Summer is in full swing (finally!) in Chicago, so get outside and enjoy the fleeting weather while you can!
Square Roots Festival
Lincoln Square is host to this fun festival with tons of live music, great food, and a market to peruse. The kids will have a fabulous time playing through the instrument zoo, crafting in the art tent, and swinging on a set that doubles as a drum.
Details: July 12-14, 4400-4560 North Lincoln Avenue; $10 donation, $5 for seniors and kids, $20 for families
Roscoe Village Burger Fest
Roscoe Village has always been a notoriously kid-friendly area, so when they put on a burger fest, kids are more than welcome! Sample burgers from places like the iconic Billy Goat Tavern and bopNGrill, before heading over to the kids’ area for a burger craft project and more. Families will also love the Culinary Fight Club, an Iron Chef-style competition live on stage, and of course, voting for their favorite burger.
Details: July 13-14, Belmont Avenue and Damen Avenue; $10 suggested donation
Day Out With Thomas
It’s worth the trek to the Illinois Railway Museum for a day filled with fun from Thomas the Train and friends. You can ride on Thomas, meet Sir Topham Hatt, see magic shows, color, listen to stories, and watch videos all about the friendliest blue train.
Details: July 13-14 and July 21-22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $21 for ages two and older
Sheffield Street Festival
There’s a reason this street festival has been going on for 50-plus years. What started as a garden walk has turned into so much more (but don’t miss the tours of more than 80 neighborhood gardens!). There is now a plethora of food trucks, “doga” (yoga with your dog), rides for kids, and live music, making this one of the best neighborhood fests around!
Details: July 19-21, 2250 North Sheffield Avenue
Head to Pretty Cool Ice Cream
We’ve yet to meet a kid who refuses a Popsicle, and certainly not one from this adorable spot. Pretty Cool does a good job catering to most palates—there are even plant-based Popsicles for those who can’t have dairy. The space itself is made for littles, with bright colors, letters to put on the walls, and fun bleacher-like seating. Mom and Dad will appreciate the sink in the store for quick hand washing, too!
Bixbee Imagination Station
Consider this the Wndr Museum aimed toward kids, featuring both experiential exhibitions and retail. Embark on a safari or enter a glittery kaleidoscope—there will be no shortage of imagination used here. A portion of the admission cost helps kids in need buy adequate supplies. Your children will want to scope out the cool Bixbee bags, which they can buy, too!
Details: Through September 22; $30 for adults, $23 for children ages 3–11, free for ages 2 and under
Millennium Park Family Fun Festival
When school is out for summer, the fun begins, and the Millennium Park Family Fun Festival is a prime example. This free event runs through early August during the week and features all sorts of amazing things for kids, including story time, live music, and lots more.
Details: Through August 9, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., at Chase Promenade North; free
Superhero Water Flicks at Navy Pier
You can see movies in the park all across the city, but this summer, Monday nights are superhero nights at Navy Pier. Set up with the beautiful backdrop of Lake Michigan, the series features eight superhero flicks and includes Thor: Ragnarok (July 1) and Avengers: Infinity War (July 8).
Details: Mondays, through August 12, at Polk Bros. Park; free
Visit the Adler Planetarium
There’s no better time to visit this iconic museum, as we get close to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 19—watch the Imagine the Moon video and explore the “Mission Moon” exhibition for this special occasion. Stick around for the afternoon, too, because’s there is plenty more to explore!
Bucktown Garden Walk and Block Party
This weekend, Bucktown is getting in on the street fest action with their own garden walk and block party. Kids’ activities are front-and-center with a scavenger hunt, yoga class, dancing, cooking, petting zoo, and more. With face painting, glitter tattoos, and wearable flower art, your kids will leave decked out too. And parents will have their choice of rosé, beer, tea, and coffee from local vendors throughout the party.
Details: July 13-14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 1825 North Damen Avenue
Jam Out to Phish
Phishheads will love introducing their kids to the jam-band music they love at this kid-friendly concert (parents can have their own fun with the band this weekend at Alpine Valley). Plenty of good tunes and dancing abound at this Pilsen concert venue.
Details: July 21, 11 a.m.; $15
Movies in the Park
Another fun and free city event? Movies in the Park! Drag out your blankets and picnic baskets and watch a film on the big screen outside. Parks across the city participate, so check the schedule and pick your favorite flick.
Head to the Chicago History Museum
The Chicago History Museum is always a fun time, but if you’re looking for something to do (and a reason to escape the heat) on Fourth of July, the museum is offering free admission! Dive into a life-size Chicago hot dog, learn all about Abraham Lincoln, and dig into the history that makes Chi-town so great.
Head to the Zoo!
It’s easy to forget that one of Chicago’s best attractions is actually free. And the Lincoln Park Zoo is the perfect spot for a summer day. It’s in a beautiful part of Lincoln Park, and there’s so much for families to do here, from seeing the animals to riding the train and stopping for lunch at yummy Café Brauer.