Nine Splendid Reasons to Get Outdoors This Summer

Public art. Beer. Floating museums. Let’s review.

By Michael Nolledo

Nine Reasons to Get Your Keister Outside in Chicago This Summer
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22 May 2017

This is the first installment of 37 Things a Man's Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September.


Another summer means street festivals, downtown movies and other en plein air exploits. Which, for the most part, is why we live here.

Allow us to add a few more reasons, with the nine outdoor adventures every Chicagoan should partake of this summer.

Below you'll find the city’s new 300-acre bike park, the easiest way to escape to the backcountry and the floating museum bringing the arts to a river near you.

Pack your sunblock.

1. Don your best inquisitive face at the Floating Museum
Debuting this summer is this mobile museum concept — a floating barge for the arts that will make stops along the Chicago River and bring with it film screenings and interactive art exhibitions. The barge will travel from the southeast to Eleanor Park then to the Chicago River Walk, before docking at Navy Pier, where it will stay for two months. All summer long

2. Recall that teenage angst at the Shermer Club Festival
From the folks that brought you last year’s Ferris Fest comes another reason (and only acceptable time?) to pop your collar and relive the ‘80s. This immersive film festival celebrates the life and times of John Hughes, whose teen comedies were filmed largely in the ‘burbs. In addition to screenings, the four-day fest includes Q&As, full live scene recreations and film location tours. June 22-25

3. Catch some air at The Park at Big Marsh
If you’ve been looking for a place to stretch your legs, here it is: the 300-acre Big Marsh Park, which opened late last year on a former slag dump on the South Side. Those who make the trek are rewarded with singletrack, gravity and flow bike trails, as well as multi-use trails for walking and running. All this in a nature park just a few acres smaller than Grant Park. All summer long

4. Sleep under the stars with Adventures Accessed
Looking for the easiest way to escape? That’d be Adventures Accessed, the company started by a Marine Corps vet and national forest guide that takes you out in the wild and supplies you with food, shelter and all the essentials. The outfitter's 2017 calendar includes stints out to Manistee National Forest and, for the true woodsmen among you, a more advanced survivalist-style excursion. All summer long

5. Explore and celebrate the “Year of Public Art” 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has declared 2017 the “Year of Public Art,” which is as good an excuse as any to go out and admire ours. There are a few ways you can do this. Chicago Sculpture International is offering three tours spanning three different segments of the city of its artists’ outdoor works. Meanwhile, the Chicago Architecture Foundation has its two-hour Sculpture in the Loop tour. Also recommended: the CAF's Secrets of the Loop, an immersive walking tour in partnership with Detour. All summer long

6. Get it right, get it tight at the Chicago Athletic Association's Summer Fitness Series
Everyone knows Cindy's, that aerie of a bar at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, is home to one of the best views in the city. And now you can enjoy that view during sunrise. Only catch? You've gotta downward dog. Everyone's favorite Art Deco hotel has teamed up with On Your Mark Coaching & Training for a series of free fitness classes this summer, and you'd do well to sweat it out. Options include sunrise rooftop yoga and high-intensity strength sessions in Grant Park. All summer long

7. Hit the sand at the Chicago Whiskey Wine & Spirits Beach Festival
Previously known as Whiskey Wine and Swine, Chicago’s favorite adult sporting league is bringing back its lakefront party with a new name and three session options to help with crowd control. Going down at Montrose Beach, expect something for everyone: whiskey, wine and spirits. Here’s the only the time when mixing is acceptable (still, not recommended). June 24

8. Catch the Cubs, among other things, at the Park at Wrigley
Wrigley Field has come a long way. And if you’re not visiting to catch the world champs play ball, there’s more than enough going on on the east side of the park to keep you occupied. The new plaza at Wrigley is hosting a slew of outdoor events this summer, including movies curated by the Music Box and a night version of the Green City Market. All summer long

9. Quench your craft beer thirst at Friday Night Flights
Because one craft beer is never enough, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and Choose Chicago have come together for a sudsy six-festival-series going down in different neighborhoods. Held on — you guessed it — Fridays, the series aims to highlight brewing “hubs” all over the city, from Pilsen to Ravenswood. Beer lovers should consider buying a six-pack sampling pass to attend all of ‘em. All summer long

Main Photo: Park at Wrigley/Facebook

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