Arts & Culture » Summer Guide

The Reader's guide to summer 2014

Three road trips, dozens of farmer's markets, an avalanche of festivals, our favorite restaurant patios, and 110 things to do every day from now till Labor Day

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It would be pretty easy to keep griping about this past winter—you know, the coldest four-month period on record in these parts. And now that it's summer, who doesn't want to kick back and put in minimal effort? So guess what? Winter sucked. It sucked hard. The long underwear, the salt stains, the heating bills, the agoraphobia, the snow, the sleet, the sludge. At a certain rock-bottom point even the best of us would've traded his or her firstborn for a weekend of lounging in a cramped, sun-beaten Chicago backyard, a cheap Mexican beer in hand and a toe dipped in a child-size inflatable pool. Sometimes the sweat beading on our brows is a sign that all is right with the world.

So this summer is dedicated to heat. Let it rain down and inflict the gnarliest of pit stains. Let it microwave our brains into misremembering the Polar Vortex. And let it force us out of the house (and maybe even out of Chicago).

The Reader has ideas for making the most of summer. If you're looking to leave town, Wisconsin's Door County peninsula offers the magnificence of Instagram-ready woodland scenery—not to mention kayaking and yoga retreats, a good fish boil, and a huddle of goats at a pancake house. Or there's the, ahem, endearing attractions of the Quad Cities, the kinda metropolis composed of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, Rock Island and Moline in Illinois: an A-level baseball stadium with a page ripped right out of Field of Dreams, a jazz festival dedicated to the memory of local cornet hero Bix Beiderbecke, and the John Deere Classic, a PGA stop named for the machinery behemoth headquartered in Moline. Or maybe you're up for an anthropological excursion to Benton Harbor, Michigan—formerly well populated by the House of David religious sect—and the Eden Springs amusement park that's slowly being rebuilt there.

Of course, you might not want to leave Chicago all summer long—and that's OK, too. Our agenda is filled with music festivals, fairs, farmers' markets, and plenty of outdoor patios for both eating and drinking. And if you want to put little to no effort into exploring all these things to the fullest—yes, you deserve a break—the Reader has constructed a mega 110-day calendar with something to do up to and through Labor Day. The heat is on. Kevin Warwick

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