Free Summer Fun for Kids in the Southwest Suburbs 2018

Planning an unforgettable summer chock full of adventures and memories may seem like a daunting and (ugh!) expensive task, but with Kidlist at your fingertips, it doesn’t have to be. There are so many local events and places that you can take your children for free. Free summer fun can be had all over the suburbs, if you know the right places to look. We have compiled events and locations that will keep your summer schedule packed and inexpensive!

2018 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!


Make it your mission to visit a few new (to your family) playgrounds. A new playground can be really exciting for younger kids. Try to visit a one playground made completely from wood, one with turf, one with mulch, one that is all metal, and one that has a super unique feature in your area.

Festivals and Parades

Festivals are held almost every weekend of the summer. While some can be quite expensive if you factor in the price of carnival rides and food, you can avoid the price tag by attending festivals that center around a major activity or theme. Not only can you drop in to a festival for free, you can attend the parade that kicks off the festivals or one of the numerous parades that celebrate the summer holidays.

Story Times

When you need an escape from the heat, the outdoors, or just a more relaxing activity, try story time at your local library or bookstore.

Museums and Zoos

The school year can make it difficult to get out to the local museums and zoos. Check out one of the off-the-beaten-path museums in and around Chicago to give your children a new experience. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is always free.

Kidlist Calendar

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.

Stargazing at Lake Katherine (Palos Heights)
May 19, 2018 | 7:30 pm

Lagoon Fire on the Water (Oak Forest)
June 2, 2018 | 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Thursdays in the Park (Tinley Park)
June 28 – August 16, 2018 | 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

More Free Summer Fun

Just remember, summer fun does not always have to take place in the form of a planned event. Sometimes, the best memories are made from an impromptu walk, an afternoon of chalk and bubbles in the driveway, or a romp through the sprinklers. Happy Summer!

For more summer fun, check out all the outdoor activities going on in the southwest suburbs this season!

About the Author

Jill Kowalski
Jill is the mom of two energetic little girls, ages two and four, who keep her seriously busy. She and her husband grew up in Orland Park and are now raising their family there as well. When Jill and her family have free time, they love to check out local parks or drop-in at fests where their girls can take over a dance floor. She is always looking for cheap, yet entertaining and worthwhile things to do. When she is not wrangling her kids, Jill has a passion for starting, and sometimes finishing, do-it-yourself home improvement projects, trying out random recipes she finds on Pinterest, and organizing every nook and cranny of her life.

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