Midsummer Checklist: Chicago Summer To Do List

Midsummer Checklist: Chicago Summer To Do List

Tomorrow is July 15, the mid-point of summer. The days are getting shorter, the angle of the sun is noticeably changing and the frenzy is picking up. In a month, or less, the start of school will be on the horizon with pumpkin lattes, wool sweaters and football games not far behind.

Summer in Chicago is a treasure that shouldn’t be wasted. It is precious, because there isn’t a whole lot of it—especially this year.

Here are some things you may want to take advantage of before Frosty comes to roost.

1. Millennium Park Turns Ten

A summer day at Millennium Park offers a glimpse of what summer should be. Turn off the iPhones (unless you’re taking pictures of the kids romping in the spray of Crown Fountain or the beautiful flowers in the Lurie Garden) and enjoy the sights and sounds of summer. Millennium Park offers a variety of concerts, family activities, cultural programing, tours and more.  Click here for their summer schedule.

2. Chicago by Water

Chicago--the Venice of the Midwest. Rent a kayak, hop aboard a water taxi or take a lunch, dinner or fireworks cruise on Lake Michigan--or try them all. No matter, what you choose, Chicago by water is a beautiful thing.  Another great combo for locals and visitors is one of Chicago's Architectural Cruises on Chicago's First Lady or the Wendella.

3. Fireworks

If you missed the 4th of July fireworks, no worries. Check out the Navy Pier fireworks every Wednesday (9:30) and Saturday (10:15) now through Labor Day.

4. Eating Outdoors

Dining al fresco is a special summertime treat in the Windy City--choose from Ravinia Festival, Grant Park Festival, one of Chicago’s many outdoor patios and rooftops or your local park.

5. Baseball Game

Cubs fan, White Sox fan or Little League fan—baseball, the All-American pastime, is the perfect way to spend a summer day or evening in the great outdoors.  Grab a hot dog and a cold one and cheer for your favorite team.

6. Gardens

Stop and smell the roses and wildflowers (in addition to the many special events) at Lurie Garden, The Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden and neighborhood parks. OR go to one of the many garden walks including the Sheffield Garden Walk & Festival (that adds great music and food to the mix) July 19 and 20 in Lincoln Park at Sheffield and Webster or the elegant North Dearborn Street Garden Walk on July 20, starting at Latin School, 45 W. North.

7. Farmers Market

Grab a cup of coffee, the dog and/or the kids and stroll through one of Chicago's many Farmers Markets. Choose from the mostly organic Green City Market in Lincoln Park (Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7 am to 1 pm) to the tastes (from local restaurants) and sounds (live performances) of the Argyle Night Market in Uptown, Thursdays, on Argyle. For a complete list of city markets, click here.

8. Catch a flick at Movies in the Parks.

Pack a picnic and head to your local park for a movie.  With more than 250 outdoor screenings, there's something for everyone.  For the full schedule, click here.

rainbowcone9. Ice Cream

What's better than a refreshing scoop of ice cream--a simple, affordable pleasure. Choose from the Original Rainbow Cone— chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla), pistachio and orange sherbet--or one of the many other choices from favorite IC hotspots around town.

10. Attend a Summer Festival

From downtown, to the neighborhoods to the suburbs, Chicago offers an eclectic line-up of festivals. Coming this weekend: Pitchfork Music Festival: July 18-20 in Union Park; BenFest 2014 at St. Benedict’s  July 18-20; the Chicago Craft Beer Festival, July 19-20 at Sheffield and Webster; the Chinatown Summer Fair, July 20, Wentworth Ave from Cermak Road to 24th Place; the Taste of River North, July 18-20 in River North at Kingsbury and Erie Street and the Celebrate Clark Street Festival on July 19 and 20 between Morse and Estes Avenue. For a complete list of summer festivals, click here.

11. Enjoy a peaceful sunrise over Lake Michigan

While the city sleeps, get up early, grab your bike or go for a run along your favorite beach path and enjoy the clear air, the quiet and the magnificent colors of the sunrise as the city awakens.

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    Arts and Entertainment Reporter for media since 1997.

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