17 things to do before summer ends

Summer's days are numbered. Here's how to make the most of the sunshine before fall starts



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Instagrammers capture summer in Chicago 2014.

Instagrammers capture summer in Chicago 2014. Photograph: @iamtheozzy

You knew this time would come. Summer can't last forever, though we wish daily it would. So how can you make the most out of the time we have left before fall officially starts on September 23? These 17 things, from drinking a summer cocktail to catching that last summer music festival, will help you squeeze out every last drop of summer. And then it's on to bars with fireplaces.

RECOMMENDED: Things to do in the summer in Chicago


Look at gorgeous photos of this summer so far

In the second installment of our monthly photo series, we turn to Instagram to find out how local photographers define summer in Chicago. Take a look, then immediately run outside and stay there till the end of September.

The Dawson

Dine al fresco

Dozens of new patios opened this year, but our new favorite patio is the Dawson, which is huge and serving up a terrific frozen mai tai. Already been? Eat pizza in Stella Barra Pizzeria’s cozy back space, drink in Temperance Beer Company’s beer garden and dig into a fried chicken sandwich at Honey Butter Fried Chicken’s picnic tables.

Perfect your stroke next to the hotties at Holstein Park.

Take a dip in a pool

You only have a few more weeks to splash into one of Chicago's best outdoor pools before they close on September 1. We recommend jumping off of Rehm Park's diving boards, taking a few laps around the Washington Park pool or mingling with the Bucktown singles at the Holstein Park swimming hole. 

Take in a show on the Ravinia lawn�Need a reason to lug a cooler of merlot up to Highland Park? Here are three: Journey (Aug 21), Tony Bennett (Aug 22) and Cheap Trick (Aug 31).

Sit on the lawn at an outdoor concert

While you missed the boat on Downtown Sound and the Grant Park Music Festival, you can still picnic for free at Pritzker Pavilion for the Chicago Jazz Festival (Aug 28–30) and World Music Festival (Sept 11–14). If you fancy a Metra ride with your music, Ravinia wraps up its season with rock of the yacht, beard and bald variety, as Michael McDonald with Toto (Aug 29), ZZ Top (Aug 28) and Billy Corgan (Aug 30) pack the lawn.

The selection of radlers at The Radler.

Drink a new radler or canned beer

Tons of Midwest breweries released new canned beers and radlers this summer, so try them all before pumpkin beer season arrives.

Guinness Oyster Fest

Have some fun in the streets

Luckily you still have some time to take advantage of Chicago's numerous street festivals. If you're feeling hungry you can sample food truck fare at the Chicago Food Social (Aug 23, 24), get your shuck on at Shock Top Oyster Fest (Sept 6) or join the fiesta at Lakeview Taco Fest (Sept 20, 21). Meanwhile, art lovers will want to view the recycled creations at Remix Chicago (Aug 30, 31) and purchase artisan goods at the Renegade Craft Fair (Sept 6, 7).


See a movie under the stars

There are plenty of fantastic films left on the Movies in the Parks roster, including The Wizard of Oz (August 23, 8pm, Oz Park), The Lego Movie (August 26, 8pm, A. Montgomery Ward Park) and The Muppet Movie (August 28, 8pm, Mandrake Park).


Drink Billy Sunday’s watermelon cocktail

Earlier this summer, we picked 14 new summer drinks to try, but the prettiest (and most delicious) is Billy Sunday’s brand new watermelon cocktail. The $60 drink serves two and includes frozen sake, booze-soaked berries and sparkling wine. The best part: Once you’re halfway through, a bartender will come by and fill it back up with sparkling wine, so it changes from Italian ice to a slushie. Also, it’s super boozy, so it’s probably the only cocktail you need all night.

  1. 3143 W Logan Blvd
More info

Be among the first to see the new iO

It's hard to imagine the new Del Close Theater stage will be big enough contain the flood of visiting celebrity alumni that are slated to appear in The Armando Diaz Grand Opening Experience to celebrate iO's new digs. The lineup includes Anchorman's David Koechner, Raising Hope's Lucas Neff, Mad Men's Noel Murray, and several other writers and performers from 30 Rock, ConanThe Daily Show and more. It will surely be an improv performance to remember.

  1. iO The Mission 1501 N Kingsbury St
  2. Until Sat Aug 30
Buy tickets

Catch some out-there theater

The fifth annual Chicago Fringe Festival features 48 different performing groups (several of whom seem to have managed permanent status in the fest's lottery-based selection system). Performances take place in five venues in the Jefferson Park neighborhood, with Fischman's Liquors serving as "Fringe Central," a.k.a. the main box office and hangout space for performers and audience members alike.

  1. Fischman Liquors and Tavern 4780 N Milwaukee Ave
  2. Until Sun Sep 7
Buy tickets

Take in a more chillaxed music festival

We understand if Lollapalooza seems a little intimidating. The annual Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest is a pleasant little alternative, with a solid lineup this year. Death Cab for Cutie, the War on Drugs, Mac DeMarco, Sylvan Esso and more hit the street outside the Hideout.

  1. Hideout 1354 W Wabansia Ave, between Willow and Ada Sts
  2. Until Sat Sep 6
Buy tickets

Learn to dance outside

  • Free

All ages and skill levels are welcome at this annual series of jives, twirls and jumps. The dancing breaks out Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. A professional instructor conducts dance lessons for the first hour before you cut a rug on the 4,900 square-foot recycled-materials dance floor.

  1. Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden 601 S Michigan Ave, at Harrison St
  2. Until Sun Sep 14
More info

See a solo show (meaning, by yourself, with a phone)

The Australian theater group one step at a time like this, which brought the astonishing self-guided mobile piece en route to Chicago in 2011, make their highly anticipated return to partner with Chicago Shakespeare Theater on a new piece inspired by Measure for Measure, Since I Suppose. Audience members, who will be assigned staggered time slots throughout the day, will be loaned a Motorola Moto G smartphone preloaded with custom-built apps to guide them on their solo journey through the piece.

  1. Chicago Shakespeare Theater 800 E Grand Ave, at Navy Pier
  2. Until Sun Sep 21
Buy tickets

See a hilarious songwriting duo

Beneath the sugary goodness of comedic songwriting duo Garfunkel & Oates (Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci) are sly, hilarious songs that point out the awkward and uncomfortable in life. The pair's tour coincides with the launch of their IFC sitcom, which premieres August 7.

  1. House of Blues 329 N Dearborn St, between Kinzie St and Lower Wacker Dr
  2. Until Sat Sep 6
Buy tickets

Visit the MCA before Bowie arrives

The Museum of Contemporary Art is going to be crowded this fall, when the highly anticipated “David Bowie Is” exhibit finally opens on September 23. Visit before the hordes descend and take in some of the museum’s great exhibits that don’t have anything to do with androgynous rock stars, including the conceptual art of “Simon Starling: Metamorphology” and the provocative works on display in “Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo”.

  1. 220 E Chicago Ave
More info

Hit a fancy barbecue at Mott St.

On Saturdays and Sundays, Mott St. hosts weekend roasts on the patio from 1–5pm, with dishes like lamb belly ribs and shaved ice cocktails.

  1. 1401 N Ashland Ave
More info
Thalia Hall

Check out the two new music venues on the South Side

The folks behind the Empty Bottle and Evanston's SPACE teamed up for two restaurant-and-concert-hall reclamation projects, The Promontory in Hyde Park and Thalia Hall in Pilsen. Both cater to a more mature set, though the former leans more soul and jazz while the latter lures killer rock acts like the Black Lips and Ty Segall. Thalia Hall also hosts a regular market, the Thalia Hall Haul (Sept 7).

Users say


Excellent suggestions all. An addition to #4:  STARS OF LYRIC OPERA AT MILLENNIUM PARK  free concert Sat. Sept. 6, 7:30pm featuring international opera stars, Lyric Opera Orchestra & Chorus conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.