10 Ideas for Summer Fun in Arlington Heights

One of our clients moved from Texas to our hometown of Arlington Heights, Illinois last December with her husband and her four school-aged children. A move is stressful for anyone. Moving from south to north in the dead of winter and adjusting to what seemed like perpetual gray skies, and much colder temps than what they were used to made this move extra tough on this family. The promise of summer and the ability to play outside without fear of fire ants (a big problem in TX from what I understand) helped to get them through.

To get a head start on summer fun, this smart momma decided to hire Archer Personal Concierge Services to do some shopping for her, rather than taking her four children to WalMart and Lowes. The assignment actually was to purchase a sandbox and 150 lbs of sand, deliver it, and install it in her back yard. While I was helping her, we started talking about fun things to do in Arlington Heights in the summer and I promised to create a list for her. Whether you’re new to the area, or just looking for ideas, I thought you might like to see the list too.

Here are a few of the Arlington Heights activities I suggested …

  1. Visit a farmer’s market and enjoy fresh, seasonal, local produce. The Arlington Heights Farmer’s Market started last weekend and runs every Saturday through October 4. Check their calendar for special features this year like food trucks and musicians. Palatine, Mt Prospect, and Barrington also have markets, if you’re looking for a change of scenery.
  2. Sign the kids up for the Summer Reading Program at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. The program has something for kids of all ages – even adults – and runs from June 5 through August 13.
  3. Attend Storytime in the Park. The first one is on June 6 at Pioneer Park.
  4. Kick off summer as a family on June 9 by having dinner at the Picnic in the Park. This is a great family event, with entertainment for all ages. You can bring your own food or buy dinner from a food truck.
  5. Support the arts. Take a leisurely stroll through the Promenade of Art, which is being held in downtown Arlington Heights on June 10 and 11. There’s also a March for Art on June 14.
  6. Go to Recreation Park for Frontier Days, aka “The Festival.” There’s entertainment on three stages. (Gin Blossoms, Rick Springfield, and Jefferson Starship are playing this year.) There’s also a carnival, a craft fair, and lots of other fun activities -- too many to name here. (Perhaps the best part is that over the years the Festival has donated more than two million dollars in excess funds to the Village of Arlington Heights, the Arlington Heights Park District and many other not-for-profit groups, according to the Frontier Days website.) This year Frontier Days runs from 6/30 to 7/4.
  7. For what may be the best fireworks you’ve ever seen, watch the display put on by Arlington Park on the 3rd of July. If you don’t mind crowds, you can buy special tickets and watch from the grandstand. Otherwise, you can see pretty well from the top of the parking garages in downtown Arlington Heights or at the Courthouse on Euclid, where you can also see displays from surrounding towns. When my son was a toddler, we hung out on the grass next to the track along Wilke and had a fine view.
  8. The Arlington Heights Fourth of July Parade is not to be missed. It’s one of the biggest and best in the area. It starts at 10 and steps off from Dunton & Oakton. From there it travels South on Dunton to Miner and then East to Recreation Park.

    TIP: Locals save seats by putting blankets and chairs out on the parkway the night before. Competition can be fierce, but you’re not supposed to put your dibs in before 7 p.m.   
  9. Irish Fest  takes place on July 14 and 15 on the grounds of the Historical Society.

    NOTE: The Arlington Heights Historical Society and Museum is one of the best kept secrets in Arlington Heights. Be sure to check out their full list of classes and events. They are celebrating their 60th year and have a lot of fun things planned.
  10. Go see the horses at Arlington Park. There’s a full schedule of special events throughout the summer. My favorites are Breakfast at Arlington on August 6 and the Arlington Million on August 12. There’s also a festival in downtown Arlington Heights the week before the Million called the Mane Event, which is lots of fun. This year it’s on August 9.

    TIP: If you’re going to the races, buy your tickets online and save $2. If you wait til after the 7th race, you might even be able to get in free. 

    TIP: You can also go hang out alongside the rail and watch the horses practice for free early on Saturday mornings. I like to stop at Dunkin' Donuts first and get coffee for me to drink and munchkins for my son to snack on while watching the horses. Park in the lot on Wilke, walk up the embankment and look for a break in the fence. The jockeys might even stop and say hello.

If you’re looking for something a little further afield, check out the Chicago Kids 2017 Guide to Free Summer Fun and O the Places We Go. Enjoy Illinois is another great resource.

What's on your "top ten" for local fun? Please add your favorites in the comments.