Editor’s note: We’re making every effort to provide you with the most up-to-date information. However, there are widespread closures to slow the spread of Covid-19 and changes occur rapidly. We’re doing our best to keep all of our stories and calendar up to date. 

You may not be ready to officially admit that lazy summer days are dwindling, it seems as though it only just begun, but that time is creeping. This may seem like a moment for panic, but we’re going to help you rally to squeeze in every bit of sunshine and adventuring. Before you have to settle into school-year routines, read on and make memory magic with the kids.

photo: Maria Chambers

Take a Hike

The call of hanging in the urban jungle all summer long is strong. But, how about throwing in some fresh air, unforgettable scenery and wild animal spotting into the agenda? Lace-up your boots, strap an infant to your back, maybe even bring along the fishing poles, and explore some lesser-known hiking spots found in our story Discover the Not-So-Obvious Spots to Hike, Camp & Fish Near Chicago.

Pro-Tip: Bring along a cooling cloth for those extra hot, humid Chicago days and it can serve as a mask when passing other hikers.


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Visit the Zoos!

Chicago is slowing emerging from its COVID slumber and we’re loving this newfound ease-back-into-it freedom. While things aren’t quite back to normal, Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo are both welcoming guests. . . with some new guidelines in place. Read our story Chicago Zoos Are Open! Get the When, What, How of a Zoo Visit!

While You're at Brookfield Zoo. . . See Dinos Everywhere!

Nearly 45 animatronic dinosaurs that are BIGGER and BADDER than any dinos you've ever met are visiting Brookfield Zoo. Dinos Everywhere features acres of earth-shakers, including the largest—argentinosaurus—that was estimated to measure more than 100 feet in length and weigh up to 110 tons. Until Sept. 27, zoogoers will be able to search for these amazing life-like animatronics throughout the park.


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Go for a Donut-Themed Jog (or Walk)

Grab your donut-lovin’ friends and register for the Stan’s Donut Virtual Race! The Stan’s Donut Virtual Run will consist of a kids dash, 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon option. They'll ship (or can pick-up) the shirt, medal, donut certificate, and any other goodies right to you. Then you run (or walk) the distance you pick at any location you choose any day in August—we highly recommend finishing at a Stan’s Donuts location for your tasty free donut!

Keep the theme going! Check out these adorable donut-themed bath bombs for the kids to soak and relax after their kids dash!

photo: The Forge

Thrill-Seek as a Family at The Forge: Lemont Quarries

The Forge: Lemont Quarries (aka The Forge) opens their 300-acre adventure park, 22 miles from downtown Chicago. Not only does the park feature the largest aerial adventure course in North America, a day of adventuring gives you access to four over-water ziplines, 5 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking, paddlesports, and a dedicated kids’ zone—while adhering to state Covid-19 safety guidelines. Sit back, read on and let the photos do the talking.


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Say "Hey!" to the Trolls at Morton Arboretum

Seek and find the 15- to 20-foot-tall guardians of the forest constructed from reclaimed wood hiding in the woods, meadows and vast open spaces at Morton Arboretum's Troll Hunt.


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Find All the Greektown Fish Statues

Greektown Chicago has unveiled art for the public to enjoy along Halsted St. The artworks appear on fun, friendly and fanciful “fishie” sculptures, showcasing the imagination of young Greek school children and teachers. These fancy fish (22 in total) are positioned near your favorite Greektown shops, bars and restaurants all summer long. 


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Play a Round of Mini-Golf

Mini-golf. Putt-putt. Goofy golf. Adventure golf. Shorties. No matter what you call it, you have a blast playing it. Most of Chicago’s mini-golf courses are pure, kitschy fun and are only open for a limited time each year. So grab a short pencil and head to one of our city and suburban favorites. 


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Meander Through the North Shore Sculpture Park

Walk. Bike. Run. Skip. Gallop. However you make your way down this two-mile trail, you’re sure to enjoy the sights at the North Shore Sculpture Park. The paved path is lined with sculptures from artists across the world.

A fun way to allow kids to explore their creativity, capture memories AND keep them entertained is with an instant camera! They can snap pics and hang in their room at home!

photo: Raging Waves

Make a Splash at Raging Waves

Splish, Splash! Illinois’ largest waterpark dedicated to family fun for all ages, Raging Waves, kicked off their season and have a brand new addition: Aussie Mat Dash. Riders race side-by-side on mats down the six-lane slide.


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Cruise the Waterways on a Fireboat

 Once the largest diesel-powered fireboat in the world, the Fred A. Busse is now set to share a bit of history with passengers who take a Chicago Fireboat Tour.

Tour the Baha’i Temple Gardens

Take in the beauty of Baha’i Temple with a walk around their gardens. 


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Intro the Kids to Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Love ’em or leave ’em, hot dogs are big in Chicago, and if your kids haven’t begged for one yet, they will soon—and they get a pass on the sacrilege of using ketchup. Grab one at a legendary local spot and turn eating into an adventure.

photo: Maria Chambers

Make a Few Wacky Roadside Stops

Many of the historic and wacky places in Chicago can be easily and safely seen from the comfort of your car to accommodate social distancing, and your kids just might think you’re slowly turning into Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus

photo: Shedd Aquarium

Pay a Visit to Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium is now open for in-person visits with safety measures in place, including mandatory mask-wearing. 


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Cook White Sox Ballpark Favorites

Baseball is back! Although fans won't be filling the seats, you can fill your stomachs with Chicago White Sox ballpark favorites. Get your fix of some of the game's most iconic bites at home via their Home Plates recipe page. From items like the Sox signature Cuban Sandwich and Comiskey Burger, to classics like the Italian Beef and Vienna Beef Hotdog, Home Plates offers recipes that are sure to delight baseball fans of all ages gearing up for the 60-game sprint to the playoffs.

photo: Chicago Botanic Garden

Explore the Green Space at Chicago Botanic Gardens

Visit Chicago Botanic Garden and be treated to colorful views of the North Lake, vistas of the Malott Japanese Garden, and close-ups of blooms in Dixon Prairie and the McDonald Woods. Until Sep. 20, you will also see hundreds of winged beauties and pretty petals in the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit.

Plan a Visit to Great Wolf Lodge

As of Aug. 24, Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee is welcoming guests back, providing a close staycation for families looking to take a long-awaited getaway. Additionally, Great Wolf Lodge introduced its new Paw Pledge program, a company-wide initiative focused on keeping families healthy and safe while they play together at the indoor waterpark. 

— Maria Chambers

Featured photo: Singham via Pexels 


Low-Key Thrill Seek as a Family at The Forge: Lemont Quarries

Splish, Splash! Get a Covid-19 Update on Your Favorite Splash Pad

Discover the Not-So-Obvious Spots to Hike, Camp & Fish Near Chicago

It’s Not Just an Addictive Netflix Series: Road Trip to the Ozarks