Things to do in the summer in Chicago

Experience the summer in Chicago you deserve with our guide to festivals, beaches, rooftops and more

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Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth RivasNorth Avenue Beach

This is the summer in Chicago you've been waiting for. We're all making up for lost time this year, taking every opportunity to enjoy picture-perfect weather and take advantage of all the events we missed out on. As the city continues to reopen, we're preparing to join the crowds at Chicago music festivals, plan an afternoon at the beach and visit some of the remaining drive-in movie theaters. Not sure what to do with yourself now that the weather is warm, the sun is shining and social-distancing isn't as much of a concern? We've put together a summer bucket list packed with activities that are better in the sun, whether you're looking for outdoor concerts, towering art installations or a trail to ride your bike on. What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy summer in Chicago right this second.

Things to do in the summer in Chicago

1
Have a lazy day at the beach
Things to do

Have a lazy day at the beach

Spend some time on the city's gorgeous lakefront this summer.

2
Rock on at a summer music festival
Music

Rock on at a summer music festival

Lolla, Pitchfork and Riot Fest are back in action this summer.

3
Dine by the water
Restaurants

Dine by the water

Snag food and drinks by the river or lake at these waterfront spots.

4
Party at a Chicago street festival
Things to do

Party at a Chicago street festival

Stretches of pavement throughout the city will be filled with people again this summer.

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5
See massive sculptures at Morton Arboretum
News

See massive sculptures at Morton Arboretum

There towering outdoor works are on display all summer long.

6
Sip a drink on a rooftop
Bars

Sip a drink on a rooftop

Order cocktails and beers to enjoy high above the city's streets.

7
Visit a Chicago museum
Things to do

Visit a Chicago museum

Soak up the AC while you explore galleries filled with amazing art.

8
Enjoy free programming in Millennium Park
News

Enjoy free programming in Millennium Park

Chicago's front yard is reopening with plenty of concerts and more fun events.

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9
Eat all the ice cream
Restaurants

Eat all the ice cream

There's only one thing that can truly cool you down on a scorching-hot summer day.

10
Dine outdoors all season long
Restaurants

Dine outdoors all season long

Everything tastes better when you're eating outside.

11
Wind down on a boat tour
Things to do

Wind down on a boat tour

Appreciate architectural wonders from a new vantage point.

12
Explore the city's public art
Things to do

Explore the city's public art

A warm, sunny day is the ideal time to explore Chicago's public installations.

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13
Take your bike for a long spin
Things to do

Take your bike for a long spin

Check out some of Chicago's longest trails and go for an extended ride.

14
Attend free events at Navy Pier
News

Attend free events at Navy Pier

Concerts, film screenings and festivals are on the lakefront docket.

15
Rent a VHS tape from Joe Swanberg
News

Rent a VHS tape from Joe Swanberg

If you have a VCR, you can watch some old-school films this summer.

16
Hit the road on a day trip
Travel

Hit the road on a day trip

Worthwhile destinations that you can visit in a weekend—no vacation time required.

17
Devour a burger outside
Restaurants

Devour a burger outside

If you don't feel like grilling your own, Chicago restaurants are happy to serve you a patty.

Music festivals

Lollapalooza
Music

Lollapalooza

Pitchfork
Music

Pitchfork

Riot Fest
Music

Riot Fest

Spring Awakening
Music

Spring Awakening

Find more summer music festivals

Events by month

Chicago events in June
Things to do

Chicago events in June

Chicago events in July
Things to do

Chicago events in July

Chicago events in August
Things to do

Chicago events in August