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5 Best Summer Activities In Chicago (That Aren’t Touristy And Overdone)

best summer activities in chicago
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Get going — it's summertime Chi!

Best summer activities in Chicago? Look no further. Summertime Chi is hard to beat. After months of hibernating inside away from the cold weather, Chicago residents tend to embark on a mass exodus outside once the temp hits a comfortable 65 degrees. (Heck, even 50 degrees feels warm for us!) And with higher temps come myriad fun summer activities that truly make the city on the lake — to quote Rihanna — shine bright like a diamond. 


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So if you’re looking to get away from the typical tourist destinations (walking the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, John Hancock: all great — just overpopulated!), look no further. Here’s a few summertime activities in Chicago that won’t be inundated by hordes of tourists. (Also: Some of them have air conditioning. You’re welcome.) So whether you’re enjoying the beautiful Second City on the lake, on the river, or simply on our own mean streets, you’ll soon find out why #Chi (the city, not the Kardashian) is truly #goals from June onward.

1. Well St. Market, 205 W. Wacker Drive

Wells St. Market is a go-to food hall and market offering an elevated, distinct dining option at the gateway of the Loop, neighboring the Riverwalk and Merchandise Mart. Located within a 10,500-square-foot space, the market features 10 impressive culinary and lifestyle vendors, including a full-service bar, set in a dynamic, open-air concept with floor-to-ceiling windows that fully open to the sidewalk in warmer months, as well as an outdoor walk-up window for quick stops. Wells St. Market is set to bring Chicagoans a dining concept that is both convenient and approachable for any kind of visit, sure to provide a satisfying experience for all.

More information here.

2. Reid Bar at River Roast, 315 N. LaSalle St.

Set right on the water, Reid Bar opened on June 1 in a space adjacent to River Roast restaurant in a rustic setting that honors the historic area of Chicago’s River North neighborhood that gained notoriety as the city's "Red light District" in the mid 1900's. The space is designed with the storied roots of Chicago in mind boasting vintage elements including leather stools and chairs, trunk side tables, and wool curtains for a rustic, speakeasy vibe. The libations are strong (try the Smokestack), the food is delectable (try the Griddled Double Cheesburger, though honestly you can’t go wrong with any selection), and they play AMC movies as background ambience: a sports bar, this is not.

More information here. 


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3. Chicago Helicopter Experience, 2420 S. Halsted

A truly unique Chicago vantage point for those who aren’t afraid of heights! The city of Chicago is best experienced by sky — where luxury helicopters will take you eye-level with Chicago’s vast lakefront and iconic skyscrapers. Think panoramic views of the Willis Tower, Soldier Field, Buckingham Fountain, and Wrigley Field. (Bonus: A pilot who doubles as a tour guide!) There’s also a night helicopter option for a more romantic experience: imagine millions of lights emanating from the city below you. Just in case you weren’t sure just how magically mesmerizing the Second City is from high above the skyline, this is confirmation.

More information here. 

4. The Happy Place, 1004 N. Elston

Seriously. You can’t be happier than at The Happy Place in Chicago. The world’s largest indoor confetti dome, 20-foot-tall double rainbow, 7-foot stilettos made of a million candies, oh my! Happy Place, an interactive pop-up exhibit with larger-than life installations and multi-sensory themed rooms, is on a mission to spread happiness to people around the world. Immersed in more than 20,000 square feet of happy vibes and positivity, guests will partake in delightful experiences such as capturing photos in the Super Bloom Room filled with 40,000 golden handmade flowers, standing in the middle of the world's largest indoor confetti dome surrounded by half a million pieces of confetti, jumping from a double rainbow into a pot of happiness, and posing inside Happy Place’s signature rubber ducky bathtub of fun! Don't miss out — after all, who doesn't want to be happy?

More information here. 

5. The Fly Honey Show

We're all about feminism and body positivity at Yourtango and The Fly Honey Show delivers just that. The cabaret show has been dazzling Chicago for nine seasons, and they do not seem to be slowing down having five weekends of performances in 2018. The show promises to be an event to remember centering around celebrating body images through a feminist lens. But it's not just for feminists — the show also promotes empowerment and acceptance and appeal to anyone! The explosive acts and killer rotating cast of featured artists alongside ensemble members are ready to dazzle all audiences with their raw talent. Creator/director Erin Kilmurray leads the show and is known as one of Chi-towns premiere performers. This uplifting and incredibly unique show is one you will not want to miss on your next visit to the Windy City. 

More information here. 


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Andrea Zimmerman is Yourtango's editor-at-large. She's based in Chicago. Follow her @angiecat86 on Instagram.

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