Summer in Chicago arrives with an explosion of colorful festivals, ways to splash away the heat, icy-cold treats, and endless options for kids on a break from school. It’s also a great time to branch out and explore everything the area has to offer.
Head downtown for extra-special events in Chicago, stroll down historic suburban Main Streets to find a new favorite classic ice cream parlor, or head out to the sprawling fields of U-Pick farms growing juicy summer berries . . . there’s so much to do!
That’s why we’ve put everything in one spot to help you and your family make the most of these special summer days.
Our 2023 Summer Guide is sponsored by Pixar Putt.
Navy Pier at Polk Bros Park
600 E. Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
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April 22 – September 10, 2023
After its sold out run last year, PIXAR PUTT is back in Chicago! If you missed your shot, now’s your chance to experience the ultimate pop-up, mini-golf experience made up of 18 fun and interactive holes inspired by the stories, characters, and icons from some of Pixar’s most beloved films.
Putt through the enchanting worlds of Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Coco, A Bug’s Life, Wall-E, Inside Out, Soul & more, as Pixar Putt is set to take guests to infinity… and beyond!
The perfect outing for Pixar fans of all ages! Open 7 days a week, with After Dark sessions available for those 18+ Thursday, Friday and Saturday after 7:00pm! Buzz your friends & loved ones, and tee up for 18 holes of whimsical mini-golf fun!
Our Top Summer Resources
Summer Bucket List
Lots of inspiration for summer adventures, including specific activities and ideas for at-home fun, local outings, and more. This year, we’ve included printable cards that you can use for an idea jar, putting on your calendar, or hanging up for inspiration!
Free Summer Fun in the Western Suburbs
Did we say free?! Yes! We have rounded up all of the activities and events you can do this summer that you don’t even need to pull out your wallet for.
Summer Camp Guide
Sometimes it’s nice to have some structure added to summer days and our summer camp guide is a great place to find options for young children all the way through teens. Find sports, arts, dance, STEM, gymnastics, theater and everything in between.
Local Mini Golf Courses
Take a swing at your local mini-golf course and putt your way through the tiny greens.
Find out about the ins and outs of renting a boat this summer! This one will give you places to rent boats as well as helpful tips.
Outdoor Amusement Parks
Roller-coasters, rides, and other outdoor thrills await at Chicaoland’s local outdoor amusement parks.
Water Fun Destinations
Our splash pad guide has all the info you need to find a fun place to cool off and play in the water, including opening days, features, and hours. Find a new-to-you splash pad to explore this year!
Water Parks in Chicagoland
For an extra-fun summer outing, check out these local water parks with slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, giant splash pads, and more.
Beaches in Chicago and the Suburbs
Sandcastles, sunny skies, and chilly waves are in your future when you hit the beach with your family.
Pool Memberships: Early Bird Discounts and Opening Days
There’s plenty of time to take advantage of a pool membership. Consider purchasing one at your local pool to maximize your fun in the pool.
Outdoor Pools with Day Passes in the West Suburbs
We’ve got all the outdoor pools offering day passes so your little water lovers can pool-hop their way through summer. You don’t necessarily have to join a pool to enjoy one this summer!
Exploring Nature This Summer
Where to See Waterfalls Near Chicago
Surprisingly, there are some nice waterfalls in our area! Find out where to explore to enjoy their beauty, including how to find the hidden Blackhawk Waterfall in South Elgin.
Where (and How!) to Take Your Kids Fishing
Your guide to taking the kids out for a fishing expedition. Get tips, ideas for where to go, and even bait shops so you can be prepared. With our guide, you don’t have to be experienced to enjoy fishing with your kids.
Best Forest Preserve Trails for Kids
Find the best places to take a hike with your kids! This list has locations and descriptions for the best trails in the west and southwest suburbs.
Where to Kayak, Paddleboat, and Canoe (Including Rentals)
Most still require you to call ahead and make a reservation, so be sure to plan ahead.
Fruit Picking and Farm Experiences
Strawberry Picking: Farms With U-Pick Strawberries
Find a strawberry farm to pick your own! We include estimated start dates for picking as soon as the farms announce it, as well as features of each farm and pricing when available. Strawberry picking within an hour and a half drive from our area usually starts towards the beginning of June depending on the weather.
Blueberry Picking: Fields For U-Pick Near Chicago
Get ideas for where to go blueberry picking, within reasonable driving distance from our area. Blueberry season starts mid-July, so check back for updates to this one. You can’t beat fresh blueberries picked straight from the bushes! We also include tips for how to store the berries when you get home.
A Day at the Farm: Farms to Visit with Kids
Local farms that offer a peek into farm life with animal visits, hands-on exploration, and more.
Summer-Ready Playgrounds and Parks
Ultimate Guide to Parks and Playgrounds in the Western Suburbs
No matter what age your kids are, you are sure to find great playgrounds for them to enjoy in our guides to the best parks and playgrounds. Get a preview of some of the fun playground content below or head to the main guide linked above for all the options, including specialized lists for toddlers, fenced-in playgrounds, playgrounds with sand, and more!
Local Ice Cream Shops in the Western Suburbs
Ice cream would be a daily occurrence in our house if it were up to my kids. This list will keep the sweet treats coming all summer long.
Farmers Markets and French Markets in the Western Suburbs
Grab your grocery tote and some cash and make visits to the farmers markets across the suburbs. The lists include a free printable with markets by day!
Outdoor movies are back in action this summer. Many even have pre-movie activities or entertainment and concessions available. Note: some may require reservations, so check the links in advance.
4th of July Fireworks in Chicagoland
Find all of the local fireworks displays being put on this year to celebrate Independence Day.
Summer Festivals in the Western Suburbs
Summer isn’t complete without taking the family to a neighborhood festival or two! Think beautiful weather, tasty food, live music and carnival rides – it’s the perfect recipe for summertime fun. This list has the entire line-up in chronological order!
Art Fairs and Festivals Happening in Chicagoland
Support local artists by purchasing a unique piece at these art fairs and festivals.
Classic Car Shows
Classic car shows are a staple of suburban summers. Whether you love vintage rides, have a kid who adores anything on wheels, or just want an excuse to take a stroll with the family, car shows are a fun destination.
Summer 2023 Outdoor Free Concerts
Live music, fresh air and free entertainment add up to a nice night. Summer concerts are a great way to gather with your neighbors, support local bands and enjoy a beautiful summer evening!
Kidlist Events Calendar
Not sure what to do on your day off? Our calendar is constantly updated with family-friendly events throughout the western suburbs.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the West Suburbs
Find a Vacation Bible School with fun activities and songs, hosted by local churches over the summer.
Kids Summer Movie Deals
Many of the local theaters offer a special summer movie series where shows are offered heavily discounted and are usually held in the morning. This has a handy schedule with location details for all the participating theaters in our area.
What adventures are you planning with your family for the rest of summer? Let us know in the comments!
This is great, Rachel! Thank you!