12 Energetic and Creative Team Building Activities in Chicago

| Team Building
12 Energetic and Creative Team Building Activities in Chicago featured image

Are you looking for team building activities in Chiacgo, Illinois? Look no further! We’ve compiled 12 of the best options for you and your workgroup.

Iconic architecture, scenic lakefront, diverse neighborhoods, and world-class parks—it should come as no surprise that these features set the scene for a ton of fun opportunities for team building activities in Chicago.

The rich culture and vibrant atmosphere of the Windy City offer a fantastic opportunity to strengthen team bonds, enhance collaboration, and learn about business while having fun.

Whether your team prefers outdoor adventures, cultural excursions, or creative challenges, Chicago offers a wide range of team building activities.

So, without further ado, here are our recommendations for 12 team building activities in Chicago. Get ready to explore the Windy City in new ways and create lasting memories with your team!

1. Picnic at Millennium Park

millenium park is a great venue for team building activities in chicago

You can organize a team picnic at Millennium Park to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and bond over a relaxing afternoon in the outdoors.

Millennium Park is expansive, so deciding on a specific area to set up your picnic is a good idea. Popular spots include the Great Lawn near Jay Pritzker Pavilion or the area around Lurie Garden for a more serene setting.

You’ll also want to designate a clear meeting point, such as the entrance to the Great Lawn or near The Bean (Cloud Gate).

For this team building activity in Chicago, be sure to bring:

  • Plenty of blankets or sheets.
  • Snacks, which could include cheeses, fruit, nuts, and deli meats—all foods you could throw together on a board charcuterie-style or put together in mini sandwiches. Alternatively, you could also organize a potluck where each team member brings a dish or arrange for catering.
  • Water and/or other beverages.
  • Utensils, napkins, and cups.
  • Coolers to keep perishable items fresh and beverages cold.
  • Outdoor games like frisbees, badminton, or a soccer ball. For more relaxed activities, you could also consider bringing cards or board games. Or, you could host Picnic Party Games for a more structured form of group activity.
  • Enough trash bags to keep the area clean and following park regulations.

2. Self-Guided Walking Tour of The Loop

an aerial view of the loop where colleagues can do team building activities in chicago

A change of pace from a sit-down picnic, a self-guided walking tour of Chicago’s Loop is a fantastic way to see what makes Chicago a vibrant cultural hub. Making this tour self-guided will allow your team to explore the city at their own pace.

If you decide to do this team building activity in Chicago, you’ll first need to plan your route. Decide on the key landmarks you want to include. Here are some suggestions:

  • Willis Tower: Start here and maybe visit the Skydeck for an aerial view of the city.
  • The Bean (Cloud Gate): Located in Millennium Park, which is a great, trendy spot for group photos.
  • Chicago Cultural Center: Known for its beautiful architecture and free art exhibits.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago: Even if you don’t go inside, the exterior and surrounding gardens are lovely.
  • Chicago Riverwalk: Walk along the river for some stunning views of the cityscape.

Once you’ve chosen your landmarks, create a custom map for your tour. You can use Google Maps or a similar app to map out your route, then print copies or share the digital map with your team.

When sharing the map, make you’re you’ve noted and communicated a starting point to your team. A simple note like “meet at the entrance of Willis Tower at 10 AM” would suffice.

Be sure to allocate plenty of time for the tour; two to three hours should be enough to see most of Chicago’s landmarks. However, depending on how long you plan to spend at each stop, you may want to take a little longer or less.

Lastly, remind everyone to wear comfortable walking shoes and to bring water and sunscreen.

3. Bike Ride Along the Lakefront Trail

Here’s a fun team building activity in Chicago to get everyone energized—hop on bikes and take a ride along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. Everyone can enjoy the scenic views of Lake Michigan while promoting fitness and bonding among team members.

If your team members don’t own bikes, you can rent them from Divvy Bike stations located throughout the city or other local bike rental shops. You may also want to remind everyone to bring essentials like water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, and a small first-aid kit.

The Lakefront Trail stretches for 18 miles along Lake Michigan. You may want to choose a segment within that stretch that suits your team’s fitness level and how much time you’ve allocated for this activity.

One idea is to meet and start at Navy Pier, head north towards Lincoln Park, and end at Montrose Beach. Finishing your ride at a scenic spot like Montrose Beach and enjoying a team picnic or a casual meal at a nearby cafe would be a great way to celebrate completing this team building activity in Chicago.

4.City Chase: Scavenger Hunt

a group of colleagues doing a city chase team building activitiy in chicago

Another great way to learn about and see all of Chicago’s iconic landmarks is through a City Chase Scavenger Hunt in Chicago. This ultimate adventure is an interactive team building activity in Chicago—for 12 rounds, teams roam all through the city to find the answers to photo, video, trivia, and text message-response challenges.

These challenges are all focused on famous, historic landmarks, so you’ll definitely end up learning lots of interesting “did you know” facts to share with others. This activity is high-energy, a whole lot of fun, and a great way to learn the unique geography that makes up Chicago—perfect for teams who like to get active, creative, and social. 

5. Beach Volleyball at North Avenue Beach

Another energizing activity is getting your team together for a game of beach volleyball at North Avenue Beach. Enjoy some friendly competition while soaking up the sun with this team building activity in Chicago!

You could bring your own equipment or rent them out from North Avenue Beach for a $10 fee. While they don’t list which equipment is available on their site, you can call their number, (312) 742-3776, ahead of time to ask.  Some essential equipment to ask about or bring yourself include:

  • Volleyball Equipment. You’ll need a volleyball and appropriate beachwear, as well as an inflation pump and knee pads for extra protection.
  • Beach Gear. Encourage team members to bring sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and water bottles to stay hydrated and protected from the sun.
  • Seating and Shade. Bring beach chairs, blankets, and umbrellas or pop-up tents for shade for breaks from playing.
  • Snacks and Refreshments. Pack light snacks like fruit, granola bars, and protein-rich sandwiches, along with plenty of water and sports drinks. There are also nearby concession stands for additional food and drinks.

Lastly, we recommend you arrive early to secure a court, as North Avenue Beach’s free public volleyball courts are on a first-come, first-served basis. Alternatively, you can reserve a dedicated court for a $10 fee by calling the Chicago Park District at the number shared above.

6. Book Club at a Local Cafe

This team building activity in Chicago is a unique idea but a great one if your team loves to read or if you’re in the creative industry. You could choose a book prior to your team’s visit to Chicago.

Then, everyone could meet at a local cafe like Intelligentsia (they have three locations across Chicago) or The Wormhole (one location in Chicago) and discuss their thoughts over coffee and pastries.

To really immerse yourself in the local culture, you could choose a Chicago-based book; here are a few well-rated options to consider:

  • “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America” by Erik Larson. A mix of historical narrative and thriller fiction sure to have everyone gripping the edge of their seats.
  • Thomas Dyja’s “The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream” explores the Windy City’s influence on various aspects of American life, including architecture, music, literature, and politics. 
  • “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger is now an adapted film that highlights important Chicago landmarks and neighborhoods as the backdrop to the unusual and poignant love story in this novel. 

7. Photography Challenge in Lincoln Park

an aerial view of lincoln park which is a great place for team building activities in chicago

Host a photography challenge in Lincoln Park for your team. For this team building activity in Chicago, you’ll want to choose a day with good weather. To start, pick an initial meeting location that’s easy to find, like the Lincoln Park Zoo entrance.

Be sure to provide team members with a list of themes or objects to capture. Here are some themes to try capturing on camera:

  • Wildlife (e.g., birds, squirrels)
  • Nature (e.g., flowers, trees)
  • Architecture (e.g., bridges, buildings)
  • People (e.g., candid shots of park visitors)
  • Abstract (e.g., shadows, reflections)

The goal is to encourage team members to explore different areas of the park and get creative with their photography. Let your team disperse to get some shots, with a set time limit.

Once time’s up, you can gather everyone at a predetermined spot, such as a picnic area, use a laptop or tablet to share the photos, and take some time to discuss each one. The goal here is to encourage your team to see different perspectives and applaud creativity.

8. Clue Murder Mystery

a group of colleagues doing a clue murder mystery team building activity in chicago

Take a reprieve from the warm weather with this Sherlock-inspired game. This indoor team building activity in Chicago encourages your team to work together to solve a mystery using clues, case files, logic, and lots of discussions.

This game is the perfect way to problem-solve and learn about each teammate’s unique way of thinking and processing information. Plus, it’s filled with mystery, so it’s guaranteed to be a lot of fun for teams that are brainy, like a bit of competition, and love socializing.

9. Yoga Session in the Park

For a relaxing activity, you can plan a yoga session in a local park—Grant Park, Lincoln Park, and Millennium Park are all great options with plenty of space for teams. These parks tend to be large, so find a quiet, flat, and shaded area within the park that can comfortably accommodate your group.

Let your team members know what they should bring; here are some essentials you’ll need for a yoga session under the sun:

  • Yoga Mats. Ask team members to bring their own yoga mats. If someone doesn’t have one, inexpensive mats can be purchased or they can use a large towel.
  • Water Bottles. Staying hydrated is important, especially if it’s warm outside.
  • Comfortable Clothing. Wear comfortable, breathable clothing suitable for yoga and the weather.
  • Sunscreen and Hats. To protect from sun exposure, even in shaded areas.
  • Towels. For any perspiration and to use as a cushion for sensitive knees or wrists.
  • Speakers. This is optional, but bringing speakers to play calming music like nature soundscapes, binaural beats or other frequency music may be a helpful addition to the session.

If your budget allows, consider hiring a local yoga instructor to guide the session. Many instructors offer reasonable rates for group classes. Or you can go the DIY route and go for either:

  • Screens, like tablets, to play an online yoga session (Yoga with Adriene is popular for beginners but Alo Yoga also has a ton of great sessions for people at all levels).
  • Or choose a yoga app that everyone can individually download and follow along with.

With this team building activity in Chicago, your team can enjoy a refreshing and rejuvenating yoga session in one of Chicago’s beautiful parks, making it a memorable and healthy activity.

10. DIY Trivia Night

Create your own trivia night at a local pub or someone’s home. Your team can come up with questions related to your industry, general knowledge, or fun facts about team members to make it personal and engaging. Alternatively, you can keep it Chicago-themed, and stick with local facts that your team may have learned on their trip!

11. Explore the Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago has a vibrant and rich culture, so visiting the Chicago Cultural Center for a dose of art and culture is a must-have for many teams.

For your team’s trip, you can check the Chicago Cultural Center’s website to see current and upcoming exhibits. Then plan your visit around exhibits that might interest your team.

You could also do a self-guided tour by printing or downloading a map of the center. Then highlight key areas and exhibits you want to visit. Take time to appreciate the stunning architecture, including the beautiful Tiffany dome and the Grand Army of the Republic Hall.

For the more interactive elements, encourage team members to engage with them and read about the art and artists. As you move through the exhibits, especially interactive ones, you can prompt discussions about the art pieces, their meanings, and how they relate to your team’s work or values.

After exploring the center, head to a nearby cafe, like The Goddess and the Baker, to discuss the experience and share insights over coffee and pastries—a delicious treat for a job well done on exploring the city’s culture.

12. Wild Goose Chase

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For teams seeking an exhilarating outdoor adventure combined with a scavenger hunt, Wild Goose Chase is the perfect choice. Participants navigate through Chicago’s vibrant streets, landmarks, and hidden gems while completing various tasks and challenges using a smartphone app.

From solving puzzles to capturing creative photos and videos, this interactive experience encourages teamwork, problem-solving, and quick thinking. With each challenge conquered, teams strengthen their bonds and explore the city in an engaging and memorable way.

Chicago is truly a unique hub of a vibrant culture, rich history, and tons of great outdoor spaces. It’s no surprise that this city has so much to offer teams looking for the perfect blend of learning, energy, and fun!

From energizing outdoor activities to brainy games, there’s a little something for everyone.

These team building activities in Chicago allow your team to bond, explore, and create lasting memories together. Embrace the opportunity to strengthen your team while enjoying the best of what the Windy City has to offer!

Learn more about team building activities in Chicago. 

If you’ve got questions about how to facilitate unforgettable team building activities in Chicago, Ilinois, reach out to an Employee Engagement Consultant.  


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