Have you been to an outdoor movie night? Seen the fireworks over Navy Pier?
You may not be ready to officially admit that lazy summer days are dwindling; it seems as though it has only just begun, but that time is creeping in. This may seem like a moment for panic, but we’re going to help you rally to squeeze in every bit of sunshine and adventuring. Before you have to settle into school-year routines, take advantage of the last couple of months of favorable weather by hiking, boating, golfing, and more. If they aren’t on your summer bucket list yet, check out our recommendations around the Chicagoland area.
Listen to Music Under the Stars
From classical, to rock, country, and even Opera for the Young, there is literally something for everyone during the 2023 Ravinia Festival.
Dine Out in the Open Air
A residual from the pandemic, many neighborhoods are still closing their streets on a limited basis, to allow restaurant capacity to spill onto pop-up patios. It’s a great opportunity to visit some finer establishments with the kids or even pets. The next Dine Out on Broadway will occur on September 15-17.
Shop til You Drop
While there will never be a shortage of places to shop in Chicago, the indoor/outdoor Randolph Street Market is America’s largest urban antiques market. Remaining dates include July 29-30 and September 23-24.
Picnic at the Movies
Take a Hike
The call of hanging in the urban jungle all summer long is strong. But, how about throwing in some fresh air, unforgettable scenery, and wild animal spotting into the agenda? Lace up your boots, strap an infant to your back, maybe even bring along the fishing poles, and explore some lesser-known hiking spots found in our story: Discover the Not-So-Obvious Spots to Hike, Camp & Fish Near Chicago.
Visit the Zoos!
How lucky are we that we have not one, but two amazing zoos in Chicago? Pick your favorite—or visit both—and monkey around as a family for a day.
Go for a Donut-Themed Jog (or Walk)
Grab your donut-lovin friends and register for Stan’s Donut Race. Join in for a 5K and Kids Dash at Montrose Harbor on Aug. 19.
Thrill-Seek as a Family at The Forge: Lemont Quarries
The Forge: Lemont Quarries (aka The Forge) is an amazing 300-acre adventure park, 22 miles from downtown Chicago. Not only does the park feature the largest aerial adventure course in North America, but a day of adventuring also gives you access to four over-water ziplines, 5 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking, paddle sports, and a dedicated kids’ zone.
Play a Round of Mini Golf
Mini-golf. Putt-putt. Goofy golf. Adventure golf. Shorties. No matter what you call it, you have a blast playing it. Most of Chicago’s mini-golf courses are pure, kitschy fun and are only open for a limited time each year. So grab a short pencil and head to one of our city and suburban favorites.
Meander Through the North Shore Sculpture Park
Walk. Bike. Run. Skip. Gallop. However you make your way down this two-mile trail, you’re sure to enjoy the sights at the North Shore Sculpture Park. The paved path is lined with sculptures from artists across the world.
Make a Splash at Raging Waves
Splish, Splash! Illinois’ largest waterpark dedicated to family fun for all ages, Raging Waves, is excited to you its newest addition: Aussie Mat Dash. Riders race side-by-side on mats down the six-lane slide.
Cruise the Waterways on a Fireboat
Once the largest diesel-powered fireboat in the world, the Fred A. Busse is now set to share a bit of history with passengers who take a Chicago Fireboat Tour.
Tour the Baha’i Temple Gardens
Take in the beauty of Baha’i Temple with a walk around their gardens.
Introduce the Kid to Chicago-Style Hot Dogs
Love ’em or leave ’em, hot dogs are big in Chicago, and if your kids haven’t begged for one yet, they will soon—and they get a pass on the sacrilege of using ketchup. Grab one at a legendary local spot and turn eating into an adventure.
Pay a Visit to Shedd Aquarium
Are they soft, fluffy, or rough? You’ll find out what a stingray feels like during a 15-minute touch session. Learn about sustainable seafood options that help protect these creatures in the wild. Along with learning about different species (including cownose and yellow stingrays) and their wild habits, you’ll see just how docile and friendly these ocean swimmers can be.
Explore the Green Space at Chicago Botanic Gardens
Visit Chicago Botanic Garden and be treated to colorful views of the North Lake, vistas of the Malott Japanese Garden, and close-ups of blooms in Dixon Prairie and the McDonald Woods. Until Sep. 5, you will also see hundreds of winged beauties and pretty petals in the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit.
Experience Blue Man Group
A visit to see the iconic Blue Man Group is always a fun way to celebrate the new school year. A dynamic combo of art, music, comedy, and tech, Blue Man Group encourages audiences to reconnect with their inner (and outer) child in order to see the world through a new perspective.
Admire Navy Pier Fireworks
Keep the kids up a tad later on Wednesdays and Saturdays this summer to experience the fireworks display synchronized to music at Navy Pier. Make it extra unforgettable by booking a nighttime segway tour.
Additional reporting by Maria Chambers