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.

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo

Visit the Zoos!

How lucky are we that we have not one, but two amazing zoos in Chicago? Pick your favorite—or visit both—and monkey around as a family for a day. 

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. 6, zoogoers will be able to search for these amazing life-like animatronics throughout the park.

photo: Clare Britt

Frda Kahlo Exhibit

The Cleve Carney Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition of the works centered on Frida Kahlo, who is considered one of the greatest artists of her time. The 26-piece collection will feature work spanning Kahlo's career with a series of photographs detailing the artist's life, interactive video presentations, a poetry garden and a children's area. 

Go for a Donut-Themed Jog (or Walk)

Grab your donut-lovin’ friends and register for the Stan’s Donut Virtual Race. Join in for a 5K and Kids Dash at Montrose Harbor or participate virtually on Aug. 14. 

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.

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. 

photo: North Shore Sculpture Park

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, is excited to you their newest addition: Aussie Mat Dash. Riders race side-by-side on mats down the six-lane slide.

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. 

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: Shedd Aquarium

Pay a Visit to Shedd Aquarium

Are they soft, fluffy or rough? You'll find out what a stringray feels like during a 15-minute touch session. Learn about sustainable seafood options that help protect these creatures in the wild. Along with learning about different species (including cownose and yellow stringrays) and their wild habits, you'll see just how docile and friendly these ocean swimmers can be. 

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. 6, you will also see hundreds of winged beauties and pretty petals in the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit.

Blue Man Group

The iconic Blue Man Group will make its long-awaited return, Aug. 18. A dynamic combo of art, music, comedy and tech, Blue Man Group encourages audiences to reconnect with their inner (and outer) child in order to see the world through a new perspective.

photo: Josh Ohms Photography

Navy Pier Fireworks

Keep the kids up a tad later on Wednesdays and Saturdays this summer to experience the fireworks display synchronized to music at Navy Pier. Make it extra unforgettable by booking a nighttime segway tour

—Maria Chambers

Featured photo: Singham via Pexels 


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