Best of summer in the city

By / Culture / May 28, 2015

This season, pack your schedule with once-in-a-lifetime concerts, long-awaited outdoor events, jam-packed street festivals and market excursions. We pick some of our favorites — new and old — and dish insider tips to make the most of each.

splash orange circle


photo-credWander: Wicker Park Fest

This annual street festival draws over 70,000 people in two days for stellar music, funky art and plenty of food and drink along Milwaukee Avenue (from North to Paulina) July 25-26. This year’s headliners include Veruca Salt, Blonde Redhead and Charles Bradley — plus there’s a kids’ fest for those with little ones in tow. $5 suggested donation;

Insider tip: Check out the installation from Sheryl Oring, an international artist whose “I Wish To Say” project features a mock office, where someone transcribes real letters to the president in order to help the average person voice his concerns on the current state of affairs. So far, thousands of letters have been sent to the White House through the project.

Keep strolling: Also worth checking out is the Wells Street Art Festival (June 13-14). One of the country’s best art fests, it celebrates its 41st year with over 200 booths filled with everything from paintings to pottery. $7 suggested donation;



The 606 2

June 5

Above the Rails Inaugural Gala

This sneak preview of The 606 includes nibbles from chefs Rick Bayless and Bill Kim, libations concocted by award-winning mixologist Charles Joly and a lively afterparty.

Time: 6 p.m.

Place: The 606 at the Western Trail Head, 1821 N. Ridgeway

Cost: $350, $500 VIP. For tickets, visit

Explore: The 606

Years in the making, The 606 is an elevated railway track turned walking trail that connects four (and eventually six) green spaces across the city. Fittingly, it opens June 6 (with a preview gala June 5, see sidebar), and features a 2.7-mile above-ground Bloomingdale Trail through Wicker and Humboldt Parks, Bucktown and Logan Square. More than just a connector, though, it also includes playgrounds, a seasonal observatory, art installations and, in phase two, a wheel-friendly performance space.

Insider tip: In the park’s first season, the Trust for Public Land is experimenting with programming and events like bike repair shops along the trail, toy and musical instrument-making and themed festivals on the weekends. Find out more at

More to explore: Another green space to check out is Maggie Daley Park (337 E. Randolph), a brand-new, state-of-the-art space that’s not just for kids: It also has amenities like a 40-foot climbing wall and tennis courts (coming late summer).



Doug Sohn — aka Hot Doug — makes his triumphant return for Dog Dayz of Summer at Goose Island Barrel Warehouse.

Doug Sohn — aka Hot Doug — makes his triumphant return for Dog Dayz of Summer at Goose Island Barrel Warehouse.

Eat: Chicago Food + Wine Festival

A collaboration between C3 (the company that produces Lollapalooza), Texas chef Tim Love and Food & Wine magazine, this first-ever Lincoln Park festival is a full weekend of culinary fun featuring local and national chefs. There will be bites and pours during The Grand Tasting — from chefs like Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard (below right) — cooking demos and panels, a “Toast & Taste” in Grant Park and a “Last Call” full of cocktails and sweets at a yet-to-be-announced location.

Insider tip: Love offers a few tips to make the most of the festival: “Take a look at the schedule [ahead of time] and pick the demos you really want to see — the good ones fill up early. Chefs tend to bring something cool out of nowhere to these things.” And drink water, of course. “People forget! It’s a marathon, not a sprint, at these types of events.”

August 28-30. For tickets ($175 day pass, $75-$225 events, $550 all-in pass), visit

Keep eating: Doug Sohn — aka Hot Doug — makes his triumphant return for Dog Dayz of Summer at Goose Island Barrel Warehouse (605 N. Sacramento) June 27-28, serving up his beloved sausages and duck fat fries alongside cold beer and live music. $75;



Randolph Street Market 8

Shop: Randolph Street Market

This year-round vintage market’s real draw is its summertime outdoor component, which highlights midcentury repurposed furniture and large architectural pieces. There’s also a beer garden for soaking up the sun, or head inside for a look at pieces by indie designers and to stroll around the global food hall. Founder and producer Sally Schwartz recommends checking out vendors like Sanford Schorr (Fort Worth, Texas), who has the world’s largest collection of vintage charms and buttons, some of which were featured in the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; and Olde Good Things (New York), which excavates items like mirrors and mantels from lavish establishments like The Plaza Hotel.

Insider tips: Come with a focus on something particular — furniture, jewelry, clothes — and then peruse from there to avoid getting overwhelmed. For bigger pieces, take advantage of the market’s free delivery service (Chicago area only), as well as its onsite appraiser. Avoid the parking nightmare with free trolley services throughout the West Loop and Fulton Market, or from Michigan Avenue and Pearson, every hour during the market.

June 27-28, July 25-26, Aug 29-30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Plumber’s Hall, 1340 W. Washington, $8 in advance, $10 at the door;

Shop ’til you drop: Dose Market returns with its summer event June 14 at Venue One (1034 W. Randolph), featuring over 40 new vendors, cocktails from Cocktail Courier and Smilebooth photos with props from famed Chicago artist Matthew Hoffman. $8;


Marcus MumfordListen: Mumford & Sons at Montrose Beach

This summer, Chicago is host to a myriad of musical performances, from the heavily-hyped three-night Grateful Dead reunion to festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork. But it’s not every day that a popular band plays at an unconventional venue, like Mumford & Sons will for their 6 p.m. show June 17 at Cricket Hill at Montrose Beach (4400 N. Lake Shore), a space known for its amazing views of the city and kite flying in the summer.

Insider tip: The general admission concert may be sold out, but there are plenty of tickets floating around on sites like StubHub ( and Vivid Seats ( Since there’s no seating chart, you can still snag an up-close view when the gates open at 4:30 p.m.

Listen up: No summer is complete without a trip to Ravinia Festival (200 Ravinia Park, Highland Park). Grab lawn tickets, pack a picnic and hop on the Metra for one of the many concerts, from The Steve Miller Band (July 10) to Gladys Knight (Sept. 11). For a full schedule, visit





Meredith Wood Prince’s Summer Essentials

The Scout Guide, a publication highlighting and celebrating the best local businesses, rolls out at the Above the Rails Inaugural Gala June 5. We asked TSG editor Meredith Wood Prince to pick her summer must-haves from some of the Chicago spots featured in the 2015 edition.

Pick up a copy of TSG at participating businesses, or email



FeaturePicks4J. Markell Designs: Mara clutch, $650;

“Nothing makes a statement in the summer more than a candy-colored bag. This one is the perfect size for a large phone, keys, money and lip gloss — and it’s beautifully made.”


leah-chavie_2-thermojet-spanish-infrared-body-wraps-300x300Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique: Thermojet Spanish Infrared Body Wrap, $125, 2457 N. Halsted;

“We have long winters here in Chicago, and getting ready for bathing suit weather takes a little more than just diet and exercise. I love this treatment — it always helps me feel more confident at the start of summer.”


FeaturePicks2Miguelina: Bridgette crochet-paneled cotton-lace kaftan, similar styles available at neapolitan collection, 715 Elm, Winnetka;

“It looks amazing with a tan, is easy to pack and makes you feel like you’re somewhere exotic.”


FeaturePicks6Jane Iredale: PureGloss lip gloss in Kir Royale, $24, Salon Duo, 1400 N. Lake Shore;

“All you need [in the summer] is some mascara and a dab of this amazing lip gloss. It stays on forever — even in the water.”


FeaturePicks5LoResAWhole Beauty Institute: sunscreen, $50, 737 N. Michigan;

“It’s paraben free, SPF 30 and has a moisturizer in it — I wear it every day, May through September.”


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