12 drop-in activities this summer in Chicago

Sure, those special weekend festivals are circled on the calendar, and you’ve already booked tickets to the Jammin’ at the Zoo, but sometimes the best activities are the ones that don’t require any advanced planning. Like your favorite soap opera, these drop-in activities are dependable, trusty, reliable. Nothing fancy here, but they’ll be lifesavers on a hot summer day when “there’s nothing to do.”

See the rest of our “100 Things To Do This Summer” series

These drop-in activities aren’t anything fancy, but these drop-in activities are dependable, and they’ll be lifesavers on a hot summer day when “there’s nothing to do.”

June 13 – Aug. 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Families can get outside, be active and learn about differentcultures at this year’s Family Fun Festival held June 13 – Aug. 21at Millenium Park. Everyday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. kids and parentscan enjoy music from the Wiggleworms of the Old Town School of FolkMusic, a reading circle and family performances at the Family FunPerformance Stage. Then visit the Family Fun Activity Zone, whereeach week has a new cultural theme so kids can learn more aboutChicago and the world.

Family Fun Festival


Daily, various times

The Museum of Science and Industry is a treasure trove forinquisitive minds, and you’ll do fine there exploring by yourself,but everybody likes a little liquid nitrogen demonstration. Try theBalcony Ball Drop, daily at 11:30, or the MSI Hospital, where kidscan try to figure out what’s wrong with “iStan,” Monday throughFriday at 3 p.m. Find the full schedule of free daily demonstrationhere.

Daily Science Demos at MSI



Make crafts all summer long, with something new every week, atthis comfy creative studio. Drop off your 5-year-old-and-up onTuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m., or bring your tot onThursdays from 4-4:45 p.m.. Best of all, pay for 10 ($25 per child,$20 sibling)and the 11th is free.

Summer Crafternoons at Wishcraft


Hear stories, enjoy a special hike, and learn about the featuredanimal. Or if the lake is calling you, borrow a fishing pole orrent a paddle boat and head waterside.

Wild Wednesdays

Hear stories, enjoy a special hike, and learn about the featured animal.  Borrow a fishing pole, or rent a paddle boat. Popcorn and lemonade for sale. Wednesdays from June 17-Aug. 12.



Summer Saturdays at Robie House

Summer Saturdays

Family programs, such as Sun Prints, LEGO Architects, ArtGlass Done Wright, Origami and Family Printmaking,facilitated by a youth educator, encourage children to exploreRobie House as it inspires their own creativity.


Get close to nature and discover where food comes from with freeactivities on Saturday and Sunday May through October. Topicsrotate between Wiggling Worms (June 4-5, July 9-10, Aug. 13-14,Sept. 24-25), Super Seeds (June 11-12, July 16-17, Aug. 20-21),Rainbow Garden (June 18-19, Sept. 3-4), Plan Parts (June 25-26,July 23-24, Sept. 10-11), Powerful Pollinators (July 2-3, July30-31, Sept. 17-18), and special events like Heirloom TomatoWeekend (Aug. 27-28). See website for more information

Drop-in at Chicago Botanic Garden


The museum’s new Toys in the ‘Hood exhibit, which opened thisspring, chronicles the hidden Chicago roots of some of the mostbeloved childhood toys and games. Watch our video! And upstairs is a free and open playroom that
includes many of the modern-day versions of the toys on display
downstairs: UNO cards, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and more.

Free playroom at Elmhurst Historical Museum

Toys in the ‘Hood

Original exhibit presents a history of classic toys made in andaround the Chicago area. See prototypes and early versions,multimedia displays, and try out interactive stations.


The historic Lake Theater in Oak Park is bringing back itsWednesday Morning Movies series June 15 through Aug. 10. For $1 perperson, you can grab a PG-rated flick at 9 a.m. at this Oak Parkclassic.

Wednesday Morning Movies in Oak Park


Check out more of our 100 Things To Do This Summer list:


Garfield Park Conseravtory is one of Chicago’s hidden treasures- beautiful, historical and packed with free activities for thebudding horticulturalist (or bored kiddie). Or if you’re makingyour own adventure, print out the conservatory’s Eye Spy Hunt before you go.

Little Green Thumbs

Wednesdays, May 4 – Oct. 26, drop in anytime between3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Cook up mudpies in the “soil kitchen,” play with wheel barrows,and help plant and weed the conservatory’s “tot plot.”

Wild Wednesdays

Last Wednesday of every month, drop in anytime betwen 3 p.m.and 6 p.m.

Meet live animal presenterScott
Heinrichsand get a close-up look at some fascinating
critters. June’s theme is hedgehogs, turtles and tortoises are in
the spotlight in July, and August is a bug bonanza.

Weekend Family Fun:Discover the Power ofPlants!

 Saturdays and Sundays year-round, drop in anytime between 11a.m. and 4 p.m.

Plant an pretend garden, build a tropical habitat, help waterthe plants, or read a book under our tropical canopy. Stop by theElizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden.Note: on July 2, 3and 23rd, Power of Plants will be replaced by Meet theBees.

The Power of Plants


Summer vacation has only just begun, but it’s a good bet you’realready hearing the dreaded b-word – as in, “I’m bored!

Thankfully, Elmhurst Historical Museum has a creative cure forsummertime boredom: the Summer Fun & Games program.

Each Tuesday from June 21 to August 16, from 1-3 p.m., kids 4-12with a caregiver can take part in a different toy-themed craftactivity, ranging from making kaleidoscopes to teddy bears. Thecrafts, which cost $2 per project, can then be taken home forextended playtime.

Fun and games at Elmhurst Historical Museum

A drop-in lifesaver: Fun and games at Elmhurst Historical Museum

Summer vacation has only just begun, but it’s a good bet you’realready hearing the dreaded b-word – as in, “I’m bored!

Thankfully, Elmhurst Historical Museum has a creative cure forsummertime boredom: the Summer Fun & Games program.

[No time toregister? No problem? Check out these 12 awesome summer drop-inprograms]

Each Tuesday from June 21 to August 16, from 1-3 p.m., kids 4-12with a caregiver can take part in a different toy-themed craftactivity, ranging from making kaleidoscopes to teddy bears. Thecrafts, which cost $2 per project, can then be taken home forextended playtime.

Summer Fun & Games kicks off with a make-your-own yo-yoworkshop, where kids will get the chance to meet The Yo-Yo Manhimself, professional Duncan yo-yo champion Barry North. North willdemonstrate his impressive skills with the tricky toy at 2 p.m.,and then stick around to help participants craft their own.

The nine-week hands-on program is part of the museum’stoy-tastic summer, in conjunction with the museum’s “Toys in the Hood” exhibit. The exhibit, which opened in April,
highlights classic toys with ties to the Chicago area – Radio Flyer
wagons, “UNO” and Lincoln Logs, to name just a few.

On June 26, a Toy Fair Extravaganza invites
community members to enter a Lincoln Log building contest, play
“Blurt” with the game’s inventor and try out the original prototype
for “Operation.” There will also be ice cream, prizes and games to
enjoy.

Kids 7 and up who excel at Summer Fun & Games will also wantto check out July 28’s “Young Inventors Challenge Workshop,” wherethey can learn how to turn their own creative ideas for toys orgames into reality.

With all these playful offerings, it seems safe to say that withjust a quick trip to the Western suburbs, families can banishboredom for good this summer – and come up with a toy story oftheir very own.


- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

How to Make a Kid-Friendly Charcuterie Board

It's the modern day Lunchable.

Top Public Middle Schools in Illinois

Check to see if your school made the list.

COVID-19 Vaccine: What Parents Need to Know

We answer your questions.



- Advertisement -