Looking for what to do in the Chicago suburbs? Whether staying in the suburbs or looking for a fun day trip from Chicago, here are the best things to do in the suburbs of Chicago. From the best attractions to fun and unique activities, there are many of places in the Chicago suburbs worth visiting for adults and kids.
Things to do in the Chicago Suburbs (2023)
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Below are the top things to do in Chicagoland including upcoming events and festivals. I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I update it regularly with new events and activities.
Top Things to do in the Chicago Suburbs
If your time is limited, below are my top 3 things to do in the suburbs of Chicago. I have listed the remaining activities and attractions by region.
Explore the Morton Arboretum
Morton Arboretum (in Lisle about 26 miles west of Chicago) is home to more than 4,000 different types of trees among 1,700 acres. The Arboretum is full of hiking and biking trails or you can just drive through by car. Kids will particularly enjoy the 4-acre Children’s Garden.
The Arboretum offers seasonal events throughout the year. In addition to enjoying flowers in the spring and summer, the Arboretum is one of the best places in the Chicago area to see fall colors.
Visit the Chicago Botanic Garden
Chicago Botanic Garden (in Glencoe about 24 miles north of Chicago) is one of the world’s great living museums and conservation science centers with 27 gardens and four natural areas, situated on 385 acres on and around nine islands, with six miles of lake shoreline. You can explore the Garden by walking or a tram tour. The website has a list of suggested garden walks including seasonal walks which maximize nature viewing opportunities.
Chicago Botanic Garden offers seasonal events throughout the year including the popular Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns for Halloween and Lightscape (November 10, 2023 – January 7, 2024), an after-dark, illuminated holiday lights trail during the Christmas holiday season.
See the Baháʼí Temple
The Baháʼí House of Worship in Wilmette is the second Baháʼí House of Worship ever constructed and the oldest one still standing. It is one of eight Baháʼí temples in the world and the only one in of North America. The temple is open to the public and used as a devotional space for people of any faith. Even for those not interested in going inside, it is worth seeing the beautiful exterior.
Things to Do in the Western Suburbs
Below are some of the best things to do in Chicago’s western suburbs:
- Learn about architecture and see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park.
- Take photos under colorful umbrellas in Elmhurst. Elmhurst is the sixth US city to welcome the Umbrella Sky Project, which will be in place until August 31, 2023. You can find a map of the 3 umbrella sky locations and find out more about the Umbrella Sky Project here.
- Check out the new Andy Warhol exhibition at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art in Glen Ellyn until September 10, 2023. See original Warhol works and photos taken by the artist and experience Andy Warhol’s life through interactive exhibits, recreations and videos created exclusively for this exhibition including a historical exhibit, a Kids Pop Art Print Factory and more.
- Listen to classical music by candlelight at the Oak Park Arts Center. Candlelight Concerts is a series of special classical music concerts that take place in beautiful venues bathed in candlelight including Candlelight: A Tribute to Queen and More.
- Stroll along the Naperville Riverwalk.
- Go indoor skydiving in Naperville.
- See animals at Brookfield Zoo, a large 216 acres zoo that houses around 450 species of animals.
- Play hundreds of video games at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, the largest video arcade in the USA.
- Admire beautiful flowers at Lilacia Park, a 8.5-acre park in Lombard. The best time to visit is during the spring to see their lilac and tulip gardens.
- Visit Cantigny Park, a 500-acre public park in Wheaton and the former estate of Joseph Medill and his grandson Colonel Robert R. McCormick, publishers of the Chicago Tribune.
- The 2,503-acre Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien is known for its small waterfalls, the Sawmill Creek bluff overlook and extensive trails.
Things to Do in the Northwest Suburbs
Below are the top things to do in Chicago’s northwest suburbs:
- Take the kids to LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago, a 30,000 square feet indoor LEGO® playground.
- Take photos next to the Leaning Tower of Niles, a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- Shop at Woodfield Mall, the largest shopping mall in Illinois located in Schaumburg.
- Shop or dine on Swedish meatballs at Ikea in Schaumburg.
- Bike or hike the Fox River Bike Trail, a 40 mile long bike trail alongside historic railroad lines, crossing six bridges and passing through nature preserves and charming towns like St. Charles. This brew and bike tour is a a great way to explore the area.
- Go indoor skydiving in Rosemont.
- See the beautiful architecture of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Complex in Bartlett, a traditional Hindu place of worship built of intricate hand-carved Italian marble and Turkish limestone.
Things to Do in the North Shore
These are my favorite things to do in the North Shore:
- Learn about history at the Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie.
- Walk around Northwestern University’s beautiful campus in Evanston.
- Listen to classical music outdoors at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park from June 6 to September 10, 2023.
- Bike or hike the North Branch Trail System, approximately 20 miles of paved and unpaved trails along the North Branch of the Chicago River which connects the northwest side of Chicago to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.
- Take the kids to Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview.
- Spend some time at one of North Shore’s many beaches.
Things to Do in the Far North Suburbs
Below are the top things to do in the far North suburbs of Chicago:
- Have fun at Six Flags Great America, an amusement park located in Gurnee.
- Enjoy the outdoors Illinois Beach State Park, 4160-acre park stretching 6.5 miles along Lake Michigan in northern Illinois recognized for its geological structure, unique flora, and recreational opportunities for swimming, boating, hiking, biking and picnicking.
Things to Do in the Southwest Suburbs
Below are the top things to do in Chicago’s southwest suburbs:
- Take a tour of Old Joliet Prison, a former correctional facility which was used as a set for various films and TV shows including The Blues Brothers, Prison Break and more.
- Drive part of historic Route 66 which starts in Chicago and passes through several southwest suburbs.
- Challenge yourself at The Forge: Lemont Quarries, an outdoor 300-acre adventure park for all ages.
- Learn about nature, hike, visit the man made waterfall or rent a canoe or kayak at Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens in Palos Heights.
More Things to do in the Chicago Suburbs
- Walk through sunflower fields in various suburbs.
So there you have it – the best things to do in Chicago suburbs. If there is an experience or place you think I should include please let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more fun things to do in the suburbs? Check out these upcoming festivals and events near Chicago:
- Glendale Heights Oktoberfest (September 14 – 24, 2023)
- 8th Annual Elmhurst Craft Beer Fest (September 16, 2023)
- Deer Park Art Show (September 16-17, 2023)
- Naperville Riverwalk Fine Art Fair (September 16-17, 2023)
- Celebración de los Árboles (The Morton Arboretum) (September 16-17, 2023)