there’s tres leches!
  • The Original Rainbow Cone
    An iconic Chicago treat: the rainbow cone. A giant 5 layer cone featuring chocolate, strawberry, palmer house (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet. It’s legendary and has been around for 90 plus years!
  • Candy Cloud World
    If you love cotton candy, this machine is for you! It makes giant clouds of colorful cotton candy in cute shapes, perfect for taking pics with and for eating :)

Chow Town: What to Eat at Lollapalooza 2017

Lollapalooza photo ops

Don’t miss out on taking a photo with the welcome sign. It’s usually at the main entrance. Snap a quick pic (or seven) right when you get in.

Lots of the sponsors/partners will have cute little displays as well. They’re essentially giant ads for you to take pics at and shout out on social, but still cute. We’ll update this section when we get there!

Stop by the Bean

You can’t go to Chicago and not take a photo with the Bean, aka the Cloud Gate. It’s one of Chicago’s most popular sites and you can walk to it from Grant Park. It’s in Millennium Park on North Michigan Ave between East Washington and East Madison.

chicago -

Where to stay for Lollapalooza

The closer you stay, the more it will cost you. The closest hotels are:

Make sure to check out the Lollapalooza site because they team up with hotels to secure decent deals for festival dates.

You can also stay at an airbnb and use public transit or walk to the festival. I don’t recommend uber, lyft, or driving as the traffic is something you want to avoid.

Pro tips

  • Stay hydrated! Before you even head to the gates, make sure you’re drinking water. Keep it up during the day too. The average temp in Chicago in August is 82°F/27°C so you’ll want to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • Sunscreen. Ditto on the sunscreen. Even if it’s cloudy, don’t get burnt, apply sunscreen before you head out and throughout the day.
  • Eat. Don’t forget to eat. Start with a balanced breakfast so you have the energy to walk and dance and have fun. Be sure to eat throughout the day too. You’ll be expending a lot of energy so you’ll need the calories.

More Chicago recommendations

Check out our Chicago guides:

That’s all for now! We’ll check back in after we hit the festival :)
xoxo steph


  1. Sabrina says:

    ha, fun, might be worth a trip for just the food!

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