Super Fun Father’s Day Activities with Dad in Chicago

grandpa and grandson grilling, father's day activities

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Dad, pop, daddy, poppa, dadda, father, old man—no matter what you call him when ya need him, he’s extra special and oh so important. From baseball games celebrating Chicago’s love of hot dogs to art-filled exhibits, these Father’s Day activities in Chicago will make him feel celebrated. Here’s our list of what’s tops for pops (or someone extra special who walks in those shoes) in Chicago this Father’s Day.

For Food-Loving Dads

Blue Man Group & 2D Restaurant
Take dad to experience 2D Restaurant, an immersive and interactive 2D comic-book-like restaurant, and snag a Blue Man Group-themed donut. The donut features fresh blueberry puree sprinkled with colored cocoa powder and topped with a marshmallow. Purchase throughout the month of June to receive a code for 20% off an upcoming Blue Man Group performance, which would make a fun Father’s Day gift.

There’s a reason why this annual, finger-licking extravaganza of BBQ is so popular: Grillers come from all over the country to dish their ‘cue and compete for the festival title and the music lineup is always impressive. This Father’s Day, Brett Eldredge is headlining. The Family Area at Ribfest is a fest unto itself with a petting zoo, magic shows, inflatables and more.

Themed Restaurants
Dining out doesn’t have to be a snooze fest. There are lots of places to let imaginations run wild that range from a venue fit for a spy to a delightful meal in a rainforest. Sure, we know these themed restaurants in Chicago can sometimes be sensory overload, mostly for parents, but embrace the silliness. Who says you have to be serious all the time, anyway?

For Sports-Loving Dads

The Chicago Dogs
Chicago’s newest baseball team pays homage to Chicago’s favorite street food, HOT DOGS! Make it a low-key Father’s Day spent at Impact Field in Rosemont watching The Chicago Dogs bring home a “W”.

Miniature Golf
Maybe you have a dad that likes to spend weekends on the greens? Indulge his love of golf by hitting up one of Chicago’s mini-golf courses. There’s even a limited-time-only Pixar-themed course at Navy Pier.

For Art-Loving Dads

Mexican Art Exhibit at Cantigny
Cantigny Park in Wheaton is hosting Alebrijes: Creatures of a Dream World, Jun.-Oct., featuring dozens of mythical animals inspired by Mexican folklore.

Immersive Monet & The Impressionists
State-of-the-art video mapping and ground-breaking animation bring the art of Impressionists to life like never before in Immersive Monet & The Impressionists. Viewers will be bathed in the brushstrokes and colors of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt and many more.

Human + Nature
Five massive outdoor sculptures created exclusively for Morton Arboretum rise above the natural landscapes in the Human + Nature exhibition. The 15- to 26-foot-tall sculptures installed across the 1,700-acre site use thought-provoking human forms paired with elements of nature to bring attention to the deep connections between humans and nature. Three new sculptures will be unveiled Jun. 17.

For Boat-Loving Dads

Sail GP at Navy Pier
Experience the high-adrenaline racing of Sail GP, sailing’s pinnacle league, when 10 national teams race cutting-edge sailboats capable of speeds in excess of 60mph. They’ll turn Chicago’s lakefront into a racecourse at the United States Sail Grand Prix, Jun. 18 & 19.

Chicago Fire Boat Tour
The Fred A. Busse was the largest diesel-powered fireboat in the world and served the Chicago Fire Department until 1981. The Chicago Fire Boat was built specifically to fit under Chicago’s bridges, minimizing response times for emergencies and helping ease congestion in a booming city. Her new owners renovated the retired fireboat and she is now cruising the Chicago waterways once again!

For more boat tour ideas, read our story: Explore Chicago’s Waterways on a Family Boat Cruise.

For Movie-Loving Dads

Chicago Philharmonic’s Black Panther
Experience Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in Concert with Chicago Philarmonic at Chicago Theatre. The night will feature a screening of the complete film with the musical score performed live.

Movies Under the Stars
While an air-conditioned theater might be just what a sweltering summer ordered, the best way to watch a movie in Chicago is outdoors. There are parks, nature centersdrive-ins, hotels and historic attractions reeling family favs. And their lawns or rooftops are yours for the taking. Watch a flick while fireflies dance with our guide to summer outdoor movies.

For Music-Loving Dads

Prince: Immersive Experience
Chicago is glowing purple, Jun. 9-Oct. 9, with Prince: Immersive Experience. Fans can immerse themselves in the music and life of Prince in 10 multi-dimensional spaces. The Experience will also feature historic wardrobe pieces, photography, instruments and much more courtesy of The Prince Estate. 

Pride Fest
Home to an eclectic mix of arts and crafts, food and other vendors, Pride Fest is hands down the Midwest’s largest celebration of gay pride. Four stages play host to some of the most fun pop and dance entertainment acts of summer, one of which highlights Chicago’s best performers in the LGBTQ community.

For Play-Loving Dads

Raging Waves
Splish, Splash! Turn Father’s Day into a play day at Raging Waves. Experience Aussie Mat Dash, a six-lane racing waterslide. Six riders race side-by-side on mats in tunnels to an exhilarating finish at the bottom. You’ll also find several family friendly attractions, including 32 water slides, a huge wave pool, three kiddie pool areas and a relaxing lazy river.

Nickel City
Play old-school games like Skee-Ball and Bozo Buckets at Northbrook’s Nickel City where, you guessed it, games are a nickel.

Fairmont Chicago Lake House
Fairmont Chicago is capturing the magic of lake living with its summer pop-up experience, The Lake House. The lobby has been transformed to emulate the spirit of a Chicago summer spent on the lake with a built-in boat house surrounding the lobby bar accompanied by lake-house-inspired food, drinks and games like cornhole and fun photo opportunities throughout.

Scottish Festival & Highland Games
Travel back in time to a life on the Scottish Isles at the annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games, Jun. 17 & 18. Your wee ones are sure to enjoy the men dressed in kilts, caber tossing, bagpipers strolling, adorable dogs dressed in Tartan, beautiful Heather queens, Haggis eating, and the shortbread contest at the Midwest’s largest Celtic Family Festival.

For Exercise-Loving Dads

Bike Trails
Dust off those bikes, grease the chains, strap on a brain bucket and get those legs pumping on a Chicago bike path. From the shores of Lake Michigan to the furthest reaches of the suburbs, here are our favorite spots to cycle as a family in Chicago.

Climbing Walls
Keep the kids from climbing the walls this Father’s Day and take the family for a rock climbing or bouldering experience at one of our favorite climbing facilities for Chicago families.

For Chicago-Loving Dads

Sky Deck
Sometimes it’s fun to play tourist in your own city, especially when the payoff is great views of our gorgeous skyline and lake. Pay a visit to Willis Tower and, if you’re brave enough, walk the 4.3 feet into a glass box—The Ledge. Before you head up, check out their new museum packed with Instagramable photo opps and fun facts.

For more great views and heart-pounding adventure, head to Michigan Ave. to 360 CHICAGO and TILT. You’ll shoot 94-floors high and lean (and squeal) 30-degrees over Chicago.

For Craft Beer-Loving Dads

Ravenswood on Tap
Ravenswood’s “Malt Row” is home to one of the country’s most prolific craft brewing communities and they’re celebrating that scene at the third annual Ravenswood on Tap craft beer festival, Jun. 18 & 19. This two-day outdoor event features beer and spirits from local breweries, grub from some of Chicago’s favorite restaurants and food trucks, a killer lineup of live music, and handmade goods from local retailers and artists.

— Maria Chambers

DIY Father’s Day Cards for the Special Guy in Your Life
DIY Father’s Day Gifts for the Guy Who Has Everything

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