This summer, you can keep your family busy without draining the kids' college funds! We've updated our annual list of free summer activities, and this year we've got 100 great ideas for you! This list covers Chicago and the suburbs, and includes free festivals, activities, and special and ongoing events. Find the best free family events and activities right here!
Daily 6am - 11pm
Along the Bloomingdale Trail (1800N) between Ashland (1600W) and Ridgeway (3750W)
Set above city streets, this 2.7 mile path offers trails for biking, running and strolling. The 606 also connects parks, people, and communities; what once physically separated four neighborhoods now will knit them together and attract visitors from throughout Chicago and beyond.
Daily 6am - 11pm
Southeastern end of Millennium Park, Chicago
Stroll the beautiful Lurie Garden and see the dramatically lit, 15-foot-high “shoulder” hedge, cross the hardwood footbridge, and be inspired to learn about and enjoy the natural world. Lurie Garden offers free programs for kids and families during the summer months.
Adams Water Playground
1919 N. Seminary Avenue, Chicago
Cool off on a hot day with this Lincoln Park gem that features water play with fountains and sprays that even the tiniest tots can enjoy. The shady playground offers a reprieve from the summer heat.
Garfield Park Conservatory
300 North Central Park Avenue, Chicago
From May-September, the program takes place outdoor in the Play and Grow Garden where kids can get a little wild as they climb on our tinker tree, build a fort, dig in our pebble pool and run around. Kids can also help grow the own edible garden and conduct experiments to better understand nature.
Lincoln Park Zoo
2200 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago
Stroll the scenic zoo and visit the local animals, and stop by on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:15 and 10 a.m. at the Main Barn to sing along with Electric Neil, who delights young audiences with original songs that get the wee ones ages 6 and under dancing and singing.
Bordered by Lake-Cook, Willow, Edens, and Forest Road
The Skokie Lagoons are a prime destination for water exploration in northern Cook County. This network of pools, channels and islands winds between Winnetka, Northfield and Glencoe. Bring the family for boat access, fishing, biking, picnic areas, hiking, kayaking, birdwatching and more.
Maggie Daley Park
337 E Randolph St, Chicago
Maggie Daley Park offers the Climbing Park with features on the wall for experts and beginners, the Play Garden, an Enchanted Forest with a mirrored maze and kaleidoscope, The Lagoon, The Sea and The Harbor play apparatus for toddlers, a Wave Lawn for recreation for all ages, and a Slide Crater with a spiral slide.
Multiple Locations around Chicago
Chicago’s most celebrated writers, actors and comedians were commissioned to create monologues for some of the city’s famous statues. Pass a talking statue, look for the nearby sign, and use your smartphone to scan the sign’s QR Code or type the text in your web browser, and presto - you get a call back from John C. Reilly as Abraham Lincoln, Shonda Rhymes as Miró’s Chicago or Steve Carell as a man clutching a giant fish by the Shedd Aquarium.
Millennium Park Crown Fountain
Millennium Park, Michigan Ave. and Monroe, Chicago
Splash around in the Millennium Park Crown Fountain between the two 50-foot glass block towers that project funky facial videos. On a hot day, good luck getting your kids to leave!
Dave's Rock Shop
711 Main St., Evanston
Dave's Rock Shop has something for everyone, with more than just rocks. The shop is filled with all kinds of stones and gems, fossils, crystals, shells, jewelry and Native American finds. Kids can visit the fossil museum in the basement, and entertain themselves at the rock table while you shop for unique jewelry (that part is NOT free!)
Park (formerly Stearns Quarry)
2700 S. Halsted St., Chicago
This former quarry offers a fishing pond, interpretive wetlands, preserved quarry walls, trails, an athletic field, a running track, and a hill with spectacular city views. Over 1.7 miles of paths, including recycled timber boardwalks, concrete walks, a crushed stone running path, and metal grating walkways traverse the park.
Oaks Nature Center
4650 Brummel, Skokie
Explore this natural oasis full of native wildflowers, grasses, oak trees, a 3-acre pond and trails, and try to spot native animals like great blue herons, flying squirrels, northern water snakes, red foxes and Cooper's Hawks. The nature center offers a variety of free programs for kids.
Des Plaines History
781 Pearson Street, Des Plaines
The Des Plaines History Center offers tours of the restored 1906-07 Kinder House. Kids can learn what a stereo viewer is, how to work a boot jack, and why 1907 light fixtures used both gas and electricity. The experience during this interactive tour features hands-on objects that kids can try out for themselves. Tours are available upon request during History Center open hours, Tuesdays-Fridays, 10am-5pm, and Sundays, 1-4pm.
3 Stover Road, Barrington
Teach your kids about "Birding," with more than 250 possible bird species to spot. Take in the hiking trails and spot ducks, geese and wildflowers. Free summer events include Come learn about local snakes and their busy spring activities. Check out free summer events like Springtime Slitherers and Amphibian Adventure.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago
Thursdays, admission is free with a suggested donation. Get up close and personal with butterflies, search for stick bugs camouflaged on a twig, see small animals and walk along the outdoor nature path.
Park Village Nature Center
5801 North Pulaski Road, Chicago
This 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility offers trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna. Kids can get hands-on with nature in the discovery room, handling natural objects and learning with interactive displays.
529 Forestview Avenue, Park Ridge
Visit Wildwood Nature Center and take a self-guided walk through the five acre nature haven and enjoy the two ponds and butterfly garden. Stop by the Nature Nook, a free, interactive, educational area complete with books, puzzles, puppets, games, and activities. Saturdays at 10;15am, check out Critter Connections and get up close to a Wildwood animal. On Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30 and 3:30, visit to see the animal feedings.
Old Town Aquarium
1538 N Wells Street, Chicago
Little ones are easily entertained in this kid-friendly aquarium store, with dozens of tanks and displays. Kids can get up close to hundreds of beautiful fish and sea life, and see stunning corals, starfish, snails, sea cucumbers and many more exotic water residents.
Women's Park & Gardens Indoor Play Space
1802 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago
Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens honors the contributions women have made to the city throughout its history and provides a quiet respite for the community. Outside, the park offers a beautiful garden, and indoors is a playground with multi-level play apparatus, a toddler climbing wall, and more.
1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago
See what it was like to live on a farm years ago with original artifacts and reproductions. Kids can take a farmhouse tour and see an authentic garden and livestock such as sheep and chickens, and learn about baking, canning, quilting and cleaning. Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and holidays.
River Trail Nature
3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook
River Trail Nature Center tells the story of native plants and animals that remain in the urban environment. Walk through sugar maple woods along the river on self-guiding trails, learn of the past and present in the exhibit building, and visit a few of our native animals. Kids will enjoy the nature discovery area, where they can climb in an eagle nest, crawl in a fox den, create their own puppet shows, and more.
Little Bear Garden at Gallery Park, 2001 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview
Daily at the Storybook Trail, kids can walk, skip, jog, or, better yet, bike along the path, to read a perfect seasonal story. Presented by the Glenview Park District, the Bike Glenview Initiative, and the Glenview Public Library.
Thorn Creek Nature Center &
247 Monee Road, Park Forest
Explore over 3 1/2 miles of trails that take you through an oak-hickory woodland, floodplain and scenic ravines and pine plantations. Trails are open daily, the nature center is open Fridays and Sundays from Noon - 4pm. Some of the free kid-friendly events taking place this summer include a Wildflower Hike for ages 8-11 on May 20; a program on Bats on June 11; an all ages Firefly Night Hike on July 22; and Insects Abound on August 13 for ages 12 and under. (Registration required for events)
400 S. State St., Chicago
The Harold Washington Library is an impressive building, hosting free daily events ranging from story hours to engineering and maker events to art activities and more. The Thomas Hughes Children’s Library is closed for renovations and expected to open in early summer, and in the meantime the children's materials are in the Popular Library on the 1st floor.
Oaks Nature Center
419 Trout Farm Road, Bolingbrook
Hunt for animal homes, learn the history of the land, discover items found on the site and visit the nature nook. Visitors can find bluebirds, a raccoon, snakes and many other critters while exploring the nature center lobby. Nature Center highlights include a Discovery Room, Animal Sound and Scent Wall, Habitat Tree and more.
1155 E. 58th St., Chicago
The Oriental Institute Museum on the campus of the University of Chicago is world-renowned showcase for the history, art and archaeology of the ancient Near East, spanning from Egypt to Persia. Each month the museum offers a variety of family programs - some require a small fee but many are free, including Ancient Day on June 3 for ages 8 and up; Drawing Hour on June 17 for ages 5 and up; What's Up King Tut on July 26 for ages 8-12; and Secret of the Mummies on August 9 for ages 5-12. See web site for more events.
Taylor Bike Trail
105th St. to 129th St., Chicago
This 6+ mile path was named after legendary African American cyclist Marshall "Major" Taylor, and stretches through several sections of the city and through the neighborhoods of Brainerd, Gresham, Beverly, Morgan Park, Roseland and West Pullman, as well as the Village of Riverdale.
3400 N. Rockwell St., Chicago
Richard Clark Park comprises nearly 19 acres of greenspace along the east bank of the Chicago River in the North Center neighborhood. At the park you'll find soccer field, the WMS Boat House, and new Kerry Wood Cubs Field. Bring your bikes to The Garden and try out a set of dirt jumps. There are 3 jump lines and a pump track with multiple routes, and terrain for all ages and skill levels.
Fed's Money Museum
230 S LaSalle St, Chicago
Kids can check out real historical currency and artifacts that tell the story of the United States dollar. There are treasures like a preserved pine tree shilling from colonial America and notes from the U.S. Civil War, and games and simulations that allow you to interact with the roles and responsibilities of the central bank of the United States. Daily guided visits are offered at 1pm. Open Monday - Friday except Bank Holidays, 8:30AM - 5:00PM.
1510 Wagner Road, Glenview
Historic Wagner Farm is one of the last working dairy farms in Cook County. Kids can see firsthand how farms worked, and they can see cows in the pasture as well as chickens, pigs and draft horses. They can step into an actual two-story silo and see what's going on inside!
National Museum of
1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago
Head to Pilsen to see the 10,000-piece permanent collection showcasing Mexican art and culture. Take a gallery tour and check out the Folk Art collection, which includes Día de los Muertos items, masks, figurines, and objects made of low-fire ceramics, papier-mâché, wood and other materials; and the Textile collection which contains over 500 articles of clothing and decorative pieces made in Mexico.
Creek Nature Center
27064 S. Dutton Road, Beecher
The Plum Creek Nature Center offers visitors a place to explore the natural world, with hands-on exhibits in addition to a natural playscape for outdoor educational experiences, featuring a pollinator garden, rain garden, and interactive play elements. Kids can touch feathers and rocks, see animal skulls, and watch the birds.
Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook
Kids can explore River Trail’s nature discovery area, where they can climb in an eagle nest, crawl in a fox den, create their own puppet shows, and more. Lots of free summer programs are available for kids.
Street Beach (Burroughs Beach Park)
3100 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago
The 31st Street Beach offers plenty of features to keep kids busy, including a playground with rope structures, a climbing wall and a water spray area, plus slides, swings and more. The new beach house offers concessions where you can pick up hamburgers, hot dogs, salads and other treats.
2391 N. Stockton Drive, Chicago
Visit a tropical oasis and other floral scenes at this oasis in the hear of the city, located right next to Lincoln Park Zoo. Bring a blanket and treats and enjoy a picnic, then head to the zoo afterwards for a special day.
2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park
Hike three miles of marked trails, have a picnic in the woodlands, check out the Design in Nature exhibit in the Goodman Log Cabin, and learn about the prairie and wetlands native to the state of Illinois.
831 Maple Avenue, Downers Grove
Step across the threshold of the Blodgett House for a glimpse of the past. Enter a bygone era when families rested on fainting couches instead of recliners, stored food in iceboxes instead of refrigerators, and entertained themselves with parlor games instead of cyber games. Kids will find a treasure trove of fascinating facts and fun, and can view the museum collections that include everything from buttonhooks to butter paddles, washboards to wedding dresses, and baby frocks to clocks.
1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora
Your family can visit this zoo free and learn about the animals and their way of life. Residents include Reptiles, Bald Eagles, Farmyard anials, Gray Wolves, Cougars, Great Horned Owls, Llamas and Pygmy Goats and more. Don't miss the mastodon bones that were discovered during excavation in the 1930's!
4400 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago
Pack your blankets, picnic and frisbees - and bring your dog, too! This is a great family friendly beach where you can enjoy free parking, restroom, grills - and even a natural area that attracts migratory birds.
S. Columbus Drive and E. Congress Parkway, Chicago
Through mid-October, see a water show complete with a major light and music show in sync with the water, happening every hour on the hour starting at dusk until 10:45. During the day, the fountain starts at 8am, with a water show every 20 minutes.
Spring Valley Nature
1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg
Hike and birdwatch in fields, forests, marshes and streams. Spring Valley is an outdoor living museum, where visitors can learn about nature and local history. Along with exploring, discovering, observing and listening, visitors can take a walk, birdwatch, relax and learn.
201 S. Plum Grove Road, Schaumburg
Step back into the 1880s for a look at when Schaumburg was a rural German farm community. Help with seasonal farm chores, participate in family activities and games of the 1880s or simply visit the livestock and soak in the quiet. Authentically dressed interpreters welcome and guide visitors through the site. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Riverwalk Opening Celebration
Downtown Chicago River, Chicago
Celebrate the opening of the riverwalk with a variety of free family friendly events taking place from 9am - 8pm. Activities include free rides on the Chicago Architecture boat cruise (go online for ticket details), a Riverwalk Paddle, a Mercury Canine Cruise, Dance of Bridges and Boars, March of the Fist, Fishing at the Jetty, live music and more. Visit web site for a schedule of the day's activities.
Memorial Day Parade
State St. from Lake St. to Van Buren, Chicago
Chicago's Memorial Day Parade honors all men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. The Wreath Laying Ceremony will begin at 11am at the Eternal Flame on Daley Plaza (Dearborn and Washington Streets). The parade will step off at noon and proceed south on State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street. The Chicago parade is considered one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation. Since 1870, Memorial Day parades have graced the streets of Chicago.
Bloomingdale Trail 1800N, Chicago
It’s back! Enjoy a day-long celebration of all things 606 with lively processions, two music stages, a community-centered street festival on Humboldt Boulevard, kids activities and more!
Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 North Central Park Avenue, Chicago
Year-round on Wednesdays, 4-7pm
From May-September, the program takes place outdoor in the Play and Grow Garden where kids can get a little wild as they climb on our tinker tree, build a fort, dig in our pebble pool and run around. Kids can also help grow the own edible garden and conduct experiments to better understand nature
Wednesdays on the
Wednesdays June 7 - August 23, 7pm
Next to 5125 Oakton Street, Skokie
Bring your family to downtown Skokie and enjoy some great family entertainment on the Green Wednesdays at 7pm. Bring a picnic and stop by any Wednesday, and check out special family performances by Animal Quest on June 21, Wendy & DB on July 19, and Kaleidescope Dance Kidz Bop Dance Night on August 16.
Saturdays at 10:15am
Wildwood Nature Center, 529 Forestview Avenue, Park Ridge
Every Saturday at 10:15 am, get up close to a Wildwood animal. Kids will learn about the featured animal, and be able to pet it. Then take a self-guided walk through the five acre nature haven and enjoy the two ponds and butterfly garden. Stop by the Nature Nook, a free, interactive, educational area complete with books, puzzles, puppets, games, and activities.
Along with Electric Neil
First Thursdays of the month at 1:45
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 2430 N. Cannon Dr. Chicago
Electric Neil hosts a 45-minute sing-along that is high energy, educational, and most of all, a ton of musical fun. Little ones sing, clap and dance with their caregiver to up-tempo songs that focus on the natural world around them. For ages 0-5
The Storybook Mom
at Little Threads
Mondays at 10:30am
2033 Roscoe Street, Chicago
Award-winning Nili Yelin has combined her professional theatre career with mommyhood to create The Storybook Mom(TM). Using an interactive, educational and highly amusing style, Ms. Yelin's storytelling is founded on the high-minded principle that children like to see a grown-up act silly, 10:30am – 11am.
1790 N. Clark, Chicago
Wednesdays and Saturdays May through October 7am to 1pm.
Bring your blanket and plan for a picnic, after shopping for fresh produce and foods - and even some ready-to-eat specialties - at this bustling market right by the zoo.
600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Wednesdays and Saturdays May 27 - September 2
Enjoy a spectacular Fireworks display at Navy Pier every Wednesday at 9:30pm and Saturday at 10:15pm through September 2. And be sure to check the schedule for additional shows added throughout the year.
Storytime at Open Books
651 W. Lake St., Chicago
Saturdays at 10am
Join Open Books at 10 am every Saturday for a storytime in the children’s section of the West Loop store. Every week offers new tales, activities, and (on special occasions) prizes.
Chicago Archicture Foundation, 224 South Michigan Ave., Chicago
Monthly on Sundays, 9am
Read and Build is an exciting monthly program for parents and young children ages 3-6. Spend time listening to a story and creating an art project. Little ones will get help exploring the building blocks of architecture, design and our city.
Home Depot Free Kids
Home Depot Free Kids Workshops
First Saturday of the month, 9am - noon
On the first Saturday of each month from 9pm - noon, Home Depot stores offer free workshops for kids ages 5-12. Kids will take part in fun projects like building toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, learning do-it-yourself skills and tool safety. Participants receive a kid-sized orange apron and an achievement pin. Registration is suggested.
Willow Stream Park, 651 Old Checker Road, Buffalo Grove
Tuesdays June 13 - August 1 (no concert July 4)
Most concerts from 7-8:30pm; special times on July 11 (6:30-8:30) and August 1 (6-8). This free outdoor concert series features a lineup including The Walk-Ins, Pirates Over 40, Industrial Drive, Ear Candy and more.
Sundays, 7am - 3pm
800 S. Desplaines St., Chicago
The Maxwell Street Market is a Chicago tradition of bargains and bargaining with an international flavor. The market offers an eclectic mix of merchandise—from tools to tires, plus fresh produce, furniture, clothing, rare finds and collectible - and some of the best Mexican and Latin street food in Chicago.
Park Summer Music Series
Most Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30pm, June 12 - August 21
Pritzker Pavilion, Michigan Avenue between Randolph/Monroe, Chicago
Pack a picnic and head to this popular music series that features a wide variety of genre-defying music from top local, national and international artists - both established and emerging.
Eat to the
Jewett Park Pavilion, 836 Jewett Park Drive, Deerfield
Wednesdays, July 12 - August 9, 11:30 am - 1pm.
Eat to the Beat features musical acts geared towards younger audiences. Bring a lunch and have a picnic while you enjoy entertainment from this summer's performers featuring Miss Jamie's Farm, Super Stolie, Jimmy Mac, Layla Franklin and Dave Rudolf.
Museum of Art Family Days
5550 S. Greenwood Ave., Chicago
First Saturdays from 1-4pm
Drop in for a free hands-on art activity this summer on first Saturdays between 1 and 4pm, with programs that encourage children and parents to engage in some creative looking. Programs include a Concrete Family Festival from 1-5pm on May 6 and Mythology Mania on June 3.
Fridays - Sundays June 23-September 10 at Grant Park;
Saturdays and Thursdays July 13-September 14 at 8 neighborhood parks throughout the city
Dance to the sounds of 48 different live bands and DJs and get into step with dance lessons beforehand. Glide across the restored 4,900-square-foot, 100 percent recycled, open-air dance floor at Grant Park designed by Chicago artist Dan Peterman. Swing, waltz, cha-cha or simply enjoy the music.
Family Night at Chicago Children's Museum
Thursday Evenings 5pm – 8pm and First Sundays
Navy Pier - 700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Target Free Family Nights offer free admission for all visitors from 5-8pm. Free First Sundays offers free admission for visitors 15 and under. Check out exhibits like the Dinosaur Exhibition, WaterWays and the Tinkering Lab.
Sundays at Cat and Mouse Game Store
Sundays 10am - noon
1112 W. Madison, Chicago
Cat & Mouse's West Loop location offers a free drop-in craft event on Sundays from 10am – 12pm. Kids ages 4-8 and their parents can stop in to make something fun together.
Summer Nights Classic Car
Fridays May 19-August 25
Curtiss Street and Main Street, Downers Grove
Each Friday night from 6-9pm, see a different selection of pre-1985 classic cars that will line Main Street from Maple to Franklin. Families can view the cars, and enjoy live entertainment at the Main Street Train Station.
Kidical Mass Family Bike
Multiple dates, multiple neighborhoods
Kidical Mass is a national movement to encourage families to ride bicycles for transportation, exercise and fun, with festive dress and decorations encouraged! Locations for 2017 rides will take place in Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Hyde Park, Oak Park, Pilsen, Rogers Park, Roscoe Village and Wicker Park/Bucktown.
Wednesday Evening Gourmet Markets
Wednesdays June 14 - August 30 4:30-9:30 pm
Everts Park, 130 Highwood Ave., Highwood
This family and pet friendly event features live music, dancing under the stars, freshly prepared delicacies from local restaurants and food trucks, and creative cocktails. Attendees can shop for locally made artisan breads, sauces, cheeses, pastas and sweets in addition to handmade jewelry, fashion and art.
Tuesdays, June 13 - September 5, 2017 at 6:30pm (except Thursday, August 24 at 11am)
Millennium Park Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Movies are presented every Tuesday on a state-of-the-art, 40-foot LED screen. Family highlights this summer include a 30th Anniversary screening of The Princess Bride and a special daytime showing of the 1937 classic Snow White on Thursday, August 24. Other highlights include the Blues Brothers and Wayne's World.
Park Kids' Concerts
1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton
Family concerts take place select Sundays at Noon, with this year's performances including Animal Farm on June 11, Super Stolie Guacamole on July 2, Laura Doherty & The Heartbeats on July 30 and Wendy & DB on August 20. Concerts are free but parking fee applies ($10)
Old McHenry Rd & Robert Parker Coffin Rd, Long Grove
Chocolate Fest is three days dedicated to old-world charms, family frills and delicious chocolate. Children can roam the village in search of chocolate treasures (during the Chocolate Scavenger Hunt), and at the Kid Zone they can enjoy throwback fun with activities like pie-eating contests, potato sack races, dancing and a bubble show. Admission is free for kids 12 and under; $5 for age 13 and up.
Lincoln Park Greek Fest
2701 N. Sheffield, Chicago
Authentic Greek cuisine, music, dance performances, kids' activities and, of course, Hellenic culture and pride are celebrated at this lively annual happening on Sheffield Avenue outside of St. George Greek Orthodox Church. 5:00-11:00 p.m. on Friday; Noon-11:00 p.m. on Saturday; Noon-10:00 p.m. on Sunday. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation. Donations benefit St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
June 9-11; Friday, 5-10 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 11 am-10 pm
Andersonville, 5200-5500 N. Clark St., Chicago
The yearly event gathers enthusiastic Chicagoans for a weekend filled with tangy international food, energetic entertainment, exclusive artisans and vendors, and a family-friendly array of interactive activities. There is a suggested donation is $10.
Wells Street Art
Wells Street between North Avenue and Division, Chicago
This early summer art extravaganza is recognized as one of Chicago's most popular art fairs, attracting artists and art aficionados from the Midwest and beyond. Features the works more than 220 juried fine artists, the cuisine of Old Town restaurants, live music and kids' activities. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday; 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. on Sunday. $7 donation benefits the Old Town Merchants & Residents Association. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
34th Annual Chicago
Millennium Park, Chicago
The Chicago Blues Festival is the largest free blues festival in the world and remains the largest of Chicago's Music Festivals. During three days on five stages, more than 500,000 blues fans prove that Chicago is the "Blues Capital of the World." Past performers include Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, B.B. King, the late Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and the late Koko Taylor.
600 Main St., Evanston
Over 300 local and regional artists, craftspeople, and commercial vendors come together over Father's Day weekend to exhibit and sell paintings, ceramics, pottery, photographs, jewelry, graphic arts, wearable art, country and home craft, antiques and collectibles. The Arena Stage features theatre, music, and novelty performers from Chicagoland - perfect for families. In Eiden Park on Washington Ave, the kids have a great time receiving free balloon sculptures, face painting, and fun and games. 10:00am-9:00pm.
June 18-19, 12 Noon-10 pm
Wicker Park, Damen Ave. between North and Schiller, Chicago
One part music, one part environment is the recipe behind the annual Green Music Fest, which aims to rock Chicagoans into making environmentally-conscious choices in their lives. Family fun includes mini-golf, arts and crafts and a kiddie play area, with additional projects and activities courtesy of Home Depot, The Museum of Science & Industry, Chess Wizards and the Bucktown Academy. A $10 donation is suggested.
S. Third Street & W. State Street (Route 38), Geneva
This "Granddaddy" of Illinois festivals features a host of family-friendly activities with live musical entertainment, a carnival, Kids' Day fun on June 23, Grand Parade and more. Kids activities include face painting, Creation Station, Musical Instrument Petting Zoo, Quad Power Jump, Library Tent, and entertainment from Kane County Cougars, School of Rock Geneva and more. Free admission, fees for some activities.
Make Music Chicago
Take part in this global music-making festival on the Summer Solstice, where musicians of all ages and skill levels can join in these neighborhood celebrations, taking place all around the city. People of all ages can play together all day long, for free. Learn more on the website.
Old McHenry Rd & Robert Parker Coffin Rd, Long Grove
Savor strawberry inspired treats and enjoy live music and fun-filled family activities including pony rides, face painting, kiddie rides and more. Rides may require ticket purchase. Admission is free for kids 12 and under; $5 for age 13 and up.
Lehigh Avenue and Jackman Park
Summerfest showcases a range of regional businesses and civic organizations and offers something for everyone – from restaurants to antique cars. Crowd favorites include Hackney’s, Scandinavian Ski Shop and Katy Boldt Jewelry, as well as the Glenview Fire Department’s fire pole and special entertainment and kid friendly activities including balloons, crafts, and maybe even puppies. 9:30am - 5:30pm.
Windy City Ribfest in Uptown
Sherman and Church Streets, Evanston
In its 38th year, Evanston's Fountain Art Festival gets rebranded as the "Evanston Chamber Artisan SummerFest." It will feature works from both juried fine artists as well as eco-friendly art made from recycled products. Also features craft beer and wine tastings, music, food and a kids' art activity area. 10 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. on Saturday; 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Sunday. $5 donation benefits the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
Evanston Chamber Artisan
SummerFest (formerly Fountain Square Art Festival)
June 30-July 2
Lawrence & Broadway (Uptown), Chicago
Live music and, of course, lots of tasty slabs from local and national ribbers. Plus arts/crafts, and kids' area. Among the performers: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound (funk), new wave band Berlin, and UK indie-popsters Alvarez Kings. Noon-10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; Noon-9:00 p.m. on Sunday. $5 donation benefits Business Partners, The Chamber for Uptown. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
Wentworth Avenue & Cermak Rd. (aka 22nd Street), Chicago
The savory patty and a rockin' music lineup are in the spotlight for Roscoe Village's annual burger bash. In addition to flippin' good food and music, arts/crafts and a "Kids' Zone" for children and families are on the weekend's menu. Among this year's dozen or so vendors: Butcher & the Burger, D.S. Tequila, Hackney's, Reggie's Chicago, Select Cut Steakhouse, VPT and Kuma's Corner (new in 2017). 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Headliners are South African alt-rock band Kongos Saturday and Cracker on Sunday. $10 benefits the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
Chinatown Summer Fair
Wentworth Avenue & Cermak Rd., Chicago
Iconic annual celebration of Far East culture includes the Dragon & Lion Dance Procession, artisans, food vendors and more. 10am - 8pm.
Annual North Shore Taco Fest & Highwood Days
Highwood Metra Station/Everts Park, Highwood
Featuring carnival rides, live music and tons of food from local vendors, plus a beer and margarita garden for adults and the region's best taco-centric restaurants, caterers and food trucks to offer a wide range of mouth-watering taco creations. Additional fee for carnival rides. Thursday 4-10pm, Friday 4-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 11am-9pm.
Sheffield Music Festival
& Garden Walk
2200 N. Sheffield Avenue, Chicago
In addition to two stages of music, more than 100 of the neighborhood's lush residential gardens will be open for the public to explore. There are both self-guided garden tours, and guided architecture tours. The weekend also includes food and, for children and families, the Kids' Corner with entertainment and activities. $7-$10 suggested donation for garden/architecture tours; $7 suggested gate donation for the fest alone. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation. Noon-10:00 p.m. both days
50th Anniversary Sugar Grove
Volunteer Park, 85 S. Main St, Sugar Grove
This festival features a carnival with fun and thrills for all ages, live music, a 5k Walk, Corn Boil Cooking Challenge, Medallion Hunt and more. Kids Zone takes place on Saturday from 11am - 7pm and Sunday from 11am - 5:30pm and features Miss Jamie's Farm Sing Along, Super Hero Training, Royal Princess Parties Super Heroes, Sugar Grove Dire Dept Touch a Truck, School of Rock music, Juggler/Stilt Walker and more. The Carnival runs all four days and requires additional ticket purchase.
Taste of Lincoln
North Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton & Wrightwood, Chicago
One of the city's pioneering summer street happenings. This popular fest sprawls over several city blocks in the heart of Lincoln Park. Features 100-plus vendors, artists, food and more than 20 music acts on two stages. Afternoons feature a stand-alone (free) "Kids' Carnival" on Altgeld with art activities, pony rides and more. Noon-10 p.m. $10 benefits the Wrightwood Neighbors Association. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
Jefferson Memorial Park, 4900 Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
The northwest side's cozy Jefferson Park neighborhood throws its 17th annual community party with plenty of food, music, arts/crafts, a wine tasting and activities for kids. 6-10pm Friday, 2-10pm Saturday, 2-8pm Sunday. $5 gate donation benefits the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
Berens Park, 493 Oaklawn Ave., Elmhurst
From 11am - 2pm, the skies will be alive with kite stunts and tricks as Elmhurst welcomes some of the Midwest's best professional kite flyers. Kids can look forward to free kite building, a candy drop and kite lessons. Feel free to bring your own kites to fly during open fly times.
the Glen Town Center
August 5-6, 10am - 5pm
Along Patriot Blvd, Glenview
Visitors can enjoy original art, an array of shopping and dining options as well as live performances by the renowned Marriott Theater. Kids can enjoy a special area designated just for them with interactive games and activities, including art scavenger hunts throughout the weekend.
Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W. Menomonee St., Chicago
The Ginza Holiday Festival features Japanese food, culture and entertainment. The members of the Midwest Buddhist Temple, located in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, started the festival over 60 years ago as a way to share their cultural heritage. Ginza visitors will enjoy delicious food including our famous Chicken Teriyaki and experience performances of cultural arts such as Japanese Folk dance, Taiko drumming, live Jazz with an Asian flair, traditional crafts and more. $5 donation; children under 12 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
August 12 -13, 10am - 8pm
At Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle
The 12th annual Veggie Fest 2017 is one of the largest vegetarian food and lifestyle festivals in North America.! Featuring food demos, international speakers, and some of the best Chicago-area musicians, a fantastic children’s tent, and over 100 vendor booths. There's an entire section of the grounds dedicated to activities and entertainment kids with activities that include face painting, arts and crafts, photo fun and continuous live musical performances.
Air & Water Show
North Avenue Beach, Chicago
Enjoy the city skyline while watching incredible air and water performances featuring military and civilian flight aerobatics, historic aircraft, simulated water rescues and parachute teams. 10am - 3pm.
Taste of Greektown
300 S. Halsted, Chicago
Hellenic pride will take center stage when this popular culinary and cultural fest in Chicago's West Loop returns for its 28th year. In addition to food, features music, dance troupe performances, a lively gyro eating contest, artisans and kids' activities. 4-11pm Friday; Noon-11pm Saturday and Sunday.
Clinton Art Festival and Taste of Highland Park
Central Ave. between First and Second Streets
This year's 11th Annual Taste of Highland Park will run in conjunction with the 34th Port Clinton Art Festival in the heart of Downtown Highland Park. This event will feature local Highland Park restaurants, live entertainment all day long, and 260 artists selling original work in the Port Clinton Art Festival. Taste dozens of different cuisine, groove to your favorite songs, and be enlightened by the original art of artists from around the world. Friday 5-10pm, Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 10am-6pm.
39th Annual Chicago Jazz
August 31-September 3
Millennium Park, Chicago
Known for its artistic creativity, the Chicago Jazz Festival is a favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition. It promotes awareness and appreciation for all forms of jazz through free, quality live musical performance. Since 1979, the festival's mission is to showcase Chicago's vast jazz talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages.
Throwback Music Festival
6030 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
It's all about retro tunes at this second annual post-Labor Day festival in the Gladstone Park neighborhood on Chicago's northwest side. In addition to three days of music acts there will be arts & crafts and kids' activities. Featuring the Gin Blossoms Saturday night. 4-10pm Friday, 11am-10pm Saturday and Sunday. $5 gate donation benefits the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
Lakeview Taco Fest
Plaza Garabaldi, 2700 W. 26th Street, Chicago
Held in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, this community cultural event celebrates Mexico's independence from Spanish rule. Highlights include food, music, carnival rides and kids' entertainment. Free admission, carnival rides additional. 6-10pm Friday, 2-10pm Saturday and Sunday.
Festival de La Villita
Southport and Addison, Chicago
The magnificently simple taco will again be celebrated (along with seasonal brews) at this popular Southport Corridor happening. More than a dozen restaurants will be selling both traditional and imaginatively stuffed tortillas. Also features beer and taco pairings, two music stages, lucha libre (Mexican wrestlers), a kids' activity area and artisans. 11am - 10m. $10 suggested donation benefits the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.
Oktoberfest Chicago at
September 29-October 1
St. Alphonsus Church, Southport & Lincoln, Chicago
This popular annual Bavarian celebration in West Lakeview welcomes fall with plenty of food, two stages of music, arts & crafts, and activities for children. Other highlights include ticketed craft beer tasting nights on Friday and Saturday and "KinderFest" for families on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. 5-10pm Friday, 11am-10pm Saturday, 11am-7pm Sunday. $5 admission benefits St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church. (No admission charge on Sunday.) Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.