You may look ahead at summer break with a mix of joy and fear (yay for together time! but … how to spend it?). We’re here to help. Start filling your calendar with fun family events. This week that includes a massive arts festival (Storytown improv will tickle your funny bone), a “progressive playdate” through Chicago neighborhoods, stingrays at the Shedd, the Printers Row Lit Fest and more. See? Nothing to be scared of.


Edgewater/Rogers Park

Pivot Arts Festival
Celebrate the arts on Chicago’s far north side. While there are numerous music, theater and dance performances for grownups, you’ll want to take the kids along to Storytown, a family improv show where a story’s plot (and set and costumes) is invented on the spot with help of wee audience members. Bonus: Ice cream is served! Held thru Sun. (Storytown is Sun., 11 a.m.) 6 p.m. at various venues, including Lickity Split Custard & Sweet Shop. $7/person for Storytown. Ages 4 & up. Event details.

Wicker Park, Bucktown, Lakeview & Ravenswood

Progressive Playdate
Hop from one beloved business to another, having a blast with your kids along the way. Stops include The Laboratory Chicago (science experiments), Bucktown Music (sing-alongs), Easel Art Studio (art projects), The Kids’ Table (cooking class) and Wishcraft Workshop (DIY activities). Each stop has a designated time, so plan ahead! Held Sun., noon-5 p.m. Free. Ages 3 & up. Event details.

Museum Campus

“Stingray Touch” at Shedd Aquarium
Don’t worry; they don’t sting! Dip your hand into a shallow tropical pool to find out what a stingray feels like. Feel their unique texture as they glide through the water in Shedd’s engaging outdoor environment. Held thru Nov. 2. Extra museum ticket required. All ages. Event details.

Printers Row

Lit Fest
You may know it as a place to nose around for books. But your kids will flip for a section just for them — Lil’ Lit Park. Go on an adventure, fight evil or meet a princess while digging into reading. Then travel to new places during storytelling time and sing-alongs! Held Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dearborn Street, from Congress to Polk. Admission is free. All ages. Event details.


Food Truck Social
So many different kinds of food in one place. It’s a sampler’s heaven. Encourage your kids to try a variety of delicacies and treats from 25 different food trucks. Want to try something from each truck? Then check out the $20 Sampler Ticket. Held Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on 18th Street, between Throop and Racine. Free admission. All ages. Event details.


“Chagall for Children” Exhibit
Step inside the world of world-renowned painter, printmaker and designer, Marc Chagall. Encourage your budding artist to explore light, color, composition and texture. With 14 multi-sensory stations, curious kiddos are sure to discover something new during each visit. Held Wed.-Sept. 6 at Kohl Children’s Museum. $11/children & adults; under 1 are free. Ages 2-12. Event details.


Spring Valley Country Fair
Go back in time to the 19th century as you take in the sites and sounds of country living. See what animals won blue ribbons. Check out the farm equipment from that time and try your hand at the carnival games. Enjoy a day filled with simple pleasures. Held Sun., noon-4 p.m. at Volkening Heritage Farm. $3/person; $12/family; children 3 & under free. All ages. Event details.

Arlington Park

Family Days at Arlington International Racetrack
See the horses up close 20 minutes prior to post. Ride a pony in the Junior Jockey Zone. Spend time with a juggler, musician and caricaturist. Jump around in the bounce house, and enjoy some down time with animals in the petting zoo. Held every Sun. thru Sept. 7. $8/adults; $2/children 17 & under. All ages. Event details.

How are you going to live it up over summer break? Tell us in the Comments!

— Kelly Aiglon & Marian Mangoubi

photo: Storytown / Pivot Arts Festival