31 of the Best Things to Do This August in Chicago and the Suburbs

museum of illusions

As summer winds down, get out and explore all that Chicago and the suburbs have to offer. Here are 31 events, activities, museums and more that will allow you to do just that, and really savor August before the first leaf drops.

All Month

Grant Park Music Festival

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Don’t miss out on this Chicago tradition! Head to Millenium Park this month to enjoy music by The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. This year’s lineup will feature some favorites, including William Tell Overture, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and family-friendly tunes with Carnival of the Animals and Classic Broadway

Museum of Illusions Chicago

25 E. Washington St.

This museum offers more than 80 engaging exhibits that will teach you and your family about the human brain – all while challenging your mind. Highlights include The Vortex Tunnel, The Kaleidoscope Exhibit, and The Anti-Gravity Room.

Ravinia Festival

200 Ravinia Park Rd.

Train, Counting Crows, The Beach Boys, Laurie Berkner and more. This August, Ravinia will feature something for everyone in the family!

Concerts at Wrigley Field

1060 W. Addison St.

All your favorite artists are back! Catch Lady Gaga, Guns N’ Roses, Maroon 5, and more as they play at Wrigley Field this month. Read more about Wrigley’s upcoming concert lineup, and be sure to keep checking for updates regarding Covid-19.

Second City Performances

1616 N. Wells St.

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Head over to The Second City on Thursday through Saturday evenings or Sunday afternoons for a show guaranteed to make you belly laugh. Purchase your tickets to watch their skilled mainstage improvisers do their thing.

Aug. 2-8: “Global Wellness Week” at The Langham and Cordis Hotels

330 N. Wabash Ave.

The Chuan Spas at The Langham and Cordis hotels around the world will hold their first Global Wellness week from Aug. 2-8. Wellness activities vary depending on location, and in Chicago, include sunrise walks along the shore of Lake Michigan. Guests will also be able to partake in pilates, reiki lessons and a range of yoga events from sessions at sunset, to poolside or yin yoga.

Aug. 3: “Fotografiska” Opening Celebration

122 W. Monroe St.

This traveling photography exhibit, originally from the largest photography museum in the world, will feature multiple female photographers. On Aug. 3, attendees will have the opportunity to meet one of the female photographers and have an “artistic-forward” headshot taken by a local photographer. The Fotografiska exhibit will remain at The Kimpton Gray Hotel all throughout August.

Aug. 4: Highwood’s Wednesday Evening Gourmet Market Returns

130 Highwood Ave., Highwood

Kicking off the season on Aug. 4 with a special Margarita Night theme, Highwood’s weekly market will be back throughout the month. While exploring the market, guests are able to enjoy dinner and cocktails, catch up with friends, and listen to different live music acts each week.

Aug. 4-8: Northbrook Days Festival

1401 Shermer Rd., Northbrook

This annual festival includes rides, games, live music, food, beer & wine, and more. Proceeds will go to the Northbrook Civic Foundation, who uses the money to fund need-based college scholarships for students from Northbrook and grants for organizations that serve the community.

Aug. 5 and 12: Geneva Commons Summer Programming

1534 Commons Dr., Geneva

Head over to Geneva Commons to enjoy free sundown acoustic concerts and family movies. Artists include Jaik Willis and Isabella Maria, while movies include Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Toy Story.

Aug. 5 and 19: Botanic Gardens After Hours Buzz

1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe

Eat charcuterie and drink wine or beer while getting to talk to a garden scientist. This wonderful event takes place within the Gardens’ magical Native Plant Garden. Attendees must be 21 or older, and tickets can be purchased on their website.

Aug. 5 and 19: “Meet Me on the Mile” Celebrations and Concerts

On Thursday Aug. 5 and 19, enjoy free concerts on North Michigan Avenue from 5-7 pm. And, on Sunday Aug. 15, plan to spend your entire day exploring all that the Magnificent Mile has to offer: portions of North Michigan Avenue will be closed to traffic, so get ready for the opportunity to explore Chicago’s world-famous architecture, dining, and more.

Aug. 5: Evanston Thursday Night Market

Corner of Davis St., Orrington Ave. & Sherman Ave., Evanston

On Thursday Aug. 5, Evanston’s Fountain Square will transform into a market featuring local businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs. Stop by anytime 3-9 p.m. to support local makers and grab dinner at a downtown restaurant.

Aug. 5: Venteux All-Day $1 Oyster Deal

224 N. Michigan Ave.

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In honor of “National Oyster Day,” this French Brasserie is celebrating by offering a $1 oyster deal, beginning at 4 p.m. Guests can pair their oysters with one of Venteux’s signature craft cocktails or wines.

Aug. 6-7: Navy Pier’s Fourth Annual LatiNxt Music Festival

600 E. Grand Ave.

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This free, two-day music festival is a celebration of Latin arts. In addition to featuring Latinx artists like Los Rakas and Angelica Garcia, the festival will include the Mercadito Vendor Fair — produced by the Pilsen Community Market — showcasing small, Latinx-owned pop-up shops. Guests can stay later on Saturday for an exciting firework show, which will be synchronized to a Latin music soundtrack.

Aug. 8: Pilot Project Brewing’s First Annual Beer Fest

2140 N. Milwaukee Ave.

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This inaugural event will feature 12 of Pilot Project’s brewery start-ups, partners and collaborators. Guests will be able to sample their most popular beer, cider, and hard kombucha offerings. Purchase your tickets today on the event’s website.

Aug. 11: Free Day at the Museum of Science and Industry

5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.

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Explore “Marvel: Universe of Superheroes,” take flight in a modern 727 restored to its 1960s looks, or relive the glory of Michael Jordan and the ‘98 Chicago Bulls in the museum’s Giant Dome Theater.

Aug. 12: Tomato Festival at Saranello’s

601 N. Milwaukee Ave, Wheeling

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To celebrate his favorite fruit of the summer, Chef Mychael Bonner will be cooking up tomato-oriented specials beginning Aug. 12. Dishes include fried green tomatoes with burrata cheese, roasted tomato ravioli spinach pasta, and tomato & roasted garlic hand tossed pizza.

Aug. 14: Boxed Experience Exhibit at Roosevelt Collection Shops

150 W. Roosevelt Rd.

This interactive experience will really make guests think as they investigate — and eventually decide — the fate of a man being accused of a horrible crime. Each room of the exhibit reveals clues and evidence aimed to sway the guests’ beliefs. “Boxed Experience will be a one-of-a-kind way to dig deep into social issues and raise our collective consciousness in an interactive, fun way as a community.” The exhibit will open Aug. 14.

Aug. 14: Annual Bud Billiken Parade

45th and King Drive

Since 1929, this summer celebration has united African-Americans in Chicago through music, dance, food, and laughter. It serves to “celebrate African-American culture while connecting the community to resources that promote education and empowerment.” The parade begins at 10 a.m., and the festival will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Through Aug. 15: Fashion Outlets of Chicago Back to School Celebration

5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont

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Take advantage of these special savings and activities geared toward teachers and students. Shoppers who make a $5 donation to DonorsChoose, an education-based nonprofit organization, will also receive a Fashion Outlets Saving Pass, worth up to $800 in savings from participating retailers. 

Aug. 17: Andros Taverna’s Wine and Seafood Event

2542 N. Milwaukee Ave.

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From Aug. 17-25, experience the Greek Islands right in the heart of Logan Square at Anros Taverna’s food and wine spectacular. Wine Director Kristin Franceso’s special selection of Greek wines paired with top-quality seafood prepared by Chef Doug Psaltis will make for an unforgettable dining experience. Make your reservations today!

Aug. 18: Kinky Boots returns to the Paramount Theatre

23 E. Galena Blvd, Aurora

The legendary “Kinky Boots” will premiere at The Paramount Theatre in Aurora on Aug. 18. Purchase your tickets today on Paramount’s website.

Aug. 19-29: Music Theater Works Presents Mamma Mia!

North Shore Center For The Performing Arts In Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd.

Music Theater Works will present Mamma Mia! at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts In Skokie. This sunny and funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise, as a young woman’s search for her birth father results in three men from her mother’s past arriving to the island they last visited 20 years ago. Set to ABBA’s hits, the enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship creates an unforgettable show. Grab your tickets online.

Aug. 20-21: Grayslake Summer Days

30 N. Whitney St., Grayslake

Celebrating 125 (+1) years of Grayslake! Festivities include live music, jugglers, the Crystal Lake Strikers drumline, marching bands, classic cars, and more.

Aug. 20-22: Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash Festival

Douglas Park

Headliners include ASAP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert. Purchase your tickets today for this staple music festival, and stay tuned for updated information regarding Covid-19 health policies and restrictions.

Aug. 21-22: Reimagined Air and Water Show

Lake Michigan Lakefront

“City of Chicago presents the U.S. Navy Blue Angels” will feature a special, solo demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels along the lakefront. Flyovers will take place from Noon to 1 p.m. on both days.

Aug. 22: Andersonville Vintage Market

1500 W. Catalpa Ave., Chicago

Andersonville Chamber of Commerce’s first outdoor Andersonville Vintage Market will feature antiques, home décor, jewelry, clothing, and more. Participating vendors include Bryn Mawr Jewelry, RareJule Vintage, and Uncharted Books. Special treats will also be provided by Happy Lobster Truck and Downstate Donuts.

Aug. 23 and 26: Free Day at the Field Museum

1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.

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Be sure to check out this month’s featured exhibition, “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall.” Don’t miss other favorites like “Inside Ancient Egypt” and “Robert R. McCormick Halls of the Ancient Americas.”

Aug. 28: Off the Map — Season 23 Virtual Kickoff

2nd Story — one of Chicago’s longest-running storytelling collectives — will feature around 30 world premiere stories and storyteller debuts in their upcoming season of programming. This year’s programming is entitled Off the Map, and will feature Jared Bellot, Katie Hauser, and Karla Estela Rivera. Purchase your tickets for the kickoff event today.

Aug. 28-29: Port Clinton Art Festival

600 Central Ave., Highland Park

This annual Highland Park event features 250 of the country’s most celebrated artists, showcasing their photographs, paintings, jewelry, and more. Guests will also be able to enjoy tasty food and beverages from local vendors.

Aug. 29: Lyric Opera of Chicago

201 E. Randolph St.

Artists from The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center will perform a variety of fan-favorites. Head to the Pritzker Pavilion for this can’t-miss summer event that’s part of Chicago In Tune, a citywide festival celebrating Chicago’s legendary music community.

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Alexa Weinberg is a summer intern for the editorial staff at Better. She is currently working toward a Cognitive Science and Psychology degree at the University of Michigan with a minor in Writing. At school, she works to promote her love of writing through various organizations, including Project WriteOn and WOLV-TV. In her free time she enjoys running, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

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