As the weather warms and COVID-19 vaccinations increase, activities around the Chicago area that were previously closed are seeing a big return this summer.
From concerts to farmers markets, Chicagoans will likely be able to feel a taste of normalcy in coming months as businesses and events reopen citywide.
Take a look at things to do across the city and around the area this summer:
See an Outdoor Concert at Ravinia
Get Chicago local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Chicago newsletters.
Ravinia Festival has announced its summer concert lineup, preparing to reopen the park for the first time in more than a year for an in-person 2021 season.
The summer lineup will include 64 performances between July 1 and Sept. 26, organizers said, and will be the 85th season in Ravinia's history as the oldest outdoor music festival in the country.
Some of the featured pop, rock, indie, country and reggae artists in the lineup this year include:
- Classic Albums Live: Led Zeppelin IV, July 24
- Yacht Rock Revue debuts at Ravinia, July 31
- Sideline makes its Ravinia debut, August 11—Carousel Concert
- Willie Nelson & Family and Nate Smith, August 14
- Gladys Knight, August 18
- The Infamous Stringdusters and Leftover Salmon in their Ravinia debuts, August 20
- The Beach Boys, August 21 and 22
- John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band, August 24
- Lake Street Dive, August 26
- Train, August 27 and 28
- King Crimson and The Zappa Band make their Ravinia debuts, August 29
- Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, and Tonic share the bill on September 1
- Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco, September 10
- Black Violin and Blind Boys of Alabama, September 11
- Ben Folds with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, September 18
- Ziggy Marley: A Celebration of Bob Marley, September 19
- Andrew Bird, September 24
This year, all concerts will be shorter, with no intermission, and will take place outside in the open-air pavilion with a reduced capacity. Tickets must be reserved in advance, and distanced seating will be used throughout the facility.
Tickets for the general public will go on sale on Ravinia’s website in two phases: on June 16 for concerts between July 1 and August 15, then on July 21 for concerts after August 15.
Head North for Summerfest 2021 to See Luke Bryan, Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and More
Summerfest, the popular Milwaukee music festival, has released its lineup for the 2021 event, which will take place over three weekends in September this year and is bringing some big names to Wisconsin.
The Jonas Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Luke Bryan, Chance the Rapper, Chris Stapleton, Miley Cyrus and Zac Brown Band are among the headliners/.
Summerfest typically takes place in late June through early July every year but was pushed back to September this year to allow more time for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, organizers said.
The festival will now take place across three weekends: Sept. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18, with kick-off concerts on the Wednesdays before. Tickets are on sale now here.
Visit a Farmers Market
As the city continues its reopening plan, farmers markets across Chicago have begun welcoming residents back for the 2021 season.
Though some markets have not announced official plans for a summer reopening, others have released schedules and information concerning the upcoming kickoffs following closures last year due to the COVID pandemic.
For a list of Chicago farmers markets, click here.
Catch a Baseball Game
Take a trip to Chicago's South or North Sides to catch a White Sox or Cubs game as fans can now fill the stands at a limited capacity.
Guaranteed Rate Field can hold 22% of fan capacity while adhering to social distancing protocols, allowing six feet of distance between pods of fans at their games, according to a team spokesperson. Meanwhile, at Wrigley Field, is limited to 20% capacity with additional safety requirements.
For White Sox tickets, click here. For Cubs tickets, click here.
Enjoy a Unique Art Exhibit
This summer, Chicago is welcoming a variety of new, unique art exhibitions to the city, including "The Art of Banksy," "Michelangelo Sistine Chapel Exhibition" and "Immersive Van Gogh."
Aside of special special exhibits, the city's renowned art museums are now open as well, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. MCA will also kick off Tuesdays on the Terrance on June 1, a concert series in the heart of the city.
Take a Trip to Outer Space with Art on theMart
For those who would rather stay outdoors to view art, the 2021 season of Art on theMart runs through July 4, featuring the new "Astrographics" digital production in partnership with the Adler Planetarium.
The 16-minute digital light performance explores outer space, featuring an array of planets, stars and more sights, according to a release. Art on theMart officials said the show will display how humans imagine their universe over time.
Spend a Day at a Chicago Festival
As Chicago continues to reopen, a return of both new and old music festivals are expected to make a return this summer. Here's the ones we know of so far:
- Windy City Smokeout
- State Street Festival
- Riot Fest
- North Coast
- Hyde Park Jazz Festival
- Printers Row Lit Fest
- The South Side Jazz Coalition – Jazzin’ On The Steps
- Jazz Institute of Chicago – Chicago Latin Jazz Festival
- Chinatown Summer Fair
- Lyrical Lemonade's Summer Smash Festival
For more festivals taking place around the Chicago area, click here.
Listen to Local Artists at a Night Out in the Parks
The relaunch of the 9th season of Night Out in the Parks this summer will feature more than 100 of Chicago’s talented artists and organizations performing in over 350 outdoor cultural arts events.
This year’s experience will reconnect diverse audiences across all of Chicago’s 77 community areas with the arts and cultural landscape of the City. Movie screenings in 100 parks will kick off on July 6 at Oakdale Park in the Washington Heights community. For additional information, visit www.nightoutintheparks.com.
Take a Swing at Maggie Daley Park's Miniature Golf Course
Maggie Daley Park’s 18-hole, Chicago-themed miniature golf course, and ribbon will be open daily, starting April 30. In the summer, the ribbon is transformed to welcome scooter users, rollerbladers, and roller skaters. Weekend rentals are now available.
The park will offer daily rentals starting on May 28. Concessions at Maggie Daley Park will also be open. For details about Maggie Daley Park activities, visit www.maggiedaleypark.com.
Enjoy a Bite to Eat Outdoors at One of the City's Al Fresco Dining Spaces
As the city warms over the next few months, Chicagoans will likely be on the hunt for places to wine and dine outdoors. The city is known for its foodie scene, filled with plenty of patios and rooftops.
Choose Chicago has offered up a list of places currently offering outdoor dining in Chicago. Here are some highlights:
Avli Taverna: 1335 W. Wrightwood Ave.
Beatrix Fulton Market: 834 W Fulton Market
Aba: 302 N. Green St. 3rd Floor
Mesler: 1401 E. 53rd St.
The Duck Inn: 2701 S. Eleanor St.
Theater on the Lake: 2401 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Beatnik on the River: 180 N. Upper Wacker Dr.
BOKA: 1729 N. Halsted St.
Formento's: 925 W. Randolph St.
Siena Tavern: 51 W. Kinzie St.
Wood: 3335 N. Halsted St.
Happy Camper: 1209 N. Wells St.
Tzuco: 720 N. State St.
LuxBar: 18 E. Bellevue Pl.
For more, click here.
Browse a Chicago Art Fair
Along with the indoor art exhibits coming to Chicago, outdoor art fairs across city neighborhood will also welcome back visitors. Here are the ones we know of so far:
- Old Town Art Fair: June 12 & 13
- Pivot Arts Festival: May 21 – June 5
- Southport Art Fest: July 10 & 11
Get Your Gears Ready For Chicago's Auto Show
The Chicago Auto Show will take place from July 15 through July 19 this year, officials said, shorter than the usual nine-day run that takes place in the winter. It will also be held both indoors and outdoors for the first time since it started in Chicago in 1901, officials said.
Other safety measures that will be put in place include: a move to Hall F in West Building, timed entrance windows and staggered entry to prevent congestion, a face mask requirement at all times, sanitization stations, contactless delivery for tickets, a temperature scan and medical questionnaire before entry and more.
Catch a Performance at a City Theater
From Broadway in Chicago to Goodman Theatre troupes, performance centers across the city have announced reopening shows as the city loosens coronavirus restrictions for the summer.
Here are some returns we've heard about:
- Broadway In Chicago – Six at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place running October 5, 2021 – January 30, 2022
- Goodman Theatre – School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play reopening in August
- Lyric Opera of Chicago 2021/22 season including opening night featuring an all-new production of Verdi’s Macbeth on September 17
- Court Theatre – Othello from July 8 – August 8
- Chicago Latino Theater Alliance – Sola en la pandemia está cañón at Joe's on Weed Street on June 19
- The return of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts at Symphony Center including "Fanfare" opening on May 27
Watch Fireworks Light Up Chicago's Iconic Navy Pier
In celebration of the reopening, Navy Pier will also host a 10-minute fireworks show every Saturday in May. The shows are set to start at 9 p.m., and guests will be allowed to watch the displays from Navy Pier's open spaces.
During the initial phase of reopening, Navy Pier will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. New rides will open in "the coming weeks," and the rest of Navy Pier will reopen "sometime in May."
Guests will be required to wear a face mark at all times and encouraged to keep a six-foot distance between others not in the same party. All Pier Park rides and attractions will operate at a limited capacity and will be cleaned after each use, according to Navy Pier.