— Lincoln Steffens
Photos courtesy of Heidi of Wishes & Reality
I say it time and time again… there’s nothing like a Chicago summer.
We have notoriously rough winters. So there’s really nothing like the energy of a Midwesterner once the temps have risen and the sun’s come out. We KNOW how to take full advantage of any and all beautiful weather days.
And Chicago gets some really beautiful weather in summer (at least until the oppressive humidity sets in).
So next time you’re in the Windy City looking for a place to actually enjoy a Chicago summer at, look no further than my favorite 3 spots below! The best part? They’re all FREE! Certainly you’ll have to pay to park (if you’re driving), or pay for transportation if you don’t want to walk, but actually enjoying these beautiful spaces won’t cost you a dime!
3 Great (& Free!) Places for Enjoying a Chicago Summer
1. The Lakefront at the Museum Campus
Today’s very picturesque shoot location (and one of my very favorite photoshoot locations ever)! I love walking the lakefront at the Museum Campus regardless of the season (I visit a lot in spring too) but there’s something about the cooling breeze off the lake that’s so welcoming in summer. The pedestrian paths follow the curvature of the Adler Planetarium peninsula and it’s so lovely winding around the beautiful old buildings with the entire city skyline silhouetted behind you. And generally not nearly as crowded as you might think!
TIP: If you plan on driving, come early before the museums open, and you’ll be able to snag some inexpensive street parking.
2. The Chicago Riverwalk
It may not feel fundamentally different from walking along the lakefront but the Chicago Riverwalk boasts a completely different vibe from the museum campus. This urban, bustling riverfront walk boasts all sorts of stunning views and diverse architecture, not to mention a host of delicious restaurants and wineries to stop to nibble at too.
TIP: Stop at City Winery (if you’re willing to shell out some dough for your “free” adventure) and order a glass of house wine and the burrata appetizer. It’s my favorite burrata dish in Chicago and positively magical to dive into while the boats sail past along the river. And yes, that pun was absolutely intended.
3. Lincoln Park
I could go on for days about all the wonderful, free things you can do in Lincoln Park. There’s the Lincoln Park Zoo which boasts some very impressive lions and a charming, old school carousel. There’s the Conservatory which is probably Hubby’s favorite spot in all of Chicago. There’s North Avenue Beach at the southern-most corner which is my favorite Chicago beach (remember when I shot there last summer?). And on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, Green City Market — Chicago’s most famous farmer’s market — sets up an entire encampment along Clark Street.
Needless to say, there’s always something to do in Lincoln Park. Even if it’s just shooting at this epic honeycomb structure…
TIP: Don’t go to Lincoln Park on Green City Market mornings if you aren’t going for the market. It’s a popular event and parking can be HARD to find!