Spring and summer in Chicago is a time to get outside and immerse yourself in the city's splendor. Your warm-weather bucket list awaits, with fountains for splashing, frozen treats for refreshment, festivals galore and so much more.
BEE LINE IT TO A PARK
The Chicago Park District oversees 580 parks, with something for everyone. Let the kids climb like monkeys at the sprawling Maggie Daley Park, work up a sweat with a bike ride or jog along The 606 (pictured above) or take in lakefront views and visit the moonscape-like 31st Street Beach Playground. Grab a picnic blanket and find a spot near Dorothy in Oz Park or find skyline magnificence along the new Chicago Riverwalk.
MUSIC UNDER THE STARS
Chicago overflows with outdoor music options - many of them free - this time of year. Find a welcoming patch of grass and enjoy the free concert season at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Or slather on the sunscreen and take part in one of the city's rollicking music festivals such as Lollapalooza, Riot Fest, Pitchfork (pictured above), Square Roots Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival or the Windy City LakeShake.
GET YOUR FEST ON
Summer weekends in Chicago are stocked with street fairs and festivals. Just about every neighborhood hosts one, and you'll be guaranteed to find stand-out food and drink. Some highlights: Ribfest in North Center, where you can sample dozens of different barbecued ribs; Taste of Chicago, which spotlights the city's world-class restaurant scene; the Renegade Craft Fair, which takes over Division Street with wares from hundreds of artisans; and Pride Fest, celebrating Chicago's vibrant LGBTQ culture.
Chicago is blessed with miles and miles of lakefront beaches. Build a sandcastle empire at Foster Beach, cool off with an horchata paleta (a rice milk-popsicle) at North Avenue Beach or simply enjoy the view (and catch a beach volleyball game) at Oak Street Beach while having lunch and a cocktail at the cafe. Thrill-seeker? Rent a jet ski, kayak, paddleboard or fly board at Chicago Water Sport Rentals at 31st Street Harbor.
KEEP YOUR COOL
Cool down in the spraying water of Crown Fountain (pictured above) in Millennium Park, an interactive video sculpture that attracts splashers of all ages. Or take the family on a water-skimming Seadog Speedboat sightseeing tour. See the sights along Navy Pier, where you can duck inside the Chicago Children's Museum, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, or numerous air-conditioned bars and restaurants.
GET INTO THE ROOFTOP SCENE
Chicago's skyline boasts several new rooftop patios, perfect for sipping away a sunny afternoon. LondonHouse Chicago wows with the city's first tri-level rooftop lounge overlooking the Chicago River. Set in a 1920s-era Art Deco skyscraper, Aire at the Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago mixes urban rooftop lounging with handcrafted cocktails and open-air panoramic views, while the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel's Raised Bar offers fire pits, seating for 160 and 14 taps with local beers.
Hop aboard a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise to soak up the sun while learning about the city's historic buildings. Immerse yourself in neighborhood culinary treasures by taking a walking Tastebud Tour of Old Town. Or see the city on two wheels via a bike or Segway tour with Bike and Roll Chicago or Bobby's Bike Hike (pictured above).
Photos courtesy Choose Chicago, Adam Alexander, Navy Pier