Maximizing Chicago’s summertime splendor

Chicagoans wait out the winter for those glorious, easy days between May and September. We’ve hibernated, so we run on less sleep—the better to enjoy the Windy City’s warm-weather bounty. Here are some insider favorites for July, from barbecues to beaches to beats:

Ravinia: Take the Metra to the front gates of this verdant, sprawling outdoor venue. Enjoy free concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or snag hot-commodity tickets for artists like Buddy Guy, Blondie, Garbage, and Andrew Bird, who all play this month. Dolcetto wine, chèvre cheese, castelvetrano olives: This is the best gourmet picnic spotting you’ll find in the Midwest. Pack a portable feast of your own, spread out your blanket, and relax!

Battle of the Burger: What are you doing on Wednesday? In the summer, the answer is: nothing! Sneak away from work for this Daley Plaza burger competition and festival hosted by Time Out Chicago and Guinness. Put your palate to work: Munch meat, and vote. Let the games begin. July 19-20.

Tour de Fat: For the first time, New Belgium Brewery will hold its beloved Tour de Fat festival on Northerly Island, at the Huntington Bank Pavilion. The Roots, of Tonight Show fame, will headline. This is the first year that Tour de Fat won’t include a Logan Square bike parade, but longtime Fatters can count on the usual dose of craft brew, circus, burlesque, vaudeville, comedy, and magic. Proceeds aid West Town Bikes, a local non-profit. July 29.

Millennium Park Summer Film Series: What’s the best way to see Hidden Figures, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Princess Bride, and The Shining? Under the stars. This long-running program unites nature lovers and movie buffs for la dolce vida: Film, al fresco. As the sun slowly sets, birds chirp, and the office lights begin to twinkle. All is right with the world… until the credits roll. Good thing next month brings a double feature.

Pritzker Pavilion Summer Workouts: Play, night and day! Join the fit set for outdoor exercise at the Pritzker Pavilion. Tuesdays and Thursdays bring 45-minute yoga classes at 7:30AM, perfect for arriving to work centered and zen. Saturdays provide a lineup of yoga, gospel music cardio, pilates, and zumba from 7-11AM.

Green City Market: Every Wednesday and Saturday from 7AM-1PM, find the freshest peaches, blueberries, sorrel, farm-fresh eggs, local mozzarella, pineapple basil, and other surprises at the Green City Market. Hear speakers, watch demonstrations, join free yoga classes. The Lincoln Park gathering proved so popular, another Saturday-only market has been added in West Town.

Lakefront: Run, bike, walk, rollerblade, El, or drive to your nearest waterfront. Our “open, clear, and free” lakefront developed thanks to Daniel Burnham, an 1893 decision by three government officials with a long-range vision for the land, and decades of court battles against waterside development. Now, the lakefront is for everyone. Joggers, cyclists, picnickers… and especially—during this gorgeous, fleeting season—beach bums. It’s a seasonally hidden secret around here: Believe it or not, Chicago is a beach town.

The best thing about summer? Summer. The worst thing? It’s brief. Make time—and plans—to savor what our Windy City offers during this sweet, short season. You could pack your day from sun-up to sun-down with festivals, concerts, fitness, and food. (And gardening… and golfing… and tennis….) If all that sounds tiring, fret not: You can sleep in January.


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