It’s official – it’s summer! I’ve already put together the extensive list of more than 100 things to do in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, but I wanted to make a smaller list for my family. Since we already have tons planned over the summer, I made by life a little easier by writing out our bucket list. So here you have it — our official summer bucket list for exploring Chicago and beyond. I’ll be printing this and we’ll be crossing items off as we do it. 

Our summer bucket list with things to do in Chicago and beyond.

Here’s to a fun and exciting summer! 

  1. NEW PARKS –  We are hitting up at least one new park a week.  
  2. SPLASH PAD – When the temperatures are scorching, we’ll be exploring new splash pads. Splash pads include Woodscreek Park (Crystal Lake), Sunset Park (Lake in the HIlls), Veteran Acres (Crystal Lake), Huffman Park (West Dundee), Town Center Park (Gilberts), Paulus Park (Lake Zurich).
  3. CAMPING – Technically we’ll be staying in a cabin, so we’ll be glamping. We’re going to check out a KOA as well as one in Santa Claus, Indiana.
  4. NEW NATURE CENTERS – Nature Centers are such hidden gems! 
  5. SUMMER READING PROGRAM – Kids are always motivated to read during the summer when they’re able to earn prizes.
  6. FIREWORKS –  We’ve been to Eyes to the Skies in Lisle, but looking for other fireworks display.
  7. NEW FESTIVALS – There’s almost a festival every weekend. We’re trying to stay local and see what family-friendly fests pop up.
  8. DRIVE-IN THEATRE – The summer isn’t complete without a movie at the drive-in. Unfortunately, Cascade Theater is no longer around, but our area still has McHenry’s Drive-In.
  9. BASEBALL GAME – Did you know we have a new Chicagoland baseball team named the Chicago Hot Dogs? Can’t wait to check out a game in Rosemont.
  10. BEACH – We have three beaches around the area and we plan on hitting all of them this year. We’ve already gone to 2 out of the 3.
  11. $5 MOVIES AT MARCUS –  Tuesdays at Marcus is the place to be with their $5 ticket prices and free popcorn. You’ll need to sign up as a member which is FREE.
  12. FARMER’S MARKET – We totally adore Woodstock Farmer’s Market right on the Square. Time it right so you can enjoy a picnic lunch and storytime. Read about our visit here.
  13. SLIP N SLIDE – My son was given a slip n slide as a present years ago, and he always asks when we can use it. We’re going to make it happen this year.
  14. S’MORES – How can you have a summer without s’mores?
  15. STRAWBERRY PICKING – Can’t wait to try strawberry picking at Tom’s Farm Market or Stades. We went to Heider’s a few years back and also enjoyed that. **UPDATE: Had a great time picking at Stade’s Farm. Read about it here. 
  16. BLUEBERRY PICKING – I can’t wait to pick berries then freeze them. I’m hoping to go somewhere in Southwest Michigan.
  17. STORYTIME NOT AT THE LIBRARY – My local libraries offer fun storytimes outside the library. For instance an ice cream shop, Fresh Thyme, local pantry. So much fun!
  18. AIRPLANES + PANCAKES – I Since we live close to an airport, we’re always seeing planes flying overhead. It will be fun to actually see the airport and airplanes while having a yummy pancake breakfast. 
  19. MINI-GOLF – Our park district offers mini-golf. Thought it would be nice to give it a try. 
  20. BRISTOL RENAISSANCE FAIRE – Oh, one of our family’s favorite events of the summer. Blueberry mead, anyone?
  21. NEW ICE CREAM PLACES – Ice cream is always at the top of my list and I’m always trying to find new places to devour my favorite dessert. 
  22. ADLER PLANETARIUM – I scored a Groupon for a family membership. Excited to explore space and beyond. Plus, they are part of ASTC so my family and I will have free museum entry to tons of museums. Comes in handy since we are always traveling!
  23. BLOCKS TO BRICKS MUSEUM  – For any Lego or brick lover, the new museum at Woodfield should be fun and interesting.
  24. PINKALICIOUS SHOW – My daughter is an absolute Pinkalicious fan. I can’t wait to surprise her with the new show at the Marriott Theater.
  25. DINOSAURS & DINOSAURS AT THE ZOO – We can’t wait to meet Maximo at The Field Museum. Dinosaurs have also invaded Milwaukee County Zoo (love!) and we’ll be back to see them.
  26. ILLINOIS STATE BEACH PARK – Heard fantastic things about this low-key beach.
  27. LUAU – My ten year anniversary is approaching and I want to celebrate by bringing a little bit of Hawaii to Chicago. 
  28. SECRET WATERFALL – We need to find this secret waterfall in South Elgin!
  29. BISON’S BLUFF – We’ve been to this super fun park in the past right when it opened. Can’t wait to check it out again. 
  30. NEW LIBRARY – We love visiting libraries, as much as we love visiting parks. On our list is Indian Trails Library in Wheeling. Plus, they have a park next door.
  31. FOOD TRUCK – Who doesn’t love a good food truck? Food trucks can be found almost everywhere, but I’m pretty excited to see them at Seba Park this summer for Food Truck Wednesdays. 
  32. BOWLING – We love bowling and are excited to try King’s Dining & Entertainment in Rosemont. Punch Bowl & Social in Schaumburg also has free bowling from Mondays to Wednesdays, so we’re hoping to bowl then.
  33. GO FISHING – The kids have a grandfather who loves fishing, and they’ve been asking to go.
  34. GELATO – Manny’s Gelato in Huntley has been calling my name.
  35. NINJA COURSEThe new Meinecke Challenge Course in Schaumburg looks like tons of fun and perfect for my little ninjas.
  36. STORYWALK AT HAMILTON RESERVOIR – So excited to check out this new installment at Hamilton Reservoir where you can walk along a path and read a story along the way. Fun!
What’s on your Summer Bucket List? What would you add?
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