Chicago Summertime Quarantine Guide

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Residents of Chicago, like those across much of the county, are under a stay-at-home order during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a town that trudges steadfastly through the winter waiting for the jailbreak of spring, it’s good to know that there are fun things to do in Chicago in the summer without violating the quarantine.

State guidelines say time outdoors for exercise or fresh air is allowed. While practicing social distancing — wearing masks and staying at least 6 feet from other people at all times — we still have several choices for summertime fun. Here’s our list of the best things to do in Chicago in the summer while keeping safe.

Explore the Architecture 

Architectural boat tours are always among the most popular things to do in Chicago during the summer. While the boats are docked, take on the city in smaller chunks.

A Loop walking tour could take you past a who’s who of high-rises — Marina City, the Rookery and Willis Tower, among many others — all within less than two miles.

Or contrast the quaint, bohemian residences of Old Town with the nearby historic mansions and brownstones of the Gold Coast. Another stroll could take you among the stately Victorians lining Beer Baron Row in Wicker Park.

Have Dinner Delivered 

Chicago has some of the best food in the world, from fine dining to the city’s ubiquitous beef sandwiches and deep-dish pizza. You could sit in Lincoln Park and do a Saturday Showdown with pies from Pequod’s Pizza and Lou Malnati’s Pizza. Or, if you’re holed up in the West Loop, 10 of the 25 Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago are in your neighborhood. Ordering from each of them is one of those summer things to do in Chicago that could carry you into the fall.

Get Out

Any list of the best summer activities in Chicago must include visiting the city’s many parks. While the Chicago Park District has closed the Lakefront Trail, all nearby parks and beaches, park district buildings and playgrounds, many other parks remain open, including:

  • Humboldt Park — A few blocks west of Wicker Park, this sprawling 197-acre park is worth the visit. Named in 1869 for German scientist and explorer Baron Freidrich Heinrich Alexander Von Humboldt, the park includes a lagoon popular with local fishermen, a youth-sized replica of Wrigley Field and several Prairie-style buildings.
  • Wicker Park — This park features nearly five acres, including ornamental gardens, a historic fountain and a dog-friendly area.
  • Oz Park — Taking up 14 acres on the west side of Lincoln Park, Oz Park honors “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and its author L. Frank Baum. Since 1995, statues of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and Dorothy and Toto have been added to the park, which also features an Emerald Garden.
  • Washington Square Park — Easily accessed from the Gold Coast, Streeterville or Old Town, this small gem won’t be overflowing with the usual wedding celebrants this year. A lush floral garden, historic fountain and period lighting highlight its three acres.
  • Lake Shore East Park — Surrounded by the dazzling modern skyscrapers of the New East Side and just steps from the Chicago River, this space — officially named Park No. 546 — offers nearly five acres of green lawns, a walking path and a dog-friendly area.
  • River Esplanade Park — Take a stroll along this park’s walking paths, covering a little more than an acre on the north bank of the Chicago River in Streeterville.
  • Ping Tom Park — Along the south branch of the Chicago River, this 17-acre site has been transformed since 1998 from an old rail yard into a beautiful, rolling green space. It’s a South Loop treasure, with many design nods to neighboring Chinatown.

For up-to-date information on park closures, check the Chicago Park District website. And don’t forget, Chicago is one of the most bike-friendly big cities in the world. Of its more than 200 miles of protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, only a small fraction are currently off limits.

Be a Birder 

If you’re a Chicagoan, you should be able to tell the difference between a blue jay’s squawk and a cardinal’s musical call. With more than 300 kinds of birds native to the area, wander any neighborhood with an Audubon field guide and a pair of binoculars, and you’ll engage in a pursuit that is at once relaxing and competitive, solitary and communal — and among the very best Chicago summer things to do.

First Things First 

With all the things to do in Chicago during the summer — even during a quarantine — your first priority should be to find a perfect place in the perfect neighborhood. In this especially challenging real estate market, let Downtown Apartment Company guide you. Check out our listings of available apartments today.

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