Four Ideas for Corporate Team Building in Chicago

Team building events can be a great time or a chore, depending on what your group decides to do. As someone who has worked for both a massive company and a small local business, I can tell you that getting to know my co-workers outside of the office is always worthwhile. Heading to the closest bar to grab a drink can be fun, but I’ve found that an experience can make team building a lot more fun (and lasting) than a run of the mill open tab. Here are four unique ideas for corporate team building in Chicago.

1. Virtual Team Building

Working out a time and place that works for everyone in your team can be a pain and a half. So why not opt for a virtual team-building event? These allow everyone to log in from wherever they happen to be while still having fun and bonding. Simple mobile-friendly games ghat can be played together online are ideal if you’re just looking for fun. The Detours team has had fun playing Drawful 2, which lets your team flex their creative muscles while laughing along with the game’s silly and surreal challenges.

If you’d like to go for more than just games, then you can reach out to us to arrange a private virtual tour. You and your group can adventure around Chicago to remotely experience neighborhood architecture, skyscraper, parks, restaurants and bars. Our professional Chicago tour guides share commentary on the city’s design, history, geography and culture. We’ve hosted these events from groups as distinct as corporate outings and scout adventures and on topics ranging from the badass women of Chicago’s history to delightfully bizarre local food history.

2. Clue-based Games

Several Chicago companies offer clue-based team games, either as escape rooms or scavenger hunts. The escape scenario has been quite popular recently. Room Escape Adventures is, well, just what it sounds like. Fox in a Box offers a similar set-up, but with smaller group sizes and more available scenarios. Being a history nerd, I am particularly intrigued by their “Bunker” scenario.

Waxwing Puzzle Company has a different angle. They unleash teams into sprawling venues as they try to solve puzzles rather than merely survive. Any of the three are unique ideas for corporate team building in the Chicago area, since they create fun, high-pressure situations that encourage camaraderie.

We’ve even gotten into this fun, creating a clue-based Visual Scavenger Hunt of the Chicago skyline. Private groups can reach out and book one of our guides for an evening at the 26th-floor hotspot of Apogee Lounge. The group will see a wide variety of buildings reflecting different architectural styles and historic eras – anything from itty-bitty 19th-century commercial storefronts to 1980s post-modern high-rises to the glistening new flagship McDonald’s. Famous architectural landmarks that are viewable include the Tribune Tower, Holy Name Cathedral, and the modernist AMA Building. The group splits into teams, tasked with interpreting our clues and photographing the corresponding building on the skyline. It’s tons of fun without breaking a sweat.

unique ideas team building in Chicago whirlyball
A game of Whirlyball is one of suggestions for corporate team building events in Chicago. (Photo Credit: theaudettes – Flickr)

3. Games with Drinks

Of course, you may be looking for unique ideas for team building in the Chicagoland area that falls between action-packed and sedate. Fortunately, there’s a bunch of establishments that mix fun games with drinks.

Looking for games of skill? Then a round of Whirlyball might be in order. Whirlyball is a hilariously difficult sport which “combines lacrosse, hockey and basketball with bumper cars.” The sport defies traditional athletic skill sets, which should make for an even (and terribly fun) playing field. And there’s a bar for drinks!

Of course, you can always opt for an arcade night as well. Spots like HQ Beercade, which mixed old-school arcade games with a sizable bar menu, have been popping up in the past few years. Organizing a massive tournament with games like NBA Jam or Pac-Man will thrill any child of the 80’s or 90’s. Or Logan Arcade is another fave, especially for a team pinball tournament!

4. Take a Class

Taking a group class can be a blast. Check out Dabble, which lists dozens of classes across the region. I came across topics that ranged from physical, like dance and yoga, to crafty, like woodworking and welding.

You can also track down some of the larger companies that offer one specific type of class. For example, Femme du Coupe is well-known for its cocktail-making classes. One business that caught my eye, and must certainly be among the most unique ideas for corporate events in Chicago, is a group trapeze class from Trapeze School New York (which is in Chicago).

unique ideas team building in Chicago segway tour
Segway tours may be hokey, but that makes them one of our unique ideas for corporate events in Chicago. (Photo Credit: Marcus Tacker – Flickr)

5. Take a Private Group Tour

Everyone has taken a tour, so it behooves you to find something unexpected for this sort of team building in downtown Chicago. Try getting out of downtown with Spice of Life Tours. They offer neighborhood tours that focus on the culinary and cultural traditions in outlying neighborhoods like Chinatown and Little India.

Of course, you can always run in the opposite direction and be as touristy as possible with a Segway Tour. Absolutely Segway offers tours based on a variety of themes and locations, like Gangsters or the Museum Campus. Segway tours may sound a little hokey, but team-building events are hokey, right?

And of course I must mention that Chicago Detours offers private group tours by foot and by bus. Your private tour with us could take you to see sparkling mosaic ceilings, drink beers in some of Chicago’s oldest pubs, or learn how to play blues harmonica with a live musician on a moving bus!

Any of these could make for a great team building in Chicago outing. Truth be told, half the reason I worked on this list was so that the Chicago Detours staff would have a template for our future fun, as we like to go out as a team ourselves. Maybe we’ll see you on your own adventure around town!

– Alex Bean, Office Manager and Tour Guide

ABOUT CHICAGO DETOURS

Chicago Detours offers guided walking and bus tours of architecture, history and culture to public and private groups. We are a passionate team of educators, historians, artists and storytellers, and are proud to be one of very few tour companies in Chicago that is rated five stars on both Yelp and TripAdvisor.

historic chicago bar tour jazz and blues

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Ellen

Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”
Robert
GetYourGuide

Jen

Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”
Heather
TripAdvisor

Elyse

Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.

Anthony

Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.

Marie

Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”
Lorit
TripAdvisor

Sonny

Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K
TripAdvisor

Alex

Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K
Yelp

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F
Yelp

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