31 things to do before the summer ends in Chicagoland and Beyond

Can you believe it’s August already? Where has the summer gone? If you’re like me and are trying to squeeze in all the fun before the summer ends, then here are 31 things you MUST DO. So what are you waiting for? Get out, have fun, and enjoy the rest of the summer!

    1. Hang out at Santa’s Village to celebrate 60 years! They’ve even added a few new rides and this month they’ll unveil their splash pad. 
    2. Get your phones out and enjoy the sunflower maze at Von Bergen’s Country Market. Hurry! It will be open for sure until this weekend, but unsure after that.
    3. One of my favorite libraries in the area, Gail Borden Library, has a fun exhibit between the rivalry of Cubs and White Sox through August 13. You’ll also want to welcome the newest location of Craft Donuts + Coffee. (Mid to late August)
    4. Kids can eat free on Thursdays at Legit Dogs and Ice. Plus video games + unicorn buns = super fun.
    5. Go through a Brick Safari at Brookfield Zoo. Psst…Kids ages 11 and under are free from August 5 to August 7. 
    6. Find all the LEGO creations at Morton Arboretum. Don’t forget to check out the trolls while they are still here.
    7. Check out the new elephant exhibit at Milwaukee County Zoo. Visit on August 9 as the zoo celebrates World Elephant Day with fun activities, elephant tattoos, a chance to see the elephant care center, and more!
    8. Be a beach bum at any one of the beaches – Main Beach, West Beach, or Three Oaks Recreation Area (Review here) in Crystal Lake and Lake Arlington offer sandy fun on a sunny (or not so sunny) day!
    9. Watch horses gallop and speed through. Enjoy the last few Sundays when it’s family fun days at Arlington Park National Racecourse
    10. Get on your bike! Explore your neighborhood or go on a new trail. Option include the Fox River Bike Trail with many of the family-friendly stops like Van’s Ice Cream and Dairy Queen. The Prairie Trail in McHenry County is also a fantastic option. It would be a great way to test out one of the new bikes from their latest bike sharing initiative with Zagster. 
    11. Catch a flick for cheap with the kids. Marcus Cinemas and Regal Cinemas have kids movies this summer. 
    12. Feed ducks, pet sheep, emus, and alpacas at Randall Oaks Barnyard Zoo. The Zoo is open late until 8 p.m. on Saturday nights. Psst. Don’t forget to check out their updated playground and I’ve heard through the grapevine that the updated “secret zoo” should open this month.
    13. Let the kids enjoy the sun and have fun in a new park. Some of our favorites include Deicke Park (Huntley) and Veteran Acres Park (Crystal Lake)
    14. Batter up! Cheer on the Schaumburg Boomers at a minor league baseball game. For even more fun visit during their Sunday Family Fun Day or their many themed nights. 
    15. Check out the new splashpad and playground at Kaper Park in Cary.
    16. Have fun at a children’s museum. A day out at the Discovery Center in Rockford is always fun, especially when you can enjoy the outdoor science park. The Kohl Children’s Museum has a new Nature Cat exhibit that you won’t want to miss!
    17. Cool off at the waterpark! Options include Raging Waves Waterpark or how about a day at the new Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee which now offers day passes.
    18. See a luau. Wednesdays are Luau Wednesdays at Broken Oar that includes an amazing show with fire!
    19. Watch butterflies fly all around you at Crystal Lake Butterfly House at the Crystal Lake Nature Center. Have you ever visited a bog? Learn all about it at the Volo Bog nature center then walk through yourself. While you’re there head to their unstructured nature play space. 
    20. Get out and explore nature! A hike is the perfect way to get reacquainted with nature. Venture out to Starved Rock State Park or Matthiessen State Park for a wonderful experience.
    21. Catch a flick at the last remaining drive-in in the area. The McHenry Outdoor Theater has been opened since 1955. Read about our experience here. 
    22. Beat the crowds and go apple picking. Read our review of Royal Oak Farm. (Harvard)
    23. Enjoy fun activities like a corn maze, 50′ tube slide, carousel, jumping pillows and more at Richardson Adventure Farm. Read about our experience here. (Spring Grove)
    24. Take a selfie with the bison at the wildly popular new nature playground at Bison’s Bluff. Review here. (Schaumburg)
    25. Rainy day? No worries, take the kids to a new play place. Fun options include Kids Art & Cafe, Kinderland, Bumblebee Cafe, or Ball Factory.  
    26. Find a new ice cream joint! Nothing says summer like ice cream! Try the Milk House Ice Cream for homemade ice cream , Manny’s Gelato, or the unique rolled ice cream at Fanny’s Thai Rolled Ice CreamMain Street Ice Cream Station in Hebron has an old school ice cream parlor feel with restored vintage ferris wheel seats. For amazing custard using fresh ingredients Julie Ann’s Custard can’t be beat!
    27. Take a day trip to Madison, Wisconsin for family fun including their children’s museum, free zoo and beach! Read my Chicago Parent article for details.
    28. Enjoy nature and read a story on the way. The new StoryWalk at Hamilton Reservoir sounds fun! (Palatine)
    29. Cheer on The Chicago Dogs while having a hot dog. Save money with a Friends and Family Four Pack (four tickets, four commemorative hats and a voucher for a large pizza.) starting at $36. Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 10 and Saturday, August 31.  Don’t miss Family Sundays with $3 bottomless popcorn and fountain drinks. 
    30. Take it back to 1899 and visit the town of Bristol at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Don’t forget your turkey leg and mead! Here are tips to enjoy with kids.
    31. Make memories in the mud. Sign up for Muckfest, a family-fun 5K full of mud and obstacles!

What’s on your end-of-summer bucket list? Looking for more ideas? Here’s more than 100 things to do in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.