Best Ways to Use Up Every Last Drop of Summer

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You may not be ready to officially admit that lazy summer days are dwindling; it seems as though it has 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, make memory magic with the kids.

two girls hiking through Morton Arboretum in Chicago
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.

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. 

Related: Everything You Need to Know about the Lincoln Park Zoo

Go for a Donut-Themed Jog (or Walk)

Grab your donut-lovin’ friends and register for the Stan’s Donut Race. Join in for a 5K and Kids Dash at Montrose Harbor on Aug. 13. 

The Forge

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

The Forge: Lemont Quarries (aka The Forge) is an amazing 300-acre adventure park, 22 miles from downtown Chicago. Not only does the park feature the largest aerial adventure course in North America, but a day of adventuring also gives you access to four over-water ziplines, 5 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking, paddle sports, 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. 

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.

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

Related: Exciting Ways to Explore the Chicago River

Florence G. via Yelp

Tour the Baha’i Temple Gardens

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

themed restaurants in chicago super dawg hot dogs in chicago

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.

Shedd Aquarium

Pay a Visit to Shedd Aquarium

Are they soft, fluffy or rough? You'll find out what a stingray 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 stingrays) and their wild habits, you'll see just how docile and friendly these ocean swimmers can be. 

Related: Animal Farms Near Chicago You HAVE to Visit

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

things to do with kids in chicago blue man group

Blue Man Group

A visit to see the iconic Blue Man Group is always a fun way to celebrate the new school year. 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.

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