The Huge Guide to Summer Fun in the Suburbs

The ultimate summer guide is here! Here are all of our articles on the many summer activities in the western and southwestern suburbs, all in one spot for easy reference. Here, you’ll find anything and everything related to summer fun. Take a look — you just may find something you never knew you needed!

Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun in Chicago’s South and West Suburbs

Our Top Summer Fun Articles

Free Summer Fun in the Western Suburbs and Free Summer Fun in the Southwest 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 Bucket List for Kids
A summer bucket list for kids helps give you the momentum you need to keep the summer excitement flowing all the way until August. Grouped by indoor and outdoor activities, day trips, and age group.

Free Ice Cream at Mars
Every July the Mars Chocolate plant gives away free ice cream bars and novelties. Get the details about when and how to get a tasty treat.

Indoor and Rainy Day Fun

25 Rainy Day Activities in the Southwest Suburbs and 25 Things to Do with Kids on a Rainy Day in the Western Suburbs
It’s raining, it’s pouring, staying inside is getting boring! With help from these lists and your imagination boring, rainy days will be a thing of the past.

Free Summer Reading Programs
There are so many free and fabulous programs that offer great incentives, foster a love of reading, and create enthusiastic, lifelong readers.

Vacation Bible School (VBS) Summer 2018 in the West Suburbs and Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the Southwest Suburbs
Find a Vacation Bible School where your children can learn about God through fun activities and songs over the summer.

Water Fun Destinations

Splash Pads in the Western Suburbs and Splash Pads in the Southwest Suburbs
Move over backyard water table and sprinkler: splash pads are the perfect way to run off some energy while staying cool this summer. Find all your local splash pads with these lists.

Outdoor Pools with Day Passes in the West Suburbs and Outdoor Pools with Day Passes in the Southwest Suburbs
We’ve got all the outdoor pools offering day passes so your little water lovers can pool-hop their way through summer.

Summer Fests and Downtown Events

Summer Festivals in the Western Suburbs and Summer Festivals in the Southwest 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!

Farmers Markets and French Markets in the Western Suburbs and Farmers Market in the Southwest 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!

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 Music and Movies

Outdoor Movies
Now presenting all the outdoor movies being shown in the near western and southwest suburbs! Some even have pre-movie activities or entertainment and concessions available, so check out the details here.

$1 Kids Movies: Summer Movie Series
Many of the local theaters offer a special summer movie series where shows are offered for $1 and are usually held in the morning. This has a handy schedule with location details for all the participating theaters in our area.

Summer Concert Series: Live Music in the West Suburbs and Live Summer Music in the Southwest Suburbs
Live music, fresh air and free entertainment add up to a nice night. Some venues offer food and snacks for purchase, or you can pack a picnic to enjoy under the stars. Either way, it’s a great way to gather with your neighbors, support local bands and enjoy al fresco dining all at the same time!

Summer-Ready Playgrounds and Parks

New Playgrounds
Find out about the new playgrounds (like the new Darien Community Playground!) in the west and southwest suburbs. We scoped them out and took photos so you can get a preview of all the fun there.

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.

10 Best Parks and Playgrounds in the Near Western Suburbs
Kidlist readers voted and came up with the best of the west!  There are even slideshows if you would like to see all of the features for each.

Parks with Nearby Coffee Shops
Parents need a way to keep that energy up while chasing their kids at the park!

Best Parks with Walking Paths
Meet some friends at the park and take a walk between play breaks for the kids. We checked out all of the listed playgrounds and walked on the paths.

Mud-Free Playgrounds
Check out the playground options with a soft, rubbery surface instead of mulch.

Summer Games

Miniature Golf
All of the mini-golf courses near us with hours, prices and features.

Taking the Kids to a Baseball Game
Check out all the teams you can cheer on in the city and western suburbs here! There is also info on awesome Kids Clubs, special events and activities geared towards little ones before and/or during the games.

2018 Races and Fun Runs in the Western Suburbs and 2018 Fun Runs and Races in the Southwest Suburbs
Ready to run? Check out our full list of spring and summer races and fun runs in western Chicagoland for April through August 2018.

Summer Farm Fun

A Day at the Farm: Farms to Visit with Kids
Local farms that offer opportunities to interact with adorable barn animals, pick seasonal fruits and veggies, learn about the pioneer days, and enjoy attractions such as carousels and wagon rides.

Strawberry Picking: Farms With U-Pick Strawberries
This list breaks down all the strawberry farms that are within an hour and a half drive from our area and includes estimated dates when picking is expected to start. You will also find tips for your trip!

Blueberry Picking: Fields For U-Pick Near Chicago
Where to go blueberry picking, within reasonable driving distance from our area.

Outdoor Activities

Camping with Kids
Locations within three hours to take your kids camping! This includes a really cool printable checklist to help you pack.

Horseback Riding for Kids
Find great destinations for kids to saddle up and ride horses in Tinley Park, Plainfield, Palos Hills, Mokena, Frankfort, and more!

Geocaching
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.

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

Day Trip Ideas

Maggie Daley Park (Chicago)
Everything you need to know, from transportation to tips, about the amazing parks and playgrounds near Millennium Park downtown.

Knoch Knolls Nature Center (Naperville)
Play on the mud-free playground, then stop inside the sustainably built nature center for hands-on activities and to see live animals at the Knoch Knolls Nature Center in Naperville.

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center (Willow Springs)
We’ve got everything you would want to know about this big nature center in Willow Springs.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center (Bolingbrook)
Hidden Oaks is a newer nature center with tons to offer, including a rooftop patio where you can bring your lunch. Use our guide to find out everything.

Waterfall Glen (Darien)
One of the hidden gems of the DuPage County Forest District, Waterfall Glen in Darien has it has for any outdoor enthusiast.

Lake Katherine (Palos Heights)
A guide of all to do (including a waterfall, botanic gardens, and nature center) at beautiful Lake Katherine.

Kid-Friendly Train Stops on the Southwest Metra Line and Kid-Friendly Train Stops on the BNSF Metra Line
Round up the kids for a leisurely ride on the Southwest Service Metra line and explore all that your neighboring towns have to offer. A guide with ideas of places to walk to from the train stop.

Go Ape (Western Springs)
Cross rope bridges, swing through the trees like Tarzan, balance on logs, and zip down the lines at the end of each section. An exhilarating experience for ages 10+.

Big Run Wolf Ranch (Lockport)
Check out Big Run Wolf Ranch to educate your children about North American wildlife while enjoying up-close encounters with wolves!

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

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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