The kids go back to school in a few weeks, but there is still plenty of summer fun to enjoy. If you need a little help planning some special outings to make the most of this month, here’s the August Edition of the Go West Guide to Summer Fun! 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 or are something you could do any day of the week. I tried to make that clear, but of course follow the links for more information. Plus, if you don’t like the suggestion for the day, check out the Go West Calendar – you’ll always find several more choices there! Happy August!
Monday, Aug. 1: The Chicago Bears are in training camp at Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais through Aug. 10. If you have fans of Da Bears in the house, perhaps it’s time to hit the road and watching the team practice for free? Please visit the Bears Training Camp website to get all the details on the schedule and special promotions.
Tuesday, Aug. 2: More than 16,000 communities will be celebrating National Night Out, America’s Night Out Against Crime. Held the first Tuesday in August, the event is designed to boost community involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. The two public pools in Geneva are offering free admission starting at 6 p.m. and Elgin has a block party in Festival Park featuring a free showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” More than 30 Aurora neighborhoods are hosting events, too! Here’s a comprehensive guide to National Night Out events in Chicago’s far western burbs.
Wednesday, Aug. 3: You can picnic on the Riverwalk today in Naperville at 11:30 a.m., attend a free concert at 6 p.m. at Millennium Plaza in Aurora, enjoy Campfire Stories and Songs at the downtown Aurora Public Library at 7 p.m., or see a 7 p.m. concert by Red Woody followed by the movie “Field of Dreams” at the Batavia Riverwalk. All options are FREE!
Friday, Aug. 5: You have your choice of festivals and fairs going on today through the weekend: Kendall County Fair in Yorkville, McHenry County Fair in Woodstock, North Aurora Days in North Aurora and RomeoFest in Romeoville! At Cantigny Park, your family can watch “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on a big screen outdoors at about 8:15 p.m. Included in the regular $5 weekday parking fee. The 19th Annual Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show also kicks off today, although it looks like details are still being finalized as I write this list. Find details on the show’s website and also its Facebook page.
Saturday, Aug. 6: The Morton Arboretum is holding its 2nd annual Destination Asia cultural festival on Aug. 6 and 7. Admission is free with paid admission or membership and will include live music and performances, games and activities, botanical activities, and more. For a full schedule of events, click here. Also, the Fox Valley Aero Club’s 11th Annual Festival of Flight R/C (remote control) Air Show will be held on Aug. 6 from 9 a.m. to dusk. There will be RC aircraft of all types and sizes, helicopters and 3D stunt planes. You can enjoy close-up plane viewing around noon. There will be exhibition flights with special aircraft and a noon time air show. (Bring your lawn chairs.) For the kids, there will be an RC Airplane candy drop. Charge for admission is $5 for adults, children 12 and under are free. For more info, visit www.foxvalleyaero.com or click here for the 2016 event poster. Finally, the Pixar animated film “The Good Dinosaur” will be shown at Aurora’s Phillips Park at dusk. It’s a free screening.
Sunday, Aug. 7: A number of events wrap up today: the Kendall County Fair, McHenry County Fair, North Aurora Days, RomeoFest, and the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show. Check the Go West Calendar or their individual websites for more details. At Cantigny Park, the Next Tuesday Band will be performing pop and rock at 3 p.m. Admission to the show is included in the regular $10 weekend parking fee.
Monday, Aug. 8: 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. In the evening, Gail Borden Library is hosting a touch-a-truck display from about 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Your family is encouraged to bring a picnic dinner to enjoy on the west lawn at 6 p.m. Beverages and dessert will be provided for free by the library.
Tuesday, Aug. 9: The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse Series wraps up for the summer with a showing of “Max” at the Cinemark Tinseltown USA in North Aurora, Goodrich Quality Theaters is showing “Despicable Me 2” at 10 a.m. every day through Friday in Oswego and Batavia for $1, and Studio Movie Gill is showing “Home” at 11 a.m. every day also through Friday for $1. If you want to spend the day outside and don’t mind a drive. check out Pirate Cove Children’s Theme Park in Elk Grove Village.
Wednesday, Aug. 10: The Wednesday Morning Movie Series at Classic Cinemas in St. Charles wraps up for the summer with a surprise movie being shown at 10 a.m. Tickets are $1 per person. The movie will be rated PG. Rustic Road Farm in Elburn is hosting a free storytime at 10 a.m. today, too. In the evening, Kevin Trudo will be performing a free concert at Millennium Plaza in downtown Aurora at 6 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 11: Riverfest Express, the community festival in South Elgin, gets underway today and runs through Aug. 14 at Panton Mill Park, across from the Village Hall. There will be fireworks to open and close the festival at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday. If you’d like to check out a new pool before they close for the season, going later in the day is a way to save some money. Check out our Guide to Special Twilight Rates.
Friday, Aug. 12: If your family is up for a road trip, the Illinois State Fair in Springfield is running from today through Aug. 21. If that seems kind of far, the Mendota Sweet Corn Festival is going on through Sunday, Aug. 14. Much closer to home, there will be a free concert in the park by the junior high band in Oswego’s Hudson Crossing Park at 7 p.m. Or you can watch Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” at Central Park in Naperville at dusk for free.
Saturday, Aug. 13: You have your choice of farmers markets today in downtown Aurora (8 a.m. to noon), downtown Batavia (8 a.m. to noon) and Primrose Farm in St. Charles (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) along with the Wheaton French Market (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) The Batavia Park District will be re-dedicating Engstrom Park in Batavia at 10 a.m. (it has a zip line now!) with family-friendly games and refreshments. And there’s a free star-gazing party in the evening at Peck Farm Park in Geneva.
Sunday, Aug. 14: Head to Naper Settlement on Sunday for a “Naperville Plays!” special event featuring the DuPage Children’s Museum and Naperville Public Library from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum on this day includes free sundaes from Colonial Cafe with do-it-yourself toppings.
Monday, Aug. 15: This week marks the first week of school for most suburban public schools. But if you still have little ones at home, checking out a new splash park or sprayground is rarely a bad idea in August! Another great spot to visit with a littler one is Deicke Park in Huntley – I promise it is worth the drive!
Tuesday, Aug. 16: If this afternoon turns out to be too hot or too rainy for outdoor play, you have a couple of easy indoor options offered at park district facilities: The Treehouse Play Area in West Chicago or the Indoor Playhouse at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora. But if today is nice weather, we’ve featured lots of new “Great Parks!” on Go West this summer – perhaps try out a new one!
Wednesday, Aug. 17: Your kids can try out Hands-On Milking today at 10 a.m. at Primrose Farm for a fee. (Admission to this 1930s historical working farm is free.) Or you can head to St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville for tractor-drawn wagon rides from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. also for a fee.
Thursday, Aug. 18: You’re invited to hear Miss Jamie’s Farm perform on a special “Thursday Family Night” at Morton Arboretum from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is only $5 per person to the arboretum after 4:30 p.m. The weekly Classic Car Show also takes place in downtown Geneva around the courthouse lawn.
Friday, Aug. 19: The 87th annual Elburn Days gets underway today and runs through Aug. 21. It’s an important fundraiser for the Elburn Lions Club and features a carnival, parade, tractor pulls and more.
Saturday, Aug. 20: Today is the day for Bugfest, the popular annual event organized by the Fox Valley Park District to celebrate our our 6-legged friends. Start your adventure at Lippold Park with fun bug games and insect encounters. Then travel the stroller-friendly Fox River Trail or explore the wood-chipped hiking trails to Red Oak Nature Center and bug-related activities. This event is free and runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Refreshments and products are available for purchase. Alternately, if you’re not afraid of your kids getting dirty – like really dirty – the Oswegoland Park District offers Puddle Jumpers Morning and Pig Pen Afternoon.
Sunday, Aug. 21: The children’s band Wendy and DB performs at noon at Cantigny Park, wrapping up the Kids’ Concerts series for the summer. The concert is free, but the $10 weekend parking fee applies. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets. These performance are held rain or shine, except in extreme weather.
Monday, Aug. 22: River’s Edge Cafe is hosting a free storytime at 11 a.m. featuring children’s libraries from the Aurora Public Library leading songs, stories, fingerplays and dance. The cafe will provide a free treat for the kids.
Tuesday, Aug. 23: Has your family been to Lippold Park in North Aurora yet this summer? It’s a very unique place! Just go to the bathroom before you head there – last I heard, it still lacked facilities.
Wednesday, Aug. 24: If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, the new Hamill Family Wild Encounters exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo earned rave reviews last year. Alternately, you can hop on the Union Pacific West line for a trip to Elmhurst – kids ride free on Metra through Labor Day!
Thursday, Aug. 25: In the “History Alive” program at Cantigny Park, children ages 6 to 12 are invited to learn about a different military topic each week. Dress in a soldier’s uniform, interact with artifacts and participate in games and crafts from the day’s designated time period. This event, held in the First Division Museum, will have its last session Aug. 25. It is free, but the $5 weekday parking fee applies.
Friday, Aug. 26: 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 new Hawk Hollow Nature Playground. There are plenty of shady places for a picnic.
Saturday, Aug. 27: Did you know you can ride a paddlewheel riverboat on the Fox River? Yep – they cruise the river north of St. Charles, leaving from Pottawatomie Park. Check this page for exact information on the times, but the boats run daily in the summer and on weekends in September and October through Oct. 16. Prices are $7.50 for adults, $6 for kids. Definitely a relaxing way to spend part of an afternoon! Another question: Did you know the Aurora Farmers Market is the oldest in Illinois? It will be held every Saturday through Oct. 15 at the Aurora Transportation Center from 8 a.m. to noon.
Sunday, Aug. 28: Perhaps there is time to fit in one more visit to a favorite public pool? Call to double check the exact hours, but Geneva’s Sunset Pool, Aurora’s Phillips Park Aquatic Park, Turtle Splash Water Park in West Chicago and St. Charles’ Otter Cove Aquatic Park have traditionally stayed open through Labor Day, at least on weekends.
Monday, Aug. 29: If you haven’t seen the Kane County Cougars play yet this year, this is one your last chances during the regular season. The Cougars will play Beloit today at 6:30 p.m. and do have three more home games scheduled through Sept. 5.
Tuesday, Aug. 30: This will be the last of the “History Connections” at Cantingy Park for the summer, where families are invited to connect with the past through challenges or activities designed to explore military themes. Families can drop into the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park anytime between 1 and 3 p.m. on Tuesdays to participate. All History Connections events are free with paid weekday parking of $5. Another option for history lovers is a trip to visit the Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley in Schaumburg. Admission is free, and the farm and visitors center are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday through Nov. 19.
Wednesday, Aug. 31: We raved about our trip to the Three Oaks Recreation Area in Crystal Lake, and you still have a few days to find out why! The swimming beach here is open daily from 10 a.m. to sunset, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.