THE ULTIMATE SUMMER GUIDE

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June Issue View more

Soar through the treetops at the Forge in Lemont.

Summer finally has arrived, so don’t waste a single moment wondering how to spend the sunny days and warm evenings that lie ahead. It’s time to make plans for outdoor dining and dust off your camp chairs for concerts under the stars. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, consider this your guide to the best things to do in the west suburbs all season long.


GO

Four places to visit for nonstop summer fun


1. The Forge: Lemont Quarries
1001 Main St., Lemont, forgeparks.com

Situated amid the lakes of the Lemont Heritage Quarries Recreation Area, this aerial adventure park offers ample opportunity for outdoor thrills on its 300-acre grounds. With two miles of ziplines and 300 high-ropes elements, the Forge is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Be challenged by  ziplines, rock walls, rapelling, and ropes courses ranging in skill level ($85—$95), including a kids adventure zone ($15). Put your competitive spirit to the test with archery battle tag, laser tag, and adventure games (think escape room meets scavenger hunt in augmented reality, $20—$30). Rent a kayak or canoe for some paddle time ($15—$20). Bring your BMX or mountain bike to ride five miles of trails or practice on the skills courses and pump tracks ($25). 

Staying all day? The annual Forge Fest (July 16; free admission) offers live music and fireworks. The park will host other concerts ($10—$80), include performances from such tribute acts as Super Diamond (yes, Neil Diamond songs) on June 11, Too Hype Crew (’90s hip-hop hits) on June 25, and Trippin’ Billies (Dave Matthews tunes) on August 27.

2. Arranmore Farm + Polo Club
34 Rance Rd., Oswego, arranmorefarmandpoloclub.com

Polo matches are just one of the many warm-weather activities to enjoy at this equestrian venue. Arranmore recently partnered with Las Brisas Polo Club to host a number of matches, including the Midwest Open (August 7), featuring teams from across the country competing for $50,000. Wine Down Wednesdays (June 29 to August 10; $50—$60/car) are another way to catch a late-afternoon polo match, tailgate style: Just pull your car up to the field’s sidelines. When hunger strikes, order snacks from Allegory food truck and Tapville Mobile Taproom parked onsite. 

Arranmore’s signature event is its Cabernet Cabaret, dubbed CabCab for short. This annual outdoor concert is a BYOP (Party) affair, so you’re encouraged to pack your own picnic spread and uncork your favorite beverages. This year CabCab is themed Dance Jam Mixtape (August 20; $30—$50) and promises an evening of nostalgic covers that will get you groovin’ in your camp chair. For a more low-key vibe, strike a pose at twilight during Sunset Yoga (June 27, July 11 and 25, August 8 and 22; $25), which features an all-levels class taught by instructors from 360 Studios Naperville. 

3. Phillips Park 
1000 Moses Dr., Aurora, aurora-il.org/893/Phillips-Park

There’s a little something for everyone at this free 325-acre municipal park; it’s part museum, part botanical gardens, and part zoo. The visitors center displays mastodon bones that were found in the park in 1934 and are estimated to be upward of 10,000 years old. Right outside, you’ll find the picturesque Sunken Gardens, with a fountain, topiaries, and ornamental plants. There are sand volleyball courts, a BMX/skate park, bag game platforms (BYO Beanbags), a lake with a boat launch, and a one-mile trail to stroll or bike.

At Phillips Park Zoo, admission is free to see animals such as wolves, eagles, cougars, and cows. Visit June 25 for the Aurora Pollinator Fest and celebrate with a pop-up farmers’ market, food trucks, beer garden, pollinator plant, and tour. The Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center is closed this summer due to staff shortages, but the park’s zero-depth splash pad is slated to be open through mid-August. 

4. Raging Waves
4000 N. Bridge St.,Yorkville, ragingwaves.com

As the largest water park in Illinois, this Australian-themed destination ($29.99—$44.99) packs plenty of chlorinated fun. The newest attraction is the the Aussie Mat Dash, a six-lane mat-racer water slide that debuted last summer. Favorites include the Great Barrier Reef Wave Pool; Kookaburra Kreek (a quarter-mile-long river float); the Crocodile Mile (a 600-foot family raft ride); and the Boomerang, a four-person tube slide where riders drop into a massive tunnel that can be seen from Route 47. In honor of its 15th anniversary, the park will give away 15 tickets on June 15, July 15, and August 15; check its Facebook page for a chance to enter. 

Photos courtesy of The Forge: Lemont Quarries, Las Brisas at Arranmore Farm + Polo Club, Raging Waves, and City of Aurora (Phillips Park Zoo)


DO

Mark your calendar for these top events


RiverEdge Park
The DuPage Symphony Orchestra at Cantigny Park
Billy Branch at Blues on the Fox

1. Outdoor Concerts

There is no shortage of live music this summer. After a two-year break, Blues on the Fox (June 17—18) returns to RiverEdge Park (360 N. Broadway, Aurora, paramountaurora.com). Blues legend Buddy Guy headlines the fest, which also includes performances from Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Melody Angel, Billy Branch, and Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers ($15—$35). Coinciding with the fest on the other side of the Fox River June 18 is Party on the Promenade, a free family-friendly celebration with food trucks and live music to mark the opening of Aurora’s Wilder Park Promenade (350 N. River St., Aurora, aurora-il.org). 

Arbor Evenings, the weekly outdoor concert series at the Morton Arboretum (4100 Rte. 53, Lisle, mortonarb.org) moves from Thursdays to Wednesdays this year. The shows, held June 1 to August 24 ($5—$13) often sell out, so be sure to plan ahead if you want to see such acts as José Valdes & the Mambo All-Stars (July 20) and the Four C Notes (August 3).

The bandshell at Cantigny Park (1S151 Winfield Rd., Wheaton, cantigny.org) will be rockin’ with  all summer, from Fortunate Sons (June 5) to Semple (August 7). A second bandshell set up in front of the park’s First Division Museum will host the DuPage Symphony Orchestra (June 18), West Suburban Symphony (July 30), and Mariachi Herencia de Mexico (July 31). Concerts are free with park admission ($10 per car). 

The nostalgic Naper Nights concert series at Naper Settlement (523 S. Webster St., Naperville, napersettlement.org) returns with six concerts ($15—$20) on three weekends this summer (June 17—18, July 15—16, and August 19—20). Bands range from Chicago Soul Revue and Gabriel Sanchez Presents: The Prince Experience to Pearl Jam tribute act the Ten Band and Nirvana tribute Smells Like Nirvana.

The bandshell at Memorial Park (225 Karlskoga Ave., Wheaton, memorialparkwheaton.com) will host Wheaton Park District’s Summer Entertainment Series, which runs through September. Double-header performances ($10) range from Billy Joel tribute act Mulberry Street and Fleetwood Mac tribute band Gold Dust Dreams on June 24 to pop bands UltraBeat and Sixteen Candles on July 30. 

It’s BYOB for Live & Uncorked at Blackberry Farm (100 S. Barnes Rd., Aurora, blackberryfarm.info). Open to ages 21 and over, the concerts ($8, or $42 for all seven) start at 7 p.m. Thursdays, from June 16 (Libido Funk Circus) to July 28 (Billy Elton).

Like big bands? The Naperville Municipal Band continues its long tradition of free Thursday
night outdoor concerts from June 9 through August 11 in Central Park (55 Concert Ln., Naperville,
napervilleband.com). Likewise, the Wheaton Municipal Band performs themed programs Thursday evenings June 9 through August 4 at Memorial Park (225 Karlskoga Ave., Wheaton, wheatonmunicipalband.org). 

For the young’uns, free daytime concerts include Children’s Lunch Hour Entertainment 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays from June 14 to July 26 at various locations in Naperville (napervilleparks.org) and Warrenville’s Lunchtime Live! series 11:30 a.m. select dates from June 9 to August 11 at Cerny Park (4S150 River Rd., warrenvilleparks.org). The McAninch Arts Center hosts its free Family Series Sunday afternoons July 17 to July 31 at its Lakeside Pavilion on the College of DuPage campus, 425 Fawell Blvd. Also fun for all ages is BrightSide Theatre and Naperville Park District’s free series Summer in the Parks: The Golden Age of Broadway, taking stage six evenings June through August (brightsidetheatre.com).


FREE (!) OUTDOOR CONCERTS

With the number of free outdoor concert series on tap, you could tote your picnic blanket or chairs to a different local park just about every night of the week. Check websites for complete lineups and locations.


SUNDAYS

Naperville
Concerts in Your Park
7 p.m. June 12 to July 31, various parks
napervilleparks.org

Geneva
RiverPark Summer Concert Series
6 p.m. July 3 to July 24, RiverPark, 151 River Ln.
geneva.il.us


TUESDAYS

Downers Grove
Summer Concert Series
7 p.m. through August 16, Fishel Park, 1036 Grove St.
dgparks.org


WEDNESDAYS

Batavia
River Rhapsody Concert Series
7 p.m. June 15 to August 3, Peg Bond Center, 151 N. Island Ave.
bataviaparks.org

Clarendon Hills
Dancin’ in the Street
7 p.m. Jun 22 to July 27 downtown (Prospect Avenue from Park Avenue to Burlington Avenue) clarendonhills.us

Woodridge
Summer Concert Series
7 p.m. June 29 to August 10, various parks
woodridgeparks.org

Lisle
Summer Entertainment Series
7 p.m. July 13 to July 27, Lisle Community Park, 1800 Short St.
lisleparkdistrict.org


THURSDAYS

Oswego
Thursday Night Block Parties
6 p.m. select Thursdays,
Venue 1012, 1012 Station Dr.
venue1012.com

Glen Ellyn
First Thursdays Summer
Concert Series  

6 p.m. June 2, July 7, August 4, and September 1, Glenwood/Crescent parking lot
glenellynchamber.com

St. Charles
Summer Concerts
7 p.m. June 2 to August 4, Lincoln Park, Main Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets
stcparks.org

Hinsdale
Uniquely Thursdays  
6 p.m. June 16 to August 18, Burlington Park, 30 Chicago Ave.
hinsdalechamber.com


FRIDAYS

Glen Ellyn
McAninch Arts Center’s Lakeside Pavilion Concert Series
7:30 p.m. July 15 to August 5, Lakeside Pavilion behind the McAninch Arts Center on the College of DuPage campus, 425 Fawell Blvd.
atthemac.org/lakeside-pavilion

Naperville’s A Night at the Movies

2. Outdoor Movie Nights

For your fill of silver-screen action under the stars, several towns offer free movie nights on outdoor big screens. You just bring the blanket or chairs and (in some cases) popcorn. Most movies begin at dusk unless otherwise noted. Check websites for showtimes, movie schedules, and locations.

Aurora
Movies at a Museum/Movies at Mundy Park
June 9, June 16, July 14, July 21, August 11, and August 18
auroradowntown.org

Darien
Summer Movies in the Park 
June 2, June 30, July 28, and August 13
darienparks.com

Elmhurst
Movie in the Park

June 17, July 8, and August 5
epd.org

Geneva
Movies in the Park

June 9, July 7, and August 4
genevaparks.org

Naperville
A Night at the Movies

July 29, August 12, August 26, September 9, and September 16
napervilleparks.org

St. Charles
Movies in the Park
June 17, July 15, and August 19
stcparks.org

Warrenville
Summer Movies in the Park 
June 16, July 21, and August 18
Seating opens at 8 p.m.
warrenvilleparks.org

Wheaton
Cantigny Movies in the Park
8:30 p.m. Fridays June 3—August 19 | $5 parking fee
cantigny.org

Westmont
Movies Under the Stars

June 10, July 15, and August 12  
Food trucks onsite
westmontparks.org

Woodridge
Movies Under the Moon

8:45 p.m. June 10, June 24, July 22, and July 29
woodridgeparks.org

Oswego
Movies Under the Stars

June 9, June 23, July 21, August 18
venue1012.com

Naperville Jaycees’ Last Fling
Naperville Jaycees’ Last Fling

3. Summer Festivals

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Exchange Club of Naperville will host its 33rd annual Ribfest, now taking place at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton on Father’s Day weekend (June 17—20, ribfest.net). This summer tradition serves a saucy lineup of rib vendors and ticketed music performances ($35—$195) all weekend long. Headliners include Toby Keith, Halestorm, and Brett Eldredge.

The following week, gear up for Geneva’s 72nd annual Swedish Days Festival (June 22—June 26, genevachamber.com). Highlights of the five-day event include a carnival, car show, 5K race, and free entertainment ranging from the Geneva’s Got Talent competition to a performance from Jaerv, a Swedish band on its North American tour. 

Want to try something new ahead of Fourth of July weekend? The inaugural Lemont Food Truck Festival (brewavenueevents.com) is scheduled for July 2 at the Forge: Lemont Quarries ($5—$10, free for kids 10 and under).

If sipping local brews is more your jam, Naperville Ale Fest returns to Naper Settlement July 9 (napervillealefest.com) with more than 150 craft beers on tap and plenty of brewer booths to browse for those 21 and older ($55—$65).

Revel in the county’s agricultural roots at the DuPage County Fair (July 29—31, dupagecountyfair.org), which features traditional livestock and produce competitions as well as kids’ activities, carnival rides, food vendors, and music at the Wheaton fairgrounds ($7.50—$15, free for kids 2 and under).

Aurora’s grassroots arts fest, the Alley Art Festival (noon to 5 p.m. August 27, alleyartaurora.com) returns for its 12th year, with free dance and music performances as well as local artists selling their work. Located along the Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora, this year’s fest also will extend to Downer Place as well. 

There’s no better event to round out the summer than the Naperville Jaycees’ Last Fling (September 2–5, lastfling.org). The fest brings a carnival, food vendors, free family activities, and a full lineup of live music to downtown Naperville, wrapping up Monday with the Labor Day Parade.

Photos courtesy of Jay Kelly (Riveredge Park), Glenn Kaupert/Cantigny Park (Dupage Symphony Orchestra), and Roman Sobus (Billy Branch), Naperville Park District, Naperville Jaycees’ Last Fling


EAT

From picnic to patio, there are plenty of options to dine alfresco


RH Rooftop Restaurant’s open-air dining room
Try the shaved vegetables at RH Rooftop Restaurant.

1. Rooftop Hangouts

After opening last fall, this is the first summer for RH Rooftop Restaurant, located inside the massive furniture showroom that is RH Oak Brook (1300 22nd St., Oak Brook, rh.com/restaurants). If you can’t snag a reservation for the greenhouse-covered dining room, order a glass of wine from the bar and take it out to the massive rooftop terrace, with its the plentiful sofas and fire pit tables. For an open-air evening with a roof over your head, shade seekers will enjoy the global flavors of Santo Cielo, the bar and restaurant on Hotel Indigo’s top floor (123 Water St., Naperville, stcielo.com). Or head to downtown Wheaton and dine above bustling Hale Street on the rooftop terrace at the family owned Sogno Cucina Italiana (100 N. Hale St., Wheaton, sognowheaton.com), where a dedicated bar, hanging greenery, and fairy lights add to the romantic ambiance. Be sure to enjoy some of Mama Nancy’s specials, such as gnocchi al forno and lobster cappellacci.

Old Town Pour House in Naperville 

2. Pretty Patios

Driving south along Washington Street, you know you’ve arrived in downtown Naperville when the cabana-covered patio at Fiammé (19 N. Washington St., fiammepizza.com) comes into view. Outdoor seating is first-come, first-served at this Naples-inspired Italian restaurant, with a new designated area to hang out and have a drinkwhile you wait. A few blocks south, savor summery flower-garnished cocktails at Bev’s (245 S. Washington St., bevsnaperville.com), which breathes new life into sprawling patio space at the former Jimmy’s Grill address. Over at Freedom Drive, the courtyard patio at Old Town Pour House (1703 Freedom Drive, oldtownpourhouse.com) features TVs and fireplaces. Or try its Rock N Roll weekend brunch featuring Jon Bun Jovi, Donut Stop Believin’, Chimi Hendrix, and Johnny Hash, among other punny dishes.

The Dairy Barn
Goldfinger Brewing in Downers Grove

3. Shady Spots

Cool off on the covered porch at the new Oswego eatery The Dairy Barn (121 Main St., dairybarnoswego.com), a modern re-creation of the historic ice cream stand Dairy Hut. Lunch on burgers and Chicago-style hot dogs or go straight for the sweets with a turtle sundae, waffle cone, or malt. Big kids over 21 can order their slushies or milkshakes spiked with spirits ranging from whiskey to amaretto. At Goldfinger Brewing Company (513 Rogers St., Downers Grove, goldfingerbrewing.com), a lager-focused brewery helmed by a descendant of European brewers, the tented beer garden—or more properly, biergarten—that was born out of the pandemic will be back for a third summer. Follow the brewery on social media for the latest on what food truck will be parked out front. If tequila is more your style, pull up a lime green chair on the umbrella-shaded patio at Blanco Cocina & Cantina at Oakbrook Center (2022 Spring Rd., Oak Brook, blancotacostequila.com) for taco platters and a pitcher of strawberry-habanero or jalapeño-pineapple margaritas. 

Photos courtesy of RH Rooftop Restaurant, Old Town Pour House, Goldfinger Brewing Company, and the dairy barn