Top 25 Things To Do This Summer
Summer is on the horizon and it’s the perfect time to get outside and discover all the fun the Chicago Southland has to offer, whether you’re visiting from far away or looking for something to do in your own backyard. Scroll on down the list and start making your summer plans. A complete list of summer events can be found at www.VisitChicagoSouthland.com/Events.
No summer is complete without a trip to the zoo. Brookfield Zoo is home to over 20 animal exhibits and habitats, including the Australia House, the Living Coast, the Seven Seas, The Swamp and Tropic World. Take part in special activities like giraffe feedings, dolphin shows and penguin encounters.
Summer and baseball are a perfect match. Take in a major league ballgame at one of the most reasonably priced ball parks in the country. Family Four Packs start at just $49 for four tickets, four hot dogs, four chips and four drinks.
Spend some time exploring this 85-acre non-profit park with woodlands, wetlands, prairie, gardens and a 10-acre lake. Take a hike, enjoy the gardens or hop on the lake in a canoe. Canoe and kayak rentals are available for $8 per person per hour.
Disc Golf is a popular pastime and there are plenty of places to play in the Southland. With more than a dozen courses available, you'll have plenty of options whether you want to play nine holes or eighteen.
This year’s theme is “Prized Page Turners” and you’ll find a number of artistically decorated benches with that theme on display in downtown Tinley Park. This annual public art project runs from mid-May through October each year with a different theme. Each bench is sponsored by a local individual or business.
Take in a Major League Soccer game of the Chicago Fire American professional soccer club at Seat Geek Stadium in Bridgeview.
The stadium is also the home of the Chicago Red Stars U.S. Women’s Professional Soccer Club.
Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park has a diverse line-up of musical genres this season, with shows that include ZZ Top, Zac Brown Band, Dave Matthews, Goo Goo Dolls, Alice Cooper, Brad Paisley, Santana, Wiz Khalifa, Slipknot, Nelly, Iron Maiden, Hootie and the Blowfish, Kid Rock and more.
Spend a summer evening enjoy a beer on the patio at one of the Chicagoland’s craft breweries, including Flossmoor Station’s beer garden and Brew Caboose. They’ve also added a small dog park beside the patio for their patrons to bring their four-legged friends.
9. Mini Golf
Have some fun with the family playing a round or two of mini golf. You’ll find some creative scenes at the Southland’s mini-golf courses. Visit Haunted Trails Burbank, Tinley Junction or Hollywood Park for some fun.
10. Local festivals
The Chicago Southland has 800 festivals and events happening throughout the year. The summer season brings some exciting festivals like the Homer Community Festival in Homer Glen, Summer Fest in New Lenox, Freedom’s Eve in Calumet City and Taste of Orland Park.
11. Homewood Murals
If you’re a fan of public art, one place you definitely need to visit is Homewood so that you can view the many Richard Haas murals. The village has the largest collection of Haas murals anywhere in the world. The renowned painter has installed several large illusion murals on various buildings in Homewood, some dating back to the 1980s.
Ozinga Field is a wonderful place to make some family memories by attending a game of the Windy City Thunderbolts, a professional baseball team in the Frontier League. Check out their schedule for game dates and special promotions.
Downtown Lansing’s new venue, Fox Pointe, has a full schedule of entertainment this season for the Wednesday Concert Series. All concerts are free and start at 7 p.m. Among the bands that will perform are Unity, an award-wining reggae band, The Original Hazard County Band playing old school country favorites and Jimmy Buffet tunes and the Crawpuppies, a Northwest Indiana pop-rock band covering everything from the Beatles to U2 to the Gin Blossoms.
Grab a pole and head to one of the Chicago Southland’s fishing holes. One popular fishing spot is Wampum Lake, which is part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County and offers 4,800 feet of shoreline for those who want to drop a line in the water.
Throughout the Chicago Southland are several community pools and water parks where you can relax in a lazy river, zoom down a water slide or spend an afternoon lounging in the pool. Take a dip at places like White Water Canyon in Tinley Park, the Burbank Park District Water Park or Centennial Park Aquatic Center in Orland Park.
For those rainy summer days when you need to find something indoor to occupy the kids, plan a visit to the Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn. It’s a fun spot with lots of indoor play space to explore science, learn some history, climb in a treehouse, build something or use your imagination in a number of other ways.
The Chicago Southland has several businesses that specialize in ice cream, frozen yogurt and other treats to cool you down on a hot day. From the nostalgia of the Plush Horse or Gayety’s to the variety at Andy’s Frozen Custard, you can eat your way around the Southland in the sweetest way possible.
Throughout the Chicago Southland, you can view some blooming flower beds and well-manicured walk-through gardens in various nature centers and public places. Some even have art incorporated into the site, like at the Art Garden of Palos Heights and the Flossmoor Sculpture Gardens.
19. Take a bike ride
Several paved biked trails in the Chicago Southland provide an inviting route to get a glimpse of the area while getting some exercise. The Cal-Sag Trail, the Pennsey Greenway and the Burnham Greenway are a few trails to explore the Southland by bicycle.
20. Catch a parade
Everyone loves a parade. You’ll find a number of them this summer, especially around the Fourth of July and over Labor Day weekend. Mark your calendar for the Beecher 4th of July Parade, Flossmoor Children’s 4th of July Parade or the Woofstock Pet Parade.
21. Eat like a local
The Chicago area is especially known for one delicious food - pizza. Whether you’re a fan of the deep-dish variety or just love a traditional thin crust, tavern-cut pie, there’s no shortage of pizzerias and you’ll find them in every corner of the Southland. From the historic Aurelio’s Pizza that has been serving up pizza in Homewood for decades and has since spread throughout the country to sports pubs and family restaurants, you will definitely want to fit some slices into your itinerary.
On the grounds of Governors State University, you’ll find the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. The 100-acre site of rolling prairie has a collection of 29 outdoor sculptures, including pieces by di Suvero, Hunt and Puryear.
23. HITS Chicago
HITS Chicago - Balmoral Park is a one-of-a-kind attraction in the Southland that produces international level hunter/jumper horse shows. It’s a great family friendly activity and the only place in the Southland to see horses in an environment like this.
Hit the links! With over 600 holes of golf, you’ll find a course for any skill level. Among the 35 public golf courses, there are plenty of options, from Silver Lake Country Club to Coyote Run Golf Course to Ravisloe Country Club.
Shop for the best local produce at a variety of Farmers Markets in the Chicago Southland. Some include activities for kids, live music and artisan vendors as well. You’ll find markets this season in towns that include Oak Lawn, Crete, Evergreen Park and Homewood.