Running Studio

Mood-shifting colored lights, pumped-up tunes, and upbeat instructors keep you smiling (or at least not wanting to barf) through uphill sprints on the treadmill and strength work on the floor. Classes shift regularly between hard and fast workouts, which ensures results. From $30 per class. 228 E. Illinois St., Streeterville, runawayfitness.com

Paddle Tour

This two-hour Chicago River trip works out more than your shoulders: Shedd Aquarium guides lead paddlers as they collect litter, observe flora and fauna, and gather data about aquatic life on the way to a man-made island planted with native flowers. $40. 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus, sheddaquarium.org

Instagrammable Play Space

It’s a perennial parental conundrum: Go stir-crazy at home or risk contracting coxsackievirus at an indoor play hell. The solution? This breezy storefront, owned by former HGTV producer Nina Makovski and her husband, where the toys are (mostly) made of wood, the coffee is delicious, and every surface is spotless. $12 day pass. 25 S. … Read more

Animal-Assisted Yoga Class

Every month or so, bunnies scamper among the mats during a 75-minute class, then linger for snuggles and selfies. They’re available for adoption — ask instructor Sue Coogan, who brought one home — and either way, your class fee supports the no-kill Red Door Animal Shelter. $25 per class. 7009 N. Glenwood Ave., Rogers Park, … Read more

Hotel Staycation

If holing up in a room is your definition of a getaway, the Hoxton, which opened in April, is not your hotel. Not because the industrial-lite rooms don’t have everything you need (including breakfast in a bag, delivered to your door). But because everything you ought to do — Chris Pandel’s Mediterranean restaurant Cira in … Read more

New Arts Venue

From John Morris, the architect of Steppenwolf’s and Black Ensemble Theater’s spaces, comes this sleek building designed so light filters in through the gaps in the black brick exterior. The latest addition to its neighborhood’s burgeoning cultural scene hosts a grab bag of cool events, from film screenings to dance performances. 329 E. Garfield Blvd., … Read more

Italian Ice

What makes the frozen treats here so special? Their ephemerality. Ava’s uses seasonal fruits that sing with flavor, and because the ices are made in small batches, once they’re gone, they’re gone, and all that’s left is a summery memory. 1814 N. Western Ave., Logan Square, avasitalianice.com

Vegan Cookie

This oversize wonder sparkles with sugar crystals and shimmers with spicy, warm notes — a taste of Christmas available all year long. It contains vegetable oil instead of butter and yet delivers the same satisfying chew as the best nonvegan versions. $3, 2051 N. California Ave., Logan Square, bangbangpie.com

Quilting Class

This four-week class, held in three-hour blocks one evening a week, sets you up for maximum coziness by diving into piecing, basting, and other sewing fundamentals. When the workshop concludes, you’ll have a finished quilt. It won’t be as good as your grandmother’s, but she was a rookie once, too. $150. 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave., … Read more


Alfonso Sotelo gets that the key to good guac is simplicity: lots of ripe avocado left nice and chunky, with just enough extras like lime and serrano to make a fleeting but not overwhelming impression. $8.50, 1758 W. 18th St., Pilsen, 5rabanitosdotcom.wordpress.com