Summer in Chicago: The Ultimate Fun Guide

April 17, 2019

The dreary winter season is long behind us and the city is ready to play.

Doesn’t it seem as though everyone is happier during the summer? The sun is shining, all of the flowers have bloomed, and there’s so much to do! The same can be said about summer in Chicago.

If you have a summer Chicago trip planned, make sure you take advantage of these things to do and places to go.


What to Do This Summer in Chicago

Hit the Beach

Those unfamiliar with Chicago’s location and layout are often shocked when you recommend a summer trip to the beach. There’s far more to the city than concrete and the river!

Related Post: 4th of July in Chicago

Grab your swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, and picnic basket and make a day out of a visit to any of Chicago’s top beaches, including:

  • Rainbow Beach and Park
  • Margaret T. Burroughs Beach
  • 12th Street Beach
  • Oakwood Beach
  • Montrose Beach
  • 57th Street Beach
  • Helen Doria Beach
  • Oak Street Beach

Try to visit Chicago’s beaches early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

Visit Chicago’s Parks

There’s no better way to spend summer in Chicago than with a visit to one of the city’s many parks. Of course, the iconic Millennium Park is a huge spot for tourists and locals alike. But, Chicago is home to hundreds of parks for you to explore.

Whether you want to read a book under the shade of a tree or lounge in the sun, these parks are the perfect summer destination:

  • Grant Park
  • Lincoln Park
  • The 606
  • Maggie Daley Park
  • Humboldt Park
  • Palmisano Park

While at the parks, take advantage of sprawling green spaces, walking trails, playgrounds, and unrivaled city views for a memorable trip.

Coming to Chicago a bit earlier in the year? Check out our guide to spring in Chicago for a bloomin' good time!

Attend a Festival or Event

When you’re looking for something to do this summer in Chicago, you have to go to one of the city’s festivals, concerts, and events. From free concerts and movie screenings in Millennium Park to the touring Shakespeare in the Park, you’re bound to find an event that piques your interest.

A few of the city’s top summer events include:

Many of Chicago’s festivals and events require advance registration or tickets, while others are completely free to attend. Before you go, check if you’ll need to purchase tickets to enter the event.

tour guide from Seadog by Hornblower Cruises and Events at the front of a boat on the Chicago River with group of tourists in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Take a Tour

When the summer weather rolls in, locals and tourists alike set out to explore the city. One of the best ways to do so is on a tour. Chicago offers a variety of tours, from architecture tours on the Chicago River to biking tours through Chicago’s notable neighborhoods.

No matter what type of tour you choose to embark on, be sure to reserve your spot early. Tours fill up quickly, especially during the summer.

Go to a Baseball Game

The summertime is peak baseball season. And, you can’t spend the summer in Chicago without getting your tickets for a Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox game.

Watch the city’s prized teams battle it out against some of the MLB’s top teams while enjoying a Chicago-style hot dog under the summer sun. It’s a quintessential Chicago summer activity!

Stroll Through Chicago’s Museums

If you’re not a big fan of spending too much time in the sun, check out any of Chicago’s museums this summer. It’s a great way to escape the heat, cool off, and learn something along the way. Plus, you may be able to take advantage of seasonal discounts or promotions for the summer.

A few of the most popular Chicago museums include:

Of course, as with any museum, you’ll want to purchase your tickets before you go. This allows you to skip the ticket line, find great savings, and spend more time in the museums.

Grab a Drink and Take in the Views

Rooftop bars are all the rage these days, aren’t they? Chicago is no exception and is home to a myriad of rooftop bars and patios. While on top of the building, take in the Chicago skyline while sipping your favorite beverage or snacking on appetizers with friends.

Order a cocktail at Chicago’s best rooftop bars such as:

Check Out Navy Pier

Although Navy Pier is a fantastic year-round destination, it’s a Chicago summer staple. I mean, you can’t beat the sunny city views from on top of the Ferris Wheel!

Navy Pier is an iconic Chicago experience that can’t be missed. While there, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, check out what free events are on the schedule, and explore the public art exhibitions. You’ll have no problem finding something for everyone in your group to enjoy at Navy Pier.

Also, each summer, Navy Pier sets off a massive fireworks display every Wednesday and Saturday night. Find the perfect viewing spot and get ready to watch this magnificent summer show.


Quick Tips for Spending Summer in Chicago

Before you book your summer getaway to the Windy City, keep our tips in mind.

Book Your Tour, Activity, and Attraction Tickets in Advance

To make the most of your Chicago summer vacation, remember to book your tours and tickets in advance. Not only will you escape the dreadful ticket lines, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of deep online discounts. And, doing so also helps you plan out your itinerary rather than deciding what to do at the last minute.

Bundle Your Tickets with a Hotel

For even greater discounts and overall convenience, add a hotel to your tour and attraction tickets. Try to pick a hotel that is in a prime location downtown or near your activities of choice. And, look for hotels with the amenities you need, like free WiFi or a continental breakfast.

Pack Appropriately

While you may want to pack attire for the perfect Instagram selfie, you should also bring comfortable and functional clothing. You’ll be doing a lot of walking around Chicago in the summer, so pack accordingly. Use our Chicago Packing Guide to decide what to bring and what to leave at home.

Enjoy Your Summer Trip to Chicago!

Now that you’re all set for a fantastic summer in Chicago, there’s only one thing left to do. Have fun!

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