Celebrate Summer in Chicago: 7 Must-Dos with Kids

The sun! The beaches! The festivals! Our family loves summer in our sweet hometown of Chicago. There’s no better place to revel in the season than the Windy City, where we’ll never take a sunny day for granted. Here are our picks for 7 cool things to do in Chicago this summer with kids.

Eat outdoors
Whether it’s a Chicago-style hot dog on a picnic bench or Mediterranean treats on a patio in lively Greektown, the best way to enjoy a summer meal in Chicago is to eat it outdoors. Athena Greek Restaurant at 212 S. Halsted St. is one of our favorite Chicago restaurants.

Ride the Seadog
Every year we take our pooch on a special excursion on the lake aboard the Seadog. Yes, friendly dogs are welcome on this fast and furious lakefront boat tour. We’re from Chicago, and we see the striking skyline every day, but it’s a special treat to see it from the speedy Seadog.

Savor an ice cream cone at a specialty ice cream parlor
We love ice cream. Who doesn’t, really? Thankfully, we can select from a number of ice cream parlors to match our moods. Our top three ice cream hot spots are:

  • Scooter’s at 1658 W. Belmont Ave. for frozen custard
  • Margie’s at 1960 N. Western Ave. for turtle sundaes

Hit the beach
Nothing says summer in Chicago more than a sunny day spent splashing in the waves of a Lake Michigan Beach. They open for the season on May 23. All 26 miles of Chicago lakefront are managed by the Chicago Park District and are free and open to the public. Foster Avenue Beach is a fantastic choice for families with little ones thanks to its wide stretch of super-shallow waters, but the people watching at Oak Street Beach is always stellar. See a full list of Chicago beaches.

Cool things to do in Chicago this summer - Foster Beach
Spending the day at Foster Avenue Beach is one of the cool things to do in Chicago during the summer.

Sample the seasonal flavors of Green City Market
Held every Wednesday and Saturday morning in Lincoln Park, just outside the Farm-in-the-Zoo, Green City Market is your go-to for a gourmet morning. Head to the main tent anytime from 8 am to noon and join Club Sprouts, which gives your little one the opportunity to taste a different market item, some familiar and some unusual, each visit. With every new taste, kids receive a stamp on their Club Sprouts membership card; once the card is filled with eight tastes, the child takes home a certificate of accomplishment and a special prize. Try to catch a chef demo while you’re there, too. Every market day at 10:30 am, a top Chicago chef offers a free cooking demo.  

Enjoy a picnic and a concert at Pritzker Pavilion
The musical centerpiece of Millennium Park is an acoustically outstanding open-air pavilion that plays host to a wide range of performance artists, from blues to jazz and beyond. Spread your blanket on the grass, bring a picnic and toys to keep the kids occupied, and enjoy a concert under the sun or stars! Check the schedule for upcoming concerts and events at cityofchicago.org.

Splash and play at the best free water park in the city
Millennium Park offers not only awesome public art installations but also a free water play area thanks to the interactive Crown Fountain. Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, this unforgettable fountain is composed of two glass-brick towers with mixed media and a black granite pool. Kids love when the digital faces on the towers “spit” water from their lips every five minutes or so, followed by a waterfall cascade. Even the tiniest tots will have a blast stomping their feet in the 3-4 inches of water in the granite pool.

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Know Before You Go

  • Chicago’s nickname is “The Windy City.”
  • Make sure to visit Millennium Park so that you can see the world-famous Bean!
  • Avoid visiting in the winter if you aren’t a fan of cold weather! The weather warms up around May.

Crown Fountain photo by Teacher Traveler / CC BY 2.0

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Amy B. Are you interested in traveling to Chicago? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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