2017 Summer Go Guide, Part 2: The Best Chicago Events in July and August


Our 2017 Summer Go Guide continues with even more Chicago events, from festivals and concerts to museum exhibits and outdoor fun. So get going! Summer will (sadly) be over before we know it.

Mansions and Millionaires: The McCormickville Walking Tour

Saturdays, July 1 to Sept. 2
Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., Chicago

The Driehaus Museum will host this 90-minute walking tour around River North throughout the summer with historian Sally Sexton Kalmbach, who will share historical photos and stories.

Taste of Chicago

Chicago Events: Taste of Chicago
Photo courtesy of City of Chicago.

July 5-9
Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago

Dine on the best food Chicago has to offer — all in one place. Plus, this year’s live music lineup includes Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Alessia Cara, Café Tacvba, Passion Pit and The O’Jays.

Star Wars and More: The Music of John Williams

Chicago Events: Grant Park Music Festival
Photo by Christopher Neseman.

July 7-8
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago

The 2017 season of the Grant Park Music Festival began in June, but you won’t want to miss this concert featuring music from “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic Park” and more. So grab a blanket, pack some food and head out to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for an evening of classic movie soundtracks under the stars (and Chicago’s beautiful skyline).

Square Roots Festival

July 7-9
Lincoln Square (Lincoln Avenue, between Montrose and Wilson), Chicago

Live music? Check. Craft beer? Check. Food? Check. Family events? Check. This festival, presented by the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, has everything you’d want in a summer event.

Uncorked, Bottles & Barrels

July 13
Westfield Old Orchard, 4905 Old Orchard Center, Skokie

This wine and whiskey tasting at Westfield Old Orchard will feature food samples from Roka Akor, Shake Shack, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Blaze Pizza, acoustic music, entertainment and shopping. All proceeds from the silent auction, as well as donated proceeds, will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

2017 Winnetka-Northfield Sidewalk Sale

July 14-15
East Elm, West Elm and Hubbard Woods business districts

Find amazing deals and quality merchandise from local shops at this annual sidewalk sale. Plus, stop by the “Kidentrepreneur” section in Hubbard Woods Park to find items created by local kids.

Windy City Smokeout

Chicago Events: Windy City Smokeout
Photo by Jeff Marini.

July 14-16
Grand Avenue and the Chicago River, Chicago

Summer is all about barbecue and craft beer. Add in concerts by country music stars like Jake Owen, Lee Brice, Eli Young Band, Jana Kramer and Brandy Clark, and you’ve got yourself a great summer festival. Barbecue will be provided by 13 national restaurants, including Chicago’s Smoque BBQ, Lillie’s Q and Bub City.

Summer Farmers Market

July 15-16
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

No summer is complete without a trip to the farmers market (or Chicago Botanic Garden). Shop for produce, flowers, herbs and more from vendors like The Chunky Scones, Elsie Mae’s Cannery and Pies, Joe’s Blues Blueberries, Tabal Chocolate and Windy City Harvest.

Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution

Opens July 16
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie

Bill Graham is considered one of the greatest concert promoters ever, having launched the careers of The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding and The Who, as well as benefit concerts like Human Rights Now! and Live Aid. He was also a Holocaust refugee. Learn more about the life of Bill Graham and explore the music of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s with this exhibit, running through Nov. 12.

Barre Code in the Park

Wednesdays, July 19 to Aug. 23
MB Financial Park at Rosemont, 5501 Park Place, Rosemont

On Wednesday nights throughout the summer, The Barre Code Park Ridge will host free classes outside in Rosemont’s MB Financial Park. This workout includes cardio, strength training and restoration.

North Shore Taco Fest and Highwood Days

July 20-23
Highwood Metra Station/Everts Park, 111 North Ave., Highwood

Highwood is celebrating the 49th year of Highwood Days with carnival rides, live music, food, a beer and margarita garden, and the second-annual North Shore Taco Fest.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks: “Romeo and Juliet”

Chicago Events: Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Shakespeare in the Parks
Photo by Julie Stanton.

July 26 to Aug. 27
Various city parks

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is once again heading outside and touring neighborhood parks around the city. This year, the theater will present an abridged version of “Romeo and Juliet.” Best of all, it’s free! Visit the theater’s website to find the park closest to you.

Summer Wine Fest

July 28
Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting their first Summer Wine Fest this year. Tickets include 20 wine tastings, a conversation with horticulture experts and live music. Purchase a VIP Experience and enjoy exclusive wines, a private seating area, reserved bathrooms, food from Carnivale, The Chopping Block, Eataly and Tigerlily Events, and more.

Imagine U Block Party

Chicago Events: Imagine U Block Party at Northwestern
Photo courtesy of Northwestern University.

July 29
Outside Ethel M. Barber Theater at Northwestern

Northwestern’s Imagine U creates productions perfect for children, and for the second summer will be hosting a free block party for kids and their families. Enjoy activities, music, games and more. Oh, and come dressed up in your best fairy costume!

64th Annual Outdoor Summer Art Fair

July 29-30
Lyon School, 1335 Waukegan Road, Glenview

More than 80 artists from around the country will show their work at this fair, which will also feature food, entertainment, kids’ activities and a silent auction.

2017 MLS All-Star Game

Chicago Events: Chicago Fire
Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire.

Aug. 2
Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago

The Chicago Fire are celebrating their 20th season this year and will host the MLS All-Star Game to boot. MLS all stars will take on Real Madrid at Soldier Field, and it’s the perfect opportunity for avid or new soccer fans to see the best of the best.


Aug. 3-6
Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago

Chance the Rapper, The Killers, Muse, Arcade Fire, Lorde, Blink-182, Cage the Elephant, Wiz Khalifa, The Head and the Heart and Ryan Adams are just a few of the acts coming to Chicago this summer for Lolla.

Ragdale Ring’s “Composing the Moment: Danced Improvisation”

Aug. 10
Ragdale, 1230 N. Green Bay Road, Lake Forest

“Composing the Moment,” curated by Ginger Farley as part of this year’s Ragdale Summer Performance Series, will showcase a variety of dance styles, “from post-modern dance to urban street forms.” And don’t miss “Ziryab, the Songbird of Andalusia” on July 13.

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

Chicago Events: Chicago Hot Dog Fest
Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum.

Aug. 11-13
1701 N. Stockton Drive at LaSalle Drive, Chicago

Chicago knows a thing or two about hot dogs, so celebrate this summer staple with live music, hot dog history speakers and some of Chicago’s best vendors dishing up Vienna Beef hot dogs. A $5 suggested donation will benefit educational programming at the Chicago History Museum.

Saved by the 90s

Aug. 12
House of Blues Chicago, 329 N. Dearborn, Chicago

Party like it’s 1999 with this ’90s cover band, coming to the House of Blues during their 25th anniversary season. You can also celebrate with the “world famous” Gospel Brunch (Sundays) or Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band Multimedia Experience (Aug. 24).

Northbrook After Dark

Aug. 18
Techny Prairie Park and Fields, 1700 Techny Road, Northbrook

If you’ve ever wanted to compete on “The Amazing Race” with your family, you won’t want to miss this Northbrook Park District event. Teams of four will compete in a course with eight challenges. Prizes will be given to the team that finishes first and the team with the best costumes. Teams must register by Aug. 11.

CSO: “Lord of the Rings”

Aug. 18-20
Ravinia, 200 Ravinia Park Road, Highland Park

Your summer movie night will last all weekend long as Ravinia presents all three “Lord of the Rings” films with scores performed live by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Chicago Air and Water Show

Chicago Events: Chicago Air and Water Show
Photo courtesy of City of Chicago.

Aug. 19-20
North Avenue Beach, 1600 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

It’s once again time to look to the skies for this favorite event, which is the “longest running free show of its kind” in the U.S.

Sangria Festival 2017

Chicago Events: Sangria Festival
Photo courtesy of the Sangria Festival.

Aug. 20
Humboldt Park, Chicago

In addition to hand-crafted sangria, this festival will offer Spanish food and art, a Mercado, flamenco and samba performances, and live music. Partial proceeds will benefit San Lucas Church’s food pantry and Hot Meal Program and Humboldt Park’s traveling little league.

Taste of Greektown

Aug. 25-27
400 S. Halsted, Chicago

This free festival will highlight the best food in Greektown, as well as live music, entertainment, artisans, kids’ activities, and even a gyro eating contest.

Chicago’s First Lady Cruises: Specialty Summer Cruises

Chicago Events: Chicago's First Lady Cruises
Photo courtesy of Chicago’s First Lady Cruises.

Through Oct. 8
112 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago

Whether you want to be a tourist in your own city or are hosting summer guests, catch sunset on a Twilight Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise (nightly at 7:30 p.m. except Wednesday and Saturdays) or get the perfect shot on the Capture Chicago Photography Cruise (Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m.).

Make It Better is a proud media sponsor of these events: 


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Anna Carlson writes the weekly 5 Things to Do column and monthly Recommended Events. A graduate of Glenbrook South High School and the University of Missouri, she loves cheering on the Cubs and Blackhawks and also fears she watches too much Netflix.







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