The Big Chicago 10: Your Guide to Summer Fun in the City

01 of 10

Your Guide To Summer Fun In Chicago

Pitchfork Music Festival

There's a reason why people live in Chicago. It's called summertime. From watching the weekly fireworks displays at Navy Pier to lounging on hotel rooftops over cocktails and craft beers, the Windy City is absolutely divine during warm weather season.

To help you along with planning your summer in Chicago--whether it's for a few hours or a few weeks--we've created this handy, go-to guide you'll find invaluable throughout your stay. It showcases the very best, including family-friendly activities, snazzy hotel rooftop lounges, music festivals and more. 

Enjoy your time in the city!

02 of 10

Best Beaches

City of Chicago

North Avenue Beach. Chicago's answer to Venice Beach, North Avenue Beach has a mini-gym (see also our guide to top local boutique fitness studios) as well as a biking and running path. It's also a popular destination for alfresco yoga classes. North Avenue Beach plays host to professional volleyball tournaments and the Chicago Air & Water Show. You'll find the nautically themed, alfresco Castaways Bar and Grill situated directly above the volleyball courts. It's considered the busiest beach in Chicago, so public transportation is advised, as parking is limited. 1600 N. Lake Shore Dr. at North Avenue

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57th Street Beach

Foster Beach

Loyola Beach

Montrose Beach

Oakwood Beach

Ohio Street Beach

Osterman Beach

South Shore Beach

03 of 10

Fantastic Boat Cruises

Tall Ship Windy

Tall Ship Windy. The 148-foot traditional four masted gaff topsail schooner is made from modern materials that were designed to look like traditional ships. It's a different type of experience from the other tour boats sailing Lake Michigan, which is why it's essential for guests to dress appropriately (There is very little coverage to shield from the winds). Experiences include lakeside architectural cruises, the Wednesday and Saturday fireworks cruise, educational sails and the true pirates of the seas cruise. All tour guides and staffers are outfitted in full pirate regalia. All tours depart from Navy Pier.

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04 of 10

Food-Focused Festivals

Photo courtesy of Green City Market

Green City Market Chefs BBQ. The one-day event is pricier than other food-focused festivals such as Taste of Chicago because it boasts more than 100 local chefs and mixologists serving up specialty bites and drinks for almost three hours. Rick Bayless, Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan are just a few of the big names that regularly participate. Located in Lincoln Park, the event also features an “open bar” with locally made craft beers, wine, hand-crafted cocktails and more. VIP tickets offer attendees tented seating. Get more information here. The Chefs BBQ happens in late July at the south end of Lincoln Park, 1815 N. Clark St.

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05 of 10

Hotel Rooftops & Terraces

Streeterville Social

AIRE at Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago. Located in the Financial District on the 24th floor, the local craft brew-focused rooftop lounge aims to be an oasis in this area. Ideal for the architectural buff and those looking for a place to wind down after work, AIRE showcases many of the area’s historic banking and business buildings. A number of sofas are scattered throughout the meticulously manicured space and custom-designed fire pits are in place for days when there is a nip in the air. 100 W. Monroe St.

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Cabana Club at The Hollander*

Circa at The Gwen

deca RESTAURANT + BAR at Ritz-Carlton Chicago

Drumbar at Raffaello Hotel

J. Parker at Hotel Lincoln

NoMI Garden at Park Hyatt

Noyane at Conrad Chicago*

Roof at theWit

Rooftop at Soho House Chicago

Streeterville Social at Loews Chicago

Terrace at Peninsula Chicago

Up & Up at The Robey*

*New for 2017

06 of 10

Hottest Neighborhood Festivals

Photo courtesy of Star Events

Roscoe Village Burger Fest. From turkey and bison burgers to those topped with traditional fixings, the exciting offerings at this foodie-focused neighborhood festival will make you wonder why it wasn't around years ago. Live music, kids' entertainment and a contest for "Chicago's Best Burger" make the event a popular contender among the summer's top food fetes. It takes place 11 a.m.-10 p.m. July 9-10 on Roscoe Avenue, between Damen Avenue and Oakley Street. A minimal donation is requested at door.

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07 of 10

Family-Friendly Attractions

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest in the United States. It was established in 1868, yet has been continuously updated and is amongst the most contemporary in terms of education, recreation and conservation. The zoo is unique in that it offers an intimate setting that allows visitors a closer look at the animals than most sprawling zoo settings. It is dedicated to permanently keeping its admission policy free for everyone. The zoo, in fact, is the only free zoo in Chicagoland, and one of the last free major wildlife attractions in the country. Located at the north end of Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Conservatory features four serene greenhouses (Orchid House, Fernery, Palm House and Show House) all displaying fantastic arrays of flora. During summer, the lush, French garden is filled with a large variety of plants and flowers, and a beautiful fountain. 2001 N. Clark St., 312-742-2000

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08 of 10

Outdoor Concerts & Music Festivals

Chosen Few Djs

The Chosen Few Music Festival. Taking place over the 4th of July weekend, the annual house music festival pays tribute to the legendary dance music style and its innovators. The signature event of the weekend is an old school reunion picnic, which attracts up to 45,000 strong in Jackson Park (63rd Street and Hayes Drive). Tickets range from $25-$1,500, and here's how to get them.

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Reggae Fest

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09 of 10

Top Pools Around Town

Photo courtesy of Soho House Chicago

Soho House Chicago. Situated in the West Loop, the London-based hotel group takes over a six-floor historic warehouse dating back to 1907. Its membership policy includes reserving hotel rooms, plus indulging in the gym, heated rooftop pool, club floor and 40-seat screening room. The pool also offers a great view of the skyline. Non-members may take advantage of membership benefits by booking one of the boutique hotel's rooms. 113-125 N. Green St., 312-521-8000

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10 of 10

Tours Around Town

Photo courtesy of Chicago Food Planet

Chinatown Food Tour. Participants are strongly urged to nosh on something light before taking part in this unique event on the near South Side. Each restaurant's doing full portion sizes, which includes an authentic Beijing Peking duck and Hong Kong-style dim sum. Five restaurants are on the Chinatown walking food tour, including Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Co. for authentic Chinese loose leaf tea. It's about three hours long. Here is how to get tickets.

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