Chicago summers are packed with fun things to do—from biking the 606 to picnics in the city's many parks to hopping on a water taxi and zooming down to Chinatown. This season, though, we want to get out there and explore even more, so Time Out is teaming up with Crocs to really amp up your summer. First, we’re helping you find your fun with great activities right near you; then, we’re telling you how to take that fun to the next level. Try these great fun starters and use the hashtag #FindYourFun to show off your best summer yet.
See The SpongeBob Musical
Take the kids to see SpongeBob Squarepants and friends come to life on stage at the Oriental Theatre (24 W Randolph St), with original songs by more than a dozen rock and pop stars like Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Panic! At the Disco.
Go to the Air & Water Show
See planes soar through the sky and boats speeding across Lake Michigan at the Air & Water Show (North Avenue Beach, 1600 N Lake Shore Drive), an annual display of death-defying stunts that draws thousands of curious onlookers to North Avenue beach.
Visit the Lagunitas Taproom
Take a trip to the gigantic Lagunitas Brewery (1843 S Washtenaw Ave), near Douglas Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side, where you can try some hop-heavy beers in an elevated taproom that overlooks the production floor.
Head to Taste of Chicago
Grab lunch at Taste of Chicago in Grant Park (337 E Randolph St), with tasty, cheap bites from local vendors all over the city, from food trucks to pop-ups.
Take a distillery tour
There are plenty of distilleries in Chicago, so just pick one—Few, Rhine Hall and KOVAL (5121 N Ravenswood Ave) all have tours, and learn a bit about some local spirits.
Spend a day at Chicago Gourmet
With tents upon tents of the city’s best restaurants offering tastings of their menus and wine and beer samplings, it’s easy to spend the day eating your way through the festival and lounging in the sun in Millennium Park (201 E Randolph St).
Tour the Beverly Arts Center
Appreciate work by local, regional and national artists when you peruse this gallery (2407 W 111th St) in the historic Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood.
Drink a margarita on the Big Star patio
Order a pitcher on the sunny Big Star (1531 N Damen) patio with a group of friends and order a few tacos as the sun sets.
Enjoy a burger and a scoop at Bunny Hutch
Grab a burger, a scoop of ice cream and a soda at Bunny Hutch (6438 N Lincoln Ave), an old-timey diner in Lincolnwood, a quaint neighborhood just outside of Chicago.
Hang around Humboldt Park
One of Chicago’s largest parks also boasts one of the most varied culinary selections in the city. Don’t forget to sample cultural eats while in the heart of the city’s Puerto Rican neighborhood.
Shop at the Renegade Craft Fair
Head to The Hideout (1354 W Wabansia Ave) for the summer Renegade Craft Fair on June 25 & 26 and shop until you drop, with access to tons of stellar local artists and craftspeople selling housewares, jewelry, food and more.
Lay out on Montrose Beach
Hit the family-friendly Montrose Beach (4400 North Lake Shore Drive) just north of the city center for a more relaxing afternoon in the sun and sand.
Stroll through the historic Graceland Cemetery
Tour the beautiful grounds of this historic cemetery (4001 N Clark St) and take in a wealth of history, including seeing the graves of famous Chicagoan architects like Daniel Burnham and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Stock up at a farmers' market
Dig out the recipe book before heading to the nearest farmers’ market like the Logan Square Farmers Market (3107 Logan Blvd) to pick some great local produce and some beautiful flowers for a fun summer meal.
Fill up at Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen
Shop for Gene’s specialties like premium-grade, grass-fed certified organic beef or even fruit-shaped marzipan baskets.
Discover more fun activities
Explore Garfield Park
Mosey through the 185-acre park and check out the historic Golden Dome field house at Garfield Park (300 N Central Park Ave, 312-746-5100). Cool off with a dip at the pool or take a few swings with a friend on the tennis courts.
Play at Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park (337 E Randolph St, 312-742-3918) has a little something for everyone, including one of the most imaginative playgrounds in the city and first-rate views of the skyline.
Hang out at Oak Street Beach
Head over to this downtown beach for an unbeatable close-up view of the skyline and soak up some rays at one of the city’s most popular beaches, Oak Street Beach. (1000 N Lake Shore Dr, 312-742-5121)
Explore Chicago's museum campus
Wander through several museums and an aquarium (1200 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-939-2438) in a single day. Be sure to turn around and check out the skyline! The campus boasts one of Chicago’s best city views.
Take a walking tour
Learn about Chicago’s iconic architecture with a tour from the Chicago Architecture Foundation (224 S Michigan Ave, 312-922-3432). When you take a tour by foot, you’ll get to experience how the locals live.
Climb aboard Tall Ship Windy
Head over to Navy Pier (600 E Grand Ave, 312-595-7437) with the whole family and travel like the pirates did, on the open sea—err, lake.
Spend an evening at WhirlyBall
Hit one of 12 bowling lanes at WhirlyBall (1825 W Webster Ave, 773-486-7777) in Bucktown, where you can go for a strike (or, more realistically, a spare) while enjoying a full bar and food menu.
Take the Hyde Park History walking tour
Stroll around the beautiful Hyde Park neighborhood and take in all of the rich history the area has to offer. Start at the Hyde Park Historical Society (5529 S Lake Park Ave, 773-493-1893), which lives in a building that acted as a waiting room for cable car personnel during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and head out on foot with your to check out some of the gorgeous historic architecture in the area.
Attend the Green Music Fest
Spend a weekend at the Green Music Fest (between North Ave and Schiller sts) in Wicker Park, an annual street festival that celebrates sustainability and welcomes local and national bands to its stages.
Head to Lincoln Park Zoo
Trek out to the always free Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N Clark St, 312-742-2000) and gawk at the animals in one of the best urban zoos in the entire country.
Hang out at Navy Pier
Stroll down Navy Pier (600 E Grand Ave, 312-595-7437) and take a ride on the new and improved Ferris wheel for some of the best views of the city. Enjoy carnival rides, games, performances and fireworks at night all summer long.
Go on a walking food tour
Walk a mile or two on one of Chicago Food Planet’s walking food tours. Whether you want to explore a new neighborhood (you can pick from Gold Coast and Old Town, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Chinatown or Lincoln Park) and try all the eats or just want a fun weekend activity, you’ll get to try spots like Chiu Quon Bakery (1127 W Argyle St) and Sultan’s Market (2521 N Clark St).
Take a helicopter tour
Enjoy the view from high above the skyscrapers on a helicopter tour of the city, provided by Chicago Helicopter Experience (2420 S Halsted St, 855-414-8687). Tours take off from a small heliport in Bridgeport, so you don’t have to go far to get sky high.
Go on an architecture cruise
You can almost always find an architecture cruise to jump on in Chicago in the summer, but the Chicago Architecture Foundation (224 S Michigan Ave, 312-922-3432) tour is among the best. Explore different styles of architecture from the river. Line up early and be among the first people to board to ensure you get an open-air spot on the boat for plenty of photo ops.
Discover public art
Take an easy walk through the Loop to see a Miro (69 W Washington St), Picasso (50 W Washington St), Calder (Dearborn and Adams sts) and a Dubuffet (100 W Randolph St), among others.
Take a trip on the 606
Chicago’s new trail winds through some of the city’s hottest neighborhoods, connecting Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park and Bucktown. Hop on and off the 606 (773-661-9172) to explore nearby shops, restaurants, bars and more in the area. You can easily access the 606 from the Western and Damen Blue Line stations. Stroll down the path to uncover public art and a sense of nature in the heart of the city.
Take in the views at 360 Chicago
Hop in the elevator and zoom up to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building (875 N Michigan Ave, 312-751-3681), where you can take in stunning views of the city, from the lake to the Loop and beyond.
Meander through Millennium Park
Taking selfies with the Bean or spreading out on the lawn at Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 E Randolph St) isn’t just for tourists. Spend an afternoon in the heart of the city exploring public art and splashing in Crown Fountain.
Speed through town on a water taxi
Cabs in the summer are a stuffy bore—skip the road and take a Chicago Water Taxi (400 N Michigan Ave, 312-337-1446) to navigate the city through the river.
Take a tour of Wrigley Field
See the ivy up close and personal on a guided tour of Wrigley Field’s (1060 W Addison St) hallowed grounds, and learn about the park’s history.
Escape the office during your lunch hour
Enjoy Chicago’s best season by heading out of the office and exploring the Loop on your lunch hour. Take in the city’s best architecture, swing by the lakefront, stroll along the river, and enjoy those rare days full of sunshine that every Chicagoan lives for.
Stroll down the Riverwalk
The recently renovated Riverwalk makes for a great place for an evening stroll after work or a chill spot to spend a few hours on a Saturday. Hop on the riverfront path at East Upper Wacker Drive and North Michigan Avenue, and relax on the steps and take in the view, or pop into one of the restaurants and bars along the river for an easygoing bite and drink.
Catch an outdoor concert at Ravinia
The always-impressive summer music lineup at Ravinia (418 Sheridan Road) has something for everyone, from classical nights by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to pop, jazz and country music, plus concerts for the kids.
Enjoy a picnic in the park
Pack your best basket of food—or let some of our favorite restaurants and shops pack one for you—and sprawl out on a blanket to bask in summer nights in the city with a view.
Spend an afternoon on Cricket Hill
Spend the day playing games and soaking up the sun on this grassy knoll in Lincoln Park (2045 N Lincoln Park West).