Meet a real Chicago bear, stretch your sea legs on a cardboard boat, get in touch with your musical roots and more this month around Chicagoland. Here are our 10 don't-even-think-about-missing events, but for hundreds more, just head over to our full calendar.
You may not be up for the 14-hour flight around the world-or its hefty price tag-but you can still head down to Chinatown for a colorful celebration of Asian culture. The Chinatown Summer Fair kicks off with a Lion Dance procession you'll be tempted to join, with music and cultural entertainment throughout the day. While you're there, be sure to taste-test Chinatown's many restaurants (save room for a Chinese pastry or bubble tea), browse local shops for true made-in-China treasures, and check out the kids' area.
Shake your collective tail feathers to some fun and energetic family friendly entertainment then cool off creating some funky, wearable art in the cool shade of Kid Town! Wiggleworms, Old Town's signature childrens music program, plays first fiddle in the kid-friendly corner of this festival, along with theDreamtree Shakers, a mini hip-hop act and a family drum circle.
Does your little guy or gal have some sweet, if a little unpolished, moves? Bring your dancin' shoes to Grant Park this summer for Chicago SummerDance, an 11-week festival featuring one-hour dance lessons by professional instructors, followed by two hours of live music and dancing on a 4,900 square foot open-air dance floor.
While you're waiting for Peter Jackson's high-profile version of "The Hobbit" to hit the big-screen, you can experience Tolkien's classic tale in a totally different way. Morton Arboretum kicks off the summer season of its popular Theatre-Hikes with Bilbo Baggins' adventure. You'll follow the action from scene to scene through the trees and landscapes of the arboretum-no curtain or stage required! It just might inspire older kids to pick up the popular novel for some summer-reading fun. Sunday low-impact hikes are suitable for strollers, walkers and wheelchairs.
With the Civil War's sesquicentennial at hand, it's the perfect time to give your kids a glimpse into what life was like during the war between the states. This annual re-enactment includes visits to Union and Confederate encampments, a field hospital and a ladies' bath house, plus meet-and-greets with some of the war's biggest personalities, including Illinois' own President Lincoln. And for those who want an up-close look at the fighting action, the Blue and Gray armies skirmish at 2 p.m. each day. Talk about bringing history to life. $5, $1 kids 12 and under.
If boredom is the mother of invention, your kids are sure to have all kinds of brilliant ideas this time of year. Young inventors can learn how to turn their toy or game concepts into reality at this workshop, held in conjunction with the "Toys in the Hood" exhibit, and be ready for the competition in November. Who knows, your kid's idea could join "Operation," "Lincoln Logs" and "UNO" in the pantheon of iconic Chicago inventions loved the world over. Kids 7-14. Reservations required; call (630) 833-1457.
Kids' rocker Ralph Covert is hosting a pair of benefit shows on July 16 for one local family living with Mitochondrial disease. Get your fill of Ralph's World's foot-tappin' tunes and help Caleigh and Callum Taylor, with proceeds going to United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.
Meet a real Chicago bull, bear, wolf at Brookfield Zoo's newest family adventure, Real Fan Days. Starting Friday, July 8 and running weekends July 9 through Sept. 4, Real Fan Day combines the best of the zoo's animals and Chicago's sports passion. Meet mascots from the teams, try your hand at calling some of Chicago's most iconic sports moments in the broadcast karaoke booth, and go on a themed zoo scavenger hunt.