There really is no such thing as a summer in Chicago. From exciting attractions to the fantastic outdoor space, you can always find something to do this time of year.
Whether you’re new to Windy City or have lived there for a long time, here are some fun things to do during your summer in Chicago.
Dining out with friends and families is a daily summer activity. Chicago offers many killer restaurants with fantastic outdoor dining options and breathtaking views.
Don’t forget to add these restaurants to your summer bucket list:
- London house: London House is home to Chicago’s only 3-level rooftop site. It has stunning city views with indoor and outdoor dining. Level 22 has an outdoor patio with views of the Chicago River, the Magnificent Mile, and Lake Michigan. Enjoy small bites and excellent cocktails in this one-of-a-kind space.
- Lifted: Located in the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, this outdoor lounge invites guests to enjoy the indoor / outdoor bar and the open-air rooftop terrace. It has private outdoor spaces overlooking the Chicago River. They serve small plates, creative cocktails, and have a long list of craft beers.
- Cindy’s: Known as the “Jewel in the Crown” of The Chicago Athletic Association, Cindy’s is an outdoor patio with 360-degree views of the city. Sip classic drinks and delicious food while taking in views of the Art Institute, Lake Michigan, and Millennium Park.
- The Godefroy: On the fourth floor of the Godfrey, you’ll find an urban rooftop oasis. With stunning views, a fire pit, beautiful water features, and a retractable roof, The Godfrey at River North has unique amenities unlike any other place in town.
After a meal in town, consider finding a fun activity!
Free summer activities
If you’re on a budget but don’t want it to take you off your summer bucket list, take advantage of Chicago’s free things to do.
- Lincoln Park Zoo: If you are a fan of wildlife, visit this impressive zoo for free. Along with all of your favorite animals, you can also take in the stunning Chicago skyline as a backdrop.
- Chicago Lakeside Trail: Walk, run, bike or inline skating on this scenic 29 km paved trail that runs along the shores of Lake Michigan on the Town’s East Rim Trail. It’s a great way to get your body moving and soak up the Chicago scenery while doing it.
- The beach: Visit one of Chicago’s beaches located along Lake Michigan. Spend the afternoon at Oak Street Beach if you’re looking for a beach near downtown, or take your puppy to Montrose Beach for a great pet-friendly option. Be sure to look at which beaches are suitable for swimming if you feel like taking a dip.
- Chicago River Walk: Stroll along the infamous Riverwalk to admire all of Chicago’s magnificent architecture. Along the way you will find many restaurants and bars.
- Millennium Park: This popular place is worth a visit if you haven’t already. Here you’ll find the “Bean,” one of Chicago’s most iconic public sculptures, as well as many other free activities and events. You can walk through Lurie Garden, go rock climbing at Maggie Daley Park, or catch a show at the Great Lawn.
- Hyde Park Art Center: Stop for free at Chicago’s oldest alternative exhibition space. The art center is a hub for contemporary arts and showcases incredible artists and creative works.
- Garfield Park Conservatory: Venture a few miles from downtown Chicago to find one of the largest and most astonishing botanical conservatories in the country. This 184-acre park features a swimming pool, fishing lagoon, sports fields, tennis courts and more.
- Summer fireworks: Every Wednesday and Saturday evening, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, Navy Pier hosts a magnificent free fireworks display. Sit along the beach or find a rooftop nearby to enjoy the show!
If you love music and art festivals, you’ll be happy to know Chicago hosts a lot of them during the summer. While some big events have passed this summer, you can still add these festivals to next summer’s bucket list.
Here are some popular events to consider:
- Bucktown Arts Festival: Each year, the Bucktown district hosts its annual arts festival on August 24 and 25 across from Holstein Park. For more than 30 years, this festival has presented hundreds of artists who work in oil, watercolor, photography, textiles, sculpture, jewelry, etc.
- Renegade Craft Show: On September 8 and 9, Wicker Park will host the biggest Renegade Chicago event of the year along Division Street. Here you can find more than 400 artists and designers from all over the country. The fair will also feature local DJs, workshops, art installations, food trucks, nonprofits, adult drinks, and more.
- Wicker park party: During the summer, Wicker Park hosts its own annual festival for residents, neighbors and visitors. The five-day festival takes place at the end of July and reflects the neighborhood’s rich musical heritage, vibrant nightlife and renowned restaurants. Participants can also find local artisans and arts and crafts. While this year’s festival may be over, it’s not too early to start planning for next year.
- Lollapalooza: Towards the end of July, Grant Parks hosts this iconic four-day event featuring some of the world’s best musical artists. During the show, attendees can also enjoy some of the best views of the Chicago skyline and the shores of Lake Michigan. Next year’s Lollapalooza will take place from July 29 to August 1.
As the second most visited public park in the whole of the United States and the largest park in Chicago, Lincoln Park is a hot spot in the summer.
During the sunny months, residents and guests alike take full advantage of this sprawling green space just north of the Loop along Lake Michigan.
Boasting nearly 1,200 acres, this park offers many activities. You can enjoy a scenic picnic or take a bike ride along the trails. Or, if you’re looking for more activities, you can visit the zoo, conservatory, museum, driving range, or catch a show at the Theater on the Lake.
Close to the park in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, you can find a handful of great dining options and fun options. Those who enjoy shopping can also browse all of the eclectic boutiques in the area.
Make this Chicago summer your best yet! Make sure to tag your calendar with your favorite events and activities.
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