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17 ways to make it feel like it’s already summer in Chicago

Written by
Time Out Chicago editors

The back and forth temperatures of spring can be exhausting. One day the sun is out, the next day it’s spitting snow. Who knows what to wear in spring, and who can ever recover from a cold (or, the way this season is going so far, allergies)? If you’re like us, you simply cannot wait until summer arrives to enjoy longer days and play outside. And really, why wait? From exploring parks and gardens to escaping to heated rooftops, spring in Chicago is as good a time as any to pretend it’s summer.

1. Grab a Rainbow Cone. Seriously. Original Rainbow Cone has been open since early March. You know warm days lie ahead when you can get that colorful, many-scooped classic Chicago treat. 

2. Hunt down a food truck. These roving restaurants are on the move in neighborhoods across Chicago. Find a new favorite by checking out our food truck guide

3. Tee off at Fairways. Fore! This golf-themed bar in Lincoln Park has a virtual putting green upstairs (reservation only), so you don't have to wait for sunshine to come in under par. 

4. Eat frozen custard. Scooters Frozen Custard also opened at the beginning of March, another sure sign that summer awaits—but you can have the thick, buttery dessert right now. 

5. Surround yourself with greenery. Plant-filled oases like the Garfield Park and Lincoln Park conservatories are worth a visit year-round, but as we creep toward summer, they’re the perfect way to breathe in nature no matter how warm it is outside.

6. Go on a vacation without having to take off a ton of time. If you’re short on vacation days, or just can’t wait until summer is here to stay in a sweet hotel, Chicago has plenty of killer options for staycations.  

7. Go fly a kite. The Kids and Kites Festival in May is a great way to get a jumpstart on summer, as the event at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park is free, outdoors and family-friendly.  

8. If it's still chilly, head to a tropical bar or heated beer garden. Lost Lake, Fireside, Village Tap, J Parker—all of these bar escapes and more will make you feel as though you're a million miles away.

9. Order from the Tastee Freez on Armitage Avenue and eat a dipped cone at one of the picnic tables.

10. Forget the rumors—make your own Lollapalooza. Just stand in the field on the north end of Grant Park and listen to a Radiohead album. 

11. Visit one of the many public art projects or statues around the city—some even talk. Most recently, four new statues were added to the Statue Stories project, so find out what the brachiosaurus by the Field Museum or the cow by the Chicago Cultural Center have to say.

12. Hop on a boat. Chicago’s best boat tours will even teach you a thing or two about the city's history and architecture.

13. Tune up your trusty steed or take it out for a spin. Don’t have a bike? Check out our list of best Chicago bike shops, plus where to buy a used bike.

14. Put on a pair of shorts. Just do it. It’s basically going to be above 40 degrees now through November.

15. Go blading down the Lakefront Trail. Or, if for some reason you don't have roller blades, rent a Divvy bike.

16. Reach new heights. The climbing wall at Maggie Daley Park opens in May.

17. Eat some barbecue. Biting into some crispy wings screams "summer." Grill out or stop by one of the city's best BBQ joints

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