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.
SUMMER FAMILY ACTIVITIES
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.
AT-HOME SUMMER ACTIVITIES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Check out our latest family guides to Evanston, Bronzeville, Pullman, and Mount Prospect.
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!
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 29, 2023
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 2023
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 18, 2023
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, 2023
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, 2023
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 4, 2023
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.