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18 Plans For Your End Of Summer Bucket List

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Aug 14, 2015 5:26PM

We're officially in those post-Lollapalooza dog days of August, which means just one thing: bad weather is (probably) right around the corner. But before the seasons turn again, we've rounded up a bucket-list of all those Only In Chicago summer activities set to expire come October, if not earlier.

1) Catch the Navy Pier Fireworks—The fireworks are lit every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10:15 p.m. through Sept. 5. Sure, it's cliche. But is there anything better than heading to a nearby park, grabbing a bottle of wine and watching fireworks over the lake on a warm summer night? We'd say not.

2) Take in a free Concert at Millennium Park—At the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Chicago's finest artists perform for you, for free. The next show is "Broadway in Chicago" at 6:15 on Monday, Aug. 17, and the free shows last through Sept. 18.

3) Watch the Air and Water Show—Yes, it will be crowded, but spending a day on the beach watching the Blue Angels soar over Lake Michigan is always worth it. Show goes on Aug. 15 and 16, starting at 10 a.m.

4) Head to the LaBagh Woods —Did you know there's a full-blown forest preserve in North Park? It's an area so diverse that a Facebook group recently observed "157 bird species, 16 different mammals, two snake species, three turtle and frog species, more than 20 butterfly species and dozens of plants." Right here in the city, too.

5) Shop the outdoor Green City Market — Here's a few hints to keep yourself from going broke shopping here. Open May 2 through Oct. 31 at Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Wednesdays and Sundays from 7 am. through 1 p.m., and at 799 W. Fulton Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m..

6) Browse the Pilsen Art Walk — The second Friday of every month, the studios around South Halsted and 18th Street open their doors, allowing pedestrians to take in Pilsen's thriving art scene. The next art walk is open on Aug. 14 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

7) Don't miss the final street festivals —No summer is complete without eating and drinking at a block party, which takes place every weekend through Sept. 27. Click the link for a full schedule, but may we suggest the Festa Italiana this weekend at Taylor Street and Ashland? It promises "Longtime family-owned restaurants and neighborhood newcomers will offer some of the best food in the city."

Lincoln Park Zoo, photo by Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

8) Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo—Although it's open 365 days a year, it's always better when the sun is shining and the animals are venturing outside. It's in the middle of Lincoln Park, and there's plenty of baby animals to see.

9) Cheer at a Cubs or Sox Game —Eat entirely too much food and drink a beer while watching Chicago's ascending Cubs or descending White Sox in person. Last White Sox home game is Oct. 4 while the last Cubs home game is Sept. 28.

10) Snuggle up in front of a Movies on the Pier —If you don't want to head to your local public park, you can always make your way to Navy Pier, which is showing a free movie every Thursday through Sept. 10. They're showing the Goonies on Aug. 27 at 8 p.m., so we'll be there.

12) Listen to Jazz at the Shedd —Drink, explore the aquarium and listen to live jazz music, all for $18. It takes place every Wednesday through Sept. 9 starting at 5 p.m., so it also makes a wonderful venue to watch the Navy Pier fireworks.

Biking up the lakeshore path, photo by ancientlives

13) Take a boat down the Chicago River —It's touristy, sure, but there's no better way to enjoy the fresh air and see the city from a different angle than to cruise down the river on a guided tour. Tours run hourly from 9:30 to 9 p.m. through Oct. 18, then run only four times a day from Oct. 19 through Nov. 29.

14) Kayak along the Chicago River —Or, better yet, get into the water yourself and see parts of the Chicago River off the beaten path all $15 an hour, or $60 per day. Open weekends through October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays through Fridays through Labor Day from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

15) Go for a swim —Take a dip in one of the best pools in Chicago that we picked for you earlier this summer before they close for the season. Closing date varies by location, so check out the Chicago Park District's website before making the trip.

16) Tour the Wood Street Urban Farm —Open Wednesdays from May to October from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's the "first and only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago," and they accept reservations for free tours of the site.

17) Rent a stand-up paddleboard —The Chicago Paddle Company is open from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., and they will continue renting paddleboards well past Labor Day as long as the weather permits and customers show up. Last year they stayed open the entire month of September. $30 gets you one hour on the water on a paddleboard.

18) Eat and drink in the great outdoors—At the end of the day, your goal for maximizing your Summer should be to stay outside as long as possible. And with our handy list of outdoor bars, you can't go wrong.