Summer is just around the corner! If your house is anything like mine, structure is definitely required, at least a few days per week. Many nights before bed, my children ask, “What are we doing tomorrow?” Planning events in the summer can be overwhelming and expensive, there are plenty of FREE activities available if you know where to look! Here is a list of activities that will keep your kiddos entertained . . . without draining your bank account.
2019 Free Summer Fun in Chicago’s Southwest Suburbs
Nature Centers and Forest Preserves
Nature centers and forest preserves offer tons of activities while being absolutely free. Pack your gym shoes and take a hike. Bring binoculars and go bird watching. Skip stones in the pond. Search out and identify animal tracks or if the forest preserve allows, bring a blanket and set-up a picnic. The ideas are endless because nature has so much to give and teach!
- Nature Centers in Chicagoland
- Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center
- Hidden Oaks Nature Center
- Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Garden
- Forest Preserve Trails for Kids
Make it your mission to visit a few new (to your family) playgrounds this summer! A new playground can be really exciting for younger kids. There are so many variances amongst these playgrounds to keep kids amused. Some offer water features or even sand areas! Pack your hats and sunscreen, snacks, or even a picnic lunch and check these out!
Festivals and Parades
Summer weekends are made for fairs and festivals. While a day spent at a festival can be quite costly when you factor in rides and food, it doesn’t have to be. Many offer free music or other entertainment on different stages. A great way to avoid the hefty price tag is to look for festivals that center around a major activity or theme. And, the parades that kick off those festivals….always free and sure to delight!
- Kite Flying Festivals
- Memorial Day Parade (Homewood)
- Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony (South Holland)
- Bluegrass Festival (Frankfort)
- Spring and Summer Art Fairs and Festivals
There are times when the sun is too strong, or the kids have had enough of outdoor activities. Escape to one of these story times near you!
- Library Story Times
- Barnes & Noble Story Time (Bolingbrook)
- Barnes & Noble Story Time (Orland Park)
- Barnes & Noble Story Time (Joliet)
- Panera Bread Milk & Cookies Story Time (Bolingbrook, Frankfort, Joliet, Tinley Park)
- Miss Jamie’s Farm, performing at local Mariano’s grocery stores
- M&M Acres Storytime on the Farm (Lockport), Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00 am – 11:00 am
- Stories at the Lake (Lake Katherine, Palos Heights), first Thursday of each month 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Museums and Zoos
During the school year, it’s hard for us to carve out time to get to the zoo or children’s museums. Even though we have been to the zoo many times, it’s always one of my kids’ favorite activities. Likewise, our museums always have new exhibits or areas to explore. If you are feeling really adventurous, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is always free, and there are plenty of parks, green space, and the beach to make a whole day out of it!
Make the Kidlist calendar your first stop to finding free events near you. Simply filter the events by date, price, and location to fill in your summer agenda. The calendar is constantly being updated with events, so check back frequently. Below are a few notable free events in the southwest suburbs.
Cruisin Frankfort (Frankfort)
June 6 – August 22, 2019 | 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Concerts in the Park (Countryside)
June 6 – August 1, 2019 | 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Homewood Artisan Street Fair (Homewood)
June 7 – 9, 2019
Parties in the Park (Frankfort)
June 10, 2019 | 6:00 – 7:30pm
Movies in the Park (Tinley Park)
June 11, 2019 | 7:30pm
Movies on the Green (Frankfort)
June 11, 2019 | 8:30 pm
More Free Summer Fun
Remember: Summer is supposed to be relaxed, carefree, and easy! Sometimes, the best memories are made right in your own driveway with some sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Happy summer!
For more summer fun, check out all the outdoor activities going on in the southwest suburbs this season.