Summer in Chicago’s far western suburbs is awesome, so awesome that it can be hard to manage your calendar! So we present the Go West Guide to Summer Fun, a day-by-day guide to the best activities for families! Below is the June edition, we’ll post the July edition in a few weeks and the August edition toward the end of July. Many of these events are FREE, none require advance registration and while some are tied to their specific date, others are part of a series, and we tried to make that clear.
Thursday, June 1: Every day is a good day to visit the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin and its awesome play area for young children. This summer, the library is hosting “Dinosaur Giants: An Exhibit from the Sereno Fossil Lab.” This is a free exhibit featuring fossils, real dino bones your kids can touch and expedition images, as well as a number of special scheduled programs. It will be at the library until Sept. 24. (Note there is some heavy construction scheduled in downtown Elgin by the library through June 5, so you might want to delay your trip until after then.)
Friday, June 2: The Taste of Wheaton is one of the first summer festivals and it continues in downtown Wheaton (centered around Memorial Park) through Sunday. You can find a detailed event map and schedule of events about halfway down on this page. Another option … Cantigny Park will be showing a number of movies outdoors on Friday nights this summer, all included with the weekday $5 parking fee. First up is the recent animated hit “Zootopia,” at the bandshell at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 3: The Oswegoland Park District is hosting a special daytime “Fam JAMS Concert in the Park” on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Hudson Crossing Park. Ben Tatar and the Tatar Tots will be performing a special set for the little ones. This is a free show. Also today, the Elgin Public Museum is hosting its annual Bubblefest from noon to 2 p.m. outside the museum in Lords Park. Your kids can make a bubble blower, shake hands in a bubble, make beautiful bubble art and even stand inside a bubble! This is a drop-in event. The fee is $2 per person for members, $3 for non-members. Also today, the West Chicago Park District is hosting a free touch-a-truck event from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Turtle Splash parking lot. Child care seat safety checks will be offered this year, too. Also today, the Messenger Public Library is kicking off its summer reading program with a performance by Jim Gill at 10 a.m. The concert will be outside, so bring a blanket to sit on.
Sunday, June 4: The Naperville Park District is hosting the 11th annual Frontier Kite Fly Festival on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Frontier Sports Complex in Naperville. There will be music, kite demonstrations, face painting, and more. The event is free but in the past there has been unlimited inflatable jumping for $5. Bring your own kite. Also, the Geneva Commons is hosting its 15th annual Summer Concert Series on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in June, starting tonight with a 5 p.m. show by High Infidelity “rocking” the hits from the 1980s through today. These are free shows, and lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.
Monday, June 5: If the weather is nice today, consider packing a picnic lunch or dinner and checking out Lippold Park, a 30-acre natural area tucked between the Fox River and Route 25 and being developed in phases by the Fox Valley Park District. It has some unique play elements and a fun boardwalk, too. If the weather isn’t so nice, the Red Oak Nature Center, also part of the FVPD, is open year-round and free to explore. In the evening, Classic Movie Mondays allows you to see a classic movie on a screen at the gorgeous Paramount Theater in downtown Aurora for just $1. Some movies are more family friendly than others; tonight’s showing is the 1980s animated film “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.” Doors open at 6:15 p.m. The movie starts at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 6: For those with little ones, the Geneva Park District is taking its “Tales on the Town” storytime to Kilwin’s in downtown Geneva at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. If the weather cooperates, this will be outdoors. If the weather is rainy or too hot, a great library to spend a morning, afternoon or evening exploring is the new Santori Public Library in downtown Aurora. Here’s what to expect at this beautiful new public space.
Wednesday, June 7: Each Wednesday morning from June 7 through Aug. 9, Classic Cinemas will show a family-friendly film with admission of $1 per person. The show time is 10 a.m. but the doors open at 9 a.m. and you’re encouraged to come early to meet costumed characters and participate in games and fun activities. First up in the Wednesday Morning Movie Series is “Kung Fu Panda 3” being shown today at 10 a.m. at Charlestowne 18 in St. Charles. Find the entire summer 2017 lineup here. Another option is to take advantage of the “Free Parking Wednesday” at Cantigny Park – either today or another “1st Wednesday” of the month this summer! And in the evening, you can watch “Angry Birds” for free at dusk in Glen Ellyn’s Spalding Park, the first in the Movies in the Park series from the Glen Ellyn Park District.
Thursday, June 8: The Elgin Public Museum is offering a free “Adventures in the Zoo” program today at 11 a.m. You’ll join museum staff at the Lords Park Zoo for a lesson on native plant identification and usage, and make a flower-themed craft to take home! In the evening, you can head to Montgomery Park (River and Mill streets in Montgomery) to see 3AM play melodic ’90s rock at 7:30 p.m. This concert series is sponsored by the Fox Valley Park District and Village of Montgomery and will feature shows in both Aurora and Montgomery.
Friday, June 9: The St. Charles Farmers Market runs every Friday from June through October at the Baker United Methodist Church from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also today, the “Preschool Awareness World Series” being offered by the Elgin Public Museum at Lords Park Zoo (or PAWS for short) will focus on squirrels this week. Come on over at 11 a.m. to hear stories, sing songs, make crafts and for other hands-on activities. Find more info here about this free event. Finally, Cantigny Park will be showing “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” tonight at 8:30 p.m. The movie is included with the $5 weekday parking fee.
Saturday, June 10: The Festival of the Fox in St. Charles is know for its signature Dragon Boat Races on the Fox River – those will take place on both Saturday and Sunday. There’s also on Saturday live music, kids activities, food vendors and a free showing of “Moana” at dusk. Find a detailed schedule here. If your family feels like a drive, it might be a good day to explore Spring Valley, a refuge of 135 acres of fields, forests, marshes and streams operated by the Schaumburg Park District. It includes a nature center, a historic Heritage Farm, three miles of handicapped accessible hiking trails and just opened this spring, the Bison’s Bluff Nature Playground.
Sunday, June 11: The Festival of the Fox in St. Charles (see above) continues through today. If you have a child who loves to fish, then plan to attend the Just for Kids Fishing Derby at Blackwell Forest Preserve’s Silver Lake in Wheaton. Anglers 15 and under are invited to join in the fun from 8 a.m. to noon. Kids will get to learn about fishing and advance their skills. Registration can be handled the morning of this free event. Also, the first of the Family Concerts at Cantigny Park get underway, with children’s act Animal Farm performing for the kiddies at noon. This is included in the regular $10 weekend parking fee.
Monday, June 12: Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago hosts an 1890s-themed Children’s Story Hour on Mondays at 10 a.m. all summer long. Your family can sit on blankets or tree stumps in the shade near the farmhouse to listen to stories from the 1890s featuring characters like Tom Sawyer and Peter Rabbit. Admission is free. In the afternoon, your kids can learn about farm chores, too, so pack a picnic and make a day of it! Alternately, if today is a scorcher, you can check out a splash park or sprayground in the area, many of them are free.
Tuesday, June 13: The Cinemark movie theater chain offers a “Summer Movie Clubhouse” featuring PG- or G-rated movies shown at the Cinermark Tinseltown USA in North Aurora at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays from June 13 through Aug. 15. Tickets are $1 per show when purchased at the box office, or you can pay $5 for 10 movies when purchased in advance at the box office or at cinemark.com. Up first is “The LEGO Batman Movie.” Note that the same movies will be shown at the Cinemark Spring Hill Mall & XD, but on Mondays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. this summer. Tonight, at Northwestern Medicine Field in Geneva, the Kane County Cougars start a six-game homestand, first agains the Peoria Chiefs and then the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. While there aren’t fireworks at tonight’s game, there are some later in the week, so check out the promotions offered at each game.
Wednesday, June 14: You have your pick of cheap movies this morning – “The Secret Life of Pets” at the Elgin Cinema, “Storks” at the Charlestowne 18 in St. Charles and Ogden 6 in Naperville, “Wild Life” at the Kendall 10 in Oswego and Randall 15 IMAX in Batavia and “Rio” at the Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton. Check the Go West Calendar for exact times and ticket prices for these movies. In the evening, head to the Batavia Riverwalk to hear Red Woody perform for free at 7 p.m. as part of the River Rhapsody Concert Series, which gets underway tonight.
Thursday, June 15: PrairieFest is Oswego’s four-day community celebration being held from June 15-18 this year and featuring a carnival, a touch-a-truck event, car show, petting zoo, parade, family tent, duck race, free pony rides and more. Here’s a detailed schedule of events for the festival. Admission is free. Alternately bring a picnic dinner and enjoy music, games and activities at an “Evening in the Country” on Thursdays through August from 5 to 8 p.m. at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago. Admission to this all-ages program is free; wagon rides are $5 per person for ages 5 and up and free for children under 5. The theme tonight is “Nature Adventures from the Gilded Age.”
Friday, June 16: PrairieFest continues in Oswego today, with the Cincinnati Circus bringing jugglers, trapeze and aerial artists and their bed of nails to the festival on Friday and Saturday. Also today, the children’s act Istvan and His Imaginary Band will be performing at noon on the Main Stage. Here’s a detailed schedule of events for the festival. Admission is free. Tonight at the Geneva Commons Summer Concert Series, the band Ear Candy will play energetic renditions of dance, rock and pop music from the 1970s to the current day. This is a free outdoor show. It’s also Cantigny’s first Family Night of the summer, featuring a Cruise Night theme (classic wheels get in free) and live music by Joe Kalish (5 pm) and Final Say (7 pm). A variety of food trucks will be on site. Stay for Movie in the Park (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) at 8:30 pm. All free with paid parking ($5).
Saturday, June 17: The Sensory Garden Playground in Lisle is hosting a free “Play Day” from 10 a.m. to noon featuring fun activities like face painting, planting and more. Another option … movies will be shown outdoors this summer in Aurora’s Phillips Park select Saturday nights through Aug. 19. Tonight, the animated hit “Sing” from earlier this year will be shown at dusk. Admission is free; bring your blanket or chairs and bug spray. Before the movie gets underway, there will be family activities including music, dancing and giveaways. Also, the Elgin Ribfest continues today through Sunday in Festival Park. (Admission is $5 per person for the festival, with police/firemen and active military free, as well as kids under 10 with a paying adult.)
Sunday, June 18: Happy Father’s Day! If dear old dad loves cars, then consider heading to the 49th Annual Father’s Day Classic Car Show at Oak Brook Center. More than 100 antique, classic, vintage and specialty automobiles will be on display from 11 a.m. to 6 pm. Admission is free. PrairieFest wraps up today in Oswego. The Kane County Cougars have an afternoon game and are offering a pre-game catch in the outfield for dads and their kids. The Geneva Commons Summer Concert Series features a free performance by SEMPLE at 5 p.m. Also, a number of area pools and miniature golf courses have specials in which dad gets in free with a paying child.
Monday, June 19: Today might be a good day to visit the Butterfly House at Geneva’s Peck Farm Park Interpretative Center. The Butterfly House is open on Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The suggested donation is $2 per person or $5 per family. Make sure to plan time to climb the farm’s silo for some fun views and to play at the popular Hawk Hollow Nature Playground. There are plenty of shady places for a picnic.
Tuesday, June 20: Geneva’s annual Swedish Days Festival features a carnival, live music, children’s activities, a craft show and more. The festival gets underway today and runs through June 25. The main parade steps off Sunday afternoon, and it’s a good one. Admission is free to the festival. Another option if the weather is nice is a visit to Naper Settlement in downtown Naperville. The only day it is closed in the summer is Monday; bring a change of clothes if your kids play in the splashpad at the Early Learning Playscape. (You know they will!)
Wednesday, June 21: The Elgin Public Museum is offering a free “Adventures in the Zoo” program today at 11 a.m. focusing on bees, bats and pollination. You’ll join museum staff at the Lords Park Zoo for a look at these animals and learn what we can do to protect them. This is a free program. Also, today is a “Family Fun Day” at Blackberry Farm in Aurora, which allows for free admission for Illinois residents. All guests (assuming they mean adults) must have a valid ID as proof of Illinois residency. Note that these free days can be quite crowded and longer crowds result in longer wait times for rides and attractions.
Thursday, June 22: Several fun (and cheap) evening options tonight: You can enjoy a free “Evening in the Country” at Kline Creek Farm, a “Thursday Family Night” at the Morton Arboretum (featuring a performance by ScribbleMonster and reduced admission price), a free concert in Lincoln Park in St. Charles by the band Dick Diamond and the Dusters or a free performance by Cowboy Jukebox at Montgomery Park in Montgomery.
Friday, June 23: Swedish Days continues in Geneva, and Friday is “Kids’ Day,” featuring a parade for children that starts at the Geneva Public Library at 11 a.m. with judging of parade entries, followed by a parade at noon. There are other special activities for kids, too. In West Chicago, the park district is launching a free kids entertainment series today with a performance by Istvan and His Imaginary Band at 11 a.m. at the brand new “Shell” in Reed-Kepper Park just east of the ARC Center. Cantigny Park will be showing ““Sing” tonight at 8:30 p.m. The movie is included with the $5 weekday parking fee.
Saturday, June 24: If you’re up for a road trip and the weather is nice, it might be a good day to check out the new Wahoo Woods nature play space directly behind the Dundee Library at 555 Barrington Avenue in East Dundee. Sounds like your kids will get messy here, so bring a change of clothes – and a picnic since you will likely be staying for a while!
Sunday, June 25: Swedish Days wraps up today in Geneva, with the popular Swedish Days parade stepping off at 1 p.m. near Geneva High School and winding its way downtown to the Metra station. Alternately, your family is invited to explore the 1843 Durant House Museum on Sundays and Thursdays this summer from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The museum highlights the life of families living on the Illinois prairie in the 19th century with costumed volunteers providing tours of the home. The admission fee is $2 for adults and $1 for kids. The museum is located in the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles. Find more info here.
Monday, June 26: If the weather is nice for a boat rental today, we have lots of suggestions for you! If the weather isn’t so good and your wants to catch a cheap movie this week, Goodrich Quality Theaters in Batavia and Oswego are showing the “LEGO Batman Movie” at 10 a.m. every weekday through Friday, with tickets just $1. The Marcus “Kids Dream” summer movie series, with $3 tickets, will show “Sing” today and Wednesday at 10 a.m at theaters including the Elgin Cinema. And the Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton will show “Trolls” for $1 at 11 a.m. every day through Friday, June 30.
Tuesday, June 27: Your kids kids can enjoy a free performance at 11:30 a.m. by Super Stolie at Naperville’s Frontier Sports Complex. It’s put on by the Naperville Park District as part of its “Children’s Lunch Hour Entertainment” series. In the evening, the Second Hand Soul Band will play Motown, soul and rock ‘n’ roll at the Summer Concert Series at the Wing Park Bandshell in Elgin at 7 p.m. tonight. This is a free show.
Wednesday, June 28: If you’d like to check out a new pool, going later in the day is a way to save some money. Admission to Swanson Pool in St. Charles, for instance, is just $4 for both residents and non-residents during its twilight swims. The admission fee at Turtle Splash Aquatic Park in West Chicago is half-price after 6 p.m. And at Northside Family Aquatic Center and Rice Pool & Water Park, both in Wheaton, admission is half-price after 5 p.m. On “Way Back Whens-Days” at the Hall Quarry Beach in Batavia, residents pay $4, non-residents pay $7. The quarry also has extended hours on Wednesdays (and Mondays and Fridays) from noon to 7 p.m. In the evening, the Glen Ellyn Park District will be showing “The Secret Life of Pets‘ at dusk in Lake Ellyn Park.
Thursday, June 29: The Downtown Elgin Harvest Market takes place every Thursday through the first week of October, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. You’ll find vegetables, fruits, bread, meat, baked goods, honey, lives and spices, plus a free kids program that starts at noon and lasts until 2 p.m. every Thursday. Find more info here. Afterwards, duck into the beautiful Gail Borden Public Library next door to check out the new Dinosaur Giants exhibit for free!
Friday, June 30: Ribfest gets underway in Naperville and will continue through July 3. This festival does have an admission price, and offers bracelets at various price levels for the Family Fun Area. The Eyes to the Skies Festival also gets underway in Lisle, running through July 2. This is a personal favorite of my family, and I gave you some “insider’ info on how to make the most of it in this post from last year here.