Summer in Chicago: Our Favorite Things

Summer is just around the corner, and with earlier-than-normal warm temperatures, we want to get a headstart on summer plans—including updating our annual “Favorite Things” blog. To complement our “Winter in Chicago” favorite things post, the GNP team is pleased to offer our favorite ways to enjoy summer in the city. Whether you’ve lived here all your life or are a recent transplant, we encourage you to include one or more of these activities in your summer schedule.

See a baseball game.

Northside or south, an afternoon at the ballpark is a Chicago tradition. The Southside White Sox has more fans among our staff, but we also have some Northside Cubs fans. We share a special connection with the Cub’s iconic Wrigley Field. We manage the building home to the famous Billy Goat Tavern—the source of the 1945 “curse” on the Cubs by owner William “Billy” Sianis. After Sianis and his pet goat were forced to leave Game 4 of the 1945 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Sianis declared that the team would lose this Series and never win another. He was right for 71 years! It took until 2016 for the team to break the curse—and a 108-year losing streak.

Enjoy a festival.

Chicagoans can enjoy at least one city festival or event every weekend through September. A GNP staff favorite is the Chicago Air & Water Show (we can watch the Blue Angels on their pre-event practice runs from our offices). If you’re looking for something on a little smaller scale with fewer crowds, check out one of the neighborhood festivals or special music events. Among our team’s favorites: Fiesta del Sol (Latino festival in Pilsen), Jazzin’ at the Shedd (a combo of top jazz ensembles and top aquatic animals at the Shedd Aquarium), Randolph Street Market (for vintage and flea market finds), Printers Row Lit Fest (a book lover’s paradise) and Taste of Greektown (no surprise given our ownership’s roots).

Spend a day on the Chicago Riverwalk.

Chicago natives recall not so long ago when the Chicago River was to be avoided (except on St. Patrick’s Day when it gets dyed green). How times have changed! Today, the Riverwalk along the city’s main branch of the Chicago River is a destination—on both land and water. Boat tours, including kayaks, provide a unique view of the city’s fantastic architecture. The Riverwalk offers something for everyone—fishing, birdwatching, adult beverages (from tiki bar to fine wine), upscale dining, a bridgehouse museum and more. Explore all that’s available on the 1.25-mile Riverwalk.

Enjoy public art.

Picasso, Miró, Chagall and Calder are legendary artists whose works adorn Chicago public spaces. A worthy addition to this list is Anish Kapoor, the British sculptor of Cloud Gate, known locally as “The Bean.” While perhaps not in the same league as Calder’s Flamingo or Picasso’s untitled cubist work in Daley Plaza, our team helped to bring the “Wings of Mexico” to North Michigan Avenue. The sculpture by Mexican artist Jorge Marín invites viewers to interact with a pair of life-size angel wings and has become a popular Instagram spot.

Bike the Drive.

Dust off your bike (or rent one) and take advantage of the one-time-only annual opportunity to join some 20,000 bikers and enjoy the scenic views of the city and the lake from Lake Shore Drive—no cars allowed! Ride the entire 30-mile course, or hop off when your legs get tired. Registration required.

Eat. Eat. Eat.

Where do we start? There is no shortage of James Beard award-winning restaurants in Chicago, but summertime is a good time to enjoy some of the more common gastronomy the city is famous for. Grab a Chicago-style hotdog (no ketchup!), a slice of deep dish pizza (so many options, but the purported original comes from Uno Pizzeria and Grill), a tin of Garrett’s popcorn, a beer and a brat at the Berghoff, an Italian Beef sandwich or a taco from one of the numerous family-owned taquerias in Pilsen or Little Village. Try some Eli’s cheesecake or one of Ann Sather’s mouth-watering cinnamon rolls when you’re ready for dessert. Can’t decide? Then head to the annual Taste of Chicago festival, where you can try many of these and other local foodstuff. In addition to the weekend-long food fest in Grant Park, the city is holding one-day taste events in several city neighborhood parks. (Check out the city’s outdoor dining options!)

Explore Navy Pier.

This 3,300-foot-long pier extending into Lake Michigan off the near northside is home to restaurants, a museum, live theatre, a beer garden, live music, a Ferris wheel and more—much of it ideal for families. Various boat cruises set sail daily, and the summer brings fireworks most Wednesday and Saturday nights. Explore the many options this transformed historic pier has to offer.  

With airport crowds (and airfares) back to or higher than pre-pandemic levels, the summer of 2024 is the perfect time to plan a staycation and enjoy this city’s wonderful attractions. The GNP Realty Partners team wishes you a fun and relaxing summer as you discover (or perhaps rediscover) your favorite Chicago summer activities!