With endless festivals to experience, outdoor patios to discover, beaches to explore and museums to visit, summertime in Chicago is hard to beat. To help you make the most of the warm weather and sunshine, we’ve rounded up 10 ways to have the best summer yet.

Check out the list below, and weigh in on your favorite ways to spend the summer in the comments.

Lincoln Park / Lakeview

Explore the Nature Museum’s Newest Exhibit “Our House”
Ever wondered what homes will be like in 10, 20 or 50 years? The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum sheds light on the future of home design in its newest exhibit, Our House: Rethinking Home in a Changing Climate. @properties is excited to sponsor the family-friendly exhibit, which features a variety of interactive experiences and creative solutions that reduce our environmental impact. Check out a behind the scenes sneak peak of Our House here!

@tip: Before or after your visit to Our House, stop by the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven greenhouse at 2 p.m. to catch the daily butterfly release.

Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is packed with events year ‘round, and the summer is no exception. From Adults Night Out and Craft Brews at the Zoo to Kids Summer Theater, there is something for everyone at every age. For event details, click here.

@tip: Plan your trip on a Wednesday to cap off your day with Locally Sourced at the Patio – a weekly event that brings great local music, food and beer to the Zoo’s picturesque Nature Boardwalk

Head to the Beach
Beach season is (finally!) upon us and fortunately there’s no shortage of great beaches spanning the Chicago lakefront. Check out North Avenue Beach – one of the city’s most popular beaches – to sunbathe, swim, play volleyball, rent a bike, or just take in the sights, or head to Belmont Harbor Dog Beach if you want to bring along your four-legged friend.

@tip: Avoid the hassle of finding parking and Divvy to the beach instead.

Wicker Park

Hit the 606
With over two miles of trails to explore, art to see, and great eateries to experience nearby, the 606 is the perfect way to take advantage of Chicago’s all-too-short summer season. To see what’s happening around the 606 over the next couple months, check out http://www.the606.org.

@tip: With a number of access points, the 606 makes it easy to experience different neighborhoods. Hop off at the Damen/Churchill Field access point to satisfy your pizza craving at Piece Pizza, or indulge your sweet tooth at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate.

Stop By the Wicker Park Farmers Market
Ditch the usual grocery store routine for a day and stop by the local farmers’ market to stock up on fresh veggies, fruits, cheese and meats. The Wicker Park Farmers Market is open every Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., now through October.

@tip: Enjoy an authentic, made-to-order crepe from Crêpes Paname – one of the market’s mainstay vendors.

Experience Wicker Park Fest
This always-anticipated neighborhood festival is packed with eclectic music, grub from acclaimed local restaurants, arts and crafts and more. This year’s festival will take place on July 29th and 30th. For more information, check out www.wickerparkfest.com.

@tip: With its own separate Kids Fest, this neighborhood festival is open to all ages.  

Downtown

Cruise the Chicago River on an Architectural Boat Tour
Chicago is world-renowned for its architecture, and there’s no better way to learn more about our city’s iconic buildings than with a boat tour on the scenic Chicago River. For tour details, click here.

@tip: Arrive early so you can get a prime seat on the upper deck, where the views are best.

Discover a New Neighborhood Festival
Summertime in Chicago means hundreds of neighborhood festivals, headlined by annual favorites like The Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza. Check out an overview of festivals taking place all over the city here.

@tip: Festivals are a great opportunity to experience Chicago’s diverse collection of neighborhoods. Have a game plan and make a day out of exploring a different part of town.

Catch the Fireworks
Whether you’re watching from the lake or a rooftop, the Navy Pier Fireworks display is a must-see. This spectacular firework show lights up the downtown skyline every Wednesday and Saturday night, now through Labor Day weekend.

@tip: Looking to pair your firework-viewing with a cocktail? Watch the show from Cindy’s Rooftop at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.

Watch a Movie in the Park
Break out your picnic baskets and catch a flick in the park! As part of the Chicago Park District’s popular outdoor movie series, a number of parks will be screening free movies throughout the summer, including Grant Park, Montgomery Ward Park and Maggie Daley Park. Check out a schedule here.

@tip: Whether it’s your first time seeing the movie or your 100th, this summer outing is all about the experience in the park. Grab a blanket, pack some snacks and don’t forget bug spray.

Written by Kelly Maguire