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12 Fun in the Sun Father’s Day Activities in Chicago

Photo by Marielle Shaw

We’re quickly coming up on Father’s Day weekend, and it looks to be a beautiful (if steamy) few days in our area. If you’re celebrating and want to do something a little bit different this year, save yourself a trip to the store for charcoal, ties and “#1 Dad” mugs and make plans to check out one of these 12 events across the Chicagoland area instead. Best of all: Most of these events are free or low-cost, with only a few exceptions.

If you’re in the mood to show off your moves, two events will fit the bill: Sounds of Summer w/DJ Monty. This free event, which will be at Columbus Park on Friday, June 16th from 12-4 pm, is open to all ages and should be a great time for early birds to catch (or do) the worm and start celebrating before the day is done.

If you can’t make that one though, head to Bronzeville for the We Bring You Bronzeville Dance Party.  This event, hosted by the Chicago Blues Museum, will be held Friday from 6-8 pm in Ellis Park. The event has a Soul Train theme with train lines, costume contests and Soul Train board games for all. This event is also free.

If you’re not into dancing, you could always strap on some skates and join the Skate Into Summer at Lake Shore event at Lake Shore Park.  Running Friday June 16th from 6-8 pm, and is also free, with a limited number of skates to borrow if you don’t happen to have your own.

If Dad (or anyone in  your family, really) is more of a film buff, why not ditch the cookout for a picnic under the stars while you take in one of Chicago’s many Movies in the Park events.  These happen all over the city, and just over Father’s Day weekend feature a variety of films from The Secret Life of Pets and Ghostbusters to the Magnificent Seven or Dirty Dancing, depending on location.

Meanwhile, if tall tales and big fish are more your speed, Northerly Island will be the place to go Saturday, June 17th as they host Family Fishing at Northerly Island. For a $5 fee, anyone aged 8 and up can take part in a 90 minute class led by professional instructors and then take to the lake to catch a big one. If you don’t have your own pole, fishing equipment and bait will be provided.

If it’s sunny (and it looks to be!) on Saturday, June 17th, check out Stargazing: Sun Scopes at Burnham. As long as weather permits, visitors to the Burnham Nature Sanctuary will be able to use special telescopes to spot solar flares and sunspots along with Chicago Astronomer. The event runs from 11 am to 2 pm and is free.

For adults (and adult children over 21 wanting to treat their parents), you might check out Craft Brews at Lincoln Park Zoo. This event spans will run both Friday, June 16th and Saturday the 17th from 6-10:30 pm and features more than 35 local and regional breweries that ticketholders can sample from, at the same time they get a chance to explore the grounds after hours and take part in DJ entertainment and lawn games. Tickets for this event are $49 for General Admission, $79 for a VIP ticket and $20 for designated drivers, and we recommend you snatch up tickets before they sell out.

Over at the Brookfield Zoo, they’re having a Father’s Day BBQ as well. The Brookfield Zoo Father’s Day BBQ will take place Sunday, June 18th in the zoo’s pavillions and features an all you can eat barbecue, cash bar, and DJ entertainment in the zoo’s pavillions.  Tickets are $41.95  for adults and $31.95 for kids and there’s a pretty extensive menu that makes it seem like no one will leave without getting their money’s worth.

If you’re willing to take a drive up north, the brunches at llinois Beach State Park’s Resort are somewhat legendary. Sunday, June 18th will be the Father’s Day Beer Brunch, and features everything from oysters, cheese trays and ribs to waffle, wing and omelet stations. Though the event itself may not technically take place outdoors, the resort’s event room features 360 degree views of the lake, and after you’re finished filling your belly, you’re just a stone’s throw away from a fantastic swimming beach, so you can really make a day of it.  Brunch tickets are $35.95 for Adults, $16.95 for kids 6-11 and $6.95 for children 3-5, with kids under 3 eating free.

Another out of town stop for Father’s Day, the opening performance for the world famous Tempel Lippizans. Sunday, June 18th marks the first performance of the season for these talented handlers and their pure white steeds. If you’ve never seen dressage before, think of it as ballet with horses. The equine athletes and their trainers will work through a series of incredibly intricate movements set to beautiful classical music and show off the Lippizan breed’s unique talents and traits as well as the training processes involved in producing the program.  Tickets for the opener, a 1pm matinee, are anywhere from $22-32 and can be purchased in advance online.

If near the lake or in the country don’t do it for you, you may want to check out one of several Father’s Day brunch cruises taking off from Navy Pier, including the well loved Spirit of Chicago Father’s Day Brunch Cruise. This year’s journey will begin at high noon on June 18th and feature food, games and amazing views. Tickets for the cruise are $57.90 and this is another one we recommend jumping on fast.

Finally, if you or your father are art lovers, wander over to the Gold Coast Art Fair in Grant Park for the weekend. In its 60th year, this fest features over 300 artists whose booths you can meander as well as food, music, beer and even a spin art booth where you can make something of your own to take home.  It’s free to visit and a nice way to spend a day in the park.  The Gold Coast Art Fair will run June 17th and 18th.

Third Coast wishes you a Happy Father’s Day no matter where or who you come from, and hopes you’ll have a fantastic weekend celebrating the people you call family.

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