Summer has officially arrived in Chicago and the city is alive and kicking.
It’s July and that can only mean one thing– summer is here! The end of June was tormented by thunderstorms and rain but July looks to be a different beast as the skies clear and temperatures rocket. Summer vibes are seeping in just as the city returns to its former glory.
After a year of restrictions, events and celebrations are taking place all over Chicago. From numerous live music events and unique interactive workshops to mouth-watering bottomless brunches and unmissable exhibitions, here are some of the best things to do this July in the Windy City.
The Lakefront, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, The Riverwalk, The 606, and all of Chicago’s adored spots are all open. Some reopened a while back, some have reopened in the last few weeks, but all are now accessible in some shape or form after a year of frustrating closures. Oiur first July recommendation is to step out and embrace Chicago being back at its best. Snap some photos, enjoying getting up close and personal to our great city’s more famed features maybe even join a tour or two.
Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours, Chicago Food & Culture Walking Tours and Chicago Street Art & Craft Beer Tours all offer great ways to go out and enjoy Chicago again, whether you’re a local or a visitor.
Off all the tours you can do this summer, a guided tour of the award-winning Legacy Project is a must. The tour celebrates LGBTQ contributions to world history and culture through a one-mile series of bronze biographical memorial markers which make up the world’s largest LGBTQ historic landmark: The Legacy Walk.
This fun and fascinating tour explores the lives and achievements of notable LGBTQ individuals such as international superstar Josephine Baker, British Mathematician Alan Turing, Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo, Civil Rights pioneer Bayard Rustin, and many, many more!
Step into a 5-story experience in the heart of Chicago. Your journey starts by walking through a 1950’s diner and invites you to explore Rhe Womanish Experience through different perspectives. Wind your way up the spiral staircase or float up on the escalator as you visit exhibits by globally known artists, statements about womanhood, and artistic explorations. Flirt with censorship in a juicy way and follow paper planes to a holographic dimension. The Womanish Experience is like nothing you’ve seen before and another wonderfully unique thing to do here in Chicago this month.
On the topic of street art, with Chicago’s wonderful array of murals it is not difficult to immerse yourself in the art scene here but have you ever tried giving a mural a go yourself? Now with these incredible Spray ‘n’ Sip parties you can unleash your inner artist on a mural with your favorite drink in one hand and a spray can in the other.
BYOB Urban Art Workshops are taking place weekly within Studio W.I.P. at The Chicago Kedzie Plaza while Interactive Rooftop Urban Art Parties take it up a notch with live DJs playing while you paint at Bourbon On Division in Wicker Park. At both of these terrific experiences, there’s no pressure, no presumptions, just creativity flowing in all forms and trained professional artists on hand to teach you the tricks of the trade.
Nothing quite hits the spot like a brunch, even more so when bottomless drinks are involved. Whether you’re in need of an instant mood boost, searching for a group weekend activity, fighting off the Sunday scaries, or looking to cure a hangover from the night before, brunch is the solution to all problems.
You can bet your bottom dollar the Bottomless Bubbles Brunch & Live DJ at Hubbard Inn will kickstart your day and please all those participating. Get your friends together and unwind after a long week of work with Tulum-inspired vibes, a live DJ, and bottomless mimosas, champagne or rosé, all within the gorgeous patio area of Hubbard Inn.
If Live DJs aren’t your weekend vibe, you can read our extensive list of the Top 20 Best Breakfast & Brunch Spots In Chicago for more ideas.
Of all the performances taking place around the city, few things can better the spectacle provided by a sublime Candlelight Concert. Flickering candles and melodic sounds combine phenomenally to create magnetic atmospheres and some of Chicago’s most unique indoor and outdoor venues are now hosting concerts that include:
- Candlelight Open-Air: Favorite Anime Themes at Artifact Events Courtyard
- Candlelight Open Air: Miles Davis Classic Quintet at The Hidden Courtyard at Salvage One
- Candlelight Indoor: Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield & More at Epiphany Center for the Arts
- Candlelight Indoor: Magical Movie Soundtracks at Stan Mansion
- Candlelight Indoor: Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong at Stan Mansion
These mesmerizing concerts are not to be missed this summer.
While classical and jazz concerts can be enjoyed all year long R&B fans will be happy to hear that on July 23rd Sundress and Sandals Concert ft. Isley Brothers, Carl Thomas, and more will be taking over Cross Pointe Park.
Hosted by Bionce Foxx, enjoy live music from Grammy award-winning artists, including The Isley Brothers with Carl Thomas, Kindred Family Soul, Chantay Savage, and special guests Sandy Redd, Nathan Palmer, and Uneqka. Grab a drink from the bar and sing along to your favorite songs. R&B lovers, don’t miss out! You can get your tickets here.
With all the events taking place as our thriving metropolis moves into summer temperatures at some point you’re going to need a bit of downtime. If you’re looking for a little breather and an escape from our urban jungle but you don’t want to leave for a long time, Sourced Adventures has the answer.
River Tubing & Brewery Day Trips on the Tippecanoe River offer the perfect daybreak and calm away from the city clamor. After getting picked up from central Chicago you’ll be whisked away to a stunning section of the 182-mile-long Tippecanoe River. There you’ll pick up your included tube rental, pack cooler floats with your chosen beverages, and blissfully bob your worries away.
If the aquatic life tickles your fancy, you’re invited to take a plunge beneath the waves, leaving the city streets in your wake, and enter a submersive theatrical Little Mermaid cocktail experience this summer. We’ve had our eyes on this unique experience for months and now it has finally made a splash in Chicago. Three bespoke nautical cocktails await you at everyLittle Mermaid cocktail extravaganza but secure a spot soon as tickets are selling out fast!
Another experience offering an evening unlike any other you’ve had before is the Dinining in the Dark with The Secret Society. Taking place several days a week through July this confidential culinary experience is far from the mundane dining experience you’re used to. Eminent psychologists have been advocating dining in the dark as the ultimate gastronomic experience for years. At this Dinining in the Dark with The Secret Society a fusion of exceptional dishes and eerie enigma offer a night you won’t forget.
If Dining in the Dark with the Secret Society is the pinnacle of gastronomic experiences, Brews n ‘Baahhs’ is the pinnacle of wholesome afternoons. We’ve been through a lot the past year and if there’s one way to relax and let your mind unwind it’s with a pasture full of adorable billy kids followed up by a selection of craft beer.
Brews n ‘Baahhs’ invites you to escape to the idyllic setting of GlennArt Farm for an hour hanging out with their playful and adorable goats before doubling down on those warm fuzzy feelings with a flight of craft beers on the rooftop of One Lake Brewing. This could just be the GOAT when it comes to relaxing experiences so get your tickets now.
In addition to the Brews n ‘Baahhs’: Goat Visit + Craft Beer Tasting Experience there are now the BYOBaaaah: Goat Walks & Goat Cuddles and Bahmaste: BYOB Goat Yoga.
Buckle up and prepare for a “Joy” ride at Chicago’s very own Joy District in River North! Join the cast of world-class acrobats every weekend for a sexy and sensual burlesque circus-style cabaret and dinner show! “AirOtic Soirée” has taken over South Florida, and now is on its way to the Windy City!
Prepare for a night of immersive entertainment, sharing a story of love, passion, sexuality and eroticism! Extravagant costumes, seductive choreography, Adonis physiques, unbelievable stunts, and circus artistry are sure to leave you on the edge of your seat begging for more! But wait there is more…after the performance enjoy decadent cocktails and meet the performers from the show! Don’t miss out on what is guaranteed to be a night to remember by grabbing tickets here.
There’s more than one cabaret experience in Chicago this summer. A lot less sensual than the AirOtic show, if you head down to West Loop’s Grand Cabaret After Dark this month you’ll find a vintage evening of cabaret, jazz, and magic in Chicago’s newest speakeasy. Featuring live jazz music of classics and contemporary songs by the E-Line Organ Trio, and some mysterious magic by Mr. Jim Bergstrom! A delectable dinner and BYOB drinks rules ensure an all-round night of mystery and marvel.
The acclaimed portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama left The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in D.C. for the first time last month and have arrived in Chicago for the first stop of their national five-city tour.
Kehinde Wiley painted the oil-on-canvas portrait of President Obama, while Amy Sherald painted the oil-on-linen portrait of the former First Lady. They made history when they were unveiled in February of 2018 as the first presidential portraits painted by black artists and have been met with immense acclaim ever since. This tour is part of the Portrait Gallery’s four-year initiative to share its collection with people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit D.C. They went on display at the Art Institute of Chicago on June 18 and will stay there until August 15. Read the full article here.
Another fantastic exhibition can currently be found in Oak Brook. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibit showcases the awe and wonder of arguably one of mankind’s greatest artistic achievements.
Imagine having the chance to stop and admire the stunning frescos the famous Italian artist painted across the historical Sistine Chapel from an up-close, life-sized, and never-before-seen perspective right here in Chicago, without the price point of a flight to Italy. That’s exactly what you can do now at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibit.
When it comes to the most important and influential painters in history Frida Kahlo will always be one of the first names that come to mind. In many ways, however, without an insight into her character, her mentality, and her significant experiences, a viewer is only scratching the surface. Images of Frida Kahlo’s most iconic creations can be found online, but simply viewing them through a screen has never been more than a shrouded, one-dimensional glimpse at her world. Luckily for residents of Chicagoland, a mesmerizing new exhibition of the Mexican painter’s life has now taken over the Cleve Carney Museum of Art in Glen Ellyn.
Running through summer until September 6, 2021, Frida Kahlo: Timeless offers a presentation of the life and works of Frida Kahlo. Featuring 26 original pieces within an expansive and immersive historical exhibit, it is the largest exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s work to come to the Chicago area in over 40 years. Grab your tickets here.
Chicago is certainly no far friend from nature. Morton Arboretum is just one of many places where you can get back in touch with Mother Nature. The Lakefront, lush parks, and incredible hiking trails offer great natural experiences but Chicago also has numerous secret gardens hidden across the city. Read our full article on 10 of the best spots around the city to stop and smell the roses here.
Level up on your verdant adventure by booking yourself in for a mystery picnic. This self-guided food adventure is the perfect way to explore Chicago’s best neighborhoods and avoid the crowds! Starting with a picnic basket, have fun solving personally curated clues and riddles sent to your smartphone that’ll take you on a journey to collect your special gourmet picnic food bit by bit.
Each clue you solve will lead you closer to your next picnic food pickup and even closer to your final stunning secret picnic spot. You can expect a 3-4 hour all-inclusive stress-free date with this fantastic picnic experience. Grab tickets and select the date here and everything will be planned for you.
If you’re prepared to head outside of the city and into the wilderness we’ve chosen the 7 most amazing natural spectacles in Illinois. Although our state may not boast wonders with the universal magnitude of the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park, Illinois is teeming with diverse ecological landscapes and natural spectacles that will take your breath away. Here are 7 natural wonders of Illinois that you can visit while international travel is still off the cards.
- Garden Of The Gods: Saline County
- Cave-In-Rock: Hardin County
- Wildcat Canyon In Starved Rock State Park: La Salle County
- Cache River State Natural Area: Johnson County
- The Pomona Natural Bridge: Jackson County
- Cascade Falls In Matthiessen State Park: La Salle County
- Bork Falls In Ferne Clyffe State Park: Johnson County
Art on the MART returned in April and fired up all 34 digital projectors for a Spring 2021 Program in collaboration with Adler Planetarium. On July 4 that program switched to its summer schedule which will bring brand-new projections to the 25-story-tall face of the Merchandise Mart. The 30-minute shows will run nightly all through summer. You can read the full article here.
Chicago Loop Alliance this year announced plans for a weekly summer street festival that will see State Street from Lake to Madison closed off on Sundays from July 11. Called ‘Sundays on State’, the event hopes to revive the Loop’s economy and will feature a wide range of attractions.
According to the official event page, Sundays on State invites people to “come together with neighbors from every Chicago community and beyond for this free, interactive block party, while safely enjoying art, culture, active recreation, retail, bars, restaurants, and local attractions.”
Sundays on State will take place July 11, 18, and 25, Aug. 8, 22, and 29, and Sept. 5 and 12 with closures from 7 am – 11 pm and the event itself running from 11 am – 8 pm.You can read the full article here.
A truly unique evening can be had combining kayaking with the Art on the MART projections. The Riverwalk and Lakefront locations opened for their spring and summer seasons at the beginning of May and Monroe Harbour kayaking and paddleboarding experiences are now officially open too. Whether you’re down by Chicago Riverwalk flanked either side by the city’s famous highrise architecture or taking in the skyline from the protected waters of Monroe Harbour, kayaking in Chicago is a truly unforgettable activity.
With the sun beginning to shine, there is no better time to head up to 360 Chicago and take in the unparalleled views of our sensational skyline. You can now savor a half bottle of bubbly as you take in the spectacular views of the city the John Hancock Observatory 1,000 feet (304 meters) above the Magnificent Mile. Upgrade to the TILT option to access the brand new attraction of outward tilting glass 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile. Time it right and you might even be able to catch a firework show in May!Admission for 2 with a bottle of prosecco starts at $70.
If vertigo-inducing experiences are your thing, high up Sears Tower, more formally known as the Willis Tower, a glass ledge breaches the building’s dimensions and stands 4ft outside of the walls of the 103rd floor. Looking down you’ll see a 1,353 ft drop staring back up at you as you sit in a tiny glass box protruding outside of what was once the world’s tallest building.
After undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation the iconic experience has now reopened boasting even more reason to head up to the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. The 45,000-square-foot space is now, according to the Skydeck general manager Randy Stancik, “part Chicago museum, part selfie museum, part architectural river tour, and part children’s museum.” Acting as the entrance to the Skydeck, an interactive museum featuring lighting, sounds, and visuals now offers a journey through Chicago’s history on the level below the observation deck.
For real thrill-seekers, you might be interested in taking it a step further and testing your skydiving skills in one of Chicago’s state-of-the-art indoor skydiving centers. With an iFly Indoor Skydiving Center in Lincoln Park and another iFly Indoor Skydiving Center in Rosemont, there are two conveniently located cutting-edge centers to choose from. Kids and adults can both experience the same sensation you’d get 12,000 feet up in the sky and if you feel you have what it takes, you can test your vertigo above Chicago’s iconic skyline at Skydive Chicago, one of the world’s largest skydiving resorts
Back down at a non-nauseating height another fantastic activity for thrill-seekers in Chicago can be found down at Kanya Lounge’s exclusive 2-story adult playground. Five Axe Throwing Lanes allow you to test your inner lumberjack and blow off some steam while a Rage Room Experience offers 3 unique custom-made rage rooms providing the ultimate stress reliever after the torrid months we’ve had. Either way, signature cocktails and bucket of beers can be enjoyed in the bar and lounge area while you’re at it.
If it’s E-Sports rather than extreme sports that are more your type of activity you’ll find no place better than Midlane E-Sports in Logan Square. Chicago’s newest Esports venue provides both the group gratification of days gone by and the luxuries of modern technology. With high-end gaming computers, the latest consoles, tournaments, viewing parties, social gatherings, and a service bar it is the perfect gaming hideout for gamers of all genres. Drinks and Game Night at Midlane! tickets offer exclusive gaming sessions with specialty-themed cocktails for just $22.
On the topic of new venues, The Sanctuary is a brand-new arts and entertainment venue located on the artsy edge of the West Loop. The quaint, romantic 1885 Landmark features vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, vintage chandeliers, and a built-in stage. Complemented by a private Niche Bar and Lounge The Sanctuary offers an idyllic place to unwind after work with live music and drinks deals. Tickets with drinks for 2 start at $75.
Of all the live music taking place in Chicago, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to jazz. There are so many wonderful places to see live jazz in its rawest form here in Chicago. Le Piano, however, offers one of the most intimate and romantic experiences.
In the middle of Le Piano sits a magnificent grand piano where some of Chicago’s most talented pianists and jazz performers come to play. Here you will find a mind-blowing musical experience merging dinner, drinks, and intimate performances. Exclusive packages offer deals such as Immersive Live Jazz & Dinner for Two or Immersive Live Jazz & Cocktails. Dine and drink as live music softly resonate around you in this cozy, romantic, and magical venue.
While many of us have missed live music, adventure activities, and everything in between this past year, I think we can all admit it feels amazing to be able to watch new flicks at the movie theaters once again. We’ve been so resigned to binge-watching at home that cinematic experiences on enormous screens are now even more exhilarating than ever before. Whether it’s a rainy afternoon, a special date night, or a family outing, the movies are always a good time, and boy have we missed them. You can buy tickets to all the best comedies, action flicks, and everything in between showing at AMC movie theaters here.
An outdoor fitness and wellness festival is coming to Chicago’s lakefront next month for a feel-good summer Saturday comprising all the elements of a healthy lifestyle. STRENGTH IN THE CITY Festival will take place on Saturday, 28 August on The Lakefront Green at Theater on the Lake. Numerous fitness and wellness classes will be kicking off at 8 am offering guests the chance to exercise whilst taking in Chicago’s sensational skyline.
Chicago’s best local trainers and fitness gurus will be putting you through your paces in the morning before a farmers market teeming with fresh fruits, vegetables, and more allow attendees to peruse locally sourced produce. As the day unravels wellness vendors, field games, and local DJs ensure the revelry rolls on until live music performances grace three different stages.
Food and beverages can be purchased at the farmers market whilst activities and classes for kids make it an all-round fun-filled family-friendly event.
Recess’s gigantic patio in West Loop features over 14,500 square feet of bars, food stands, and cabanas housed in shipping containers across the grounds with space aplenty on which to kick back and relax. Already holding the title of Chicago’s largest patio, a revamp has now boosted the multi-level outdoor space by installing seating into many of the shipping containers and cutting “windows” into the sides to offer covered seating with amazing views. There are few better places to grab a drink this summer!
With Chicago fully reopen the last step towards normalcy is international travel. Borders have started to reopen offering the chance to travel to amazing destinations all over the world this summer! Start looking into where to go and look forward to seeing the world once again!
With Chicago returning back to normal and the events of the last year teaching us to never take life for granted, it’s not a month to hold back. While we wait for international travel to return to the smooth process it once was, we should check off those bucket-list experiences close to home. As well as embracing the city’s most adored spots once again this summer is a summer to fill with memorable once-in-a-lifetime type experiences. We don’t just mean bungee jumping, swimming with dolphins, and the usual bucket list experiences, but all manner of memorable activities in Chicago for both locals and tourists alike. Many of them have been mentioned above, but you can check our condensed and refinedChicago bucket list here.
[Featured image from Instagram / @pablo_saenz_]