Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Get Your Experiential Travel Fix

The Second City


The first rule of improv is to say yes and then add something, a concept known as “Yes, and… .” Saying no shuts down everything because no one can move forward from no.

“Saying yes and listening and validating your partner’s idea, that’s how you stay married and employed,” said Jeff Poole, program head for workshops for The Second City in Chicago.

Groups can learn the basics of improv during classes at the famous Chicago theater that has trained the likes of Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Bill Murray and Mike Myers, to name a few of the famous Second City alumni.

For smaller groups, usually 12 to 15 people, the theater offers one-, two- and three-hour Intro to Improv workshops that cover the basics and allow people to get onstage and get crazy. For larger groups of up to 200 people, workshops are held in a theater and are more presentation style, which gives guests a chance to remain anonymous in the audience or get in front of one, either for big laughs or full-on flops.

“We always say at Second City, you’re either going to get so good you never fail, or you get so good at failing you never care,” Poole said.

Groups typically take a midday or afternoon class, then break for dinner and return for an evening show. The theater’s first restaurant, 1959 Kitchen and Bar, opened last March, taking its name from the year Second City opened its doors. The restaurant offers group dining packages and allows people to stay on-site between an improv class and an evening show.

Grgich Hills Estate

Rutherford, California

In 1976, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich stunned the wine world during a blind tasting in Paris when a panel of French judges deemed his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay the finest white wine in the world. Today, Grgich Hills Estate has a winery and a tasting room in Rutherford, California, and 366 acres of vineyards throughout Napa Valley.

Every year, Grgich Hills allows guests to stomp grapes during harvest time, roughly from Labor Day to Halloween, although it could run earlier or later depending on Mother Nature. Every harvest starts off with a blessing of the grapes, and this season will mark Grgich’s 41st blessing, an event that’s free and open to the public. A Catholic priest will “bless the grapes and bless the people who are there,” said Ken Morris, communications manager for Grgich Hills Estates.

Once the harvest is underway, grape stomping can begin. It’s available every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors take off their shoes, roll up their pants, step in a sawed-in-half barrel “and squish some grapes.” The barrels are large enough that five people can get in together for a photo op. When finished, visitors stamp their purple, grape-stained feet on a T-shirt printed with “I stomped at Grgich Hills” for a personal memento. The experience also includes a glass of wine.

Groups of eight or more must make reservations and can also add a tasting or a guided tour of the working winery. During a harvest-time tour, visitors will also see grapes being pressed and the juice being pumped to tanks. The winery is surrounded by 20 acres of vineyards, including a demonstration vineyard where guests can learn about the different types of grapes grown at Grgich’s five estate vineyards.

Blue Man Group

Universal Orlando, Florida

Phil Stanton, Chris Wink and Matt Goldman debuted their Blue Man concept on the streets of New York City in 1991, putting on small “performances,” or humorous happenings, anywhere and everywhere. Now, 26 years later, Blue Man Group has resident shows in New York; Chicago; Las Vegas; Boston; and Orlando, Florida. A world tour kicked off last spring, and a U.S. tour spent nearly six years on the road. The group also has three studio albums, and a book was released in October.

And as if that isn’t enough, the Blue Man Group’s show at Universal Orlando Resort introduced a new VIP experience in November that allows people to get behind the scenes and the blue makeup. The package is designed to give guests a deeper understanding of the performance and a hands-on glimpse of what it’s like to be a Blue Man, one of 50 who are performing around the world at any given time.

Guests who opt for the VIP package get to learn about the group’s 26-year history and see some rare photos and company artifacts. Visitors will be able to try out one of the crazy homemade instruments and even have the chance to try on the fluorescent blue stage makeup. The experience includes a guided backstage tour that showcases areas previously off limits to guests.

The upgraded package also includes a chance to meet a Blue Man, along with goodies that include a souvenir program and a free download of “Creature Feature” from their latest album, “Three.”