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Best Free Summer Activities For Kids In Chicago

Few cities know how to appreciate the sunny and steamy days of summer better than Chicagoans.  After making it through yet another bleak winter season, it's only a matter of time before school lets out and the summer festivities begin. Fortunately, one of the many benefits of living in a city like Chicago is just how much there is to do here year-round. Summer allows for even more opportunities for one and all, but particularly the youngest residents of the Windy City.  Here are some of the best free summer activities for kids in Chicago.
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Millennium Park's Family Fun Festival
Millennium Park Chase Promenade North
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 742-1168

Taking place this year through Aug. 23 is Millennium Park's Family Fun Festival.  This summer-long festival guarantees a lively experience for kids of all ages with activities, music, and arts and crafts.  Bring the kids to sing-alongs and circle dances led by the Old Town School of Folk Music's famous Wiggleworms at 10 a.m., as well as reading circles at 11 a.m.  Check out the family performances, which include live music and interactive dance sessions; Movement Mondays to shake away those lazy weekends with hip hop yoga, tap dance, hoopnotics, and more; and Activity Zones just brimming over with fun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Chicago Air & Water Show
North Avenue Beach
1600 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 363-2225

Many adults in the Chicago area have very fond memories of of the Chicago Air & Water Show from the summers of their youth, and now they can bring the kids to give them the same awe inspiring experiences as well. The 2015 Chicago Air & Water Show will be taking place on August 15 and 16, from 10  a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The largest free show of its kind anywhere in the country, this year marks the 56th annual Chicago Air and Water Show and will feature some of aviation's most thrilling civilian and military pilots zooming and soaring above Chicago's beautiful Lake Front. This year's headliners will include the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Golden Knights and the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs.

Garfield Park
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Wild Wednesdays
Garfield Park Conservatory
300 North Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60624
(773) 638-1766

All kids naturally like to explore and get their hands dirty, and the Garfield Park Conservatory is making it possible to do just that and to learn some things along the way. On Wednesday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m., bring the kids to Wild Wednesdays to discover some facts about plants, animals, and nature, all while having a blast along the way. Taking place in various locations, both indoor and out, in the Conservatory, kids can revel in the new Play and Grow Garden, make mud pies in the Soil Kitchen, built forts with natural materials, and so much more. Wild Wednesdays offer some of the best free family programming in the city, and in one of the most stunning atmospheres, offering positive benefits for children and adults alike.

Related: Best Upcoming Museum Exhibits In Chicago

Navy Pier Fireworks
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 595-5282

An event that just screams summer - much like ice cream does - is a good fireworks show, and in Chicago you don't have to wait until Independence Day or a Bulls Championship win in order to see some.  Every Wednesday and Saturday night from May 23 through Sept. 5 this year, come out to Navy Pier to enjoy a delight of the senses with stellar fireworks display on Lake Michigan. While expertly synchronized to music, there's just no better was to get the little ones oohing and aahing than a colorful and electrifying fireworks session, and the adults will be pretty impressed, too.

Chicago Children's Museum Free days
Navy Pier
700 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-1000

From the Tinkering Lab to Treehouse Trails and so much more, the Chicago Children's Museum sounds fun even to the full-grown adults of Chicago.  Located in Navy Pier, the Chicago Children's Museum offers free admission for all visitors on its Family Night, taking place on Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m., as well as Free First Sundays, which grants free admission for visitors 15 and younger on the first Sunday of each month. Experiences for young Chicagoans include constructing a skyscraper, fishing in a river, creating art to take home and so much more. With a mission of creating a community where play and learning connect, the Chicago Children's Museum delivers on this promise, and might even teach parents a thing or two along the way as well.

Related: Best Places To Do Arts & Crafts For The Whole Family In Chicago

Soon after earning her BA in journalism, Melanie Falina began writing about one of the loves of her life - music. Since then, she's covered some of the biggest names in music, in addition to writing on an array of other topics as well. She has written for Black Belt magazine, KISS: The Official Authorized Quarterly Magazine, Examiner,, Yahoo Voices, and more, and was editor for Don Lemmon's KNOW HOW Book Three, Refuse To Fail. Melanie is also a poet with five published collections of poetry available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various establishments.
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