Our series of fam-friendly summer travel guides
Locals like to say that if it were summer year-round in Chicago, the whole world would live here. Take your brood and see for yourselves why the Windy City is the place to be in summertime.
See the sights via water taxi
The best way to see the famed Chicago skyline during summertime isn’t via some pricey tour, it’s by Chicago Water Taxi, which travels among five points on the Chicago River transporting commuters and savvy tourists from spring through fall. Fares start at $3.
Hit a street fest
Summertime is street fest season in this town, and there are plenty of family-friendly options to choose from, including: Taste of Chicago (July 10-14), an eating fest that features food from many city restaurants, plus concerts and an amusement area; and Sheffield Garden Walk and Festival (July 20-21), which includes garden tours, live music and a kids’ area with a petting zoo, rides and storytelling;
For more festivals, click here.
Cool off with an Italian lemonade
Chicago’s quintessential frozen treat requires a straw and a spoon (think slushie ices)—and comes in flavors ranging from classic lemon to cantaloupe. Queue up with the locals at Mario’s Italian Lemonade (1068 W Taylor St, no phone, no website), a tiny stand in Little Italy.
Get creative at the Museum of Contemporary Art
The MCA gives all ages a chance to take in some art, thanks to weekly Summer Studios, where families can collaborate on free art projects together, and monthly Stroller Tours, where parents with tots get guided exhibit tours.
Watch a movie under the stars (for free!)
The Chicago Park District kicked off its 13th annual free Movies in the Park series in June, with close to 200 releases—from classics such as E.T., the Extra Terrestrial to new faves like Life of Pi—screened on 150 parks throughout the city.
Plan a beach day
Chicago has 26 miles of public beaches—many with the added bonus of city skyline views. Depending on which you visit, you can rent a kayak, jet ski, paddleboard or bicycle, play volleyball, frolic in a spray pool or just kick back with your toes in the sand. For a click list of beaches and amenities, click here.
Catch a baseball game
The North Side (Cubs) versus South Side (White Sox) rivalry is alive and well in Chicago. Pick a side and visit a ballpark. The Cubs’ home, Wrigley Field, offers a baseball lovers a chance to visit one of the game’s most iconic parks; the newer U.S. Cellular Field, where the Sox play, has more bells and whistles, including post-game fireworks shows and a kids’ FUNdamentals area with batting cages, a practice pitching area and other activities.
See The Jungle Book on stage
The most talked about stage show in Chicago this summer is Tony-winning director Mary Zimmerman’s reimagining of the classic animated film. The show, backed by Disney, is expected to be a lavish musical with Bollywood influences, and is rumored to be a pre-Broadway run. It plays through August 11.
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