[ The Alfresco Everywhere Guide to Summer ]

Logan Square

Park life in Logan Square

Park life in Logan Square

Rather than spend a second of your precious summer waiting for a table, skip the lines at Logan Square’s two destination brunch spots—Jam (3057 W. Logan Blvd., 773-292-6011; entrées from $10) and Lula Café (2537 N. Kedzie Blvd., 773-489-9554; $15)—by taking your food to go and grabbing a grassy patch of boulevard for a picnic. (On Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., sit near Comfort Station, a 1915 train shelter turned miniature arts venue that frequently hosts concerts, and catch strains of live music wafting from the open doors.) On Sundays, make a beeline toward the bustling Logan Square Farmers Market (logansquarefarmersmarket.org), which sets up on Logan Boulevard where it collides with Milwaukee Avenue; get the British-style banger grilled to order from Spencer’s (eatspencers.com). Sign up for the Dill Pickle Food Co-op (3039 W. Fullerton Ave.; 773-252-2667), whose members get invited to the grocery’s summertime potlucks on the boulevard. Or grow your own food by taking a weekly watering shift at the Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm (altgeldsawyer.cornerfarmchicago.com), a community-run plot that welcomes volunteers and hosts frequent work days.

If you’re a parent with kids in tow, cut a path to the toy store Play (3109 W. Logan Blvd.; 773-227-6504) and snag the child-designed Pumponator, a gadget that fills balloons with air or—even better—water. Take your gear to Palmer Square’s tot-friendly soft-turf park on Palmer Street between Kedzie and Humboldt Boulevards and start an epic water balloon fight; on July 21, go there for New Belgium Brewing’s annual beer-and-bikes fest, Tour de Fat (newbelgium.com). Bigger kids will love the climbing web at the new No. 554 Park (also known as Julia de Burges Park), which eventually will double as an access point for the Bloomingdale Trail (bloomingdaletrail.org), an elevated three-mile greenway now in progress. Feeling outdoorsy? Jump into the pool at Avondale Park (3516 W. School St.; 773-478-1410), which has open-swim hours daily.

When it’s time to eat again, sidestep the perpetually slammed backyard at Kuma’s Corner (2900 W. Belmont Ave., 773-604-8769; entrées from $11) in favor of the secret garden at Small Bar (2956 N. Albany Ave.; 773-509-9888). Another nice seat, if you can get it: Longman & Eagle’s sidewalk patio, lining a quiet street (2657 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-276-7110; entrées from $17). For special occasions, book a table on the back terrace at Bonsoirée (2728 W. Armitage Ave., 773-486-7511; tasting menu from $68). For everyday dinners, go instead to the charming front area and enclosed back patio at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe (2540 W. Armitage Ave., 773-227-2822; entrées from $12). Finish with a coconut Italian ice at Miko’s (3000 W. Lyndale St., 773-645-9664; items from $2) or a Freezee from a list of more than 25 flavors at the delightfully scruffy Tastee Freez (2815 W. Armitage Ave., 773-507-7477; items from $2). Prefer your dessert spiked? Sip one of the city’s most affordable craft cocktails in The Whistler’s scene-y courtyard (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., whistlerchicago.com; cocktails from $6) or head slightly off the beaten path for a gimlet on the peaceful—weeknights, at least—back patio at Weegee’s Lounge (3659 W. Armitage Ave., 773-384-0707; cocktails from $5.50).

photography: Tim Klein

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