The best spots at Chicago's summer fests
Before you blindly follow the crowds into a downtown festival, use our map to plot your plan of attack.
1 SummerDance, Jun 27–Sept 15, 2013
After spinning your date around the sylvan dance floor in a love-locked tango, know where to plant your feet next—by the alcohol-purveying snack bar southeast of the dance floor. What a romantic coincidence that you’ve stuffed exactly $12 into your pockets—just enough for two sangrias.
2 Chicago Blues Festival, Jun 6-9, 2013
A wise man once said, The larger the fest, the longer the Port-O-let line. The potty 4-11 for this behemoth gathering: Toilets are located in the paths near the north Rose Garden, next to the Gibson Guitar Crossroads Stage at Jackson Drive and Lake Shore Drive, and by the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage on Columbus Drive just south of Jackson Drive. A wise man also said, Pack your bag with extra t.p. and hand-san.
3 Taste of Chicago, Jul 10-14, 2013
Day in the sun turned dehydrated nightmare. Once happy kids lost in a grease-stained throng. However improbable, your worst fears could materialize at the granddaddy of all street fests. No worries, there’s a remedy: the lost-children area and first-aid tent, both just southeast of the Congress Drive and Michigan Avenue entrance. A more likely situation? You struggle to find time to hit up all the food booths. Plan your attack with a printable Taste map at tasteofchicago.us.
4 Chicago Outdoor Film Festival, no longer running
This is a rarity for Grant Park fests, but arriving early for prime seats here doesn’t mean camping out the night before. Take advantage: Come a couple of hours before sundown and make a beeline for the southeast corner of Monroe Drive and Lake Shore Drive. Plop down right beneath the screen, stretch out on the blanket, grab some z’s and—voilà!- Behind you a huge crowd amasses as you revel in the best seats in town.
5 Chicago Criterium Bike Race
If it’s too crowded to see your favorite pro rider in the flesh (hey, who’d want to miss those svelte, muscle-bound creatures?), check out the JumboTron placed by the Congress median at Columbus Street. For prime viewing, stand at Buckingham Plaza and feast your eyes on the big screen.
6 Lollapalooza, Aug 2-4, 2013
Sun hammering down, voracious dancing, large beers consumed, excessive sweating. Sheesh, long music fests are hard work. Q101’s Hammock Haven to the rescue. Several hammocks conveniently sit at the northeast side of Buckingham Fountain. Now, when you walk from the Bud Light stage to the AT&T Stage, you won’t get so tired you settle for the smaller crowds (i.e., less sweat-provoking) of Ben Folds.