Your Guide to Summer 2022 Fun in Chicago’s Western Suburbs

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Outdoor ActivitiesSummer

Who is excited for summer?! We can’t wait to go strawberry picking, cool down at splash pads and waterparks, enjoy outdoor music, get fresh food at farmers markets, explore some waterfalls, and mark off fun stuff on our bucket list! You’re going to love our Guide to Summer 2022 because we have the info on all the fun in the western suburbs and beyond!

Feel free to bookmark this page and refer back to it whenever we need a new idea or something different to do. The Kidlist team makes sure that all of the linked articles and guides are kept updated and fresh throughout the season. Simply click or tap on any of the article titles and it will take you to more details, such as pricing, hours, reservations and features of each location. Pick a few from each category to start, then come back again for new ideas. Have a wonderful summer. We’re here to help you keep the fun going!

Our 2022 Summer Guide is sponsored by Downtown Naperville.

Downtown Naperville

Downtown Naperville’s Summer Sculptures are here! This year’s sculpture theme is Cruising Into Summer. As a result, 16 amazing pick-up trucks will be scattered throughout the downtown area from the first week of June until early September. Wander around downtown with your family and enjoy the painted creations!

Also, the hottest classic cars will be on display along Jackson Avenue for Father’s Day Weekend (June 18th) for the Downtown Naperville Classic Car Show (weather permitting)!

With national brands and local favorites, Downtown Naperville has hundreds of shopping and dining options sure to please everyone. Or book some much-needed time to relax at one of our salons or spas! Looking for the perfect gift? A Downtown Naperville gift card gives the gift of letting your loved one chose from 150+ participating locations!

Downtown is for everyone. Isn’t it time you found yourself in Downtown Naperville? Visit www.DowntownNaperville.com to start your adventure!

Summer 2022 Fun in Chicago’s Suburbs

Our Top Summer Resources

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 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!

Summer Camp Guide
Sometimes it’s nice to have som 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… even some discount codes.

Outdoor Activities

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

Let’s Go Fly a Kite! Making, Buying, and Celebrating Kites
Check out our guide to making your own kite, where to buy one, and kite-flying events in the suburbs.

Boat Rentals
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.

Kid-Friendly Train Stops on the BNSF Metra Line
Round up the kids for a leisurely ride on the BNSF Metra line and explore all that your neighboring towns have to offer. We love this guide with ideas of places to walk to from the train stop for an easy and unique outing.

20 Ideas to Make Your Backyard the Ultimate Summer Oasis
Spending quality time together at home is fun too . If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, put it to good use with these ideas that will level up the fun.

Water Fun Destinations

Splash Pads
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!

Waterparks and Beaches
Pack up your shovels and buckets, there are a lot of local beaches and waterparks to choose from!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

New Playgrounds
Nothing beats playing at a new playground. We scope out all the new playgrounds and keep you updated on which ones are under construction so you can stay in-the-know with all the renovations and new playgrounds popping up across the western suburbs.

15 Best Parks and Playgrounds
Kidlist readers voted and came up with the best of the west! Check out the list with photographs and descriptions of each.

Parks with Nearby Coffee Shops
You’ll need a way to keep that energy up while chasing your 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.

Inclusive Playgrounds
Many accessible playgrounds have been built in the last few years! We love that kids of all ages and abilities can play together. Get the full list with photographs here.

Summer Food

Local Ice Cream Shops in the Western Suburbs + Ice Cream Trail Map
Ice cream would be a daily occurrence in our house if it were up to my kids. This list (and map!) will keep the sweet treats coming all summer long.

10 Over-the-Top (Literally!) Milkshakes in Chicagoland
These extreme milkshakes topped with cupcakes, donuts and cookies are taking summertime desserts to the next level.

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!

Where Kids Eat Free in Chicago’s West Suburbs
Eating at a restaurant can get expensive when everyone’s ordering meals. Lower your bill by enjoying a delicious family out at these spots where Kids Eat Free.

Free Ice Cream at Mars
Every July the Mars Chocolate plant used to give away free ice cream bars and novelties. They discontinued this tradition due to covid, but we hope to see this return in 2022. Get the details about when and how to get a tasty treat.

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

Kidlist Park Playdate Series
We’re hosting our own events this summer with free entertainment and snacks! Stop by one of the Kidlist Park Playdates to play, have fun, and say hi to the Kidlist team.

Outdoor Movies
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.

Drive-In Movie Theaters and Events in Chicagoland
These became incredibly popular last summer, and are making a comeback again in 2021.

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!

Alebrijes are coming to Cantigny Park June 1, 2022

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 Concert Series: Live Music in the West Suburbs
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!

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.

The Cougars are offering Kidlist readers buy one, get one free tickets with the code KIDLIST

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

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.

How to Check Out a Museum Adventure Pass from Your Library
With a Museum Adventure Pass from your local library, you can visit dozens of Chicagoland museums, zoos, and other places of interest for free or at a discounted rate.

Indoor Activities

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.

Nature Centers in the Chicagoland
Nature centers are open this year, so scope out your next visit!

Chicago Area Children’s Museums
Spending time at one of the many Chicago area children’s museums will be a day filled with discovery, exploration and excitement.

 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.

Chicago-Area Museum Free Days
We are fortunate to live in a metropolitan area with world-class museums that are only a short drive away and we are even more fortunate that these places offer FREE days. 

Destination Experiences

If you have elementary school-aged kids through teenagers, you know how it is. Been there, done that! But we have ideas to keep the fun going with unique experiences both indoor and out.

The Forge: Lemont Quarries is offering Kidlist readers 20% off with code KIDLIST20

The Forge: Lemont Quarries
What an amazing place! They are adding adventures to this huge park every year and we’re excited to go back. Kayaking, BMX biking, rock climbing, archery tag, laser tag, zip lining, and tons more.

Top Golf
Elevate a driving range, add food and music, and you’ll get the fun of Top Golf. It’s fun for small or large groups!

Puttshack
Experience tech-infused mini golf in Oak Brook.

Electric Gamebox
Immersive yourself in video games as you become the controller and compete with your family and friends.

WhirlyBall
There are a few locations for WhirlyBall close to our area that you can try.

Escape Rooms
See if you can get out in time! We have a roundup of escape rooms to book for your family or group of friends.

Axe Throwing
We haven’t been axe throwing yet, but it looks really fun!

Go-Karting
We include go-kart places in our list of laser tag and indoor entertainment centers since most of them fit into that category, so check that out.

Rock Climbing
You can find smaller rock climbing walls are some of the neighborhood parks, but besides Maggie Daley Park, most rock climbing options are indoors. We have a great list options.

Paintball
This is great for a large group or birthday party.

Mish Mash Adventures
Check out our review of Mish Mash, which is a good team building or family activity.

Go Ape
Get your adventure on at this ropes course with additional activities in a Western Springs forest preserve.

iFly
Have you ever wanted to experience sky diving without jumping out of a plane? Then this one is for you!

Medieval Times
Eat and enjoy a jousting show at this castle in Schaumburg.

Bocce Ball
Pinstripes always comes to mind when talking bocce ball, but you can also buy a set from Amazon and play in your backyard for something different!

Archery
Check out the Kidlist calendar for archery events so you can give it a try.

WNDR Museum
Immerse yourself in creativity at this photo worthy destination.

Museum of Illusions
This is more than an Instagrammable space, it’s a museum full of mind-bending illusions and learning experiences.

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.

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