Top Summer Things to Do in Greater St. Charles, IL

Pottawatomie Pavilion and Paddlewheel BoatSt. Charles, Illinois, was named by the Chicago Tribune as one of the region's "Top 10" for fine dining, arts and entertainment, livelynightlife, recreational opportunities and unique shopping. Come visit this summer and you can explore an endless array of activities, both outdoors and indoors. Here are some of the top things to do this summer in the St. Charles, IL, area.
Outdoor Events and Things to Do
As part of the St. Charles Park District, Lincoln Park hosts Concerts in the Park throughout the summer. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket, purchase snacks and enjoy the music, from soul and rock to ’90s favorites. On Wednesday and Friday evenings, downtown St. Charles hosts STC Live, with free musical acts, plus juggling, magic and dance performances. Check the schedule for weekly locations and performing artists.
Miles of Bike TrailsIf you like exploring new places by bicycle, follow a scenic trail through picturesque St. Charles. On the Virgil L. Gilman Bike Trail, small birds and waterfowl inhabit wetlands. The Great Western Trail follows 14 miles of abandoned railway, from St. Charles to the DeKalb County Line, where great heron and other water birds inhabit native prairie.
From May to September, Fox River Canoe & Kayak rents out kayaks and canoes. Three- to six-mile self-guided tours include the St. Charles Trip, which departs from John Duerr Forest Preserve, in South Elgin and ends in St. Charles. Your fee covers canoe or kayak rental, life preservers and paddles, and a return shuttle ride.
Fox River views complement Sculpture in the Park in Mt. St. Mary Park. Artists from across the United States create more than a dozen sculptures near the walking path, alongside six permanent installations. Widely diverse subjects have included a hawk and dove, a sunflower and a ballerina.
With August, Elburn Days arrive—bringing family-fun to the community and benefiting Elburn Lions charities. There’s a Friday evening parade, as well as carnival rides for the kids and a beer garden with entertainment. Enter a raffle, play bingo and bid on auction items. Compete in a pie-baking contest, mud volleyball or a 5K run on Saturday morning, too.
Playing in Pottawatomie Park
St. Charles Park District's Fireworks
Located along the St. Charles riverfront, Pottawatomie Park is always busy. A massive fireworks display anchors the Park’s July 4th Celebration there. Until then, play golf or mini-golf, swim and picnic, or explore the natural beauty of this 90-acre park. In 2016, the band Shout Out entertains with Top 40 hits and classics.
Also in the park, you’ll find the award-winning, nine-hole Pottawatomie Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. with and island green, and a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary designation since 1997, as well as River View Miniature Golf, a 42-par course with naturally landscaped greens and scenic surroundings.
Otter Cove Water SlideWater Fun
For beautiful Fox River views, take a 50-minute sightseeing trip on a St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboat, with historic commentary. Operating from May through mid-October, riverboats depart from Pottawatomie Park. Rent pedal boats for more water fun.
Otter Cove Aquatic Park features heated pools and concessions with broad cement decks and a sandy play area. Twist, turn and twirl amid shooting and spraying water, or simply relax floating in the water. The St. Charles Park District recently received an Illinois Parks and Recreation Association Outstanding Parks and Facility Award for this attraction—a perfect place for a summer party.
Indoor Entertainment
Arcada Theatre
When summer temperatures climb, local performing art centers provide cool remedies. The downtown Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, which has 900 seats, has been on the scene since 1926. Considered by many to be the Midwest’s No. 1 concert venue, the theater offers free parking, full-service bars and happy hour specials. Comedians Norm MacDonald and Steven Wright and musical acts such as Black Oak Arkansas or Rita Coolidge headline the summer 2016 calendar.
Laugh yourself silly at Zanies Comedy Club at Pheasant Run Resort, where the 2016 season features well-known TV personalities including Chelsea Lately performer Eliot Chan, presented by Comedy Central. Dinner and show packages are available, too. 
If you appreciate old cars, then you’ll love Baltria Vintage Car Shows at Baltria Vintage Auto Gallery. Founded in Lithuania, the company’s free monthly St. Charles events draw cars, trucks, motorcycles and car clubs, with plenty of live music and snacks. Classic models, from a black 1966 Lincoln Continental to a turquoise and white 1956 Chevrolet Corvette, fill the showroom.
Horse Play
The Royal LusitanoSpectators are welcome at Lamplight Equestrian Center, drawing equine competitors from throughout North America. Considered the nation’s most beautiful training and competition facility, the center’s 55 acres house eight outdoor arenas, permanent stables for 450 show horses and installations for nine stabling tents. Fully landscaped with beautiful perennial gardens and thousands of trees, the grounds offer their own seasonal show from spring to fall. Enjoy free admission and parking, with on-site food and drinks.
The Royal Lusitano Horse Breeding and Training Center is a great place to see frolicking foals during spring and summertime. Closely related to Spanish Andalusian horses, the facility has raised these gorgeous Portuguese horses for more than a decade. Call to schedule a visit.
St. Charles Farm is an excellent place to take riding lessons. Children love onsite pony rides, and adults can learn Western or English-style riding on their own horses or one of these professionally trained equines. Situated in Campton Hills, Illinois, the Farm features horse training and boarding, too. Take a tour during regular business hours or make an appointment to visit.
Whether you’re admiring exemplary horsemanship, perusing fine arts, watching holiday fireworks or enjoying comedy theater, St. Charles, Illinois, has all the ingredients for a stellar summer.