Summer may not officially end until Sept. 22, but kids going back to school and the approach of Labor Day make it seem like fall is closing in.
So before summer fully slips away, here are 10 ideas for savoring what's left of the season.
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1. Cop a cape
Meet caped crusaders, see the Batmobile and watch "The Dark Knight" and "Man of Steel" at Super Hero Night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater on Saturday, Aug. 24. Costumers for a Cause is providing more than a dozen dressed-up superheroes. The Volo Auto Museum will display the Batmobile, along with the Black Beauty from "The Green Hornet." The museum is also donating the "Man of Steel" pickup truck for a drawing at intermission. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. at the theater, 1510 N. Chapel Hill Road, McHenry. Adult admission is $10, and children 11 and younger get in for $5. (815) 307-5515.
2. Check out a new venue
We're talking RiverEdge in Aurora, of course. The new open-air venue offers great views of the stage and the river. If you haven't made the trek, do it now and see Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers Saturday, Aug. 24. The gates, 360 N. Broadway St., open at 4 p.m. for a succession of music acts that lead up to Grammy-winner Hornsby taking the stage at 8:30. $30 general admission, $100 SkyDeck. (630) 896-6666 or riveredgeaurora.com.
3. Take a hike -- A Theatre-Hike
Stroll the Morton Arboretum in Lisle as actors perform scenes from plays along the way. This weekend features the final two performances of David Wood's adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book "James and the Giant Peach" at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 24-25, while "A Walk With Mark Twain" plays at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in September. The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Route 53, Lisle, and performances range from $13-$19. (630) 725-2066 or theatre-hikes.org.
4. See Chicago -- in Highland Park
The band Chicago plays two shows at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park this weekend. You can enjoy their hits at this popular summer venue, 418 Sheridan Road, at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 24-25. Lawn seats cost $38 ($5 more the day of), and reserved seats cost $90 to $105. Check website for availability. ravinia.org.
5. Visit the stingrays before they leave town
Stroke the wings of some cownose stingrays as they glide through a 20,000-gallon pool at the "Stingray Touch" exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. About 40 stingrays -- both the cownose and the bottom-dwelling yellow rays -- are showcased in this temporary outdoor exhibit, which runs through October (weather permitting). Stingray Touch is included with Shedd's $28.95-$37.95 Total Experience Pass, or can be added to other Shedd passes for $5 per person, $3 for Shedd members. sheddaquarium.org.
6. Embrace the Bard
Free outdoor Shakespeare is a great way to introduce the kids to the Bard, and you have city and suburban options this weekend. If slapstick humor is to your taste, then don't miss Chicago Shakespeare Theater's raucous take on "The Comedy of Errors." This is part of the theater's touring Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program, which finishes up its second season this weekend first at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24, at Frank J. Wilson Park, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, and then at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, at Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago. Closer to home, you can see the romantic comedy "As You Like It," staged by the Wheaton Park District and Wheaton College Arena Theater. It's at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24, at Memorial Park, 208 W. Union Ave., Wheaton. chicagoshakes.com and wheatonparkdistrict.com.
7. Enjoy a Last Fling
Naperville's annual Last Fling festival runs Friday through Monday, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, in downtown Naperville. Musical entertainment includes a performance at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, by the Goo Goo Dolls, plus there's a parade at 10 a.m. Labor Day, carnival rides, food and family activities. Free admission. There is a charge for carnival rides and main stage entertainment. Check the website for a full schedule. (630) 961-4143 or lastfling.org.
8. Take in a Labor Day tradition
The Chicago Jazz Festival has been a Labor Day staple since 1979. This year's fest will feature about 40 jazz bands and acts and 11 high school jazz bands from Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 29-Sept. 1. They'll be performing at the Chicago Cultural Center, Roosevelt University's Ganz Hall and on four stages in Millennium Park. Admission is free. For information, call (312) 744-3316 or visit cityofchicago.org.
9. Be one with the Force, you will
Enjoy the unbeatable combo of pop culture and America's pastime at Star Wars night at the Kane County Cougars game at Fifth Third Ballpark, 1 Cougar Trail, Geneva. The event is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, and features a pregame costume parade, an appearance by the Midwest Garrison and a talk like Yoda contest, plus "Star Wars"-themed fireworks. Box seats $14, lawn $10. (630) 232-8811 or kccougars.com.
10. Revel in Riot
Chicago's take on Riot Fest -- our three-day fest trumps Toronto and Denver's two days of music by a mile, right? -- is bringing big names like Blink-182, Violent Femmes, Danzig and The Replacements to Humboldt Park, 1400 N. Sacramento Ave., Friday through Sunday, Sept. 13-15. But the locally produced talent is also a draw, including homegrown stars Fall Out Boy, Smoking Popes, Screeching Weasel and Empires, to name just a few. Three-day passes for the music festival and carnival are sold out, but some one- and two-day passes are still available, with prices starting at $59.98. riotfest.org.