Best Things to Do with Kids This Summer in Chicagoland

Things to do with kids summer chicago
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

Chicagoans and suburbanites alike know that Chicagoland summer just hits a little differently. Summertime Chi is something special that out-of-towners could never quite understand.

This year, get ready to have the best summer ever! We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to summer fun in Chicagoland, from family vacation ideas to at-home activities to keep the kids entertained during summer break. Plus, we’ve included family guides for celebrating Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Pride Month and more summer holidays. 

Ready to have some family fun in the sun? Check out our suggestions for things to do with your family in Chicagoland this summer.

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SUMMER FAMILY ACTIVITIES IN CHICAGOLAND

Things to do with kids summer chicago
Photo credit: The Chicago Park District

After being trapped indoors all winter (and, let’s face it, much of the spring), Chicagoans hit the ground running in the summer, eager to soak in the vitamin D and make the most of their time outdoors. 

Take advantage of everything that’s going on around town from June to September, but remember to take some time to smell the flowers (literally!). From outdoor adventures to free community events, we have summer activities for every family.

Attend a summer festival

There’s nothing like a street festival to give you a true Taste of Chicago (see what we did there?). Summer street festivals are an exciting way to introduce your little one to new music, food, culture and neighborhoods. 

Catch a free movie in the park

Towns all over Chicagoland host free movies in the park every summer. Grab your chairs, blankets and picnic snacks and catch an outdoor flick while enjoying the outdoors. 

Visit a local outdoor attraction

It’s a beautiful day — don’t let it go to waste! From giant parks and peaceful farms to outdoor malls, there’s so many ways to spend a free day outside. This summer, explore Chicagoland by venturing to an outdoor attraction

Ride a bike

Sure, riding your bike around the block is fun, but take your next family bike ride up a gear by exploring a new trail. These beautiful bike trails around Chicagoland are great for kids and offer fresh summer views for the entire family. 

Check out a local farmer’s market

Turn grocery shopping into a summertime treat by visiting a local farmer’s market. Kids will love the sights, sounds and fun activities at these farmer’s markets, and you’ll love getting the freshest produce, tasty snacks and more for your family. 

Pick your own berries

Nothing tastes more like summer than biting into a juicy strawberry. This summer, turn enjoying fresh berries into a family activity by picking your own produce at one of these U-pick berry farms near Chicagoland. 

Have a picnic

Whether you pick up snacks at a farmer’s market or pack your grocery store favorites, having a picnic at one of these family-friendly picnic destinations is an easy way to enjoy a perfect summer’s day with your loved ones.

Score a hole-in-one

Let your competitive side show as you take to the mini golf course for the ultimate family showdown  — just kidding! Putt putt is a game best enjoyed with a bit of friendly competition. Ready to get your game on? Head to one of these outdoor mini golf spots in Chicagoland

Take time to smell the flowers — literally

Take some time to appreciate the natural beauty of the season by frolicking through the flowers. These flower fields worth the drive from Chicago are picture perfect destinations that are guaranteed to add a little sunshine to your day. 

Cruise around town 

Switch up your vantage point and go sightseeing by boat. These boat tours for families (and dogs!) offer gorgeous Chicago skyline views, educational tours and even evening fireworks! 

Go to the beach 

Swim suit? Check.  Beach towel? Check. Sand toys, sunscreen, snacks, flip flops and beach chairs? Check. Once you’ve got the beach bag packed and the sun screen slathered on, head to one of these family-friendly beaches in Chicago and soak up the sun! 

Splash and play at a sprayground

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing like cooling off at a splash park or sprayground. These cool-tastic spots around Chicagoland are made for soaking up fun and staying cool all summer long. 

Enjoy a tasty treat

If you’re not enjoying a tasty ice cream cone this summer, then can you really say you enjoyed your summer? Treat your child (and yourself!) to a yummy treat this summer at one of the best ice cream shops in Chicagoland. 

Watch Free Outdoor Family Flicks at Chicagoland’s Movies in the Park Events

Grab some snacks and enjoy these fun family flicks at a park in the city and suburbs.

Hit the Water with These Unique Boat Tours for Families

All aboard! These boat tours offer a one-of-a-kind experience.

Discover the Best Outdoor Adventures for Chicagoland Families

Make the most of a beautiful day at these fun local attractions.

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AT-HOME SUMMER ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS

Things to do at home with kids summer chicago
Photo credit: Lauren Jeziorski

You don’t have to be out on the town all season to create summer memories with your kids. Kick the good summer vibes into full swing with these at-home summer activities the kiddos will love.

Play in the backyard

Take backyard play up a notch with these fun outdoor ideas. From STEM-inspired bug hunts to fairy garden crafts and water sensory bins, these outdoor activities for kids are the perfect way to keep them entertained — and learning — all summer long. 

Make popsicles

Nothing says summer like sweet frozen treats and sticky fingers. Make these yummy popsicle recipes that are so easy, even the kids can help. The best part? You can customize them to your family’s flavor preferences (and even sneak in some hidden fruits and veggies!). 

Start a garden

Gardens are nature’s playgrounds. Planting and maintaining a summer garden is a great activity to teach kids of all ages about where our good comes from and help them nurture a green thumb. Get started with these 5 simple plants that are easy for kids to grow

Take a dip in the pool

No room for an in-ground pool? No problem! Elevate your backyard pool game with these DIY pool hacks, water games and more! Before you get in the water, read up on how to prevent at-home summer accidents to keep your family safe. 

Ditch the tech

Struggling to get your kids to unplug this summer? These ideas for tech-free fun will be such a hit, they’ll forget they have texts and DMs to reply to! 

Recreate summer camp

Your child doesn’t have to go to overnight camp to experience the fun of summer camp. From geocaching to firefly hunts, create summer camp fun at-home with these 10 ideas. 

Read a summer-themed children’s book

School may be out of session, but there’s plenty of creative ways for kids to have fun while combating summer brain drain. Spend some quality time together by curling up with a summer-themed children’s book. 

Kid-Friendly Popsicle Recipes You Have to Make This Summer

These homemade popsicles are the yummiest summer activity!

Summer-Themed Books for Kids

Bust out the lemonade or kick back by the pool and embrace the heat of the season with these summer-themed children's books.
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SUMMER FAMILY VACATIONS

Whether your family loves outdoor adventures and sightseeing or you’re more of an R&R beach family, everyone deserves a break during summer vacation. Take some time to experience something new together as a family with one of these vacation ideas. 

Take a family vacation 

The kids are off school which means it’s time to make summer memories they’ll remember forever. Why not take a beach vacay to Clearwater, or discover what there is to do in Orlando, you know, besides the theme parks. If you’ll be flying to your final destination, be sure to read our tips for traveling with kids in our family guide to Chicago’s airports.

Prefer to stay close to home? Visit one of these top Illinois destinations for kids, or plan a staycation at Downtown Chicago.

Go on a road trip

Buckle up! Nothing says family bonding like a roadtrip to one of these Midwest destinations. Pack up the road trip snacks, then get ready to hit the road. Not sure where to start planning? We’ve rounded up kid-approved road trip stops from Chicago all the way to Florida to help you get started. 

Before you pull out of the driveway, be sure to check out our tips for surviving your first family road trip. For extra fun, stop at a wacky nearby roadside attraction on your way home.

Go camping

Experience the great outdoors this summer. These family-friendly campsites aren’t far from Chicago and they have plenty of amenities that kids will love like water play areas, beaches, trails and more. Nervous about surviving your family’s first camping trip? Check out these simple survival tips for camping with kids 

Explore a new neighborhood

Stay local and explore Chicagoland with a day trip! Our family neighborhood guides make exploring new communities a breeze with suggestions on what to do, where to eat and must-see attractions. Explore the city with these family guides to Beverly, Bronzeville, Chinatown and Logan Square

Sign up for summer camp

Just can’t get away this summer? You can still help your kiddos create summer memories by sending them to camp.  From day camp to overnight sleepaway options, summer camp can teach kids some important life lessons, like responsibility, independence and friendship. Plus, it’s tons of fun! 

Incredible Midwest Destinations to Visit with Kids in 2024

Need a break? Jump in the car and hit the road!

Exhilarating Midwest Outdoor Adventures to Try This Summer

Crank up the fun as a family with these exciting experiences worth the drive.

Best Places to See with Kids in Illinois

Enjoy a bucket list for Illinoisans of all ages!

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SUMMER HOLIDAYS

Photo credit: iStock/xavierarnau

Many holidays fall during the summer months including Memorial Day, Pride Month, Juneteenth, Father’s Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

That’s a lot of fun to pack in such a short time and you can find all the festivals, parades and celebrations offered in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties, here.

Plus, score books, crafts and other activities in our at-home guides, so that you can celebrate even if you don’t want to leave your home.

Memorial Day – May 27, 2024

Find ways to inspire patriotism in your little ones as you celebrate Memorial Day. Our Memorial Day Guide for Chicagoland Families is filled with local parades, red, white and blue craft and even patriotic desserts. 

Pride Month – June 2024

Get ready to show your LGBTQ+ pride all month long! These Pride events happening around Chicagoland are a great way to show your pride or support for members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Father’s Day – June 16, 2024

Move over, mom! (Just kidding!) In all seriousness, though, the dads and other male mentors in our lives deserved to be celebrated for all they do. Celebrate Dad this summer by attending one of these Father’s Day Events in Chicagoland. 

Juneteenth  – June 19, 2024

The abolishment of slavery in the United States is celebrated on June 19 each year. We rounded up some of the best ways for kids to get in on the festivities, including kid-friendly Juneteenth events.

Fourth of July – July 4, 2024

Cue the fireworks! Our Fourth of July Guide for Chicagoland Families includes patriotic crafts, red, white and blue recipes and the best places around town to catch fireworks

Labor Day – September 2, 2024 

As summer winds down, have one last day of summertime fun with the family as you celebrate Labor Day with these local events for Chicagoland families

Celebrate Pride Month at Kid-Friendly Events in Chicagoland

Local spots are offering great family options to celebrate Pride.

Juneteenth Family Events Not to Miss in Chicagoland

Celebrate Freedom Day with kids on June 19 with these local events.

Exciting Father’s Day Events to Make Dad Feel Special

The whole family will love these events celebrating Dad.
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