My favorite Top 10 summer activities in Chicago
Summer in Chicago is a short but very intense time. Locals truly know how to make the most out of it and the city presents itself from its best side. There are countless events to chose from, and because we all know that summer won’t last for long people are rushing outside to take in every glimpse of the sun. If you are new to Chicago or you are visiting the town during summer, check out my 10 Top things to do!
1. Street fest hopping
Make the most out of the different street festivals across town and get to know the different neighborhoods at the same time. You find all the information needed on either TimeOut or ChooseChicago. Also, here is an excellent overview of all street fests in 2019. It’s a fun way to explore different parts of the city and combine it with some beer, food, and local merchandise. Entrance is usually for free, but they are always happy for a donation to support the community.
2. Take the bike up the lake
Rent a Divvy bike and bike up the lake along the harbor, the countless beaches, volleyball fields, and Lincoln Park Zoo. Stop from time to time to gaze at the skyline behind you or rest at the beach. There is always something to discover, and they just recently renewed the bike paths, so it is very convenient. Depending on your energy level you could either stop at Wrigleyville for a beer and take back the underground or cycle back along the lake which is especially beautiful in the evenings when the sun has set, and the city presents itself in all its beauty.
3. Enjoy movies under the sky
Millennium Park is offering free movie screenings throughout the summer. Make sure to pack some snacks and a blanket and head into the park for some classics. You find the timetable here. Blockbusters fill early so make sure to come in early.
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4. Jazz in the museum
The museum of contemporary art is hosting jazz music events in their garden each Tuesday throughout the summer. Entrance is free and its a great place to mingle in the middle of the city. Events are hosted from June throughout September, and you will find the timetable here.
5. Take the yellow taxi boat to Chinatown
If you want to feel the wind in your hair and experience the city from the water, but you do not own a yacht no worries. Throughout summer the yellow taxi boats are running along the river and connect the most essential dots of the city. My favorite thing is to jump on the boat near the Chicago Tribune building and cruise to Chinatown for lunch. It’s a great way to explore the prettiest parts of the river and a great alternative to the underground. Fares are cheap, and you do not need to check the schedule as they are running several times per hour. You can get the tickets at the ticket booth or on the boat itself.
6. Have a drink on one of the countless rooftops
Chicago has some fantastic rooftops to offer! If you are new to the city, the London House offers the best view of the river, and it never gets old. Unfortunately, the service is just horrible, so you do not go there for the food but definitely for the view. Another favorite of mine is the rooftop of Cindy’s restaurant. While it is always tricky to get a table for dinner, it is usually no problem to order a drink at the bar and stand outside enjoying the magnificent view on the Millennium Park and the Bean. If you are aiming for a less touristy version, check out the Up Bar in Wicker Park. Especially pretty for sunset when the city is covered in warm light.
7. Outside dining with European flair
As a German, I am still freezing sitting inside restaurants, so I am especially looking forward to summertime when the garden terraces are open again, and we can enjoy our food outside. Some restaurants offer hidden gems, but they are sometimes hard to find and often not really promoted. I overheard many Americans wanting to change to an inside table missing the air-condition:-). So if you do not mind warmer temperatures, it is also a great way to get a table at a normally very busy restaurant. My two favorites are the rooftop terrace of Bixi Beer in Logan Square and the garden terrace of one of the best Italian places in town called Piccolo Sogno.
8. Enjoy a baseball game
The US and of course also Chicago is big about their sports. Basically, you can watch something almost all year round. While I like to go to basketball and ice hockey games throughout the winter, summertime is for baseball. I am not very savvy when it comes to the specific rules of the game, but just soaking in the atmosphere of the stadium and the surrounding neighborhood is terrific.
9. Shop at local farmers markets
During summer there can be found several different farmers market throughout the city. Vendors are mostly from the Lake Michigan area and offer fresh, seasonal and local produced vegetables and fruits. Also, you can shop some great flowers for a reasonable price. Watch out for markets in your area! I love the one at Daley Plaza.
10. Stroll the riverwalk
I love the riverwalk during summer! It’s the perfect place to meet friends and hang out without having to book a table. There are plenty of bars along the way, and you can shop a beer and drink it sitting on the stairs. As a German, I am missing the opportunity to drink a beer in public without sitting in a bar or restaurant. Going to the riverwalk for an evening drink is the closest you can get to public drinking in Chicago 🙂
So these are my top 10 things to do throughout the summer! I hope you find some inspiration for fun activities. Let me know what your personal highlights are in the comments below. Also, follow me on Instagram if you want to walk with me the streets of Chicago or sign-up for the Share-the-Love Newsletter here to not miss out on new posts.