Summer may be winding down, but there's still time to get in some more good family fun. Whether you're looking to enjoy the weather at a street festival or the zoo or beat the heat at a water park or air-conditioned museum, you'll want to check out these 10 activities while you still can before the inevitable school bell rings.
Family Day at Arlington Park Racetrack
2200 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, (847) 385-7500, arlingtonpark.com
Hours: noon to 4 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 3
Price: $8-$12; free for kids
Arlington Park's annual Family Days are even bigger this year, adding free pony rides, a petting zoo and face painting. Each week brings different entertainment, including the chance to climb aboard a fire truck Sunday, Aug. 19; a Radio Disney performance Sunday, Aug. 26; and an exotic animal show Sunday, Sept. 2. After watching a race, kids can gather at the winner's circle where the winning jockeys will give away signed goggles.
500 W. Jackson Ave., Naperville, (630) 848-5092, napervilleparks.org
Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. daily Monday to Friday, Aug. 13-17; 11 a.m. to dusk Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and Labor Day through Sept. 3
More than 135,000 people flock to Centennial Beach each summer to spend the day swimming, picnicking and generally having fun in the sun. While you're there, you can stop by the Centennial Grill if you didn't have time to pack your own lunch or just want to cool off with an ice cream cone or shaved ice.
"Chagall for Children"
Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview, (847) 832-6600, kohlchildrensmuseum.org
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays through Sept. 2, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays
Price: $9.50; $8.50 for seniors; free for kids under age 1
Originally developed by the Kohl Children's Museum in 1996, the Chagall for Children exhibit travels around the country, but returns home to a new batch of kids about every five years. The exhibit features 14 stations incorporating the works of artist Marc Chagall into activities like building a stained-glass window by moving Plexiglas on a backlit board and creating flower arrangements complete with floral scents.
"People really enjoy the interactive elements," said Sheridan Turner, museum president. "I think they're surprised to see how the work of an artist is brought to the level of children so children can really engage with the art rather than just look at it and be in an environment where it's 'don't touch.'"
Grayslake Summer Days
Downtown Grayslake, (847) 223-6888, grayslakechamber.com
Hours: 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, Aug. 17, and 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, Aug. 18
Celebrate the season with a carnival, food vendors and live music. Catch a bike and pet parade at noon Friday and a lineup of floats and bands from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Everts Park, 130 Highwood Ave., Highwood, (847) 432-6000; celebratehighwood.com
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15
After the inaugural Garlic Fest proved to be a huge success, Highwood moved the event to a bigger park to allow for more vendors and plenty of seating where you can enjoy sweet and savory dishes ranging from pasta and garlic bread to garlic gelato and cupcakes. Wash it down with a drink crafted by one of the local bars competing in the new garlic cocktail contest. About 20 women will be vying for the title of Garlic Queen and more than 10,000 garlic bulbs will be on sale.
"It'll smell great when you come in," said Eric Falberg, Highwood's special events alderman. "You're going to smell it from blocks and blocks away. Last year, people were saying they could smell it from cities over."
Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Fest
Sunset Park, 5200 Miller Road, Lake in the Hills, (847) 658-4213; summersunsetfest.com
Hours: 3 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31; 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, and 11 a.m. to 10:30 Sunday, Sept. 2
The 12th annual festival is packed with activities including a carnival, 5K race, bags and horseshoe tournaments, a battle of the bands, live music and a Sunday night fireworks show. On Saturday, browse merchandise from more than 30 crafters.
4000 N. Bridge St., Yorkville, (630) 882-6575, ragingwaves.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Sunday, Aug. 19, and Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 30
Price: $28.99; $19.99 for kids
This summer's record heat makes the state's largest water park even more appealing. Coast along the lazy river and hop off to ride incredibly steep body slides, swim in the wave pool and brave the four-person Boomerang, which launches you into a funnel where you are swept up the sides. You can also check out the new zip line, which has four courses that will have you hanging 72 feet in the air.
Six Flags Great America
1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, (847) 249-4636, sixflags.com/greatamerica
Hours: Check website for details
Haven't gotten a good scream in this summer? Check out the new trackless roller coaster X Flight along with other top rides like the Superman: Ultimate Flight, the Dark Knight Coaster and Vertical Velocity. Admission includes entry to the Hurricane Harbor water park with its 60-foot tall tornado funnel slide and the Wipeout's 35-foot drop. Your best bet is to get soaked when the day is at its hottest and then cool off with some rides.
South Elgin Riverfest Express
Panton Mill Park, 10 N. Water St., South Elgin, (847) 774-1151, riverfestexpress.net
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16; 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, Aug. 17; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18; and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19
The 16th annual event includes live music, food from more than 15 vendors, a craft show, a car show and a carnival. Wristbands for unlimited rides are available if you want to maximize your thrills. The event concludes with a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road Brookfield, (708) 485-0263, czs.org
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 7
Price: $20; $13.50 for kids
If regular insects creep you out, you'll want to steel yourself to face the gigantic animatronic versions on display at "Xtreme Bugs." Learn about the important roles that bees, spiders, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects play and, if you're brave enough, touch some real bugs.