Now that summer is finally here, you might be wondering what to do during the longer days and warmer weather. Not to worry; the Chicago area offers plenty of outdoor activities so you can soak up the sun and meet up with friends after work, or take the kids for a fun-filled day. From concerts downtown to exploring the great outdoors, you are sure to have a blast with the following activities, many of which are free.

(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 742-1168

Millennium Park is mentioned quite a bit, and with good reason as the park offers a number of free activities that will appeal to just about everyone. You can take in a concert at night, including the famed Grant Park Music Festival and Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz events or participate in a group workout session on Saturday mornings. Got kids? Then be sure to check out the Family Fun Festival, which offers child-friendly activities. You can also take some time to experience nature at the Lurie Garden, and if you work nearby, you can spend your lunch break checking out what the garden has to offer.

Wendella Boat Tours
Guest Relations Office
405 N. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 337-1446

Do you think you know Chicago? Think again by taking a tour with Wendella Boat Tours. The family-owned company has several different ways of exploring the city by boat while learning a bit of the city’s history, including its architecture tour and its tour at sunset. If you want to experience the nightlife while onboard, consider checking out the company’s fireworks tours on Wednesday and Saturday nights; see Wendella’s website for more tour information. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board, too. For pricing information, check out the company’s website. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a secure hat!

Chicago Farmers’ Markets
Daly Plaza
50 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Is there anything better than sinking your teeth into fresh corn on the cob or eating a salad made from local produce? If you like to explore new foods, consider checking out a farmers’ market near you this summer. From plants to produce, more than 70 vendors are selling fresh and in-season items. The farmers’ markets can introduce you to food you don’t typically see at your local grocery store, including kohlrabi and new types of plants. You can also use this opportunity to talk to the vendors and learn about their farms and practices. There are three farmers’ markets held downtown this summer, so you can grab what you need for dinner during your lunch break. Two night markets are also available this year. To find a market near you, check out the website.

Related: Best Free Summer Music Events In Chicago

Forest Preserve of Cook County
Forest Preserve Headquarters
536 N. Harlem Ave.
River Forest, IL 60305
(800) 870-3666

When you think of the Chicago area, you probably think of skyscrapers and subdivisions. But there’s a lot more to the Windy City than just buildings. For instance, the Forest Preserve of Cook County offers plenty of ways to explore nature through its numerous preserves. You can hike or bike, or get out on a boat to explore the great outdoors, all without leaving the county. Other activities include bird watching and picnicking. With more than 68,000 acres in the county, you’re sure to live close to a preserve; to find one near you, check out the organization’s website.

Ravinia Festival
200 Ravinia Park Road
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 266-5100

Whether you like classical music or prefer newer tunes, consider heading up to the Ravinia Festival for a concert. Many of the concerts take place outdoors, giving you a pleasant ambiance. This summer, Steely Dan, Josh Groban, Sheryl Crow, Tony Bennett, Laurie Berkner and the band Chicago are among the performers scheduled. Ravinia also has performances from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra slated for this summer. It is recommended that you purchase tickets in advance.

Related: Best Summer Movie Events In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at