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The 12 best things to do with kids in August

Written by
Laura Rote

August is packed with multicultural celebrations, street festivals and even some kid-friendly tunes, so there’s no excuse for staring at screens during the height of summer. Clear your calendar in the coming weeks for tons of fun, including many free events. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Adler After Dark: Family Edition. One of the city's most beloved events is going family-friendly in August. Get after-hours access to the planetarium and try out the telescopes, build a robot and participate in more fun activities. (Adler Planetarium, 1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Aug 5, 6:30–10:30pm. $15 for adults, $12 for kids)

2. Chicago Hot Dog Fest. Do your kids love hot dogs? What about having their faces painted and riding rides or winning prizes? Be sure to check out the Family Fun Tent at the Hot Dog Fest for all this and more. (Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St, Aug 5–7. Free)

3. EdgeFest. Head to Edgewater for the weekend and fill up on festival fare like funnel cake and work it off with some seriously fun karaoke. More kid-friendly entertainment like DockDogs, a traveling aquatics dog competition, is also sure to make everyone laugh. (Broadway from Thorndale to Ardmore, Aug 6 & 7. $5 suggestion donation)

4. Destination Asia Festival. It’s worth the trek to Lisle for this event—after all, it’s closer than a flight Asia! Here you can experience a full range of Asian culture, with traditional performances, arts and even athletic demonstrations—including sumo, of course. You’ll also be able to play games like cricket and badminton and learn to do origami. (Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Rte 53, Lisle, Aug 6 & 7. Free with Arboretum admission)

5. Illinois State FairPack up the car and take the kids on a day trip to the state fair for all the usual shenanigans, from riding your favorite amusement rides to standing in line for a corn dog. (801 Sangamon Ave, Springfield, Aug 11–21. $10, seniors $3, children 0–12 free)

6. Ginza Holiday Festival. For Asian culture in the heart of the city, check out this annual celebration of Japanese culture. You can shop for cool crafts and meet their makers, watch live martial arts and fill up on authentic Japanese fare. (Midwest Buddha Temple, 435 W Menomonee St, Aug 12–14. $7, students and seniors $6, kids under 12 free)

7. Bud Billiken Parade. This family-friendly event has been around for more than 80 years and continues to be the world's largest and oldest African-American parade. Gather the kids and grab a spot along the two-mile route, which begins in Bronzeville and continues north, wrapping up in Washington Park with a picnic. (Martin Luther King Dr from 35th to 55th, Bronzeville. Aug 13, 10am. Free)

8. Finding Nemo at Millennium Park. This sweet little Pixar film never gets old. Grab a blanket and some snacks and head to Pritzker Pavilion for a movie night unlike others—under the stars. (Millennium Park, 55 N Michigan Ave, Aug 16, 6:30pm. Free)

9. Back to School Miss Jamie Concert. All ages are welcome at this friendly sing-along before school starts back up. Come by for light refreshments and make a few new friends this summer. (Children's Lighthouse, 2600 W Irving Park Rd, Aug 17, 6:30–7:30pm. Free)

10. Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. Kids and kids at heart alike will love this super geeky (in a good way) event in Rosemont, when the convention center is taken over by the good guys—including Michael J. Fox (repping Back to the Future) and Carrie Fisher (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as well as maybe a few bad guys. If you’re bringing youngsters age 10 and under, two can get in for free when accompanied by a paid adult. (Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N River Rd, Rosemont, Aug 18–21. $50–$70.)

11. Edison Park Fest. This free street festival transforms the park into a carnival wonderland for all ages to enjoy, with amusement park rides, magic shows and live music to please the older crowd, too. (Edison Park, 6755 Northwest Hwy, Aug 19–21. Free)

12. Chicago Air & Water Show. Look to the sky in this rambunctious annual event that attracts tens of thousands of onlookers each year. Whether you camp out at the beach or simply look up, there will be plenty of sights to see this weekend. (North Avenue Beach, 1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Aug 20 & 21, Free)

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