Your Guide to Summer 2020 Fun in the Suburbs

Last night, I was scrolling through photos from June last year: a waterpark vacation, visits to the library, playgrounds, restaurants, splash pads . . . wow, things are certainly different this year! But working on this round-up of 2020 summer fun energized me. There are still fun things to do around town if you know where to look! And our team has been working hard to stay on top of all the latest updates as things keep changing. Read on for all our top summer fun articles in one spot — or better yet, bookmark this page to help you plan your days.

Summer 2020 Fun in Chicago’s Suburbs

Our Top Summer Fun Articles

Guide to What is Open Summer 2020 – Planned Openings, Closings, and Reschedulings
Things are changing quickly, and this page is our resource to keep up with it all. We’re constantly updating it with new openings, closings, and more. Plus, the infographic at the top explains the current phase of reopening and what to expect. Super handy!

2020 Summer Bucket List
Lots of inspiration for long summer days, including specific activities and ideas for at-home fun, local outings, and more.

Splash Pads
There are still tons of splash pads open this summer, some with reservations, some with time limits. We have all the info on each one!

Summer Camps 2020: In-Person and Virtual Options
This guide includes in-person camps modified for safety, socially distant enrichment activities, and virtual camps that help inspire at-home learning.

Outdoor Activities

Local Mini-Golf Courses
Make a reservation at your local mini-golf course and putt your way through the tiny greens.

20 Ideas to Make Your Backyard the Ultimate Summer Oasis
We’re all spending a lot more time at home, inside and out. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, put it to good use with these ideas.

15 Best Parks for Toddlers in the Western Suburbs

Let’s Go Fly a Kite! Making, Buying, and Celebrating Kites
Kite flying might be the perfect socially distanced outdoor activity: get too close to anyone else, and you’re liable to end up in a tangle! Check out our guide to making your own kite, where to buy one, and tips for flying high.

Boat Rentals
Find out about the ins and outs of renting a boat this summer! Nicole rounded up places to rent boats as well as helpful tips.

Water Parks and Beaches
There are a lot of local beaches and waterparks to choose from.

New Playgrounds
Progress is being made on playground projects this summer! We have been cataloging renovated playgrounds throughout the years so you can check out some new ones.

Exploring Nature This Summer

Where to See Waterfalls Near Chicago
Annie put together this amazing guide to waterfall exploration, including how to find the hidden Blackhawk Waterfall in South Elgin.

Where (and How!) to Take Your Kids Fishing + Current Restrictions
Your guide to taking the kids out for a fishing expedition.

A real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game that you can do anywhere you are (locally or on vacation), any day and time using GPS coordinates. Check out the official Geocaching website’s ten tips for safe geocaching in light of COVID-19.

Camping with Kids
Locations within three hours to take your kids camping! This includes a really cool printable checklist to help you pack. Be sure to call ahead about reserving a campsite, and consider going during off-peak times, such as mid-week.

15 Best Playgrounds for Elementary School-Aged Kids

Strawberry Picking: Farms With U-Pick Strawberries
Updated with all the changes for 2020, this list breaks down all the strawberry farms that are within an hour and a half drive from our area. It also includes estimated dates when picking is expected to start.

Blueberry Picking: Fields For U-Pick Near Chicago
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.

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.

Best Forest Preserve Trails for Kids
Kidlist readers voted, and these are the best for kids!

Where to Kayak, Paddleboat, and Canoe (Including Rentals)
These rentals are really opening up! Most require you to call ahead and make a reservation, so be sure to plan ahead (your mantra this summer).

Location Profiles

We’ve been visiting as many places as possible to check them out and see what the experience is like with all the changes being made. Here’s what we have so far:

Summer Food

500+ Restaurants with Outdoor Dining in the Western Suburbs
Looking to get out and enjoy a patio? Nicole did an amazing job rounding up hundreds of local restaurants where you can dine al fresco, including tents set up nearby local strip malls that normally don’t have outdoor seating. Go see what’s cooking in your town!

Local Restaurants Offering Family Meal Deals Right Now
Not quite ready to hit the patio, or want an all-in-one meal for your next picnic? This is your guide. Honestly, my family treats this like our personal take-out menu.

2020 Farmers Markets and the New Rules You Should Know
While some markets have been cancelled, others are already going strong.

These Fenced-In Parks and Tot Lots are Great for Toddlers

Where to Buy Meat, Produce, and Eggs from Local Farms
Reduce your time in the grocery store, get amazing local food, and support small farmers. It’s a win-win-win.

How to Grow Your Own Food
Annie has the greenest thumb of anyone I know. She put together an amazing guide to growing your own food in the backyard! Kids get really into gardening right alongside you, whether your cucumbers flourish or not.

Summer Events

Drive-In Movie Theaters and Events in Chicagoland
These have been incredibly popular this year. Check out the local options!

Outdoor Movies
There are plenty of outdoor movies still happening. Many require reservations, so check out the list and make some plans!

Vacation Bible School (VBS) Programs
While most churches are eschewing in-person programs this year, you’ll find lots offering take-home kits, virtual sessions, and more.

Indoor Activities

Best Games for Families + Games to Play Over a Video Call
Game night for families near and far!

Local Summer Reading Programs for 2020
There are so many free and fabulous programs that offer great incentives, foster a love of reading, and create enthusiastic, lifelong readers. If you’ve been putting off signing up, hop to it right now.

Fun for the Dog Days of Summer

Dog Parks and Off-Leash Areas
Check out the many on-leash and off-leash destinations in the Chicago suburbs where you can bring your pup for a fun, dog-friendly outing.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in the West and Southwest Suburbs (and Beyond!)
Tired of the same old dog park? Grab the leash and head to these trails! They’re great places for taking your canine companion along for the hike.

Enjoy These Dog-Friendly Restaurant Patios (and Secret Menus!)
Summer patio dining is here, and these restaurants let you bring your pup along! Some even have special menus for dogs. Puppuccino, anyone?

What adventures are you planning with your family for the rest of summer? Let us know in the comments! And remember that you can always check our outdoor activities page for all the latest things to do while the sun is shining.

About the Author

Rachel Matuch
Rachel is a mom to two boys (ages 2 and 4) who "certainly has her hands full," as strangers in grocery stores tell her. She's doing her best to keep up and get comfortable with the mud pies and tree-climbing her kids love. In addition to writing and editing, Rachel frequently pillages the Naperville library, plays nerdy board games with her husband, and collapses into a tired heap at 8:30 p.m.

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