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How to use transit to enjoy summer in the Chicago region

May 22, 2023

Summer Fun Blog Header 1

Summer weather is here and although the season can feel short for many Chicago residents, there is no shortage of fun to be had. To celebrate the sunshine, the RTA has curated a list of outdoor activities you can take the CTA, Metra, or Pace to across the Chicago area this summer.

Grant Park

Grant Park, nicknamed Chicago’s Front Yard, is home to a wide array of summer events like the Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, Pride in the Park, and for the first time, NASCAR Chicago Street Race Weekend.

Where: 301 S. Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605.

Nearby transit: CTA bus routes #2, 6, 26, 28, J14; CTA Red Line; Metra Electric line.

Learn more

Food and fests

This summer, experience tastes from local chefs at one of the many food festivals in the region.

Exchange Club of Naperville Ribfest

The 33rd annual Ribfest hosted by the Exchange Club of Naperville will take place at the DuPage Events Center and Fairgrounds in Wheaton. The food festival features a selection of BBQ ribs, pulled pork and tasty sauces. Ribfest also offers a variety of food selections besides BBQ.

Where: 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton, IL 60187

Nearby transit: Pace bus routes #711, 714, 301; Metra UP-West line

Learn more

Wicker Park Fest

Taking place from July 28-30, Wicker Park Fest will feature dozens of vendors and artists with live music and great food. Stop by for a day or stay all weekend to enjoy perfect summertime activities.

Where: 1425 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Nearby transit: CTA bus routes #72, 70, and 9; CTA Blue Line

Learn more

Villa Park Summer Festival

The Village of Villa Park is having their annual summer festival on Saturday, June 24, from 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. There will be food vendors, local business vendors, and live music that the whole family can enjoy.

Where: Ardmore Avenue & Park Boulevard, Villa Park, IL

Nearby transit: Pace bus route #313

Learn more

Check out more Chicago neighborhood festivals.


Immerse yourself in a wide variety of musical performances from national and up-and-coming artists at the plethora of outdoor concerts this summer.

Millennium Park Concerts

The Millennium Park Summer Music Series takes place June 22-August 21. The series features free outdoor concerts from well-known and emerging artists at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Where: Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60602

Nearby transit: CTA Brown, Green, Pink, Orange, and Purple lines; CTA bus routes #4, 60, and 124

Learn more

Ravinia Festival

Experience Ravinia, an internationally recognized music festival featuring performances from the world's greatest artists. The festival runs all summer until September 10. Starting June 15, in partnership with Metra, all trains on the Union Pacific North Line will honor Ravinia tickets as train fare. Show your tickets for free train rides to and from the festival on concert days!

Where: 200 Ravinia Park Road, Highland Park, IL 60025

Nearby transit: Pace bus route #213; Metra UP-North line

Learn more


Appreciate Chicagoland's scenic landscape architecture by visiting one of the many gardens, parks, trails, and observatories in the region.

Chicago Botanic Gardens

Where: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022

Nearby transit: Pace bus route #213; Metra UP-North line

Learn more

Dearborn Observatory

Where: 2131 Tech Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Nearby transit: CTA bus route #201; CTA Purple Line

Learn more


Escape to the Chicagoland wilderness and take a hike at one of the region's many trails.

LaBagh Woods and the North Branch Trail

Where: W Foster Avenue & N Cicero Avenue, Chicago, IL 60630

Nearby transit: Jefferson Park transit center.

Learn more

Skokie Lagoons

Where: Erickson Woods, Winnetka, IL 60093

Nearby transit: Pace bus route #213; Metra UP-North line

Learn more

If you’re interested in Chicagoland's transit-accessible hiking trails learn more here.

Boating, Canoeing, and Kayaking

Rent a boat, canoe, or kayak and voyage along the region's scenic waterways.

Chicago River Canoe and Kayaking

Where: 3400 N Rockwell Street, Chicago, IL 60618

Nearby transit: CTA bus routes #49, 77, 152

Learn More

Lake Park Boating and Sailing

Where: 1015 Howard Avenue, Des Plaines, IL 60016

Nearby transit: Pace bus #250

Learn More

Guided water tours

Cruise through the region's waterways and admire the scenic architecture on one of the many water tours offered throughout summer. Shoreline Sightseeing offers a bounty of guided water tours across Chicago; learn more about their water sightseeing expeditions and locations here.


Swim, bike or relax at one of Chicagoland's plentiful sandy waterfronts. Check out these resources to find a beach close to you.

Enjoy the region's summer weather and take advantage of the abundance of outdoor activities available throughout the Chicago area this season. Explore the following resources and discover more activities, destinations, and events to engage in this summer.

To avoid traffic during these events we encourage using all forms of public transportation available to you. Be sure to check out the RTA's trip planner for more information on the buses and trains that will take you to your destination.

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