North Avenue Beach Chicago

Summer in Chicago. The sun! The beaches! The festivals! When looking for family friendly activities, the possibilities in Chicago are endless. The summer days are drifting way, how many of our top 10 things to do and see in the city can you finish before school starts?


1) Spend a day at the beach.

Grab a towel and your swimsuit and catch some rays on Lake Michigan. North Avenue Beach boasts amazing skyline views and a nice expanse of sand for sunning. Bring some buckets and shovels and build the lakeside sand castle of your dreams. Best of all it's FREE!

Climbing Wall Maggie Daley Park


2) Climb the walls at Maggie Daley Park.

The newly unveiled rock climbing walls at Maggie Daley Park are just waiting to be scaled by adventuresome adults and kids! Both beginning and advanced climbers are welcome. New to climbing? Check out the on-site classes which cater to aspiring climbers as young as four years old. If climbing walls isn't your thing, head over to the park's amazing Play Garden with its swinging boats and soaring slides.


3) Set sail on a Lake Michigan adventure with the Seadog Speedboat Cruise.

The Seadog is the fastest tour boat on Lake Michigan. 2,000 HP of ferocious Seadog energy will both thrill and educate as you learn a thing or two (or three) about Chicago architecture. We always bring our beloved pet, Gizmo, on a Seadog ride every summer — friendly dogs are always welcome to ride!

Seadog Cruises Chicago


4) Dine patio-side or pack a picnic. 

Whether it's a simple hot dog on a picnic bench, burgers along the Riverwalk at Chicago Burger Company or Mediterranean treats on a patio in lively Greektown at Athena Greek Restaurant, dining outdoors is always a summertime treat.  

Shakespeare in the Park


5) Catch Shakespeare in the Parks. 


This summer Twelfth Night will travel to 18 neighborhoods across the city thanks to the outstanding Shakespeare in the Parks initiative: At each park stop, a specially equipped truck magically unfolds to reveal a stage and a company of professional actors will showcase Shakespeare in all his glory. Bring a blanket and some pillows or lawn chairs to guarantee the best seats in the house. For more information and the full schedule, visit:


6) Kayak the Chicago River.

My kids and I are looking forward to paddling the Chicago River by kayak this summer. Kayak Chicago offers tours, classes and rentals and kids of all ages are welcome to ride along with an adult. Kids ages 12+ can paddle a kayak of their own! 

Kayak Chicago


7) Dig into an ice cream sundae at Margie's.

Margie's Candies is a Chicago original, the backdrop of many first dates, engagements and good-report card celebrations. Since 1921, this Chicago candy and ice cream shoppe has been serving its patrons — including Al Capone and The Beatles — their signature sundaes, splits and housemade chocolates from its small parlor at the corner of Western, Armitage and Milwaukee avenues. The sundaes here are huge and arrive with a vanilla wafer cookie that's delightful for dipping.


8) Bike The 606.

Chicago's newest biking trail stands on a former elevated train line. Connecting 6 neighborhood parks at ground level with numerous art installations along the route, The 606 gives kids a new (rooftop) view of the city. Rent a Divvy bike at one of the many Chicago bikeshare stations if you don't have wheels of your own.

 The 606 Chicago


9) Take a whirl on Chicago's newest Ferris wheel.

Navy Pier's newest Ferris Wheel is bigger and bolder than its predecessor. A twirl on this magical Ferris wheel will treat you to the most sweeping views of the city. Visit for tickets and info.

Navy Pier Chicago


10) Cap off your trip with a Segway Fireworks Tour.

Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Bike and Roll Chicago will not only teach you how to navigate the city by Segway but also lead the way to a top-secret spot for viewing Navy Pier's fireworks. 


Too much fun in the sun? Here's 20 Ways to Cool Off Chicago this Summer