From Humboldt Park’s recent surge of vintage shops to Wicker Park’s mind-blowing culinary scene and Grant Park’s 25 Years of Lollapalooza extravaganza this month, the lakefront metropolis of Chicago has never felt so dynamic. See everything we're loving about the Windy City right now.
Summers are notoriously blissful in Chicago. The Windy City is no longer so windy, and locals and visitors alike are free to take advantage of all the beautiful metropolis has to offer, like beaches and al fresco dining. But Chicago also boasts a number of awesome summer-only activities in the form of pop-ups. From interactive art shows to unique dining experiences, don’t miss these limited-time events, because they’re sure to be poppin’.
1. ACTIVATE: See
Back for its third summer running, ACTIVATE (run by the Chicago Loop Alliance) transforms various alleyways in Chicago’s Loop area into interactive, art-focused spaces once a month. This year’s theme explores the five different senses—touch, hearing, smell, sight, and taste. During June’s “Hear” event, for example, attendees participated in a silent disco; for July’s “Smell,” artists created special ‘scent-scapes’ like a flower temple. Don’t miss “See” on August 5, which will turn alleyway walls into canvases for visual art. The best part? The events are completely free, and if you RSVP beforehand, you’ll get a complimentary drink ticket.
August 5, 5-10 p.m.; Location TBA; loopchicago.com
2. Ampersand Pop-Up
Ampersand, a small pop-up restaurant and test kitchen space within River North’s Kinmont, offers up truly one-of-a-kind dining experiences. Run by Element Collective (the team behind standout Chicago eateries like RM Champagne Salon), these events are designed to be communal and intimate—the space can only hold about 30 guests for dinner and 45 for cocktail events. Although events run year-round, Ampersand’s upcoming offerings sound like a midsummer night’s dining dream. On July 23, private chef and TV personality Julius Russell will be whipping up a multi-course meal themed “Nu-American Meets Summertime in France.” And later that week, Kinmont will be celebrating berry season: attendees will learn how to whip up their own berry-licious cocktails while snacking on light bites. Due to the limited number of tickets for each event, make sure to buy yours here before they sell out.
July 23, 6-9 p.m. and July 26, 6:30-9:30 p.m.; 419 W. Superior St.; ampersandpopup.com
3. Jove T's Pops Shop
Say hello to the most literal pop-up shop on this list. All summer long, the culinary pros behind Cindy’s—the popular rooftop restaurant at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel—are serving up inventive ice cream popsicles in the hotel’s lobby. After a stroll through nearby Millennium Park, cool off by trying one of the shop’s weekly specials. Past pops include Almond Rocher (almond ice milk, dark chocolate, and caramelized almonds) and CocoPassion (coconut sorbet and passion fruit curd in a raspberry shell). There’s always a boozy option too, like the Lemon Drop, made from lemon vodka sorbet and lemon cream with a white chocolate shell. We’ll scream for that.
Saturdays, 12-2 p.m.; 12 S. Michigan Ave.; chicagoathleticevents.com
4. Luxury Garage Sale
For Chicago’s most fashion-conscious crowd, shopping consignment doesn’t mean unsuccessfully rifling through mismatched racks. Luxury Garage Sale provides an upscale, curated re-sale shopping experience in two permanent Chicago stores, and this summer, the company will be expanding to a third Highland Park location. Pop in for gently used designer favorites from the likes of Chanel, Céline, and Louis Vuitton, at prices that don’t totally break the bank—in the past, they’ve advertised a denim Christian Dior dress for $600 (around $1,500 retail) and $395 Givenchy heels, which would normally run you about $1,200.
June 15-August 15, Mondays through Saturdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; 1833 2nd St., Highland Park; luxurygaragesale.com
5. Saved By The Max
Saved by the Bell fans have been going crazy for this totally nostalgia-inducing pop-up ever since it opened in June. Saved by the Max, located in Wicker Park, is perfectly modeled after The Max—the diner where our favorite Saved by the Bell characters congregated after humor-filled days at Bayside High. Expect arcade games, a jukebox, neon, and, of course, all the Saved by the Bell memorabilia and puns you could ask for. Items on the menu include AC Sliders, Mac & Screech, and the “I’m So Excited” cocktail (a slightly more adult take on a vodka/Red Bull). Due to its enormous popularity, the pop-up—which was originally slotted to run for only a month—has been extended through December.
Mondays through Fridays: Dinner and Late Night, Saturdays and Sundays: Walk-In Bag Lunch, Dinner, and Late Night; 1941 W. North Ave.; savedbythemax.com