Chicago River

The sun! The beaches! The festivals! Our family can't wait to celebrate summertime and there's no better place to revel in the season than Chicago. Here's what's on our summer in Chicago 2013 bucket list. What's on yours? Let us know in the comments section.

Eat outdoors as much as possible. 

Whether it's a simple hot dog on a picnic bench (we love Red Hot Ranch's handcut fries and classic Chicago dogs) or Mediterranean treats on a patio in lively Greektown (Athena Greek Restaurant is one of our favorites), we'll be dining outdoors whenever we can this summer. 

Touch a Stingray. 

Touch a Stingray

Stingray Touch, now open at the Shedd Aquarium, features 40 cownose and yellow rays in an 18,000-gallon pool located under a tented structure on the south terrace. We can't wait to shake fins with these graceful creatures. 

Bike the Drive. 

We love riding our bikes... so we're biking the drive! Once a year, the cars are brushed aside for bikes at the annual Bike the Drive, one of the best organized bike rides in the nation and an excellent way to kick off summer.

Camp out at the zoo. 

We'll be pitching our tent on the grounds of the Lincoln Park Zoo for an overnight adventure at the Sleep Under the Skyscrapers: Outdoor Campout. There are five opportunities this June, July and August to fall asleep to the call of the gibbons and wake up to the roars of lions. 

Catch the fireworks and the amazing feats of Cirque Shanghai. 

Cirque Shanghai

The incredible acrobatics of Cirque Shanghai never cease to amaze me, and this year's show, Dragon Thunder, promises to be just as thrilling. We always try to plan to see Cirque Shaghai on a Wednesday or Saturday evening, sticking around for Navy Pier's fireworks spectacular afterwards. 

Savor a cone at ALL of our favorite ice cream emporiums

We love ice cream. Who doesn't, really? Thankfully, we can select from a number of ice cream parlors to match our moods. Our top three ice cream hot spots are Scooter's (1658 West Belmont) for frozen custard, Caffe Gelato (2034 West Division Street) for traditional Italian gelato, and Margie's (1960 North Western) for turtle sundaes. 

Ride the Seadog. 

Every year we take our pooch on a special excursion on the lake aboard the Seadog. Yes, friendly dogs are welcome on this fast and furious lakefront boat tour. We're from Chicago, and we see the striking skyline every day, but it's a special treat to see it from the speedy Seadog.

See a show at the Theater on the Lake. 

The Chicago Park District's unique Theater on the Lake will host presentations from artistically diverse Chicago theater companies throughout the summer. We're looking forward to seeing the hilarious Barrel of Monkeys' show - That's Weird, Grandma (July 17-24) - in this summery theater venue. 

Take in a masterpiece at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

The Art Institute of Chicago

It's great visiting the Art Institute of Chicago on a too-hot summer day: AC + world-class art makes for a great afternoon. Did you know that admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursday evenings from 5-8PM? You're welcome.

Dive into Lake Michigan.

As usual, we'll be spending a lot of time on Lake Michigan this summer. You'll likely find us at one of Chicago's family friendly beaches on sunny days, splashing in the water or building sandcastles. 

Help us keep the lights on by subscribing to Chicago Like a Local. For your efforts, we'll deliver awesome stories (like this one) to your inbox. Do we have a deal?