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Oak Park Summer

Top Things to Do in the Oak Park Area This Summer

Conveniently located just 9 miles west of Chicago’s loop, the Oak Park Area has piqued the interest of domestic and international visitors for decades with its marvelous architecture and rich cultural history. However, it should come as no surprise that there’s more to this collection of charming communities than notable architecture – so much so that it was named one of the top 10 neighborhoods in the nation by the American Planning Association. It’s a family-friendly, welcoming community where residents and visitors alike come together to take advantage of the summer’s warmer weather with a loaded slate of popular events and outdoor attractions. Here are some of the top things to do this summer in the Oak Park Area.

Food & Drink
Start your weekends early at Thursday Night Out in Downtown Oak Park, Thursdays from 5-9PM through 8/31. Purchase a dine-around booklet, good for 4 eligible menu items, and dine al fresco at any of the 20 participating restaurants while enjoying live music and free entertainment under the stars!

Produced by Seven Generations Ahead, the Micro Brew Review, the largest zero-waste beer festival in the Midwest, returns to downtown Oak Park on 8/19. 70 Midwestern breweries will be pouring samples of more than 200 of their finest craft beers, and attendees can also purchase local bites and dance to live music at this energetic annual event.

Foodies can find their bliss at Taste of Cermak Road. On 7/27, 10 popular restaurants along Berwyn’s Main Street will be offering a wide assortment of small plates and sweet treats. Tickets also include raffle entry, a trolley ride, and an exclusive after-party with live music.

Stock up on the freshest regional produce, flowers, spices, baked goods, and more at farmers markets in the Oak Park Area. The Oak Park Farmers Market runs every Saturday from 7am-1pm and has earned a reputation as one of the state’s best with its live bluegrass tunes, high-quality produce, and homemade cake donuts. The Berwyn Township Farmers Market takes place the second and fourth Sunday of summer months through 10/22 and offers a range of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as artisan and craft vendors. Saturdays from 8am-1pm, the Brookfield Farmers Market welcomes a rotating mix of local farmers with sustainably grown Midwestern produce alongside fresh coffee, pastries, and more. Those looking for outdoor markets with historic backdrops should check out the Riverside Farmers Market each Wednesday from 2:30-7PM, with an assortment of locally sourced products ranging from pizza to smoothies.

Architecture
A National Historic Landmark and one of the most innovative structures of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple is fresh on the heels of a comprehensive $23 million dollar restoration. The doors were reopened to the public for tours and programming in July 2017, so there’s no better time to visit and take in the renewed grandeur of its skylights, woodwork, and glass art.

Having spent 20 years building homes in the Oak Park area, Frank Lloyd Wright's legacy is honored on 8/20 at the acclaimed Wright Ride. A cycling event with 10, 30, 50, and 68-mile routes, participants are surrounded by the scenery and charm of the Oak Park Area and its treasure trove of Prairie-style structures. Those looking for a more leisurely jaunt on wheels should check out the Pedal Oak Park Tours, hosted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust and running through 8/31. These guided bike tours wind through Oak Park's Historic District and showcase 21 jaw-dropping Wright landmarks.

Marvelous architecture extends to neighboring Riverside, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who was famous for his design of New York City's Central Park. A National Historic Landscape District since 1970, Riverside is home to more than 70 notable designs by 20th century architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, William Le Baron Jenney and William Eugene Drummond. Explore these charming buildings during the Frederick Law Olmsted Society’s walking tours, held once a month through October. The cost is $15 per person and $10 for members, or seniors, with free parking available.

Arts, Culture & Entertainment
Kick off your summer weekends unwinding with Brookfield’s Summer Concerts in the Park at Kiwanis Park. Every Friday, artists hit the stage and perform everything from country to soul while attendees can play a game of disc golf or go for a leisure hike against the backdrop of the relaxing tunes. Sundays through August 20th, you can enjoy a Summer Concert in the Park at Oak Park’s Scoville Park. The lineup ranges from modern jazz and blues to classic, family-friendly rock, and offers the optimal setting to enjoy a picnic with family and friends.

Savor art, food, wine, and music the way the Europeans do during Art Dans la Rue, a French street festival on Tuesday, 8/1 from 2-9PM. This family-friendly affair features face painting, can can dancing, crepes, beignets, macarons, baguettes, a French-inspired art exhibit, live music, and more. 

The Oak Park Festival Theatre, the Midwest’s oldest professional outdoor theater group, has been entertaining locals and visitors since 1975 and continues to stun audiences with its rising talents and fresh visions. This summer, the classic and chilling “Macbeth” is brought to life in Austin Gardens until 7/22, followed by the swashbuckling adventure “The Fair Maid of the West” from 7/27 through 9/2.

Take the whole family to see Brookfield Zoo in a whole new light – dazzling laser lights, to be exact – at Summer Nights. Friday and Saturday nights through August 12, guests will enjoy cooler evening weather, enhanced dining options, a beer and wine garden, performers, and a vibrant laser light show.

Route 66 - The Mother Road
Popularized as a cultural icon in literature, music and TV, Route 66 is well-known throughout the United States as the legendary Midwestern gateway to the West. Berwyn celebrates its stretch of the Historic Route 66 at the annual Route 66 Car Show, where more than 10,000 visitors take to Ogden Avenue and explore uniquely vintage cars. Rousing live entertainment – like flame-throwing and nitro-fueled drag racing – is also a highlight.

For a great event throughout the summer catering to auto aficionados, check out Berwyn Cruise Nites on various Tuesdays from 6-9 p.m. Visitors are invited to the Berwyn Depot District for vintage car gazing, bar hopping, and mingling with the locals. Downtown Riverside welcomes car enthusiasts the second Thursday of summer months for Riverside Cruise Nights, a hopping car show displaying vintage vehicles and offering prizes for the coolest cars on display.

This is just a small sample of all the great things to do in the Oak Park area this summer. Check out the calendar of events for more festivals, and download the area visitor guide for more ideas.

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