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25 Things to Do With Chicago Kids Before School Starts

Summer days, driftin' away...If seeing school supply lists is sending you and your kids into a panic over the impending end of summer, stay calm, and summer on! We've done the research (not a bad gig, honestly), and rounded up the ultimate Chicago Summer Bucket List, complete with all the outdoor movies, festivals, and FREE summer activities for families in Chicago that you'll want to fit in before school starts up again on Tuesday, September 3.

Best Chicago Beaches for Families

Who says you need an ocean to go to the beach? Chicago families can get their swimming fix at a good old-fashioned beach by taking advantage of the “Midwest Coast” of Lake Michigan, or the many smaller lakes and even repurposed former quarries dotted throughout the suburbs.

The best beaches for families include easy parking, bathrooms with changing facilities, concession stands for little snackers, and maybe a playground or other attraction for when kids get tired of the water. Many of the Chicago Park District beaches are accessible by bus for families who prefer public transit.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly beaches in Chicago and the suburbs.

Best Free Public Pools in Chicago for Families

Summer takes its sweet time coming to Chicago, but when it finally arrives, you can find Chicagoans swimming, floating, and soaking up the sun at one of Chicago’s fifty (!) free outdoor swimming pools. Many Chicago public pools have separate splash pads, water playgrounds, or kiddie pools with zero entry for the littlest swimmers, and a few even have water slides! Most public pools are also ADA accessible, and offer locker rooms and bathrooms. While most pools do not have concession stands, there is usually an entrepreneurial neighbor with a popsicle cart nearby.  

Each pool has its own schedule with dedicated times for adults, families, classes, camps, all-female swim, all-male swim, and more. Be sure to check the schedule (and the pool rules!) before you go. Here are a few of our favorite FREE outdoor pools in Chicago for no-cost summer fun with kids. 

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