Those of you who have been living in or commuting to Chicago these past few months may be asking yourself, “What is going on with this weather?” Let’s face it, Chicago’s weather has been having an identity complex. But as we’ve waited for Mother Nature to bestow beautiful weather on us, I’ve been collecting fresh ideas for Chicago summer alfresco fun.

Whether you’re coming in on a quick business trip, enjoying a staycation with friends or planning your annual family vacation, there is a ton of options for everyone, no matter how long or short your trip is. In other words, there’s no excuse for not getting out to see how the Windy City does summer.

For the Family

Millennium Park’s Summertime Film Series: Movies in the Park

Chicago has roughly 570 individual parks available to the public, and one of the largest, Millennium Park, offers up some fantastic programming throughout the year, including their Movies in the Park series. This has been a favorite al fresco activity of mine for some years now. From June 5 to August 21, on Tuesdays at 6:30 PM, you and your movie-viewing crew can head to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion & Great Lawn to stake your spot, get settled in and enjoy an evening at the cinema under the stars. Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drink (in plastic or reusable containers, no glass) so they can sit back and enjoy the show with all of the creature comforts of a movie at home. Free. Click here to learn more.

Summertime Fireworks at Navy Pier

There is one thing I have to admit that Chicago does exceptionally well and that’s fireworks! The best part is that we don’t just save it for the Fourth of July — we host displays throughout the summer. Beginning Memorial Day through Labor Day, park up along the Lakefront and enjoy a 25-minute firework extravaganza perfectly timed to music. Free.

For Groups of Friends

Streeterville Social

Our sun-soaked urban escape above downtown Chicago has everything for laidback days, the happiest happy hours and picture-perfect nights. If you’re traveling with friends and want to bask in the sun while sipping on a refreshing cocktail and enjoying striking views of the city, look no further than Loews Chicago Hotel’s rooftop terrace, Streeterville Social. Now open through Labor Day, it’s the perfect spot to dine al fresco and get #SeriouslySocial, whether over brunch, lite bites or a nightcap. We’re also bringing Streeterville guests some of the freshest local flavors as part of our new Flavor by Loews Hotel & Co. partnerships. Now accepting reservations on Open Table.

Chicago Architectural Foundation River Cruises

If you only do one thing on this list, make it this one. Yes, our Lakefront is iconic in its own right, as is our Chicago River. The Chicago Architectural Foundation offers up one of the best Architectural Tours this city has to offer and all you have to do is sit back, listen and take in the views of the magnificent skyscraper that flank each side of the river bank. This 1.5-hour tour is available through Labor Day and give guests a real insider’s perspective on the history of Chicago’s iconic architecture and river. Get tickets here.

For Traveling Canines & Their Humans

Montrose Dog Beach

Photo credit: @fanchonstinger2

This is another of my favorite summer activities, one I can do with my pup, Oliver — and if he approves, I know your pup will too. Montrose Dog Beach is located along the lakefront trail where Montrose Avenue and Lake Shore Drive meet. This off-the-leash dog park offers access to Lake Michigan and the sandy beachfront and is usually full of dogs who want to get sand in their paws or run around with a friend. The entire beach is fenced-in so it’s as safe as it is fun. Bring a beach blanket and some dog biscuits and settle in for what will surely be one of your most memorable beach experiences.

More Al Fresco Activities to Consider