Things to do in the summer in Chicago

Summer is finally here! Check out the best festivals, concerts and more things to do in the summer in Chicago to make the most of every minute

Photograph: Julie Stanton
Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks

How many festivals, concerts, beach days, baseball games and road trips can you cram into four short months? After this brutal winter, you deserve a calendar full of things to do in the summer, and we can help you plan the entire season. From major annual blowouts like Lollapalooza to the best restaurants for dining outside, our summer guide lets you make the most of every minute of sunshine.

The best of summer

Things to do

The best summer events

Enjoy the days of beach weather with our guide to summer events, through Labor Day

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Things to do

Chicago summer festivals guide

Hit the streets of Chicago and sample beer, food and bands during festival season

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Bars

The best Chicago beer festivals

Grab a glass, sample new suds and meet the brewers who made them

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Movies

The biggest summer movies of 2015

This summer could be the biggest blockbuster season ever recorded

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Eating and drinking

Bars

The best rooftop bars

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Restaurants

The best outdoor dining

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Bars

The best outdoor bars

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Bars

The best beer gardens in Chicago

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46 dog-friendly patios

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Restaurants

Chicago farmers' market guide

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Restaurants

Patios that don't require a wait

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See a ballgame

Sport and fitness

Chicago Cubs guide

Find sports bars, regular bars and pre- or post-game grub in Wrigleyville

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Sport and fitness

Chicago White Sox guide

Enjoy the Cell's superior bathroom facilities and stadium food options

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Music festivals

Music

Lollapalooza

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Music

Pitchfork

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Music

Riot Fest

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Music

Spring Awakening

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Find more summer music festivals

Outdoor fun

Things to do

Chicago's best boat tours

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Movies

Outdoor movie guide

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Travel

Weekend getaways from Chicago

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Things to do

Best Chicago pools

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Things to do

Chicago beaches

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Things to do

10 best Midwest roller coasters

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Kids

Top 5 playgrounds for water features

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Kids

8 great playgrounds

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Events by month

Things to do

Chicago events in June

Start your summer by hitting the beach or taking to the street for Taste of Randolph

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Things to do

Chicago events in July

Fireworks, giant balloons and the smell of barbecue fill the air in July

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Things to do

Chicago events in August

Enjoy summer's last month by partying with the masses at Lolla or taking a trip to the State Fair

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Things to do

Chicago events in September

Close out the last days of pool weather with Jazz Fest and German celebrations

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Concerts by month

Music

June concert calendar

Lady Gaga, Blues Fest and more to heat up your June

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Music

July concert calendar

Taylor Swift and Pitchfork Music Fest are coming to town in July

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Music

August concert calendar

Lolla takes over Grant Park while Billy Joel and the Foo Fighters serenade Wrigley Field

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Music

September concert calendar

AC/DC and Madonna hit town during the last gasps of summer

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Archive things to do in the summer coverage

Things to do

14 books to read this summer

Chicago has a bunch of beaches, and we love taking a book (or Kindle) to shore, but that doesn't mean this summer reading list is loaded with "beach reads." That's a silly notion, that once the sun comes out, you somehow should start chewing through romance paperbacks with airbrushed hunks on the cover and boilerplate thrillers about detectives who throw more punches than complete sentences. That being said, we still like a sharp suspense story, or something with rocketships and swords. This batch of new summer books comes packed with poker, the postapocalypse, magicians, Clintons, weird sex, vehicular manslaughter and identity theft. RECOMMENDED: Best things to do in the summer in Chicago

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Restaurants

23 new ice cream flavors

We love Rainbow Cones as much as everyone else, but sometimes we want to try something new—after all, there are more than 100 ice cream shops in Chicago. We've been gorging ourselves on ice cream for weeks to find the best new flavors, and narrowed them down to such gems as the lightest chocolate ice cream we've ever had, a perfect strawberry flavor and a surprisingly airy biscotti gelato. RECOMMENDED: Things to do in the summer in Chicago

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Bars

14 new summer cocktails

Summer in Chicago is a glorious time, and the drinks are no exception—boozy shaved ice, frozen drinks and brightly colored cocktails have hit menus, and they're the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. So pull up a seat on a patio, head to a rooftop bar and order one of these 14 summer cocktails. RECOMMENDED: Best things to do in the summer in Chicago

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Bars

53 new patios, rooftop bars and outdoor spaces

We did it, Chicago! After the terrible winter of multiple polar vortexes, we made it through to the other side, which means we can spend the next five months pretty much living outside. Restaurants and bars also clearly felt our pain, since we're getting more than 50 new patios, beer gardens, rooftop bars and other outdoor spaces this year. Of course, these are just new spots, so once you've hit them all, revisit the best rooftop bars, the best outdoor dining, the best outdoor bars and the 20 new patios and 5 new rooftop bars from last year.  RECOMMENDED: Best things to do in the summer in Chicago

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