2019 Guide to Free Summer Fun

Posted: May 21, 2019

120+ FREE Family Friendly Things to Do This Summer in Chicago and the Suburbs

Summer's almost here, and you can keep your family busy all summer long without draining your kids' college funds! We've updated our annual Guide to FREE Summer Fun with more than 120 ways for you to stay busy this summer... for free! Our Guide covers Chicago and the suburbs, and includes free festivals, activites, and special and ongoing events. Find the best free family events and activities right here!

The list is broken into Destinations, Events & Activities, and Festivals.


DESTINATIONS




The 606
Daily 6am - 11pm
Along the Bloomingdale Trail (1800N) between Ashland (1600W) and Ridgeway (3750W)
What was an abandoned rail line is now The 606, with 2.7 miles of multi-use recreational trail and park that serves as an alternative transportation corridor, a living work of art, and a spectacular new green space for all to enjoy. Set above city streets, this 2.7 mile path offers trails for biking, running and strolling, connecting parks, people, and communities.

Lurie Garden
Daily 6am - 11pm
Southeastern end of Millennium Park, Chicago
Lurie Garden in Millennium Park is an urban oasis. The garden's design pays homage to Chicago'' transformation from flat marshland to innovative green city. 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 including a June 15 family workshop

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
The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most stunning botanical conservatories in the nation, showcasing thousands of plant species from around the world throughout eight indoor display gardens. Year-round, visitors can enjoy the lush flora and tropical temperatures indoors, or more than 10 acres of outdoor gardens, nature play spaces for children, water lily pond, and much more. Many family programs are offered throughout the year, including free activities, cultural performances, hands-on classes, unique fundraisers, educational demonstrations, and more.

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 Mr. Singer, who delights young audiences with original songs that get the wee ones ages 6 and under dancing and singing. Early learners can stop by Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. - Noon for Play Days at the Farm, with hands-on nature play activities at the Farm-in-the-Zoo.

Skokie Lagoons
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.

Statue Stories
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.

Chicago 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 Monday - Friday at 1pm, no reservations are needed.

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!)
Palmisano 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.

Emily 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 Great Blue Herons, Coyotes, 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 Center
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's regular open hours.

Crabtree Nature Center
3 Stover Road, Barrington
Over a thousand acres of rolling, glacier formed landscape in northwest Cook County has been set aside as Crabtree Nature Center. Teach your kids about "Birding," with more than 260 possible bird species to spot. Take in the self-guided hiking trails and spot ducks, geese and wildflowers. The Nature Center offers a variety of free family-friendly summer events.

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.

Dearborn Observatory - Night Observation
Dearborn Observatory, 2131 Tech Drive, Evanston
The Dearborn Observatory is open for public observing with the historic 18.5" refracting telescope every Friday night from 9-11pm. Tours book up well in advance, so plan ahead - or from 10-11pm, walk-ins are welcome. Please note that the observatory is not ADA accessible, and also does not have heat or AC, so plan accordingly.

North 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.

Wildwood Nature Center
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. The Animal Exhibit Room is home to over 35 animals, including Ball Python Snakes, Red Tailed Boa Constrictor Snake, Rabbit, Guinea Pig, Prairie Dogs, Soft Shelled Turtles, Aquatic Turtles, Box Turtles, Tiger Salamander, Ferret, Iquana, Tree Frogs and more.

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.

Chicago 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.

Kline Creek Farm
1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago
Step back in time to experience life on a working farm in the 1890s at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago. Stroll through restored farmstead structures and meet the historically costumed interpreters operating this living history farm using the tools and techniques of the past. Activities and events at the farm re-create the seasonal rhythms that have governed farm life for centuries.

Storybook Trail
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 & Preserve
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.

Harold Washington Library Center
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. You'll find events for tiny kids all the way up to teens.

Hidden 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.

The Oriental Institute Museum
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 Game Day on June 8 (donation suggested for adults)

Major 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.

Clark Playlot Park
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.

Wagner Farm
1510 Wagner Road, Glenview
Historic Wagner Farm is one of the last working dairy farms in Cook County. The farm provides a unique opportunity for families to learn about our farming heritage and experience first-hand "the way things used to be." Kids 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 Mexican Art
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.

Plum 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. Closed on Mondays.

River Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook
River Trail Nature Center tells the story of native plants and animals that remain in the urban environment, and visitors may 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. Younger children will enjoy River Trail's nature discovery area, where they can climb in an eagle's nest, crawl in a fox den, create their own puppet shows, and more.

31st 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.

Lincoln Park Conservatory
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.

Heller Nature Center
2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park
Oak-hickory forests, tall grass prairie, oak savanna and natural wetlands are an oasis for native plants and animals at this 97-acre preserve. Visitors can enjoy a picnic in our woodlands, visit our nature exhibit, participate in a program, explore 3 miles of trails, and play in Wander Woods. Wander Woods provides an unstructured play area limited only by the imagination.

Downers Grove Museum
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. the Museum hosts free family-friendly events throughout the year.

Phillips Park Zoo
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!

Montrose Beach
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 and grills. An ADA accessible beach walk is available. A dog friendly beach is located at north end of Montrose Beach, and south of the recreational beach is a natural area that attracts migratory birds during the fall and spring seasons. A serene dune habitat has a rare panne habitat and endangered plant life thrives at this location.

Buckingham Fountain
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 9am, with a water show every 20 minutes.

Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary
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.

Volkening Heritage Farm
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.

Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour
Daily, every 15 minutes
10100 Jelly Belly Lane, Pleasant Prairie, WI
Not quite in Chicago, but not too far of a drive! Take a free group tour of the Jelly Belly Warehouse. No reservations necessary, tours take place every 10-15 minutes. Kids can take a ride on the Jelly Belly Express to learn how Jelly Belly jelly beans are made; and experience a stop at Jelly Belly Station, an all new interactive area with games, sampling, exhibits, and videos to show you some of the company's history. Fun for all ages, and of course there are free samples!

EVENTS & ACTIVITIES


Play Days at the Farm
Tuesdays and Saturdays, 10am - noon
Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 North Clark Street, Chicago
Early learners and join Play Assistants for hands-on nature play activities at the Farm-in-the-Zoo on . From sorting pinecones to digging in smooth seeds, 1-5 year olds and their caregivers can explore the sights, smells and textures that nature has to offer in a free, open-ended experience. Take in a tall tale at story time, get messy at the process art station, and sift and scoop at the sensory bin.



Saturday Jams
Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 West Armitage Avenue, Chicago
Held Saturdays from 12:00 - 1:00 PM in the Concert Hall. Jam with students and teachers from the Kids Music Program! All instruments, voices, and levels of players are welcome and encouraged. This jam is great for teaching and learning with folks of all ages. The Saturday Jam is a comfortable space for young folks discovering new instruments, songs, and styles. Come share your tunes, sing, and dance with us.



Wild Wednesdays
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.



Field Museum Pop-Up Dig Site
Through June 30
333 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
This storefront location has been transformed into a replica dig site, complete with casts of real dinosaur bones and the actual tools that Field Museum scientists use in their fieldwork. Stop by between 11am to 7pm Monday-Saturday, and 11am-6pm on Sundays. For all ages.



Free 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.



Rockin' in the Park Free Summer Concert Series
Thursdays May 30 - August 29
Parkway Bank Park, 5501 Park Place, Rosemont
Rosemont's Parkway Bank Park entertainment district will celebrate the summer with the return of the "Rockin' in the Park" free summer concert series. The Park will host free concerts on Thursday evenings from May 30 through August 29, featuring music by classic cover bands, food and beverage tents on the park's great lawn and a musical fireworks display after every show. 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Outside food and coolers are not permitted. prohibited. Parking is available at the Parkway Bank Park parking garage and is free with validation from any of the park's venues.



Wiggleworms at Polk Bros Park
Fridays June 21 - August 23, 10am - 11:45am
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Free and open to the public! Wiggleworms, Old Town School of Folk Music's celebrated early childhood music program, welcomes young children and their families to a musical world! Interactive, social, and imaginative, Wiggleworms is a rite of passage in Chicago - one that inspires new learning at the perfect time in a child's life.

Kidical Mass Family Bike Rides
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 take place in multiple locations in the Chicago area, see the web site for details and schedules.

What's on the Menu?
River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook
Every Saturday and Sunday at 3pm, kids can stop by for the free event, "What's on the Menu?" The event takes place at feeding time, and kids can join in to learn about the display animals and their unique habits.

Critter Connection
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.

Home Depot Free Kids Workshops
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.

Monthly LEGO Mini Build
The LEGO Store at Water Tower, 835 N Michigan Ave #3000, Chicago
This is a free event for LEGO VIP members, for kids ages 6-14. It is free to become a VIP! Every month, you can register for a time slot to create a different model that you can keep. The mini model must be completely built in store. Registration starts the 15th of the prior month, and space is limited, so sign up early!

Maxwell Street Market
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.

Poemtime
The Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago
Every Wednesday from 10-10:30 AM, the Poetry Foundation Library welcomes children ages two to five to a weekly storytime event that introduces poetry through fun, interactive readings and crafts.

Origami Open House
Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 North Central Park Ave., Chicago
Drop in any time between 1pm - 4pm on the second Saturday of the month to the Conservatory's Classroom, where the Chicago Area Origami Society presents a free drop-in Origami Open House. Both kids and adults are welcome, but children must be accompanied by an adult. Experienced folders welcome as well. Also, though there will be a limited supply of paper available, you are encouraged to bring your own.

Green City Market
1817 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. Green City Market is paving a new path for the local food economy in the midwest by deepening our support for small family farmers, educating consumers and the next generation of eaters, and increasing access to local, healthy, sustainable food.

Crafty 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 3-8 and their parents can stop in to make something fun together. Details on each week's activity are available on the Facebook page.

Summer Concert Series
Willow Stream Park, 651 Old Checker Road, Buffalo Grove
Tuesdays June 25 - August 6
Most concerts from 7-8:30pm; special times on July 9 (6:30-8:30) and August 6 (6-8). This free outdoor concert series features a lineup including The Walk-Ins, Final Say, Second Hand Soul and Pirates Over 40.

Storytime at Open Books
Through June 30
Open Books Store, 651 W. Lake St., Chicago
Join Open Books at 10 am every Saturday for a storytime in the children's section of the West Loop store. Every week features new tales, activities, and (on special occasions) prizes. For all ages.

Weekly Storytime
Volumes Bookstore, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Wednesdays and Saturdays
Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 10am, enjoy StoryTime with Volumes' owner (and former pre-K teacher), Miss Kimberly. Kiddos will be able to follow along as Miss Kimberly reads 2-3 hand-picked books. The stories are followed by a singalong and kids can get creative with literary-minded coloring or crafting! A $1 donation is requested. ALl ages welcome, best for ages 6 weeks to six years.

Story Time at Theatre Y
Theatre Y / The Ready, 4546 N Western, Chicago
First Saturday of the Month
This completely free monthly program will aim to bring children and parents from the Lincoln Square community together for a lively performance that incorporates books, music, and improvisation, followed by food, drink, and conversation with our audience. Recommended for ages 6 and under but ALL AGES WELCOME! Come play with us! 10am - 10:45pm. Recommended for ages 6 and under.

Wiggleworms at Gallagher Way
Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark St., Chicago
Tuesdays May 14 - September 24
Join Old Town School's acclaimed Wiggleworms program on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. for a set of unique original music, movement, and of course…bubbles! Plenty of fun for all ages but designed for 1-6 year olds and parents together. Start your mornings off with catchy tunes and tons of fun with Wiggleworms. See web site for the list of performers. Best for ages 1-6. From 10am - 12:30pm.

Navy Pier Fireworks
600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Wednesdays and Saturdays May 25 - August 21
Enjoy a spectacular Fireworks display at Navy Pier every Wednesday at 9:30pm and Saturday at 10:15pm through August 31. The Aon Summer Fireworks shows occur on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Be sure to check the schedule for additional shows added throughout the year.

Downtown Downers Grove Summer Nights Classic Car Show
Fridays May 24 - August 30
Main from Maple to Franklin, 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.

Chicago Memorial Day Parade
May 25
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 on Daley Plaza (Dearborn and Washington Streets). The parade will then step off at noon and proceed south on State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street.

Wicker Park Farmers Market
Sundays 8am - 2pm, June 2 - October 27
Wicker Park, 1425 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
Complete with live acoustic music, local and environmentally responsible food for sale and a plastic-free vendor lineup, the market also hosts special programs including monthly book swaps hosted by Volume's Bookcafe with books donated from Quimby's Bookstore and Myopic Books, weekly compost drop-offs with Healthy Soil Compost and weekly free yoga classes with Nature Yoga Sanctuary held on the south end of the park.

Summer Film Series
Tuesdays, June 4 - August 20 at 6:30pm
Millennium Park Jay Pritzker Pavilion
On Tuesdays, June 5-August 21 at 6:30pm, film lovers can take a seat at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or spread out a blanket on the Great lawn to watch your favorite films on a state-of-the-art, 40-foot LED screen. Outdoor food and drink are allowed, so pack a picnic and make a night of it.

Wednesdays on the Green
Wednesdays, June 5 - August 21
Village Green Park, 5125 Oakton Street, Skokie
The Skokie Chamber of Commerce and Industry has once again teamed with the Skokie Public Library, Skokie Park District and Village of Skokie to bring you another summer of FREE fun on Wednesday nights starting at 7PM from June 5 to August 21, 2019. Rain or shine - If it rains at the fun will move indoors to the Library Auditorium.

Highwood Wednesday Evening Gourmet Markets
Wednesdays June 5 - August 28 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 jewelry, fashion and art.

Summer Concert Series
Thursdays June 6 - August 29
Gidding Plaza, 4731 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
The annual Summer Concert Series, Lincoln Square's favorite free summer event, begins every year on the first Thursday in June. Listen to the live tunes from local musicians at Giddings Plaza between 6:30pm - 9:00pm, weather permitting.

Summer Concert Series
June 8
Gidding Plaza, 4731 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
The annual Summer Concert Series, Lincoln Square's favorite free summer event, begins every year on the first Thursday in June. Listen to the live tunes from local musicians at Giddings Plaza between 6:30pm - 9:00pm, weather permitting.

Chicago SummerDance
Thursdays - Sundays, June 27 - August 24 at Grant Park and neighborhood parks throughout the city
Come join us this summer as the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park blossoms into an urban dance space. Dance to the sounds of 48 different live bands + DJs and get into step with dance lessons beforehand. Glide across the restored 4,900-square-foot, 100 percent recycled, open-air dance floor designed by Chicago artist Dan Peterman. Swing, waltz, cha-cha…or simply enjoy the music. All FREE! Thursdays - Saturdays at Spirit of Music Garden with Dance Lessons 6-7pm followed by Music & Dancing: 7:30-9:30pm. Sundays Dance Lesson 4-5pm with Music & Dancing from 5-7pm.

Family Days: Tees n' Totes
June 8, and first Saturdays from 1-4pm
Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave., Chicago
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. This summer's programs include Tees n' Totes on June 8, where kids can make a radical abstract spray-painted cotton tote to take home and learn how to silkscreen your own Smart summer t-shirt. The activities are inspired by works in the Smart's collection. Best for ages 4-12.

Ancient Game Day
June 8
Oriental Institute Museum, 1155 East 58th Street, Chicago
Join us for the annual celebration of ancient games between 1-4pm. Try your hand at games from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, and Nubia. Learn the principles of making board games and create your own. For ages 4 and up. Free for members and children, $5 suggested donation for adults.

Cantigny Park Kids' Concerts
1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton
Family concerts take place select Sundays, with this year's performances including Super Stolie on June 9; Mr. Singer & The Sharp Cookies on June 30; and Wendy and DB! on August 18. Concerts take place at 11:00am in the Bandshell. All concerts are outdoors and feature lawn seating. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets, and picnics are welcome. Admission is free, parking is $10.

Millennium Park Summer Music Series
Most Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30pm, June 13 - August 15
Pritzker Pavilion, Michigan Avenue between Randolph/Monroe, Chicago
The Millennium Park Summer Music Series (June 13 - Aug. 15, 2019) features FREE weekly concerts, showcasing a broad spectrum of genre-defying musicians - both established and emerging. Grab a seat at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or spread out on the Great Lawn for a varied selection of outdoor performances from local, national and international acts.

Family Workshop: Backyard Adventures: How do we play outdoors?
June 15, 1-3pm
Lurie Garden, 280 E. Monroe, Chicago
Amanda Thomsen, author of Backyard Adventure, will be teaching at Lurie Garden! In this fun class, kids and their parents will learn how dirt is actually good for everybody, how to get ready to play, get ideas for new activities and ways that parents can help to foster a love of the outdoors. Part presentation and part hands-on, parents and kids can build structures together out of loose parts at the end of class. Register online.

Figment Chicago
June 13
Mozart Park, 2036 N Avers Ave., Chicago
Families are invited to bring your art, performance, or artistic endeavors, and take advantage of FIGMENT as a creative outlet for your work. FIGMENT uses interaction and collaboration as tools for wild creativity, and is completely free and open to the public. Picnics are encouraged and welcome. You should bring everything you need for a day of playing outside, rain or shine.

Make Music Chicago
June 21
Various locations
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.

Eat to the Beat
Jewett Park Pavilion, 836 Jewett Park Drive, Deerfield
Wednesdays, July 10 - July 31, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm.
Join your playmates for lunch and fun at the Jewett Park Pavilion for our weekly lunch concerts in the park! These concerts are Wednesdays from 11:30 am - 12:30 pm. Bring a picnic lunch, listen to music and play in the park. These lunchtime concerts are FREE! July 10: Jiggle Jam; July 17: Jimmy Mac; July 24: Scribble Books; July 31: Dave Rudolf.

Sounds of Insects Night Hike
July 14, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Thorn Creek Nature Center, 247 Monee Road, Park Forest
Join us as we venture out on the trail at dusk listening for musical and mechanical insect sounds. Many insects become more active as the sun goes down. From 7:30-9:30 p.m. For all ages.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Park: The Comedy of Errors
July 18 - August 18
Various Chicago Parks, Chicago
Performances take place most dates July 18 - August 18 at various Chicago area park. Now in its eighth year, the FREE FOR ALL Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour heads out to neighborhood parks across the north, west, and south sides of the city with a 75-minute abridged production. At each location, a specially equipped truck rolls into the park, a stage unfolds, and a company of professional actors shares Shakespeare's hilarious The Comedy of Errors with families and neighbors of all ages. See web site for dates and locations.

Sunday Science: Insects
July 28, 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Lurie Garden, 280 E. Monroe, Chicago
Explore the science behind the beauty of Lurie Garden as we learn about what's blooming and get a close-up look at the inner parts of flowers. This month's Sunday Science features Bike A Bee, here to teach us all about native bees as well as honeybees. This is an all-ages program. Meet at the south end of the boardwalk in the garden. Drop in or register to get a reminder.

Stories, Songs and Circle Games
August 11, 11:00 am - 11:45 am
Lurie Garden, 280 E. Monroe, Chicago
Enjoy a morning filled with nature-based stories, music and movement with your little ones! Teaching artist Tisa Batchelder will lead you and your child on an interactive musical journey so come fly like a butterfly, sing like a sparrow and explore the beauty of the Lurie Garden. This program is for children ages 4-6. Class meets on the south lawn in Lurie Garden. Drop in or register to get a reminder.

FESTIVALS

Taste of Mexico
May 31 - June 2
Little Village Neighborhood, 26th and California, Chicago
Food aficionados will be in taste heaven as this celebration of South-of-the-Border cuisine returns for its fifth year to the Midwest's largest Mexican community. Held on 26th Street in the heart of the Little Village neighborhood, Taste of Mexico is a three-day culinary extravaganza that will appeal to Chicagoans from every background. There's also non-stop music and entertainment, a carnival ride area, and arts & crafts for lovers of Mexican foods and culture.

Lincoln Park Greek Fest
May 31 - June 2
2701 N. Sheffield, Chicago
This popular annual cultural celebration on the grounds of St. George Greek Orthodox Church will serve up authentic flavorful food, great music, dancing and pure fun. Any donation accepted.

72nd Annual 57th St. Art Fair
June 1-2
Hyde Park, 57th Street and Woodlawn, Chicago
The 57th St Art Fair is held on the streets of the historic Hyde Park neighborhood and offers art lovers a fantastic opportunity to view and shop original works of art from around the country. Partake in one-of-a-kind shopping, speak with the artists about their creation processes, enjoy live music and more.

36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival
June 7-9
Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue between Randolph/Monroe, Chicago
With a diverse lineup celebrating the blues' past, present and future, the Chicago Blues Festival shares the great Chicago-born music tradition with the world while shining a spotlight on the genre's contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock, hip-hop and more. Music begins each day at 11am at the Budweiser Crossroads Stage, the Visit Mississippi Juke Joint, the Front Porch and the Park Grill Stage. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion will feature headliners from 5 to 9pm. See web site for schedule.

Homewood Artisan Street Fair
June 7-8
Downtown Homewood, Martin Ave. between Ridge Road and Hickory Road, Homewood
This two-day festival features unique artisans, activities for all ages, live music, and food from Homewood's best restaurants. Featuring Metal Mania - Metals are used in manufacturing and to create works of art. Gaby Metal & Iron Company in Chicago Heights buys, sells and recycles a wide variety of steel, aluminum and other metals and is partnering with Homewood Science Center for Metal Mania. Governors State University Chemistry Professor John Sowa will describe how metals play a starring role in the Periodic Table. In the STEAM Studio, families create their own metal masterpieces. The Homewood Science Center is located at 18022 Dixie Highway.

Andersonville Midsommarfest
June 7-9
Andersonville, 5200-5500 N. Clark St., Chicago
Midsommarfest is the annual street festival along Clark Street between Foster and Catalpa for two days and three nights of music, dancing, kids' entertainment, and delicious food. Handmade artists and merchants from around the region sell their wares to passersby, local shops and restaurants welcome the warm season with specials and sales, dance troupes, DJs, and live bands. Free for kids ages 12 and under, with a suggested donation is $10 for ages 13 and up.

Chicago Blues Festival
June 7-9
Millennium Park, Chicago
With a diverse lineup celebrating the blues' past, present and future, the Chicago Blues Festival shares the great Chicago-born music tradition with the world while shining a spotlight on the genre's contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock, hip-hop and more. Music begins each day at 11am at the Budweiser Crossroads Stage, the Visit Mississippi Juke Joint, the Front Porch and the Park Grill Stage. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion will feature headliners from 5 to 9pm.

Wells Street Art Festival
June 8-9
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. There is a Childrens' Play Area, a fun, interactive space for kids to do arts & craft, participate in a performance, or just goof off. Donation requested, Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.

Custer Fair
June 15-16
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 collectables. The entertainment at Custer Fair amazes and delights on three stages, and 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 Kids Carnival.

Swedish Days supported by Northwestern Medicine
June 18-23
8 S. Third Street Geneva
Celebrating 70 years, this festival features a host of family-friendly activities with live musical entertainment, a carnival, Kids' Day fun, Grand Parade, Sweden Väst, the state's largest Music Competition, multi-ethnic food plus great shopping in our historic downtown.

Long Grove Strawberry Fest
June 21-23
308 Old McHenry Road, 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.

Evanston Chamber Artisan SummerFest
June 22-23
Church & Sherman, Downtown Evanston
An eclectic mix of art is the centerpiece of this late June happening that also happens to be the North Shore's oldest fine arts fair. It showcases the works of more than 100 juried artists. For kids, there will be an activity area with several nifty interactive projects overseen by the Evanston Art Center. And to keep things jumping, there's also a music stage, food vendors, and entertainment courtesy of strolling street musicians and performers. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.

Glenview Summerfest
June 29
Lehigh Avenue and Jackman Park
Featuring live music, great sales, and fun activities, Glenview's annual Summer Fest welcomes families and friends to Lehigh Avenue and Jackman Park in Glenview. 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. You'll also find balloons, crafts, and maybe even puppies. 9:00am - 3:30pm.

Windy City Ribfest in Uptown
July 4-6
Lawrence & Broadway (Uptown), Chicago
It's a saucy summer happening! From tasty slabs (and sides) to a smokin' music lineup, this pre-Fourth of July party in the eclectic Uptown neighborhood brings its A-game on when it returns for its 10th anniversary year. Beyond the flavorful offerings of top local and national ribbers and cool summer tunes, this popular three-day fest also features arts & crafts plus an activity area for kids and families. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.

Taste of Chicago
July 10-14
Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago
Celebrating 70 years, this festival features a host of family-friendly activities with live musical entertainment, a carnival, Kids' Day fun, Grand Parade, Sweden Väst, the state's largest Music Competition, multi-ethnic food plus great shopping in our historic downtown. This year, 82 restaurants will participate in Taste of Chicago, including 24 pop-up spots and 17 food trucks. Plus check out local artists and their work, watch local dance companies perform, and hear live music from big-name acts,

Roscoe Village Burger Fest
July 13-14
Belmont & Damen, Chicago
More than a dozen local restaurants will be throwing the tastiest party around when Roscoe Village BurgerFest returns for its 13th mouth watering anniversary. The Fun Filled Kids' Zone features a large arts and craft tent with activities activities for the youngsters. For the older kids there will be rock climbing, miniature golf, jousting, inflatables, and games. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.

North Shore Taco Fest & Highwood Days
July 18-21
Highwood Metra Station | 317 Green Bay Rd., Highwood
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Highwood's oldest festival. Complete with carnival rides, funnel cakes, live music and tons of food from local vendors. The region's best taco-centric restaurants, caterers and food trucks will offer a wide range of mouth-watering taco creations. Additional fee for carnival rides.

Chinatown Summer Fair
July 21
Chinatown, Wentworth Avenue from Cermak Avenue to 24th Pl., Chicago
This neighborhood street festival opens with a lion dance procession at 12:30 p.m., a welcome at 1 p.m. on the main stage, followed by Asian performances, kung fu demonstrations, samplings from Chinatown's restaurants & unique gift shops, arts & crafts exhibits, street vendors with an array of merchandise, a children's area with pony rides and petting zoo. 10am - 7pm.

Sheffield Music Festival & Garden Walk
July 21-22
2200 N. Sheffield Avenue, Chicago
In addition to live 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. Admission to Kids' Corner is free, but attractions are fee-based. Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation. Noon-10:00 p.m. both days.

Chicago Ridge Fest
July 25-28
6252 Birmingham St., Chicago Ridge
This southside summer tradition with great food, rockin' entertainment, and fun for the whole family features hand-crafted items as well as plenty of treats to eat with something for everyone, from burgers and fries, to funnel cakes and ice cream.

Sugar Grove Corn Boil
July 25-28
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. The Carnival runs all four days and requires additional ticket purchase.

Taste of Lincoln Avenue
July 27-28
North Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton & Wrightwood, Chicago
Featuring two stages of great music featuring both national and regional acts. For families, there's the wildly popular (and free entry) "Kids' Carnival" area open each afternoon that features entertainment, art activities, pony rides, kiddie rides and more. For both kids and adults with a sweet tooth a more recent fest addition is a fun stand-alone "Chocolate Fest" area with tastings and sales. Admission to the Kids' area is free.

Jeff Fest
August 2-4
Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N. Long Ave., Chicago
Get down to great tunes, tasty foods, family fun and more at the 19th annual summer happening that is Jeff Fest. Beyond music and food, the Kids' Zone area on the north side of the park features a ton of cool activities for families. It's also where one will find the fest's groovin' "Community Stage" with eclectic acts ranging from Polynesian dancers and Irish cloggers to local bands and more. $5 gate donation; Kids 12 and under are free/not asked for a donation.

Art at the Glen Town Center
August 3-4
Along Patriot Blvd, Glenview
Art at the Glen will line the streets showcasing the work of 150 juried artists from across the country in a variety of mediums, and festival guests will be able to have one-on-one conversations with artists through booth chats. Live music and great food from neighboring restaurants add to the experience of this FREE outdoor festival. Fun art activities for kids make Art at the Glen a destination for art enthusiasts of all ages! Festival-goers can make a day of it in the charming Glen Town Center which boasts incredible shopping and dining experiences.

Ginza Festival
August 9-11
Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W. Menomonee St., Chicago
Ginza Holiday Festival is a summer event featuring Japanese food, culture and entertainment. Ginza visitors will enjoy delicious food including our famous Chicken Teriyaki and experience performances of cultural arts such as Japanese Folk dance as well as Taiko drumming. A truly special feature of Ginza is the Waza, an organization of Japanese artisans who have mastered traditional crafts handed down through generations dating back to Japan's Edo period. $5 donation requested, children under 12 admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Family Kite Festival
August 10
Berens Park, 493 Oaklawn Ave., Elmhurst
Soar to new heights at this year's Kite Fest! With plenty of time to fly the skies with the family, a hula hoop contest and dj, it will be a perfect day in the park. Food trucks will on site, so plan for a picnic.

Chicago Air and Water Show
August 17-18
North Avenue Beach, 1600 North at Lake Michigan, Chicago
Featuring military and civilian flight aerobatics, historic aircraft, simulated water rescues and parachute teams, the Chicago Air and Water Show is one of the largest and longest-running free admission events of its kind. Expected to attract 1 million people to North Avenue Beach, the 2018 show will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Royal Air Force Red Arrows as headliners, plus the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and the U.S. Navy Leapfrogs.

Chicago Jazz Festival
August 23 - September 1
Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park and Venues Across Chicago
The Chicago Jazz Festival showcases the greatest jazz artists from Chicago and around the world across the city during new, extended festival dates.

Port Clinton Art Festival and Taste of Highland Park
August 24-25
Central Ave. between First and Second Streets
This year's Annual Taste of Highland Park will run in conjunction with the 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 of the world's most celebrated artists. Alongside established artists, a youth art division celebrates the talents of young artists ages 18 and under, offering them the opportunity to participate, exhibit, and experience the inner workings of an 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.

Festival de La Villita
September 6-8
26th Street and Kostner Avenue, Chicago
The fest coincides with the Fiestas Patrias family of patriotic holidays held each year in Mexico. More specifically, this wildly popular family-friendly happening celebrates Mexico's independence from Spanish rule in September of 1810. Festival de La Villita (aka Little Village Fest) offers something for everyone: top local and regional music acts and entertainment, the fantastic food of neighborhood eateries, carnival rides and more.

Lakeview Taco Fest
September 21-22
3500 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
The glorious taco will again be celebrated (along with seasonal brews) at wildly popular happening in the bustling Southport Corridor. Featuring two music stages, crowd-pleasing Mexican wrestlers, activities for kids and more. $10 suggested donation, kids 12 and under free.