Now that the weather has warmed up and the kids are out of school for the year, Chicagoans are looking to spend more time outdoors this summer. Here is my non-exhaustive list of family-friendly activities to do around Chicago this summer.
Visit Lincoln Park Zoo
A family trip to the Windy City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago’s iconic zoo located in the trendy neighborhood of the same name, is free to enter making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the family.
Taste of Chicago
July 5-9th are the dates set for this summer’s Taste of Chicago, held in Grant Park. This giant food festival includes a wide selection of Chicago’s eclectic food scene. Bring the whole family and enjoy good food, music and fun for everyone. It is free to enter but there is a cost for the food.
Explore a Nature Preserve
Chicago, and its surrounding suburbs, is home to several nature preserves. Take a family walk in a place like River Trail Nature Center or find one with some history and learn about life on the prairie.
Go Berry Picking
Summer is the season for fresh, juicy berries. And what better way to enjoy some sweet, delicious berries than to pick them yourself? I recommend Stade’s Farm in McHenry, a little more than an hour north of Chicago by car. Strawberries and raspberries are available for picking throughout the summer season. Sugar snap peas and green beans are also available to pick starting in July.
Visit a Family Farm
For the past two years, Ladybug has been old enough to realize that as the weather warms up, we get to plan more trips to Wagner Farm. This farm is located in Glenview, about 25 minutes north of Chicago by car and is a great place for kids to experience farm life up close.
Spend a Day at the Beach
Chicagoland has a number of beaches along Lake Michigan’s shore. Though the lake water is freezing all year round, the temperature is refreshing when the weather is hot. Free beaches are located in the city or, if you don’t mind paying an entrance fee, I recommend, Glencoe Beach.
Catch a Concert in Millennium Park
Every year, Chicago hosts its free Summer Music Series at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Performances from a number of genres, from classical to jazz, will occur on most Mondays and Thursdays starting on June 12th. Bring a blanket and a picnic dinner and relax on the lawn while enjoying some free and family-friendly entertainment.
Navy Pier Fireworks
Every Wednesday at 9:30 pm and Saturday at 10:15 pm from May 27th- September 2nd, Navy Pier puts on a musical fireworks display. Watch it from Navy Pier. Or if you don’t mind skipping the music, watch it in a less crowded spot, somewhere along the beach. D and I watched the show from the dock at North Avenue Beach almost every Wednesday night when we lived in the city.
Chicago Air and Water Show
Every August, the Chicago beach front plays host to the air and water show. With past performances from the US Navy Blue Angels and the USAF Thunderbirds, this show is not to be missed. The Blue Angels return for the 59th Annual Air and Water Show set for August 19-20. Entrance is free.
Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden is the perfect place for a walk on a beautiful summer day. You can enjoy wandering around several beautiful gardens or take part in some of the many programs and classes that are offered year round. The Model Railroad Garden, similar to the Wonderland Express during the Christmas season, is on display through October.
This is just a small sample of the many activities that are happening around Chicago this summer. I hope that this list encourages you to get out and experience Chicago with your kids this summer.
What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago in the summer?
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