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31 Things To Do in Chicago's 'Hoods Before Summer Ends

By DNAinfo Staff | August 29, 2014 7:33am | Updated on August 30, 2014 8:59am
 Looking to get outside before the summer ends? Here are some options.
Goodbye, Summer
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CHICAGO — While summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 22, sun-starved Chicagoans need all the warmth they can get.

Our reporters rounded up some stuff to do in the neighborhoods before the days get much shorter and the temps get much lower.

What's on your end-of-summer bucket list?


Hit Up the Parson's Chicken & Fish Patio: Snag a spot under the red-and-white umbrellas and sip an ice-cold negroni slushy. Maybe eat some chicken too. 2952 W. Armitage Ave.

Have Your Pie and Eat It Too: Swimsuit season is almost over. So grab a slice at Bang Bang Pie, walk to a grassy spot on Humboldt Boulevard with your friends. Eat, drink, play a board game and fall asleep. 2051 N. California Ave. (Bang Bang is closed on Labor Day, but will reopen Tuesday.)

Go to the Logan Square Farmers Market: You better make it happen while local growers are still hawking those delicious heirloom tomatoes. Sit in the grass with your bag of fresh veggies and people watch until it's time to go home and make a delicious dinner. Every Sunday From 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through Oct. 26 on Logan Boulevard from Milwaukee to Whipple avenues.


Take in Some Music at the Pritzker Pavilion: All right, you've been planning all summer to pack up the picnic basket and head out to the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park to see something, anything. Does it matter what the music is when the view and atmosphere are so pleasant? Fortunately, the Chicago Jazz Fest runs all weekend, having moved from the Petrillo Music Shell to the Pritzker. Terence Blanchard performs Friday, Gary Burton on Saturday, and the Sun Ra Arkestra closes the festival on Sunday. 201 E. Randolph St.

Have a Drink Near the River: The little cafes that line the riverwalk will close for the season soon enough. Enjoy them while you can! We dig the free popcorn and patio at O'Brien's Riverwalk Cafe. Its beer list is pretty good, too. 45 E. Riverwalk South


Go Fishing: Stop by Henry’s Sports & Bait Shop, grab some bait and head over to Palmisano Park (named after Henry himself), for some leisurely fishing with the family … or solo. The natural setting far beneath street level will have you forgetting you’re in the city at all. Not really a fisherman? Henry’s can set you up with a rod, tackle, license and everything else you need to write the first chapter in your fish tales. If it’s later in the day, climb to the top of the hill at Palmisano Park and watch the sun set, soak in the skyline or do some star-gazing … with or without your significant other. Bait shop: 3130 S. Canal St. Park: 2700 S. Halsted St.

Go to the Beach (DUH): Swing by 31st Street Beach to get great views of skyline, take one last dip in the lake (while the lifeguards are still around) or to watch the boats come and go from the harbor. Grab some grub and some frozen drinks at Pier 31 while you’re at it. 3101 S. Lake Shore Drive.

Partake in the Trifecta — Beer, Burgers & Baseball: Grab a spot at one of the outdoor tables at Turtle’s Bar & Grill at 33rd and Wells streets and watch the game-day scene as you toss back some beers or down one of Turtle’s signature 1-pound burgers and garlic Parmesan fries. And with the way things are going over at the Cell, it probably won’t be hard to grab a good seat for any of this weekend’s games. The White Sox play Friday night, twice on Saturday (12:10 and 6:10 p.m.) and again on Sunday.

Hail a Water Taxi: The Chicago Water Taxi isn't just for tourists, you know. It's an awesome way for commuters to cruise the Chicago River from the Loop to Chinatown (and back), but don't dawdle in scheduling your trip — the taxi's season wraps up Thanksgiving weekend, just 13 weekends away.

Find Inner Peace: The recently expanded Ping Tom Park in Chinatown offers some of the city's most stunning skyline views, especially in the evening. 300 W. 19th St.


Check Out Your Neighborhood Pool: The sprawling pool at Kennedy Park has been cooling off swimmers all summer. But after Labor Day, the outdoor pool is drained for the year. This weekend is your last chance to get in a final dip. With summer camps over, additional time has been added for lap swim, adult swim and family swim. 11320 S. Western Ave.

Make Some New Running Buddies: All summer you've been meaning to actually run in those running shoes you've been wearing to street festivals, baseball games and backyard parties. Make good on that promise at 7 a.m. this Saturday by meeting up with the weekly running group coordinated by Running Excels in Beverly. The group meets through Oct. 15, but haven't you put this off long enough already? 10328 S. Western Ave.

Take Up Yoga: You need some Zen to get you through another Chicago winter. Get started on the tennis courts at Ridge Park in Beverly at 9 a.m. Saturday to enjoy Yoga in the Park. The hourlong session with Kenya Butts costs $5. In the event of inclement weather, yoga will be moved inside the field house at 1817 W. 96th St. But barring any rain, you'll enjoy shavasana in the sunshine. 9600 S. Longwood Drive.


Take a Hike: Walk along the North Branch of the Chicago River through LaBagh Woods in Edgebrook. Hikers can explore the savannas and meadows nestled in the wooded landscape. Critter lovers can see a variety of animals native to Chicago before it was a city. Coopers and red-tailed hawks often soar overhead, while minks and other water-loving mammals make the riverbanks their home. 5275 N. Cicero Ave.

Explore the Dunning Read Conservation Area: Stand in the middle of the 23 acres of wetlands and woodlands slowly being restored to their natural state, and you’d hardly know you are in the northwest corner of the city. Keep an eye out for prairie crayfish, garter snakes and a few coyotes. 4200 N. Oak Park Ave. near Irving Park Road


Chase the Ice Cream Truck: Don't be ashamed. A $3.50 banana split is worth a short sprint. Wilfredo Cintron's "San Juan Freeze" truck has been going strong for 42 summers in Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park. Grab a treat and gaze up at the elevated, under-construction trail, dreaming about next summer when you can stroll, bike or jog it to burn the calories you're consuming. Look for Cintron around 5:30 p.m. on Fridays in the 1700 block of North Wolcott Avenue near the Bloomingdale Trail.

Take a Divvy Excursion: Use your annual membership or plunk down $7 for a 24-hour pass and take a Divvy "destination" trip to Humboldt Park. Park at the Divvy Station at North and California avenues near Humboldt Park's namesake park. Then walk to Cermak Produce at 2701 W. North Ave., where there's a small grill stand on the southern end of the grocery's parking lot that offers freshly made tacos and pork and steak kabobs. The pop-up grill is only open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday through Monday during the summer. Eat at the picnic table by the stand, or take your food to the nearby park.

Have a Picnic Starring the Neighborhood's Newest Southern Fried Chicken: Head over to Lillie's Q, which just opened a Chicken Shack walk-up window, where you can order a three-, five- or seven-piece dinner with biscuits, potato salad and grits for sides. Then walk over to nearby Walsh Park and enjoy the spread on a blanket near the newly renovated playground. Lillie's Q, 1856 W. North Ave. Walsh Playground, 1722 N. Ashland Ave.


Play a Game of Giddings Plaza Bingo: Grab a cup of coffee — better yet, get a crepe from the Welles Park crepe stand — and park yourself on one of the benches at Giddings Plaza. While away the afternoon checking off mental Bingo boxes when you see any of the following: street musicians (separate box if they bring their own amp); Balloon Guy, passers-by avoiding eye contact with Balloon Guy; people tossing coin in fountain; people stealing coins from fountain; pigeons; little kid who thinks it's awesome to scatter pigeons; grown-up annoyed by kid who thinks it's awesome to scatter pigeons. Hours of fun for the whole family! Giddings Plaza, 4731 N. Lincoln Ave.

Bucket Challenge with the Wicked Witch of the West: You've been meaning to catch an outdoor movie in the park all summer, and your friends just tapped you for the Ice Bucket Challenge. Kill two birds at once. "The Wizard of Oz" is screening at 8 p.m. Saturday in Horner Park. Time your ice water dump with the "I'm melting ..." scene in the background and you will win the Internet. 2741 W. Montrose Ave.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side: You don't have to leave the city to feel like you've left the city. Just cruise over to Winnemac Park, 5101 N. Leavitt St., where large swaths of green space have been restored to their natural prairie state. Wood chip paths wind their way through the wildflowers, many of which are still in full bloom. Ronan Park, 3000 W. Argyle St., boasts a lovely nature walk along the Chicago River. Be prepared to share the trail with deer. Tucked away behind Von Steuben High School, 5039 N. Kimball Ave., is another short river walk, truly a hidden gem.


Eat Your Feelings: Not much beats an ice cream cone on the beach during the final days of summer. Head over to Heartland Cafe’s beachside snack hut at Loyola Park for a treat. Then gaze out on the waters of Lake Michigan, cone in hand, as the beautiful summer begins to slip away. At least there’s ice cream. 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.

Test Your Balance: Here’s another lake-related thing to do before summer’s end. Grab a buddy and visit Michael “Westy” Westenberg at Osterman Beach’s Chicago Paddle Co. Then it’s paddles up. Westernberg will set you up with a pair of standup paddle boards so you can hit the water. Be sure to go far enough out to catch the great city views. Kathy Osterman Beach, 5800 N. Lake Shore Drive.


Chill With a Good Book: Auburn Park features a lagoon, waterfall and fishing privileges. The park at 79th and Eggleston and is sandwiched between newly built homes. It's open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Catch up on some reading as ducks and swans float by. 406 W. Winneconna Parkway.

Shop Fresh: Wood Street Urban Farm is open every Wednesday through October, but it's prime time for all the best summer fruits and vegetables, so get them now! The farm is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Got a Link card? The farm will give you up to $10 in free produce depending on what you spend. 5814 S. Wood St.


Sip a Drink, Enjoy the View: Get a drink on the rooftop of The J. Parker on a Saturday night to catch the fireworks off Navy Pier in the distance. There are only two weekends of summer fireworks left, with the final night happening Sept. 6. 13th floor, 1816 N. Clark St.

Pool Party: Head to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool to spend an afternoon in the urban oasis. The pond is tucked away near the entrance to the zoo on Fullerton, but is hard to miss. At Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive.


Have a Fancy Italian Picnic: Bacino's is opening its third Chicago location at the northern end of Diversey Harbor, replacing The Grill in the Park. It'll focus on fresh picnic fare like antipasti, thin-crust pizza and mix-and-match charcuterie plates. Pick up some food and a bottle of wine and have a romantic lakefront picnic. 248 W. Diversey Parkway

Have Brunch on a Patio: Ceres Table has lobster benedict on its brunch menu — and a patio. Perfection. 3124 N. Broadway


Jump in the Lake: Or at least partake in some water sports. Montrose Harbor, part of Montrose Beach, provides one of the best views of the Chicago skyline and is a great launching point for folks looking to get out on Lake Michigan in kayaks, boats and jet skis, all fun activities to cross off a summer bucket list. Don't have access to your own equipment? You can rent a sailboat through h20fun, rent a kayak from Kayak Chicago or get a jet ski rental through Windy City Water Sports. 601 W. Montrose Ave.

Hit the Night Market: Thursday's Argyle Night Market is the last one scheduled this summer. The market, which runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Argyle from Sheridan Road to Kenmore Aveneue, features local cuisine, local produce and live entertainment. Some of the area's favorite restaurants serve grub at the market, including Ba Le Restaurant et Cafe, Sun Wah BBQ, Tank Noodle, Hon Kee Restaurant, and an array of other Asian culinary staples in the Argyle Street area. Argyle between Sheridan and Kenmore

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