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How to use transit to enjoy summer in the Chicago region

May 24, 2024

22 RTA 0327

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.

This year, in honor of Metra and Pace's 40-year anniversary, riders also have the opportunity to take Metra trains and Pace buses for free on Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9, regionwide.

Grant Park

Grant Park, nicknamed Chicago’s Front Yard, is home to a wide array of summer events like the Sueños Music Festival, NASCAR Chicago Street Race Weekend, Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, and more.

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

Nearby transit: CTA bus routes #2, 6, 26, 28, J14; all CTA train lines except the Yellow Line; and 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.

Wicker Park Fest

Taking place from July 26-28, 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 22, 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; Metra UP-West Line

Learn more

Taste of Joliet

The Taste of Joliet is a three-day music and food festival taking place June 21-23 at Joliet Memorial Stadium with popular musical headliners each day, 20+ food vendors, business vendors, a Kid's Zone, and a carnival. Tickets are available for purchase now.

Where: Joliet Memorial Stadium, 3000 W Jefferson St, Joliet, IL 60435

Nearby transit: Metra RI line; Pace bus route #501

Learn more

Check out more Chicago neighborhood festivals.

Music

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 July 1 – August 8. The series features free evening 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: All CTA train lines except the Yellow Line; 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 15.

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

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

Learn more

Jazzin’ at the Shedd

The popular midweek series showcases a festival-worthy lineup of Chicago's top jazz ensembles every Wednesday evening from June 5 – August 18 at the Shedd Aquarium. Visit their website to book tickets.

Where: 1200 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605

Nearby transit: CTA bus route #146 (Solidarity Drive & Aquarium stop); CTA Green and Orange Lines (Roosevelt stop)

Learn more

Chicago Pride Fest

On June 22-23, the annual celebration of LGBTQ+ life, culture and community, returns to Northalsted this summer for its 23rd edition featuring over 40 performers across 3 stages, from local artists to well-known popstars.

Where: Northalsted on Halsted Street from Addison to Grace St.

Nearby transit: CTA Red Line (Addison stop); CTA Red, Brown, and Purple Lines (Belmont stop)

Learn more

Fireworks

Watch beautiful displays of firework shows scheduled weekly across the region.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier’s award-winning, free Summer Fireworks show is back every Wednesday at 9 p.m. and Saturday at 10 p.m. from May 25 – August 31. Immerse yourself in the stunning visuals accompanied by a mix of dramatic and popular music, including some special occasion soundtracks.

Where: Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Nearby transit: CTA bus routes #29 State, #65 Grand, #66 Chicago, #124 Navy Pier, or #2 Hyde Park Express

Learn more

Rockin in the Park Rosemont

The free concert series takes places every Thursday and select Friday evenings from May 30 – August 26 featuring music by classic cover bands alongside food and beverage tents on the park’s great lawn. The Thursday night concerts conclude with a musical fireworks show.

Where: Parkway Bank Park, 5501 Park Pl, Rosemont, IL 60018

Nearby transit: Metra NCS line; CTA Blue line; Pace bus route #811;

Learn more

Gardens

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

Hiking

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.

Beaches

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

Chicago Beaches

Suburban Chicago Beaches

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.

Activities

Culinary Experiences

Music Festivals

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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