At the start of each summer, I make a list of some of the activities I want to do with the family while the kids are home on summer vacation. Some involve hitting the road, but most of the activities are close to home and I realize more and more how much there is to do in our own backyards. There are eight things that I like to do each year for it to really feel like summer to me: attend a festival/fair, an outdoor concert, trip to the drive-in, trip to the beach, a visit to an amusement park, visit a water park, visit a zoo and go to a major league baseball game.
So far, it’s not technically even summer yet and I’ve marked half off the list by visiting the public beach in New Buffalo, Mich., going to three Cubs games, hitting the Indianapolis Zoo and taking in the Brad Paisley concert with my son. Those, however, are just the standing activities that make it on the list every year. Plans to come include a visit to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Theme Park in Santa Claus, Ind., a visit to the 49-er Drive-in in Valparaiso and the Lake County Fair. Then there are a lot of local things that I add, too.
Here are a few things you may want to put on your summer itinerary:
Farmers markets take place in several communities in the area, including Thornton, Homewood, Munster, Highland and Chesterton.
Fishing can be done at several local lakes and ponds, including Erfert Park in Lansing and the Wampum Lake Forest Preserve area.
Paul Schultz’s Historical Walk in Downtown Lansing at 6 p.m. June 23. Meet behind Gayety’s Chocolates and Ice Cream, 3306 Ridge Road in Lansing.
Go to the website for the Cook County Forest Preserve at www.fpdcc.com to learn about spots to go for bird watching, fishing, hiking and more.
Visit Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland to see some creatures, some gardens and some structures that give you a sense of what it was like living in the area long ago.
Make a list of seasonal restaurants to visit and get your fill of ice cream on the hot summer days.
See Chicago like a tourist. Pick out some of the landmarks you haven’t been to (or haven’t been to recently) and make a day of it.
Plan to visit Lansing’s Cruise Nights where you can check out classic cars on Ridge Road on July 12 and Aug. 2.
Join the library’s summer reading program and set a goal.
Check with your local park district on sports lessons and local camps where kids can learn a new skill and make new friends.
Stop at the Lansing Historical Society to see the June Brides exhibit which includes several vintage gowns from the past century along with other wedding accessories of the past.
Outside of the south suburbs are other events:
Munster has a Touch-A-Truck at Community Park from 10 a.m. to noon June 27 that has free admission.
You’ll find several “Movie in the Park” events locally, including a showing of "Mary Poppins" at Munster’s Centennial Park at dusk on July 7 and "Wizard of Oz" on July 21.
Spend a day splashing in the Munster Community Pool, which is open daily.
Plan a visit to a beach. Whiting’s Whihala Beach is a favorite of our family.
Take in a game of the Gary RailCats, which will cost a fraction of going to a major league game and offers lots of family friendly fun.
See a free concert in the park. Check with local municipalities and park districts to see concerts like the Echos of Pompeii (Pink Floyd Tribute) on July 18 at Centennial Park in Munster and the American English (Beatles Tribute) on Aug. 15.
Check community calendars of area towns and villages and plan on visiting a fun festival, like Whiting’s Annual Pierogi Fest.
Plan a nostalgic lunch at a place like the Port Drive-In in Chesterton where you can sit in your car and have your car hop bring it out. It’s a fun trip back in time.
Lansing Business Women’s Association Open House
The LBWA is having an open house for those who would like to learn more about the group and how you can be involved in networking and serving the community by becoming a member. It takes place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lansing Municipal Center, 3141 Ridge Road in Lansing.