Top Things to Do This Summer in Chicago Northwest

Pinball machines at Level 257

Pinball wizardry at Level 257

Summer is a terrific time to explore Chicago Northwest, a fun shopping and dining destination that’s located near downtown Chicago and right on the edge of O’Hare International Airport. Here you’ll find every kind of cuisine and restaurant ambiance imaginable— from scratch cooking and craft beer (along with video games and bowling) at Level 257 inside Woodfield Mall to Brunch Cafe in Roselle where stuffed French toast and avocado-topped breakfast quesadillas meet Bloody Marys and fruit smoothies.

What else makes Chicago Northwest an ideal spot to spend a few days this summer on a trip to Chicago? We have a few ideas. Here are some of the top things to do this summer in the eight different communities that make up Chicago Northwest.

Food for Days

In addition to Level 257 and Brunch Cafe, various restaurants throughout Chicago Northwest offer a variety of food types, depending on the interest of traveler. If you’re into Asian food, savor handcrafted sashimi rolls, udon noodles and budget friendly lunch specials at Sushi Station in Rolling Meadows. For fresh pizza and pasta, try the family-owned Riccardo’s in Schaumburg. And for excellent bar food paired with HDTVs, head to Elk Grove’s Coach’s Corner, a family pizzeria and sports grill. Read about more of the area’s top dining destinations here.

Tasting and tour at Lynfred Winery

Tasting and tour at Lynfred Winery

Wine Wanderings in Chicago Northwest

Wine tasting is another top thing to do in the summer in Chicago Northwest. Roselle-based Lynfred Winery crafts red, white, rose, dessert and sparkling wines. One of more than 40 wineries and vineyards along the Northern Illinois Wine Trail, these stellar producers develop and promote viticulture in the Upper Mississippi River Valley—known as the world’s largest wine growing region. Visit a single winery, follow one of several geographic loops, or set aside time to explore the entire trail and taste the best wines that Chicago Northwest offers. Special wine events take place throughout the summer, too.

Kid Stuff and Family Fun

From a 2 million-brick display depicting iconic Chicago structures to a 4D cinema, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago features enough attractions to entertain kids for hours. The ideal age for visitors at LEGOLAND is anywhere between 3 to 10 years old. Your kids might also enjoy stepping back in time at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, where a four-course meal accompanies royal falcons in flight and knights fiercely jousting while on horseback.

Dedicated shoppers will find nearly 300 stores and restaurants to enjoy at the very popular Woodfield Mall. Long-established brands such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Lord and Taylor mingle with newer favorites including H&M, Zara, Timberland and Kids’ Foot Locker. Like most malls, Woodfield is stocked with restaurants and snack shops where you can find freshly made popcorn, ice cream, warm cinnamon rolls and casual lunch spots.

Cast of RENT at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre

Cast of RENT at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre

Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights is one of Chicago Northwest’s leading performance venues. Talented local and national performers create theatrical and musical magic ranging from “Rent” or “The Tortoise and the Hare,” to Judy Garland and Nat King Cole tributes.

Carnival, live music and food at Elk Grove RotaryFest

Carnival, live music and food at Elk Grove RotaryFest

June Events

June is a big month for special events throughout the area. In Elk Grove, the annual RotaryFest is a four-day, free event that includes a carnival, live entertainment, a parade, a car show and fireworks as well as a 5K run. Plenty of food and beer are available, too.

The Chicago Scots will hold its 30th annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games in mid-June 2016, with highland dancing, a British Car Show, dogs of Scotland and much more. A Knobbly Knees Kilt Contest and crowning of the Heather Queen (a young woman, 16-22 years old, of Scottish heritage, who serves as a goodwill ambassador of the Chicago Scots) are other signature happenings at the festival.

Elk Grove Summer Concert Series

Get to the Elk Grove Summer Concert Series early!

July Events

The fun continues in July with local events, including the Elk Grove Mid-Summer Classics Concert Series, an outdoor music series featuring artists like Pete Cetera (an original member of the rock band Chicago), LeAnn Rimes, Foreigner and Michael McDonald (who performed with Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers before launching a successful solo career).

Every Independence Day, Itasca and Hamilton Lakes co-host an annual Fourth of July celebration that includes a music stage with headliners during the early evening before the largest fireworks display in the Chicago area begins at Hamilton Lakes around 9:45 p.m. It’s a bright and colorful 25-minute spectacle with free admission and on-site parking (for a fee).

Frontier Days Festival takes place in early July in Arlington Heights. The free event features entertainment on three stages as well as a Stampede Run & Walk and several sports tournaments. Carnival rides and one of the largest Fourth of July Parades in Chicago’s suburbs are part of the fun, too. On Citizens with Disability Day, the park closes except for people that have special needs and their immediate families.

Prairie Festival arrives in late July to Wood Dale, brining with it a carnival, swimming opportunities, bingo games, live entertainment, food vendors and more. The four-day event kicks off with the carnival on Thursday night, then a schedule of bands begin taking the stage on Friday through Sunday. The Prairie Fest runs late—until 11 p.m. every night except Sunday. Saturday night usually includes a fireworks display, too.

Events from August to Labor Day

Early each August, the village of Arlington hosts the Mane Event & Taste of Arlington— a massive block party and street festival with plenty food and drink from more than 20 local restaurants. Local bands play, and performances by the Top 10 Finalists of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent take place on Saturday afternoon.

Crowd cheers from a Suite at Arlington International Racecourse

Crowd cheers from a Suite at Arlington International Racecourse

The Mane Event & Taste of Arlington is a kickoff for the start of Arlington Million week, an annual event at the Arlington Park international horse-racing track. Held at Arlington Park every August, the Arlington Million is a popular event features live entertainment (with a ticket) and games as well as racing. Contestants in the Arlington Million Best Dressed Competition strut their stuff before one Best Dressed Lady, and one Best Dressed Gentleman, are chosen. Top-ranking contestants celebrate together in the Champagne Tent. And of course there’s the horse-racing to watch.

Schaumburg's Septemberfest signals the end of carnival season

Schaumburg’s Septemberfest signals the end of carnival season!

Summer festivities in Chicago Northwest end on Labor Day weekend, with Schaumburg’s Septemberfest. At 60 years old, the event features dozens of artists and craftspeople, in addition to food vendors and carnival rides. Enjoy a Taste of Schaumburg, plus local, national and regional entertainment on three stages; as well as Sunday evening fireworks and a Labor Day parade.  

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Whether you’re looking for great dining experiences, fun indoor entertainment or fabulous outdoor events, there’s no place like Chicago Northwest for summertime fun.