The kiddos are back to school, but that doesn’t mean the carefree fun has to end. From a walk for world peace to a traveling circus, the smiles can keep on rolling into September. Read on to find our Editor’s picks on the best of the best for saying hasta la vista to summer.

Navy Pier Fireworks 2photo: Navy Pier

(1) Final Fireworks of the Summer at the Pier
Keep the kids up a tad later for just one more night to experience the fireworks display synchronized to music at Navy Pier.

When: Sept. 2
Hours: 10:15 p.m.
Where: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville
Cost: Free

(2) Naperville’s Last Fling
Naperville has proven they’ve mastered the art of throwing the epic end-of-summer party with their Last Fling.  Head west for this four-day affair featuring national headlining artists (like Bare Naked Ladies!), a massive carnival and family-friendly events and entertainment. Miranda May “Lou” of Disney Channel’s Bunk’d will be out and about for a fun meet and greet.

When: Sept. 1-4
Hours: Family Fun Land: Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Mon. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Jackson & Main Streets, Naperville
Cost: $10+

photo: Midnight Circus in the Parks

(3) Midnight Circus in the Parks
Chicago’s offbeat and totally entertaining circus takes its act on the road, performing in parks in all corners of the city. The troupe does high-wire acts, juggling, clowning and acrobatics. It’s all for a good cause: The tour raises money to improve public parks and playgrounds.

When: Every weekend in September, check the website
Hours: Times vary, check the calendar
Where: Hamilton Park, McKinley Park, Wicker Park, Lake Shore Park, Kosciuszko Park
Cost: $5
Online: For additional dates and locations, visit

(4) Nature Nights: Colors from Nature
Pack a picnic dinner and spend an evening in the garden. Along with a enjoying a tram ride and s’mores around the campfire, learn how to make natural dyes from plant materials, just the way Native Americans and early settlers did. You’ll even have a chance to try out your dye on three different materials: cotton, wool and hardboiled eggs. As a bonus, you’ll take home a plant that has traditionally been used to make dye.

When: Sept. 2 & 9
Hours: 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe
Cost: $26/child; 20% discount for members

(5) Spend Your Family Sunday with the Sox
The White Sox ballpark experience for kids will feature special kid-focused activities throughout the concourse and the opportunity to run the bases after games.

When: Sept. 3, 10 & 24
Hours: 1:10 p.m.
Where: Guaranteed Rate Field, 333 W. 35th St., Southside
Cost: 5+

Butterflies & Bloomsphoto: Chicago Botanic Garden

(6) Last Chance to See Butterflies and Blooms
Dance among colorful butterflies at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Butterflies & Blooms. Enter the serene tropical habitat made up of beautiful flowers and hundreds of butterflies fluttering about. Sit still and they may just land on you. Or try to catch them. Be gentle though, as they are nature’s jewels.

When: Thru Sept. 4
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe
Cost: $6/adults; $4/children 3 – 12; Children 2 & under free

(7) Keep Coming Back for this Fall-Long Festival
You’ll definitely need more than one weekend to visit the Shades of Autumn Fall Festival. Bring the fam as many times as you want because it’s pretty much going on all Fall long. Take a little drive for more than 25 family friendly attractions. Of course you have the traditional hayrides, pumpkin picking and petting zoo. But, the little ones are also going to be wowed by the famous pumpkin cannon, hamster track, semi-truck slide, trikes for tikes, scrumptious apple cider donuts and so much more.

When: Sept. 9-Oct. 29
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Stade’s Farm & Market, 3709 W Miller Rd., McHenry
Cost: $10/adult; $15/ child (2-17); $5/seniors (65 & up)

Identification Day at The Field Museumphoto: The Field Museum

(8) Identification Day at The Field Museum
The Field Museum will host its 3rd annual Identification Day on a day that’s free for Illinois residents. Is there a mysterious fossil you found while backpacking or a picture of the bizarre bird in your backyard? Bring in your fossils, seashells, rocks, meteorites, feathers, leaves or photographs of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, flowers and insects for world-renowned scientists to identify! Stop by, with or without mystery objects to see (and touch) the scientific specimens on display.

When: Sept. 23
Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus
Cost: Free for Illinois residents

World Peace Day Fall Run/Walkphoto: World Peace Day Run/Walk

(9) World Peace Day Run/Walk
Kick off fall with Play for Peace at the World Peace Day Fall Glow Run/Walk. This family-friendly event brings people from throughout Chicagoland together to celebrate World Peace Day, a global celebration recognized by the United Nations. The celebration includes an International Food Festival, music, face painting, cooperative games, raffles and silent auction.

When: Sept. 22
Hours: 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
Where: Bartlett Nature Center, 2054 W. Stearns Rd., Bartlett
Cost: $10+

(10) Cornucopia Fall Festival & Craft Fair
Fall fun for the whole family! Eugene Field Park invites families to their Cornucopia Fall Festival and Art Fair. Enjoy live entertainment, hunt for the perfect pumpkin in the patch, get your animal fix in the petting zoo, jump around in the inflatables, get your faces painted, fill your bellies at one of the food trucks and shop for art from local artists.

When: Sept. 30
Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Eugene Field Park, 5100 N. Ridgeway Ave., Albany Park
Cost: Activities range from $2-$5

What’s on your family agenda for September. We’d love to hear all about it in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers