Things to Do in Chicago in Summer 2017 – Attractions, Activities & More

Chicago is the perfect city in the summer time. Hot sunny days, tempered by a nice lake breeze. Attractions with just the right balance of fun, education, and excitement.

Bike rides, Ferris wheels, ice cream cones, maybe even a cruise. And of course, an unbeatable lineup of delightful summer events for 2017!

If you’re planning a visit and looking for things to do in Chicago in the summer 2017, check out our list of the top attractions and activities going on this year, including…

  • Grant Park Music Festival
  • Ride the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier
  • Architecture River Cruise
  • Explore Top-Notch Museums
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • and more…
  • Heading to the area to celebrate Independence Day? Then check out our post on things to do in Chicago 4th of July Weekend.
  • Going to be hanging in Chicago at the end of summer? Here are a few fun things to do in Chicago Labor Day Weekend.
  • Save on Summertime Activities
  • Regular admission to a number of these attractions are available on the Go Chicago Card.
  • Choose as you go from popular attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
  • Check out all Chicago tourist passes, attractions and prices.
  • Please note, some of these special Summer events may be separately ticketed and not available on the Go Chicago Card.


Shedd Aquarium & Museum Campus

It may seem counterintuitive to seek to spend time indoors just as the weather’s getting nice, but trust me, it’s worth your time to pop into this top-tier Chicago aquarium for a few hours to explore the magical and wondrous creatures that inhabit their exhibits.

A popular place to start is with a special, temporary exhibit called Amphibians (ticketed separately) that features more than 40 species of frogs, salamanders and more. Don’t forget about their classic touch tanks and popular Abbott Oceanarium.

Located right nearby and a part of Chicago’s Museum Campus is the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium. All of these stops should find their way onto your vacation itinerary.

Don’t miss the special exhibit at the Field Museum this summer — Jurassic World: The Exhibition. Blending real science with the entertainment factor of the film, this exhibit has come to bring dinosaur delights to all Chicagoans. Get a special price on tickets to this special exhibit with your Go Chicago Card!


The Art Institute of Chicago

This world-renowned art museum is a must-see for any arts and culture lover this summer.

While it offers exceptional programming year round, summer is a great time to take advantage of the family events calendar, which features special workshops and family gallery tours.

Home to some of the highest-quality works of art on Earth and its collection represents diverse artistic traditions from all over the world, from the famous Chagall windows to iconic paintings like “American Gothic” and “Paris Street, Rainy Day,” you’ll find so many instantly recognizable pieces and artifacts in this marvelous museum.

Don’t forget to check out their impressive and ever-changing array of special exhibits, including several on architecture and design, Spanish painting, medieval art, and more.


Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Another one for the aspiring artists and lovers of all things beautiful and inspiring.

This cutting-edge contemporary art museum features striking and often thought-provoking pieces of art from current and modern artists from around the globe.

They, too, have frequent special exhibits; check out their website to see what’s currently on!


Navy Pier

This family-favorite attraction is actually one of Chicago’s most visited places in the entire city, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t been before.

Stroll the pier and soak up the atmosphere for free, ride the Navy Pier rides, (like the newly renovated Centennial Wheel), play a round of mini golf at ‘The Links’, or explore the Chicago Children’s Museum.

For those looking for the ultimate dining and shopping experience, this is definitely the place for you. With over 30 shops and plenty of restaurants including the famous Landshark Beer Garden, there is something for everyone at Navy Pier.

Check out their spectacular fireworks display that is going on all summer long. The fireworks display can be seen every Wednesday night at 9:30 and Saturdays at 10:15 beginning in late May and continuing through early September, with a special display for July 4th.


Architecture River Cruise

If you’re looking for a refreshing thing to do in Chicago in the summer, we highly recommend the Architecture River Cruise.

The tour provides an exciting journey through the history of Chicago, featuring architectural sites that attribute to the tales.

Along the Chicago River, you’ll hear the dramatic story of Chicago’s rise from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871 to become the home of the skyscraper. You’ll learn about the many world-famous architects who built this skyline from the ground up.


Rent a Bike

What better way to enjoy the sights and the sun at the same time than with a Chicago bicycle tour?

Bike and Roll Chicago offers no-hassle bike rentals to help you create your own eco-friendly tour of Chicago’s streets and green spaces. Ride north to Lincoln Park, with the Zoo and Chicago History Museum, or south to Grant Park and the Museum Campus.

Stick to the lakefront to discover beaches, gardens, and lagoons, or head into the streets to see some of the city’s most luxurious homes, cobblestone sidewalks, and beautiful parks.

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