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Soak Up the Sun: Things to Do with Babies and Toddlers During the Summer in Chicago

With Independence Day behind us and back-to-school looming somewhere in the not-so-distant future, from mid-July to mid-August we settle into the unstructured days of summer. We get to take a beat. A breath. A break. Of course, there is still work to be done, but the edges become a little softer as we squeeze in time to sip a cocktail on a patio and stay up just a little bit later.

It’s also my favorite time of the year to get out of the house and make the most of the fun family activities and events that Chicagoland has to offer. The city and surrounding areas are alive with everything from social media-worthy pop-up themes to nature preserves to beaches and berry picking.

Summer explorations don’t have to be extravagant or expensive. One of my favorite memories with Vivie was a simple city outing. We parked near the El and rode into town. She watched the boats float by on the River while I sipped a glass of vino at City Winery, and then we walked over to the face fountains. She thought all of this was magical.

To get you started on your own adventures, here is our list of our favorite summertime activities to do with babies, toddlers, and young kids around Chicagoland and the Midwest. Add your favorite places and spaces in the comments!


To Market, To Market

Date/Time: June - October, every two weeks on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month; 9am - 1pm

Neighborhood: Irving Park

Delight in the many, many farmers' markets around the city. The Independence Park Farmers Market is our pick because it’s located across from Le Village Learners, and we’ll have our booth set up there this summer! Stop by and see us!

Cool Kids on the Block

Day/time: July 22 from 3-5pm

Neighborhood: Park Ridge

Shoutout to Liz and our new location coming soon to a neighborhood nearby! The Goldfish Swim School parking lot will be transformed into a community event for kids with snacks, a water slide, a bounce house, and more! Local vendors will be there with awesome activities and giveaways. Le Village was a sponsor last year, and we had a great time.

Sip a Brew and a View! Le Village Brewers Hill Open House

Day/Time: July 23; 12-4pm

Neighborhood: Brewers Hill, Milwaukee

Le Village Brewers Hill is set to open on July 31. Get a sneak peek at the space as well as enjoy family-friendly food, drink, and activities. While in the neighborhood swing by Lakefront Brewery for a beverage, tour, or come back for Drag Queen Bingo?!

Get Up Close with Animals

Dates/Time: Daily 9:30am - 6pm

Neighborhood: Brookfield, IL

Shoutout to Abbey over at Le Village Route 66! The Brookfield Zoo is right down the street and a great place to experience the animals that we learn about up close. Le Village Learners is excited to be taking our first-ever field trip there! Take it to the next level by feeding a giraffe! This opportunity is offered daily through September 30, weather permitting.

Let’s Party!

Date/Time: August 24 from 4-6pm

Neighborhood: Irving Park

Salute the end of the summer and get ready to start the next school year with hot dogs, ice cream, and friendship! This is last opportunity for our graduating families to relish in the friendships they’ve made before heading off to new adventures! We hope to see all members, old and new–there with their families to see them off.


Throwback Hits

Dates/Time: August 11-13; 12-10pm (See website for exact schedule)

Neighborhood: Roscoe Village

Live music will play oldies and throwbacks along with popular hits to keep festival-goers moving through the hot summer nights! The family area offers prime inflatables, delectable crafts, balloon artists, face painting, music, rides, and more. $5 suggested donation.

Let’s Jam!

Dates/Time: July 20, August 3 & August 17; 7-9pm

Neighborhood: Albany Park

Check out these free, family-friendly outdoor concerts around Albany Park. Music, dance, and fun is guaranteed for the whole family! See the website for locations and more information.

Shop Small

Dates/Time: Thursdays; 3-7pm

Neighborhood: Lincoln Square

Stroll through a rotating crew of local artists and makers selling a variety of curated items.

Summer Concert Series

Dates/Time: Some Fridays at 7pm and Sundays at 2pm

Neighborhood: Ravenswood Manor

An easy, breezy concert lineup sure to chase the blues away!

Rent a Boat

Dates/Time: Ongoing

Neighborhood: Avondale

Cruise along the River with Chicago Electric Boat Company’s Avondale outpost. The company lets you drive your own boat and is BYOB, though you’re also free to book a tour guide if you prefer to sit back and sip a drink or two.

Take A Stroll

Date/Time: August 6; 1-4pm

Neighborhood: Irving Park

See some neighbors with spectacular gardens with a leisurely walk and scavenger hunt throughout Irving Park. Pick up a map at the Indepance Park Bungalow. Inside tip: Le Village may be there with a few seeds.


Party Like Barbie

Dates/time: Now - Sept 15

Neighborhood: West Loop

This summer pop-up venue channels 1970s Malibu Barbie vibes. It’s a 90-minute immersion experience with a prefix menu and plenty of Instagram-worthy photo ops. Advance tickets are required, and there’s an option for an adult and children’s menu. Ahh, Ahh, Ahh, Yeah!

Hit Hole in One with Buzz and Woody!

Dates/time: Now - July 23

Neighborhood: Navy Pier

Start ‘em young! Golfers get to hit 18 fun and interactive holes inspired by the stories, characters, and icons from some of Pixar's most beloved films including Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Coco, A Bug's Life, Wall-E, and Inside Out.

Support a Good Cause

August 10 - The ducks begin their race at 1:00 PM

Neighborhood: Downtown

Rubber ducky, you’re the winner! 75,000 ducks “race” down the River for the chance at winning prizes like a new car for their owner. Kids will love the visuals of all of the duckies swimming together. Adopt a duck for $5 each with proceeds benefiting the Special Olympics of Illinois.


Experience Nature

Dates/Time: 9am - 4pm daily

Neighborhood: North Park

Often described as a hidden gem, the North Park Village Nature Center features a 58+ acres of woodland, wetland, prairie, and savanna natural areas. Don’t miss Walking Stick Woods, a 12-acre woodland with trails and nodes designed for Nature Play.

Head to the Beach

Dates/Time: Memorial Day - Labor Day, 11am - 7pm daily

Neighborhood: Uptown

Gather your beach bag! This popular watering hole offers lots of activities and amenities including swimming with lifeguards on duty, kayak and volleyball rentals, and food concessions.

Splash in a Pool

Dates/Times: Daily / Check individual pool listing

Neighborhood: City-wide

Fun fact- Chicago Parks manages 50 outdoor pools located throughout the city. Many of these have splash pads and mini pools for our littles to enjoy. Use the pool finder to filter for your neighborhood and preferences.

Ride a Bike

Dates/time: 6am - 11pm, Daily

Neighborhood: Logan Square

The 606 was once an abandoned rail line but has been transformed into 2.7 miles of multi-use recreational trail and park space. Set above the city streets it’s a living work of art that connects people and communities.

Pick Your Own Produce

Day/time: Open daily 9am - 6pm, weather permitting

Neighborhood: McHenry, IL

July offers picking strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sunflowers, green beans, beets, kohlrabi, zucchini, and cucumbers! There will be tomatoes and sunflowers in late summer and pumpkins in the fall.

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