I returned to Chicago yesterday after 5 wonderful days in Mexico. It wasn’t all vacation, the reason for my travel was to attend the TBEX North America conference though, I admit, I clocked more than a few hours by the pool and at the beach.
And, wouldn’t you know it, summer seems to have vanished from Chicago while I was away! This tends to happen in this city, new seasons simply show up with little warning and send Chicagoans to either add or shed layers in unison. There is an undeniable fall chill this morning and while I’m happy to embrace my favorite season (football! sweaters! crunching leaves!) I can’t help but feel like this summer went by way too quickly.
September is a bit of shoulder month here and while kids are back at school, Labor Day is behind us and summer is unofficially over, there are ways to extend it.
Get on the water
Nothing says summer in Chicago like being on a boat; seeing the city from the water, feeling that lake breeze on your face or experiencing the exciting bustle of the Chicago River. From large, fancy dinner cruises like the Odyssey to paddling the river with Urban Kayaks there are plenty of vessels and types of cruises to choose from. But if it’s a breezy summer happy hour experience you’re after then look no further than the Chicago Electric Boat Company. The 100% electric boats can be rented by the hour and filled with a group of friends along with a selection of your favorite beverages and snacks. Rentals are $150/hour for 10 passenger boats and $200/hour for 12 passenger boats and, here’s the kicker, you can drive them yourself and conduct your own river cruise. While the price isn’t bad when split 10 or 12 ways, the company will sporadically throw up a special weekday deal on their Facebook Page so be sure to follow them to stay in the loop and take advantage of special offers.
Outside, that is. Don’t you just love how nearly every restaurant in the city boasts “outdoor seating” in the summer months? Many of those same places try to extend summer, too, by adding outdoor heaters next to their tables, making it possible to dine al fresco well into the fall. Want to take that one step further? Check out one of the many rooftop bar/restaurants all over the city and soak up the view! One of my favorites is the J. Parker Rooftop atop Hotel Lincoln in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the north side. With Lincoln Park, Lincoln Park Zoo and Lake Michigan to the east and the loop to the south you can sip on one of their signature cocktails and admire Chicago from above.
Chicagoans well know that in a few short months our outdoor time will be limited, so take advantage of the bearable temperatures NOW! Go to the beach (at your own risk, lifeguards went off duty the first week of September,) go for a run or bike along the lakefront, read in the park, stroll neighborhood streets or venture outside the city and take a hike. As much as I love the city, I also love getting out of it from time to time to hit the trail. There are several State Parks with trails, wildlife and natural beauty to admire within an hour or two of downtown. Check out the DNR website to find one that interests you then grab a water bottle, your hiking shoes and a group of friends (or your dog!) and get out of the city for a day in nature.
Go to a festival
Nothing screams Chicago summer like attending one of its many festivals and, despite what you may think, Chicago’s festival season is far from over! While the big ones may take place in the summer months there are still plenty of festivals to keep you exploring new neighborhoods well into the fall. And not just Oktoberfest, either! Check out the Festival Calendar for more information.
Catch a ballgame
Sure, the chances of either of Chicago’s baseball teams playing into October are slim to none but there are still plenty of home games to enjoy in September. If you haven’t been to Wrigley Field yet this summer, I recommend you find day to go as the historic ballpark celebrates 100 years this summer. The Cubs are in town now thru September 24 and the White Sox are at home from September 25-28. That’s two more weeks of Chicago baseball so grab your cap, an overpriced Bud Light and perhaps an extra layer, just in case, and enjoy one of the last games of the season. And remember, there’s always next year…