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Tips for Visiting Chicago in the Summer
May 10, 2022 By CityPASS
As the weather starts to heat up in Chicago, so does the city’s list of activities and things to do. From outdoor food and music festivals to seasonal sports to days filled with sunshine, there is no time like the summertime to visit the Windy City.
If you’re visiting Chicago in the summer, here are some things you don't want to miss!
Things To Do While Visiting Chicago in the Summer - Outdoors
There are seemingly limitless ways to spend time out in the sunshine in Chicago in the summer. High on the list of popular Chicago summer activities are the numerous outdoor festivals held in or around some of the city’s most popular public parks.
If you love a good music festival, the Chicago Blues Festival takes place in June and is the largest free blues festival in the world. The City of the Big Shoulders is also the home of Lollapalooza, a four-day music festival that takes over Grant Park around late July or early August. This park offers beautiful views and is a short walk from the Museum Campus, which the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum all call home.
The Taste of Chicago is the place to be in Chicago in summer if you’re a foodie at heart. Also held in Grant Park in July, Taste of Chicago offers you the chance to try dishes from some of the city's top restaurants. In addition to tasty bites, there’s also live music on several different stages. It's an excellent option for the whole family, as there’s a little something for everyone.
Spend Time in Public Parks and Green Space
One of the best things about Chicago is its more than 8,800 acres of green space spread over more than 600 public parks. Besides the numerous festivals and events in the city’s parks, these green spaces provide a relaxing respite to enjoy the fresh air and incredible views.
Chicago Park District
The Chicago Park District is the country’s largest municipal park manager. Besides overseeing the city’s public parks, the Chicago Park District plans and organizes activities for the whole family: kids, adults, and senior citizens. Some of these include sports, cultural events, and environmental programs.
If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago this summer, check out the Chicago Park District’s calendar of events. Some highlights include Night Out in the Parks, a series of free concerts and performances that are great for the whole family.
The Millennium Park Summer Music Series also offers free concerts on the lawn of the Pritzker Pavilion in the heart of the city. Millennium Park is next to The Art Institute of Chicago. Bring a blanket and a picnic, and you’ll be all set!
While Chicago isn’t on the ocean, you could easily be fooled when you stand on the edge of the sparkling shores of Lake Michigan. With clear, shimmering water that seems to go on forever, the lake is one of summer's most popular spots in Chicago.
The Chicago Park District maintains 23 public beaches where you can take a dip when the city streets start to sizzle. Popular beaches include Oak Street Beach, which is within walking distance from the 360 Chicago Observation Deck in the John Hancock Building, and North Avenue Beach in Lincoln Park.
While you’re in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, make a stop at Lincoln Park Zoo. Free to the public and open 365 days a year, the zoo hosts events like the Run for the Zoo 5K and 10K in June and the Zoo Ball in July. You’ll also find The Lincoln Park Farmers Market in Chicago in the summer, as it runs from late April through mid-November.
One of the most thrilling Chicago summer activities is a boat tour on Lake Michigan. Companies like Shoreline Sightseeing offer boat rides on the lake and the Chicago River that highlight some of the city’s finest architecture and sights while offering a fresh lakeside breeze.
And once you’ve seen the lake from the water, why not see it from the air, too? Stop by Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier and take a ride on the 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan below.
Visit Chicago Summer Landmarks
Summertime is the perfect time to do some sightseeing in Chicago. It’s a very walkable city, so the good weather is ideal for stretching your legs and hitting the pavement. Besides walking, Chicago also has an excellent public transportation network to connect you to the city's most famous landmarks.
Located in the center of Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain is open to visitors every day from 8 AM until 11 PM for free. In Chicago in the summer, you can pass by to watch the major water displays that happen for 20 minutes each hour. These displays run from early May until mid-October, depending on the weather. At night, a light show accompanies the water displays. The biggest one of the evening starts at 10:35 PM.
Chicago is home to two baseball teams: the Cubs and White Sox. Catching a baseball game is one of the top things to do in Chicago in the summer, no matter which team you’re loyal to. However, Wrigley Field is quite a sight to behold. The second-oldest baseball stadium in the MLB, its ivy-covered brick walls and lively atmosphere make it a special place in the city. Experiencing a baseball game at Wrigley Field is a tradition that Northsiders treasure in the summer in Chicago.
Eat Your Way Through the Foodies Chicago Guide
Chicago is home to exquisite global cuisine, various Michelin-star restaurants, and dishes unique to the city. If you’re a foodie, eating your way around the city to try some local favorites is a must, especially since you can try many of these at this summer's Taste of Chicago or at popular food trucks.
Deep dish pizza is something that everyone needs to try at least once when visiting Chicago. Pizzerias like Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, and Pizzeria Uno specialize in this monster pizza loaded with crushed tomatoes, melty mozzarella, and other delectable toppings. However, locals usually stick to tavern-style pizza cut into small squares when a pizza craving hits.
Other bites to try include Italian beef sandwiches, and locals vote Al’s as one of the best. There are several locations throughout the city. Another must is a Chicago-style hot dog topped with all the trimmings. But whatever you do, don’t ask for ketchup!
Tight Budget and Time: Find Discounted Tickets
There are so many things to do in Chicago this summer that it may seem challenging to fit it all in. If you’re short on time and want to stick to a budget, purchasing a Chicago CityPASS ticket allows you to see some of the city’s top attractions while saving up to when compared to buying tickets individually.
Whether you want to explore the heights of Skydeck Chicago or the 360 Chicago Observation Deck or plunge below the waters of the Shedd Aquarium, a Chicago CityPASS ticket lets you choose your Chicago summer activities at a fraction of the cost. You can even check out what other people have to say about buying a CityPASS ticket to get more inspiration about what to see and do in Chicago this summer.
- The original Chicago CityPASS ticket lets you experience five of the city's top attractions.
- The Chicago C3 ticket covers prepaid admission to your choice of any three attractions.
The second option is perfect for those who have a shorter stay in the city but want to see the best that Chicago has to offer. Whichever you choose, you're surely in for an unforgettable summer experience in Chicago.
To get the most out of your stay in Chicago, we recommend finding lodging near Chicago's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you: