The Best Summer Activities in Chicago

Let's Get Outside! Things to do in Chicago in the Summer

Chicago's summers may seem short, but that just means everyone makes the most of those warm and sunny days. From hanging out on the lakefront beaches to exploring some of the many parks around town, these are some of the best activities to enjoy warmer weather in Chicago.
Millennium Park
Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a famous public space that's located in Grant Park. The 24.5 acre park is near the Lake Michigan shoreline and includes a number of famous attractions such as Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden and a number of outdoor performance areas.
Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
Oak Street Beach
Oak Street Beach
Oak Street Beach is popular for volleyball, sunbathing, and relaxing. You can rent a chair with an umbrella or bring your own. There's also a cafe that often has a DJ and a lively atmosphere. This is a popular beach, so you should expect a crowd.
Gold Coast, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
If you're looking for more information about Chicago, read Things to Do Just Outside of Chicago and Where to Relax with a Book in Chicago.
Grant Park
Grant Park
Grant Park is a large and impressive public space in the city's central business district. This large park is where you'll find the famous Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum Campus. There are a number of gardens, sport fields, and performances venues found in the park as well.
Printer's Row, Chicago, Illinois
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Located in Chicago's Chinatown, this park has a pagoda-style pavilion, bamboo gardens, and a playground. The waterfront park spans 17 acres and there are places nearby where you can rent kayaks. The Field House is a recreational area in the park that has a pool with slides and a fitness center. From here you can enjoy great views of the Chicago skyline. Throughout the year there are a number of events held here including Shakespeare in the Park. Runners and walkers will appreciate the trails through the park as well.
300 West 19th Street, Chinatown, Chicago, Illinois, 60616
Chicago Riverwalk
Chicago Riverwalk
The Chicago River is an iconic part of the city, and it runs parallel to the lakeshore through the heart of the city. The Riverwalk is along a popular stretch of the river, and it's lined with many great restaurants and some of Chicago's most impressive architecture. You can wander along the Riverwalk, rest at one of the many benches, take in the impressive views or simply people watch.
Loop, Chicago, IL, 60601
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Lincoln Park Conservatory
This impressive Victorian style greenhouse has four separate sections that include the Orchid House, Palm House, Fern Room, and Show House. There's also an outdoor Formal Garden and the English Grandmother's Garden. This is a beautiful conservatory and it's free to the public.
2391 N Stockton Dr, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
Cloud Gate (The Bean)
Cloud Gate (The Bean)
"The Bean" is a 110 ton stainless steel sculpture that was designed by Anish Kapoor. It's surface is a mirror and the shape of the structure was inspired by a drop of liquid mercury. During the winter months, there is a public ice skating rink surrounding The Bean.
201 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60602
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in the United States, and is home to the Chicago Cubs. Catch a game here during the summer, or come any time of the year to the surrounding neighborhood to take in some Cubs memorabilia at the nearby shops, bars, and restaurants which are popular with fans.
1060 W Addison Street, Wrigleyville, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: An Art Lover's Guide to Chicago and The Best Children's Museums in Chicago.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country. The zoo is also one of the largest free zoos in the country. It has more than 200 species of animals that are each divided into different exhibits. There ae two-toed sloths, western lowland gorilla, African penguins, lion, giraffes, and more.
2001 N Clark St, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park is an impressive park with a 1/4 mile long ice skating/roller skating ribbon. There's also a 40 ft tall climbing wall and a play garden for kids. The playground includes a pirate ship play structure with slides, rope bridges, and climbing areas. There's also a 18 hole mini golf course in the park.
337 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60601
Navy Pier
Navy Pier
The Navy Pier is one of Chicago's most popular tourist attractions. It opened in 1916 as an amusement and entertainment area and today it includes about 50 acres of gardens, parks, restaurants, shops, and concert venues. One of the most iconic parts of the Navy Pier is the 150 foot ferris wheel, which offers breathtaking views over the city and lake. There's also a classic historic carousel in Navy Pier Park. Head hear to pick up a boat tour as well.
600 East Grand Avenue, Streeterville, Chicago, IL
Ohio Street Beach
Ohio Street Beach
Walking distance from Navy Pier, Ohio Street Beach is small and shallow. If you're looking for a comfortable place to relax by the water, then this beach is convenient. There's a cafe with snacks, beer, and cocktails. This is also a popular training spot for triathletes.
600 North Lake Shore Drive, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum houses an impressive permanent collection with more than 2,500 pieces on display on a rotational basis. The works span the 1920s through present day. There are also a number of summer events hosted here including Tuesdays on the Terrace which offers free live jazz performances in the museum gardens. On summer mornings there are weekly farmer's markets.
220 E Chicago Ave, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
Lakeview
Bordering the shore of Lake Michigan to the east, Lakeview is a relaxed neighborhood with a laidback vibe. The area combines East Lakeview, Central Lakeview, Boystown, and Wrigleyville and it offers a number of entertainment options, shopping districts, as well as bars and restaurants that are popular with locals and tourists alike. There are live music venues, theaters, and dance clubs. There are also outdoor activities like the Lakefront Trail, picnic areas, a golf course, and summer street festivals. Boystown is also notable as the first gay neighborhood in the United States to gain official recognition by a city government. You can visit during June to celebrate the annual Pride Parade.
Chicago, IL
Interested in more travel advice for Chicago? Check out A Nature Lover's Guide to Chicago and Best Places To Enjoy A Picnic In Chicago.
Foster Beach
Foster Beach is a family-friendly beach in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. It's a quieter beach than some of the more popular options, but it's perfect for people with kids or dogs who want to enjoy a picnic, barbecue, or simply hang out by the water. While it's generally a quieter beach, it does get quite busy during the Chicago Full Moon Jam, when fire dancers, musicians, and drummers all come out to perform and celebrate.
5200 N. Lake Shore Dr., Edgewater, Chicago, IL, 60611
Lincoln Park
This neighborhood and park area offers a beautiful setting with nicely landscaped gardens, a quaint lily pond, and lakefront green space that has nice views of the city. The Lakefront Trail, the Lincoln Park Trail, Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach, and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are all in the area. There is also plenty of shopping in Lincoln Park with many boutique shops spread among the row houses.
Chicago, IL
Loyola–Leone Beaches
These beaches stretch out for eight blocks, making them the longest stretch of beach in Chicago. Located near Loyola University in the East Rogers Park neighborhood, this area has a playground and areas that are perfect for strollers. There are also a number of sports fields nearby including baseball fields, basketball courts, and a kayak launching spot.
1222 W Touhy Ave, East Rogers Park, Chicago, IL, 60626
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a stage in Millennium Park that hosts regular concerts and events including the Grant Park Orchestra during the summer months (a series of free concerts). The Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and Grant Park Music Festival are all held here as well.
201 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60601
Kathy Osterman Beach
Kathy Osterman Beach is a lively beach with tons of activities, from volleyball to fishing. There are frequent summertime events and a shallow area that's great for swimming. This is also recognized as the city's unofficial LGBTQ+ beach destination.
5800 North Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Edgewater, Chicago, IL, 60640
Washington Park
Washington Park has a number of attractions including the DuSable Museum, a bird and butterfly sanctuary, The Fountain of Time, and several lagoons.
5531 S. Martin Luther King Dr., Hyde Park, Chicago, IL, 60637
If you're looking for more information about Chicago, read How to Spend One Day in Chicago and The Best Beaches Near Chicago.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum offers educational exhibits on the natural world. There are exhibits that cover a number of habitats including the prairies and river ecosystems. There's also an outdoor nature trail (1/3 mile) and a butterfly room.
2430 N Cannon Dr, Lincoln Park, Chicago, 60614
Wrigley Square
Wrigley Square, in Millennium Park, is where you'll find the Millennium Monument, which is a circular fountain with large columns. Throughout the park are temporary art installations that change regularly. There are also several places to buy snacks and drinks. Head to one of the picnic tables to enjoy your food while you soak in the setting.
Millennium Park, Chicago, IL
Streeterville
Streeterville is a popular neighborhood for tourists in Chicago. It's where you'll find the historic Navy Pier, the Museum of Contemporary area, and the Chicago Children's Museum. This family-friendly area sits on the edge of Lake Michigan and offers all kinds of activities for people of all ages. They often show outdoor movies and Navy Pier is filled with amusement rides including the 200 foot Centennial Wheel. There are also a number of boat cruises that leave from the area. Restaurants of all types are nearby, many with kid-friendly menus.
Chicago, IL
Burnham Park
Burnham Park follows the banks of Lake Michigan for six miles from 14th Street to 56th Street. It spans 600 acres and includes the Burnham Harbor, Soldier Field, and McCormick Place. The Lakefront Trail passes through the park as well. Skateboarders will appreciate Burnham Skate Park, but there are also tennis courts, a fishing pier, and several beaches. For kids, there is a playground.
South Loop, Chicago, IL
North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach is a popular summer destination when it fills with locals playing volleyball and families playing in the sand. Swimming is popular when the water gets warm and there is plenty of water sports equipment available for rent including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and jet skis. Bands frequently play at the beach house and there's also ice cream and margaritas available.
1601 N. Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60611
Winnemac Park
This 22 acre park offers a number of sports and activities as well as a playground and an impressive Fourth of July fireworks display.
5100 N Leavitt St, Lincoln Square, Chicago, IL, 60625
If you're looking for more information about Chicago, read The Best Gardens in Chicago and The Best Outdoor Activities in Chicago.
12th Street Beach
Follow the path from Adler Planetarium to reach this quiet beach. At night there are often bands playing nearby so it's a chill place to spend the evening.
1200 S. Linn White Dr., Northerly Island Park, Chicago, IL, 60605
Walden Pond & Thoreau's Cabin
Henry David Thoreau, the famous American author, wrote some of his most famous works at this cabin which is now a museum and park. Visitors can walk around the famous Walden Pond which has a small beach area and walking trails. It's a nice spot for a swim in the summer. The area is now a state park and open to the public.
915 Walden St, Concord, Massachusetts
South Shore Cultural Center Park
This park was originally built as a country club but today it is a historic landmark that offers a number of classes and programs throughout the year. The park covers 65 acres and includes a golf course, grass fields, a beach, and the South Shore Nature Sanctuary.
7059 S South Shore Dr, South Shore, Chicago, IL, 60649
Centennial Wheel
Centennial Wheel was built in 1995 and offers a classic Chicago experience along the Navy Pier. It reaches a height of 200 feet and offers 360 degree views of the city and Lake Michigan. The ferris wheel has large enclosed gondolas with very open city views. The enclosed space offers reassurance so even those with a fear of heights can enjoy the experience.
Navy Pier, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
Belmont Harbor Dog Beach
Belmont Harbor Beach is a popular spot for running, walking, or biking. It's near Chicago's Yacht Club and, with a great fenced in area near the water, this is a popular spot for dog owners. When the weathers nice, head here for a day of relaxing, exercising, of simply enjoying the great outdoors with your dog companion.
Belmont & Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
Santa's Village Azoosment and Water Park
Located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, this Christmas themed amusement park includes popular rides such as The Blizzard and the Tri-Nado. There are rides for kids and adults of all ages including a carousel and bumper cars for the young kids. There's also an attached water park with water slides, pools, and an interactive water playground. Animal lovers will appreciate the petting zoo.
601 Dundee Ave, East Dundee, IL, 60118
Jackson Park
This is a 600 acre park that sits on the edge of Lake Michigan on the South Side of Chicago. It has a variety of facilities including basketball, tennis courts, and playgrounds. The Osaka Garden is also on the grounds, which is a Japanese style garden that's on an island in the park's east lagoon. There are also several beaches and a running track that visitors can take advantage of.
6401 S Stony Island Ave, South Shore, Chicago, IL, 60637
Six Flags Great America
Six Flags is a popular American amusement park chain. It is also the largest and most thrilling amusement park near Chicago. There are 45 rides and attractions including 17 roller coasters. This amusement park can thrill and entertain kids and adults of all ages. There are classic rides like spinning teacups and bumper cars, as well as newer, high adrenaline coasters that are not for the faint of heart. Six Flags is open during the summer months with hours changing depending on the time of year.
1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL, 60031
Humboldt Park
Dating back to the mid 1800s, this park was at one time considered to be one of the greatest public parks in the country. Today it has rose gardens, tennis courts, an inland beach, and bike paths.
Humboldt Park, Chicago, IL
Rainbow Beach
Rainbow Beach is a nice beach near some of the city's oldest community gardens. Because the beach is surrounded by a natural area, it's a beautiful spot with birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
2873 E. 75th Street, South Shore, Chicago, IL, 60649
The 606
This renovation project has turned an elevated railway track into a 2.7 mile path that weaves through the North Side of the city, passing through Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, and Bucktown. It connects a handful of parks and is the perfect place to enjoy a walk, bike ride, or short run.
Humboldt Park, Chicago, IL
Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile
The Magnificent Mile is one of the most famous shopping neighborhoods in the world. It's lined with brand name retail shops, boutique designers, historic hotels, luxury brands, large shopping centers, one-of-a-kind stores, and unique attractions. This neighborhood also has the original American Girl Place, Water Tower Place, and The Drake Hotel where you can enjoy high tea at the historic Palm Court.
Chicago, IL
Garfield Park
Garfield Park is a popular city park on the West Side of the city in the Garfield Park neighborhood. It has a number of recreational facilities including baseball, boxing, basketball, tennis, and swimming. There's also a playground and trails for running, walking and bike riding. When the weather isn't cooperating, you can head inside to the Garfield Park Conservatory, which has about 120,000 plants from 600 different species in a 1.6 acre indoor space.
300 N. Central Park Ave., Garfield Park, Chicago, IL, 60624
Lakefront Trail
The Chicago Lakefront Trail is a 18.5-mile long trail that is great for running, walking, biking, and even skateboarding. It runs alone the western shore of Lake Michigan and it's popular with locals, tourists, athletes, and commuters. From the trail you can access the lake at different points and the trail passes by a number of different recreational areas including Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park, and Jackson Park.
Chicago, IL
Montrose Beach
This is a favorite beach in Chicago. It's a popular place to rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and jet skis. It's also a hangout for surfers, kite surfers, bird watchers, and people fishing. There is the Dock Bar and Grill where you can grab a bite or a drink. Dogs are welcome in the northern parts of the beach which are wide and sandy.
4400 N. Lake Shore Dr., Uptown, Chicago, IL, 60613
Lincoln Square
Lincoln Square is a touch of Germany right in Chicago. You can explore the cobblestone part of Lincoln Avenue and head to uniquely local shops that sell everything from sausage to clothing. Head to one of the traditional Bavarian style beer halls or poke your head in a locally owned boutique shop. Restaurants are great in the neighborhood so grab a meal and then head to the Davie Theater, with its old fashioned charm. If folk music is your style check out the Old Town School of Folk Music which has regular live performances. The neighborhood also hosts Maifest, which is a summer festival that celebrates everything about Germany.
Chicago, IL
Chase Promenade
Chase Promenade is a tree-lined pedestrian walkway in Millennium Park. It spans 8 acres and hosts regular exhibitions and festivals.
Chase Promenade Central, Loop, Chicago, Illinois
Lurie Garden
Lurie Garden is a 2.5 acre garden in Millennium Park. It has a number of plants including perennials, bulbs, shrubs, and trees. It's also notable for being the location of the world's largest green roof.
Loop, Chicago, Illinois
Union Park
This 13 acre park is located in the Near West Side area. The park has large fields, playgrounds, a swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, and baseball fields. The playgrounds have slides, swings, and plenty of space for kids to run around.
1566 West Washington Boulevard, Near West Side, Chicago, Illinois, 60612
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Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $12 to $200. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $62. A few of the best options are below.

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