The 31 things we're looking forward to this summer

Surviving the worst winter ever means we'll have the best summer ever. That's just math. Here are the 31 things we can't wait to do from late May to Labor Day.



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Montrose Beach, we cannot wait to hang out on you.

Montrose Beach, we cannot wait to hang out on you.

Chicagoans, we have suffered the worst winter in history. And, save for a handful of above-60-degree days, spring has been fairly rude as well. The only remedy: making this the best summer ever. Do not spend a minute inside if you can help it. Only eat at restaurants and bars that have outdoor spaces. Go to every summer music festival. And when you need a break from the sun's rays, head to one of the many cool museum exhibits opening from May–September. Summer is coming—we promise—so start filling out your summer to-do list using our picks as a guide.

RECOMMENDED: Best things to do in the summer in Chicago


Opening of Thalia Hall, May 21

  • Price band: 2/4

Chicago’s newest music venue will open its doors on May 21, when Panda Bear plays the first show to be held in the newly refurbished Pilsen concert hall. Thalia Hall shares the same building as Dusek’s Board & Beer and Punch House, but the ornate stage has been closed to the public since the 1960s. The venue is being booked by the Empty Bottle and Evanston’s SPACE, and will host acts like GOAT and Camera Obscura this summer.—Zach Long

  1. 1807 S Allport St
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The Normal Heart on HBO, premieres May 25

The star-studded screen adaptation of the play about the rise of the AIDS crisis in the early '80s will likely be raking in the Emmys next fall. While the participation of Ryan Murphy and Julia Roberts gives us some bad Eat Pray Love flashbacks, the rest of film's cast is an impressive combination of movie, TV and stage stars, including Joe Mantello and Jim Parsons, who both appeared in the 2011 Tony-winning revival.—Jessica Johnson


Watch Dogs video game, available May 27

If you still want to roam around the city on a rainy day, you could just check out Ubisoft's new Chicago-set game. You'll be able to take a jog down State Street or hop on an El car while running from cops and bad guys as super-hacker Aiden Pearce in a "hyper-connected" fictional version of the Windy City.—JJ

Brian Huston

Boltwood in Evanston, opening late May

We just ate and drank our way through Evanston and can’t wait to head back up there this summer and check out Boltwood, the new collaboration between Evanstonians Brian Huston (pictured), who ran the Publican’s kitchen until he left to open this spot, and John Kim of the Brothers K Coffeehouse. Huston says the cuisine will be similar to the Publican’s and it’s slated to open in late May at 804 Davis Street.—Amy Cavanaugh

Is it a doughnut?ChurroYes.The ones you get at Sox games? No. XOCO's? Hell, yes.

Xoco in Wicker Park, June

Another place to get Rick Bayless’s tortas this summer? Yes, please. The new location will be bigger and will offer table service. 1471 N Milwaukee Ave.—AC


Halt and Catch Fire on AMC, premieres Jun 1

Breaking Bad is gone and Mad Men has one foot out the door, leaving AMC in dire need of a new prestige drama (no, The Walking Dead doesn't count). Perhaps this 1980s-set series about the rise of the personal computing revolution will be the network's next big thing. One thing's for sure, we're very excited to see Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace return to TV.—JJ


Weatherby's Bitters release, Jun 3

Former Barrelhouse Flat bartender Greg Buttera debuts Weatherby’s Bitters, his new line of cocktail bitters, tonics and syrups. He’ll release the line on June 3 at Ampersand, the event space within Kinmont, and we already foresee our home cocktail game improving.—AC


Orange Is the New Black's second season on Netflix, available Jun 6

House of Cards may have raked in the Emmy nominations, but this scrappy ensemble dramedy following the inmates in a women's penitentiary is the show Netflix should really be proud of. Its fantastically diverse cast of characters made us cry tears of joy and sorrow last year and we're anxious to see what they shot in Chicago this winter. Who'd have thunk we'd be this excited to go back to prison.—JJ


The Last Ship at Bank of America Theatre, Jun 10–Jul 13

Can Sting’s earnest, rustic folk tunes successfully propel a Broadway tuner? We’ll get the first look at the New York–bound musical inspired by the closing of a shipyard in Gordon Sumner’s hometown of Wallsend.—Kris Vire


This Is Our Youth at Steppenwolf, Jun 10–Jul 27

It’s hard to imagine a more unexpected Hipster Youth movement at Steppenwolf than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World costars Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin and Rookie editrix Tavi Gevinson starring in Kenneth Lonergan’s 1996 document of Gen X disaffection. (Bonus hip factor: The production sports an original score by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij.) The summer surprise, directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro, is backed by Broadway bigwig Scott Rudin, who will shepherd it intact for an August opening on the Great White Way.—KV


Assassins at Theatre Wit, Jun 13–Jul 20

We don’t know what kind of good deeds we did to deserve the slew of Stephen Sondheim musicals we’ve seen this year so far, and that will continue in the fall with Porchlight Music Theatre’s all-Sondheim season. For the summer stretch, Kokandy Productions mounts the composer’s underrated 1991 take on the American Dream, as seen by those who’ve taken aim at U.S. Presidents. Expect fireworks.—KV


Brigadoon at Goodman Theatre, Jun 27–Aug 3

The mythical Scottish village of Brigadoon only manifests for one day every 100 years. Lerner and Loewe’s romantic 1947 musical about the town, featuring numbers like “Almost Like Being In Love," doesn’t appear much more often than that in Chicago, making Rachel Rockwell’s Goodman production one not to miss.—KV


The Comedy Exposition of 2014, Jul 11–13

A new DIY comedy festival, this one explicitly inspired by the absence of Just for Laughs Chicago, is coming to three neighborhoods over three nights. Showcases will take place in multiple venues in Lakeview on Friday, July 11, Wicker Park on Saturday, July 12, and Logan Square on Sunday, July 13, with a mix of national headliners and local talent.—KV


Beck and Giorgio Moroder at Pitchfork Music Festival, July 18

No complete festival lineup has yet to thrill me, but the tail end of Pitchfork's first night is a pretty brilliant stand-alone gig. Giorgio Moroder essentially invented electronic dance music and owned '80s movie soundtracks ("Call Me," "Take My Breath Away," "Cat People"). Daft Punk's latest record upped his profile dramatically (can't imagine him here otherwise). It's a perfect lead-in to the similarly forward-thinking and genre-fusing Beck, who's touring one of the best albums of 2014.—BD


OutKast at Lollapalooza, Aug 2

Look, we all know Skrillex and Kings of Leon headlining Lolla is about as exciting as a measles outbreak. Don't get too down on the festival, though. It does give Chicago the opportunity to hear "B.O.B," "Ms. Jackson," "GhettoMusick," "Hey Ya!" and so many more fantastic singles. Don't go thinking we're special, though. The Atlanta duo is playing EVERYWHERE this season—even Milwaukee.—BD


Haruki Murakami's Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Aug 12

I've read every word this man has written at least once. My obsession led me to nearly purchase this book in Japanese last year from a Kinokuniya. I can't read Japanese, I just wanted this that badly. Murakami's 13th novel seems in line with his heartbreaking realistic works (and career peaks) like Norwegian Wood and South of the Border, West of the Sun, as the title character tracks down old high-school friends in Finland and Japan.—BD


The Malört documentary

We can’t get enough of our favorite bitter liqueur, and Fire Engine Red Films will give us more when they release a documentary about Jeppson’s Malört this summer. Here’s a peek.—AC

Restaurateur of the Year winner: Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz


Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of the Boka Group (Boka, Girl and the Goat, Balena) take on Japanese food this summer when they open Momotaro, a new spot in the West Loop. There will be sushi, robata and more on the menu. 820 W Lake St.—AC

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David H
David H

This article contains an error. The Morrissey show is on Friday, June 13th, not Monday, June 16th.