31 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago This July

31 Things to Do Around Chicago This July (Art Institute of Chicago Block Party)

Summer is in full swing, so make the most of it with these July events.


Opens June 30: “Heartbreak Hotel

This jukebox musical follows the story of Elvis Presley in the early years of his career as he and Sam Phillips create the music that will forever change their lives. Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, Chicago, 800-775-2000

July 3-22: “Waitress

Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, this production tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker with dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago, 800-775-2000

July 17-29: “The Color Purple

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this story is adapted for the stage by Tony-winner Marsha Norman, with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago, 800-775-2000

Closes Aug. 5: “The Roommate

Chicago Events in July: "The Roommate" at Steppenwolf
Pictured: (Standing) ensemble member Ora Jones (Robyn) and (sitting) ensemble member Sandra Marquez (Sharon) in Steppenwolf’s Chicago premiere production of “The Roommate” by Jen Silverman, directed by Phylicia Rashad in the Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Performances run through Aug. 5, 2018. Tickets are available at 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org. (Photo by Michael Brosilow.)

A comical roommate mismatch leads to a surprising and touching friendship in this new comedy about how early-life choices lead to midlife challenges — and unexpected rewards. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312-335- 1650


June 30 to July 1: Neil Young

Jam Productions presents a special two-night performance with Neil Young, the iconic singer-songwriter best known for songs like “Harvest Moon” and “Heart of Gold.” Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago, 312-341-2300

July 8: Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang

Chicago Area Events in July: Buddy Guy at Ravinia
Photo courtesy of Ravinia Festival.

Rock out to the blues tunes of Chicago legend Buddy Guy and singer-songwriter Jonny Lang. Ravinia, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, 847- 266-5000

July 13: Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour

After celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Kingdom Hearts video game series in major cities, this concert series will be back on the road for a second wave of world-wide performances. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago, 312-341-2300

July 15: Third Coast Percussion

Gallagher Way is hosting a series of free outdoor musical performances showcasing classical, jazz, and folk artists. This night features percussion music with Grammy Award-winning ensemble Third Coast Percussion. Gallagher Way, 3637 N. Clark St., Chicago 

July 20-22: Pitchfork Music Festival

Gear up for a jam-packed weekend with this music festival, which will be bringing more than 40 bands over the course of three days to Union Park. Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Closes Aug. 11: Lake Geneva’s Music by the Lake

From classic rock to orchestral works, this music series offers outdoor entertainment overlooking beautiful Geneva Lake. Bring your own picnic or purchase food at the College Inn. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin 

Closes Aug. 18: Grant Park Music Festival

Chicago events in July: Grant Park Music Festival
Photo by Norman Timonera.

This summer-long festival features an array of musical works, from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” to Broadway favorites and classic film scores. Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-742-7647


Saturdays: CGN River North Gallery Tours

Chicago Gallery News organizes these weekend tours, which are free and open to the public every Saturday at 10:45 a.m. Fabcakes, 411 N. Wells, Chicago

July 13 to Aug. 31: The Chicago Project VII

This bi-annual summer exhibition features the works of selected participants from this gallery’s online collection, including Barbara Diener, Jim Ferguson, and Samantha VanDeman. Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 W. Superior St., Chicago, 312-266-2350

Opens July 19: Lucas Foglia: Human Nature

From the untarnished abandon of so-called wild spaces to literal urban jungles, Lucas Foglia: Human Nature reflects on the human impact on the natural world. Columbia College Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-663-5554

July 20: 3rd Fridays | Open Studios

Join Bridgeport Art Center every third Friday of the month, when painters, sculptors, and photographers open up their studios with interactive demonstrations and special events. 1200 W. 35th St., Chicago, 773-843-9000


Closes Aug. 5: Endless Summer

Taking the title of the classic Bruce Brown surf movie from 1966, Endless Summer offers a snapshot of the iconic minimalism that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago

Closes Aug. 10: Amplified Chicago Blues

Immerse yourself in the Chicago blues scene of the 1960s through the work of Raeburn Flerlage, a photographer who captured the lifestyle and practices of the city’s rich music communities. Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-642-4600


July 6-8: West Fest

Featuring retailers, restaurants, artists, crafters, and more, this locally planned fest reflects the eclectic West Town community. Chicago Avenue between Damen Avenue and Wood Street, Chicago, 312-850-9390

July 11: Ragdale Ring Performance: Dark Matter Jazz

An evening of jazz will feature the Dark Matter String Band and music by renowned jazz percussionist Kahil El’Zabar. Ragdale, 1230 N. Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, 847-234-1063

July 11-15: Taste of Chicago

Chicago events in July: Taste of Chicago
Photo courtesy of City of Chicago.

This premier outdoor food festival showcases the diversity of Chicago’s dining community, along with live music and activities for the entire family. Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-616-0600

July 14-15: Southport Art Festival

More than 75 of the city’s most diverse artists who work in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, and photography, are highlighted in this festival. 3704 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, 847-926-4300

July 19: Green City Market Chef BBQ

More than 100 of Chicago’s top restaurants and beverage purveyors — including Frontera Grill, Bad Hunter, and Café Spiaggia — will offer tasting portions made with local, sustainable heirloom produce, heritage meats, and craft beverages sourced from Green City Market farmers at this epic midsummer soiree. Lincoln Park, 1817 N. Clark St., Chicago

July 20: Jon Lester’s NVRQT Goes Country

Join Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester and other players for a barbecue buffet and country fun benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF). Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed St., Chicago

July 21: The Art Institute of Chicago Block Party

Celebrate the impact of the museum’s globally acclaimed collection on American culture with a day of festivities for all ages. The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-443-3600

July 21-22: World Arts and Music Festival

A free, two-day event featuring art from an abundance of countries, family craft activities, international cuisine, and live music and dance performances. Dawes Park, 1700 Sheridan Road, Evanston, 847-448-4311

July 23: Blackbird at 20 Series with Sean Brock

James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock will join the Blackbird team for a multi-course meal celebrating the West Loop restaurant’s 20-year anniversary. Blackbird, 619 W. Randolph, Chicago, 312-715-0708

July 26-29: Refinery29: 29Rooms

This month marks the Chicago debut of Refinery29’s 29Rooms exhibition, a collection of 29 interactive spaces that showcases collaborations between global artists, visionaries, and meaningful causes. 1522 Hubbard St., Chicago

July 27: High School Arts Week Open House at Ragdale

Fifty students from 27 area high schools will read from their creative writing projects and exhibit their artwork in this grand finale at Ragdale. Ragdale, 1230 N. Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, 847-234-1063

July 29: Bloody Mary Fest

Fifteen Bloody Mary vendors will compete for Best Bloody Mary in the Midwest as festival-goers enjoy live music, food, and artisan vendors. Everts Park, 130 Highwood Ave., Highwood

Through Aug. 31: Adler Planetarium Summer Film Fest

The Adler Planetarium is showcasing six of the best full dome planetarium films from around the world this summer, with topics ranging from the birth of the universe to interstellar flight. Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, 312-922-7827

Make It Better is a proud media sponsor of this event:

July 15: Butler Challenge Cup

You’re going to want to bust out your summer finery for this one, Oak Brook Polo Club’s day of conservation, horses, and horsepower in partnership with the Ferrari Club of America and Continental AutoSports Ferrari. Guests will enjoy a parade of, yes, Ferraris, before the finals of the Butler Challenge Cup tournament as the Friends of Conservation hosts its annual fundraising event. Oak Brook Polo Club, 2606 York Road, Oak Brook

Nicole SchnitzlerNicole Schnitzler is a freelance writer who covers​ ​food, drink, ​travel, and ​lifestyle. When she is not planning her next adventure​​, she can be found​ ​commuting between bakeries, yoga classes,​ live music shows, and libraries ​in her hometown of ​​Chicago. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Nicole is also the founder of Doors Open Dishes, an initiative committed to keeping the doors open to the group homes and workshops of individuals with special needs by partnering with chefs and restaurants across the city. Follow her on Twitter (@Write_To_Eat) or on Instagram (@WriteToEat).




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