Cheers to continued education—sans tests and homework—at after-hours museum events.

By Kate Silver
August 15, 2017
Observe and imbibe at Adler After Dark. Photo courtesy of Adler Planetarium.

Venture into Chicago's Adler Planetarium by day, and you might get carried away on a tide of parents chasing kids from exhibit to exhibit. But step inside after 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month, and you'll find only grown-ups, with cocktails in hand.

This isn't just another mixer. You can step up to a telescope for a closer look at the glittering city skyline or step into a tiny side room and manage the controls to "land" a space probe on the surface of a simulated moon.

Observe and imbibe at Adler After Dark. Photo courtesy of Adler Planetarium.

Adler After Dark, says program manager Kyle Sater, is really just a science party for adults. "If you want to talk to an astronomer and get the heavy lowdown on what's happening in space right now, there is that option," he says. "Or you can just socialize and walk around."

Adler Planetarium. Photo courtesy of Adler Planetarium.

If space isn't your thing or you're more interested in a literal deep dive, head next door. On Wednesday evenings in the summer (through Sept. 13 in 2017), Shedd Aquarium's Jazzin' at the Shedd lets you mingle on the North Terrace with sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the sunset over the Chicago skyline while listening to some of the area's top jazz musicians.

Inside, you can wander through a re-created Amazon rainforest while sipping cocktails and snacking on the likes of seafood jambalaya and bourbon cream-filled puffs (the menu changes weekly). Or you can relax with a beer and the company of a Shedd researcher. You'll hear about migratory fish or the weird stuff (tick ... tick ... tick ...) that sometimes turns up in sharks' stomachs (;