Is there anything better than Chicago in the summertime? The temperatures are rising, the butterflies are loose in my stomach and my heart is definitely skipping a beat.
If you’ve ever spent a summer in Chicago, you know there is most definitely magic in the air. Every patio is filled with laughing, every waterfront is packed with happiness, and on every block you’ll probably pass a sweet, happy-as-can-be pup. Nothing beats the pure joy of Chicago summers.
I am whole-heartedly certain this summer magic may have something to do with the fact that we all just braved a brutal winter together and couldn’t be more ready for warm weather. So when we are given three months of pure joy, you know us Chicagoans are going to make the absolute most of it!
Today I am SO excited to share with you my summer bucket list! To keep things practical and attainable, you’ll find a balance of splurgy and boozy fun and healthy and budget-friendly entertainment! Whether you’re experiencing a Chicago summer for the first or tenth time, or simply are visiting for a weekend, I hope you find some fun, local-inspired inspiration!
Rent a Divvy bike and ride along the Lake. The lake is one of my absolute favorite parts of the city. I love that my sweet apartment that is just steps away from the lake, and I’m dying to rent a bike on a lovely summer day and get moving!
Spend more days than I can count at the beach. Speaking of my love for the lake, Chicago beaches are truly a gift to us for traipsing through slush and snow for six months of the year. I love a good beach day and really want to soak them in this summer. Your guide to the top Chicago beaches:
- Oak Street Beach | Gold Coast
- North Avenue Beach | Lincoln Park
- Montrose Beach | Uptown
- Ohio Street Beach | Steeterville
Soak up the sun at beachside bars. Nothing better than sun, swimmies and a yummy cocktail. A few beachside bars I want to hop around to this summer:
- Castaways at the Beach | North Avenue Beach
- Shore Club | North Avenue Beach
- The Dock | Montrose Beach
- Oak Street Beach Food + Drink | Oak Street Beach
- Caffé Olivia | Ohio Street Beach
Head to Millennium Park for free concerts. Most Mondays and Thursdays between June 13 and August 15 you can listen to free live music at 6:30 pm under the Jay Pritzker Pavilion! I love a fun weekday evening and this is such a good excuse to get outside.
Watch an outdoor movie in Millennium Park. Another free Millennium Park gift to us: their summer film series! Also in Jay Pritzker Pavilion, every Tuesday at 6:30 you can catch a screening outdoor under the stars
Discover my signature summer cocktail. And duh, this will take a lot of testing! I LOVE running around town, trying new and fun cocktails year-round, but refreshing, yummy summer sips are my favorite!
Sing along to country songs at a summer festival. Whether its Lake Shake or Windy City Smokeout (or both) I need to make my way to one of Chicago’s music festivals!
Kayak down the river. I love kayaking and think this would be such a fun way to see the city through a different perspective!
Explore a neighborhood fest. There are so many fun fests throughout Chicago and this year I’m determined to broaden my neighborhood knowledge and head to a street fest – I’ve especially got my eye on the Wicker Park Fest on July 27-30.
Picnic at Jay Pritzker Pavillion or a local park. I have such a soft spot for picnics! I love heading to Mariano’s (my fav) or Trader Joe’s, picking out some yummy, summery foods, and enjoying a meal in the sun!
Spend a rainy day at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Not going to let a rainy day ruin my summer mood! I have yet to visit the Garfield Park Conservatory and I’m to go – it looks gorgeous!
Explore the Lincoln Park Farmer’s Market. As if I don’t love Lincoln Park enough, I’ve heard the very best things about the neighborhood’s farmers market and have yet to stop by! Prioritizing this for the beginning of summer, for sure! I’ve also heard Wicker Park’s is nationally acclaimed, so definitely going to have to stop by this one as well.
Enjoy the best fresh summer dishes around the city. Summer food is my favorite food! I love refreshing and yummy salads and spreads and can’t wait to take advantage of all the delicious summer menus!
Spend my weekends on rooftops. I adore Chicago’s skyline – seeing it and being up in it! I can’t wait to hop around rooftops all summer long. Here are a few places on my list to try or revisit
- London House | River North
- Raised Urban Rooftop Bar | River North
- Cindy’s | The Loop
- J Parker | Lincoln Park
- Z Bar | Streeterville
- VU Rooftop Bar | South Loop
- Need to go:
- Noyane | Streeterville
- Apogee | River North
- Drumbar | Streeterville
- I|O at the Godfrey | River North
- Ballast Point | West Loop
- Devereaux | Gold Coast
- Upstairs at the Gwen | River North
- Homestead on the Roof | West Town
Take a water taxi to Chinatown and feast. There are so many neighborhoods to explore in Chicago and Chinatown is one I have yet to venture to! This summer, I’d love to buy a water taxi day pass and travel around by boat, stopping in Chinatown for some delicious food, of course!
Start my Saturday at a free Millennium Park summer morning workout. Another Millennium Park freebie: every Saturday morning you can take part in workouts in the park! I am dying to try a little 9 am pilates on a nice summer day.
Cheer on my Cubbies – a lot. Ever since I was little, I have always loved summers spent at the ballpark. Now, living just a mile from Wrigley Field, I can’t wait to find myself at the stadium for lots of games!
Spend my weekend afternoons on patios. So many patios to relax on this summer! Here are a few I absolutely want to hit:
- Parson’s Chicken + Fish| Logan Square
- Big Star | Wicker Park
- Barcocina | Lakeview
- Park & Field | Logan Square
- Homeslice | Lincoln Park
- Paradise Park | Wicker Park
- The Moonlighter | Wicker Park
- Kaiser Tiger | West Loop
- RM Champagne Salon | West Loop
- The Dawson | West Town (one of my favorites!)
Grab an iced coffee and stroll through the Lincoln Park Streets. Lincoln Park gives me such a sense of home. Not that it looks like my home by any means, but growing up we would visit family who lived downtown, and the residential streets remind me of summer trips with my parents and brother. This summer, I want to spend more time admiring Chicago’s cute and quaint homey streets – and an iced coffee in hand just sounds like the perfect touch. Lincoln Park coffee shops that have my eye:
Simply spend time outside. It’s so easy to get caught up in work and to-dos, but this summer my goal is to be outside as much as possible – whether its a run on the lake or after-work happy hour on a rooftop! It’s time to enjoy the lovely weather while’s we’ve got it. 😉
I cannot wait for the summer festivities to begin! What else is on your bucket list Drop your thoughts below! XO