Rosemont, a town next to O'Hare International Airport, now an entertainment hotspot

Photo courtesy of Sugar Factory
Photo courtesy of iFly
By Jamie Bartosch, Chicago Local Expert

Once only a place for conventioneers, the city of Rosemont has evolved into a major entertainment and shopping hub for locals, tourists and conventioneers. Located next to O'Hare International Airport, and along major expressways, it's become a popular place in the Chicago area to eat, play and shop.

Besides the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and the nearby Allstate Arena, which hosts A-list concerts and shows, Rosemont has a buzzing new entertainment complex called MB Financial Park. The large outdoor venue is surrounded by several restaurants, a huge movie theater and bowling alley. There's a football field-sized grass area in the center, which is where they host many free outdoor events, ranging from ice skating to concerts.

It's a popular place to party, especially for groups, because of the many large, loud restaurants. Teens and twenty somethings pack Sugar Factory for its over-the-top desserts and drinks, and the drinking crowd will raise a pint at the German bar, Hofbrauhaus.

Fashionistas will love the new Fashion Outlets of Chicago with high-end design shopping at spots like Burberry, Nieman Marcus, Nike and Prada and its equally-impressive amenities including airline baggage check-in and boarding pass issuance for those traveling through O’Hare International Airport. A free shuttle is offered to and from O'Hare.

10. Zanies Comedy Club Rosemont
Photo courtesy of Zanies Comedy Club Rosemont

Zanies is a longtime, respected comedy club chain in Chicago, which helps draw well-known comics to its stage, like Gilbert Gottfried and Mike Lawrence. Like most comedy clubs, you're crammed into a small space and there is a two-purchase minimum (it can be food, drinks or a combination of both) in addition to the price of the ticket. Most of the menu is standard bar food, but there is also a menu of cocktails named after famous comedians. The club is only for ages 21 and up. Zanies also offers comedy classes. Go to their website and sign up for their LOL Live text promotions, and you can get discounted ticket offers.

9. Kings Rosemont
Photo courtesy of Kings Rosemont

While kids are welcome during the day, Kings is more for adults. The retro bar with a bowling alley also sports dozens of flat screens for watching sports or karaoke. There are also pool tables and 20 ten-pin bowling lanes that can be reserved in advance. A full-service restaurant serves everything from appetizers, sandwiches, burgers and desserts that are so large you can easily share them. Two premium bars offer patrons classic, yet innovative cocktails. The venue does have a dress code and guests must be 21 or older to enter after 8 p.m. Check their website for special daily promotions, including ladies nights, and "All-you-can" Wednesdays.

8. Hofbrauhaus Chicago
Photo courtesy of Hofbrauhaus Chicago

Hofbrauhaus may be a bit of a tourist trap, but people flock here because it's such a fun, rowdy place to have a beer. The massive beer hall - which can easily hold 1,000 people - is designed like its sister beer hall in Munich, Germany. People drink beer out of large steins, and order authentic German foods, like Bavarian sausages or Apfelstrudel, a homemade Bavarian apple streudel with vanilla sauce and ice cream. Live performers, often wearing lederhosen, get the crowd singing and dancing with a wide range of music. The live music is part of the reason so many people, especially in large groups, love coming here. Every few minutes the performers toast their steins with the whole restaurant and say "Prost!". Seating is on long communal tables which adds to the party atmosphere.

7. Rivers Casino
Photo courtesy of Rivers Casino

This casino, which opened in 2011, is one of the most popular casinos in Illinois. It's technically in Des Plaines, but adjacent to Rosemont and close to O'Hare International Airport. It's tiny compared to the mega casinos of Las Vegas but it fits the bill when you're looking for some casino entertainment near the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. It's home to nearly 50 table games and more than 1,000 slot machines. Sign up for the Rush Rewards card (it's free) and get dining discounts an other perks. Live bands perform regularly in the bars, and several restaurants offer everything from burgers to fresh crab legs.

6. Sugar Factory
Photo courtesy of Sugar Factory

Colorful, over-the-top drinks served in smokey, oversized goblets, plus fun desserts, are what this place is famous for, moreso than its pricey food. The fun restaurant is especially popular with young girls, who can't resist posting photos of their orders on social media. Celebrities like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and the Kardashian sisters are among the restaurant's fans, and many have their own sparkly "couture pops" in the adjacent candy and ice cream shop. The ornate dining room is covered with crystal chandeliers, and TV screens playing paparazzi-styled video ads for the restaurant. For private parties, check out their Chocolate Lounge, which offers an indoor/outdoor alcove.

5. Big Ten Experience
Photo courtesy of Big Ten Experience

Fan of Big 10 sports? Then you'll want to stop and visit this new museum in MB Financial Park, dedicated to history and highlights of the mens and womens sports teams from the Big 10 colleges (a division which consists mostly of colleges in the Midwest). The museum includes 13 interactive exhibits, a theater, and even things like a photo op with the Heisman trophy. Look up stats, learn about the league's sports legends, listen to famous TV or radio calls from certain games, or play an interactive game where you catch a football, stop a soccer ball or block a hockey puck.

4. iFLY Chicago-Rosemont
Photo courtesy of iFly

iFLY lets fliers experience the thrill of skydiving in the safety of an indoor, vertical wind tunnel. Located in Rosemont, just minutes away from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the indoor skydiving attraction lets fliers feel the wind in their face and feel the rush in their bones as they float effortlessly into the air. The experience begins with a safety lesson and tutorial, and then the friendly instructors help you fly. Sometimes the instructors will do some tricks for the crowd, which circles the glass tunnel. Videos of your flight are available for purchase. It's a popular activity for couples, families and even seniors.

3. Allstate Arena
Photo courtesy of Allstate Arena

Allstate Arena's 18,500 seats make it one of the largest indoor entertainment facilities in Chicago. It hosts A-list music concerts, family shows like Disney on Ice, sporting events, and a massive flea market in the parking lot on Sunday mornings. The arena is home to the Chicago Wolves (AHL) and the DePaul University Men's Basketball (Big East). Some of the big shows on the 2017 agenda include Blake Shelton, Eric Church, and The Weeknd. Video screens and good sight lines make it easy to enjoy the show regardless of where you are seated. There is plenty of on-site parking although as expected, it can take some time to leave the lot after a popular performance or game.

2. Fashion Outlets of Chicago
Photo courtesy of Fashion Outlets of Chicago

Fashion Outlets of Chicago opened in 2013 and quickly became one of the most popular shopping spots in Chicago for tourists and locals. The mall's upper level has high end stores like Burberry, Longchamp and Prada, with the first-floor occupied by favorites like Nike, GAP, and Merrell. There's a free shuttle to the mall from O'Hare International Airport, which is just a few minutes away. The mall's guest services area offers a wide range of travel-related services, including airline baggage check-in and boarding pass issuance. The mall also has several good food options, including health food from Freshii or Maoz Vegetarian, or some adorable truffles from Lolli and Pops, Lindt or Godiva.

1. MB Financial Park at Rosemont
Photo courtesy of MB Financial Park at Rosemont

You don't see this 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex until you park in the indoor parking deck and walk inside. Then you'll see the huge area lined with lively restaurants and bars, outdoor patios, and entertainment options that include Zanies Comedy Club, Kings bowling alley, and Muvico movie theater. The large grassy area in the center is often used to host concerts, ice skating and tubing in the winter, and many other events. Diners surrounding the perimeter can enjoy the scene as they eat their meal. Fireworks shows are often held, so check the website or the "Welcome to Rosemont" app for times. MB Financial Park is one block from the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.