15 Summer Activities for Chicago Families to Enjoy While Social Distancing

We might be missing some of our favorite summer traditions this year, but that doesn’t mean the season is canceled. As local attractions begin to reopen, there are plenty of summer activities in to keep families entertained. We’ve listed a few of our favorite things to do with kids in Chicagoland.

Go to a drive-in movie theater.

Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback! The McHenry Outdoor has been around for years and new pop-up drive-in theaters are also appearing like ChiTown Movies and Chicago Drive-In.

Take a hike.

After being cooped inside our house for months, it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. Morton Arboretum is now open and while it does have some restrictions, families can still explore the Troll Hunt, extended through to 2021. Here are some other summer hiking trails you can explore.

Pick up a sweet treat.

Summer isn’t the same without some of these sweet treats to cool you off. Our favorites include unique flavored ice cream bars from Pretty Cool Ice Cream and Capannari Ice Cream‘s four-flavor ice cream flight.

Hunt for outdoor murals.

Our favorite museums like MCA Chicago and The Art Institute of Chicago may be closed for now, but there’s plenty of art to see outdoors! We’ve gathered some iconic kid-friendly murals across the city to pose in front of.

Play mini golf.

Photo Credit: Par-King Skill Golf

Do you miss mini golf? Some courses are slowly reopening. Grab your clubs and hit as many as these outdoor mini golf courses as you can this summer.

Go camping.

Camping seems like a fun way to social distance. Pack up your tents, snacks and masks before heading to these family camping sites. If you rather stay at home, opt in for backyard camping instead.

Go on a bike ride.

From the Lakefront Trail to Chicago Botanic Garden, you can easily bike these family-friendly biking trails that promise you stunning views of our city and suburbs.

Plan a picnic.


Spend some time outside the spot and plan a picnic this summer. You can pack sandwiches, pasta salad and desserts to make it extra special. Consider these local spots for your next family picnic.

Visit a nature center.

Nature centers are perfect for families. While indoor facilities are closed until further notice, you can still take advantage of their outdoor trails to get some fresh air.

Pick delicious berries.

Berry picking season usually begins in mid-June. We’re so lucky that many berry picking farms have adjusted their guidelines to keep families safe for this summer tradition.

Drive to weird roadside attractions.

Up for a road trip? Track down these quirky roadside attractions such as The Leaning Tower of Niles and The Home Alone House.

Go on a boat ride.

Shop Small Chicago

Explore Lake Michigan this summer as boat tours are operating again. Check out the classic tours at Shoreline Sightseeing or hop on a fireboat with Chicago Fireboat Tours.

Eat outdoors.

Photo by Clayton Hauck for Parson’s Chicken & Fish

Enjoy a family meal at a local restaurant with these outdoor options. If you want to make a trip downtown, you can also checking out what’s open for dine-in guests at the Chicago Riverwalk and Navy Pier.


Start a family garden.

Visit your local garden center and pick up some plants for your home. We’ve got some tips on how to get your family garden growing.

See a waterfall.

Starved Rock State Park

If your family is obsessed with hiking, you can spot the most amazing waterfalls at these Chicagoland parks.

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