Summer is a season of boundless possibilities, and what better way to embrace its warmth and vibrancy than by indulging in the myriad of free events and experiences offered by your Park District? 

FREE Summer Events

Below is a listing of our FREE summer events.  Additional low-cost events are located on our calendar on the homepage of this website and on our social media channels.  Once you have identified events that pique your interest, mark them by clicking on the “Add to Calendar” links on each event’s page. Or, better yet, download the Park District app that allows you to build your own favorite events calendar.

More Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Summer

Diversify Your Experience: The beauty of Park District events lies in our diversity. From nature programs and concerts in the parks to fitness classes and drop-in events, there’s something for everyone. Mix and match your activities to keep your summer vibrant and engaging.

Embrace Nature: Summer is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Take advantage of the Park District’s green spaces, trails, and recreational facilities. Whether you’re picnicking in the park, kayaking on the lake, or simply relaxing on the beach, let nature be your sanctuary.

Engage with the Community: Park District events are not just about recreation; they’re also about fostering community bonds. Strike up conversations with fellow attendees, participate in group activities, and embrace the spirit of camaraderie that these events inspire.

Try Something New: Summer is a season of exploration and self-discovery. Use Park District events as an opportunity to try new things. Whether it’s learning a new dance style, mastering a new sport, or delving into a new hobby, let your curiosity be your guide.

Stay Hydrated and Sun-Safe: As you bask in the summer sun, remember to stay hydrated and protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Carry a reusable water bottle, apply sunscreen liberally, and seek shade during peak sun hours to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Capture Memories: Don’t forget to capture the magic of summer with photos and videos. Document your adventures, from laughter-filled picnics to awe-inspiring sunsets, and cherish these memories for years to come.

Give Back: Consider giving back to your community by volunteering at Park District events or making a donation to our Parks Foundation, your contribution can make a meaningful difference.

Spread the Word: Finally, share your enthusiasm for Park District events with friends, family, and neighbors. By spreading the word, you not only encourage others to join in the fun but also contribute to the collective joy and vibrancy of your community.

With these tips in mind, you’re all set to embark on a summer filled with adventure, connection, and endless possibilities—all at your local Park District. So go ahead, soak up the sunshine, embrace the warmth of the season, and make this summer one to remember! 

Virtually every community has a leash law. In Highland Park, the law requires that dogs be kept on a leash on public property, including our parks. The law intends to protect the health and safety of the public and to protect your pet. A leash is commonly referred to as “Your Pet’s Lifeline” and protects your pet from harm and potentially harming other people or animals in the area. While you can train certain dogs to avoid the busy roads, stop and wait for their owner at corners, and even return to their side at command, there is always the chance that a dog could act impulsively. The safest way and legal way to walk your dog is on a leash.

Other Reasons to Always Use a Dog Leash

Become a Dog Park Member!

Dog Park Membership offers countless benefits for your dog. One of the most important benefits a dog park provides a dog is to exercise both his body and mind. In an open off-leash space, your dog has the chance to run around freely, chasing after balls and other dogs as much as his heart desires. He can socialize with humans and other dogs, which helps maintain healthy social skills. Like people, dogs are social creatures, and they enjoy being around their own kind. Your dog can practice his communication skills with other dogs and gives him practice reading other dogs. Practicing and mastering these skills helps your dog from developing fear or aggression problems around other dogs. This is especially true if you have a young dog that is eager to learn. And, not only is it fun for your four-legged friend, but it’s also fun for you! You can run around and exercise with your dog, practice off-leash training, talk to and bond with other dog owners, and enjoy the time watching your dog have the time of his life.

The Park District of Highland Park has three dog parks available to registered members:

Debbie Gottlieb Beitler Dog Park at Larry Fink Memorial Park – open year-round (701 Deer Creek Parkway)
A relaxed park-like atmosphere with two off-leash exercise areas, depending on the size of your dog.

Highland Park Golf Learning Center – open mid-December through mid-March* (2205 Skokie Valley Highway)
A large outdoor venue for your dog to run off some of that cabin fever energy.

Moraine Dog Beach – open mid-April through mid-November* (2501 Sheridan Road)
Moraine Dog Beach is scheduled to reopen this year with a new boardwalk and path leading down to the beach. Your dogs will soon be able to run in the sand and dip in the lake on those hot, sunny days.

Young and aspiring hockey players – girls and boys, ages 6 and up – are invited to skate with members of the Highland Park Giants Hockey team on Monday, February 19 from 11am-noon at Centennial Ice Arena.

Attendees will have a chance to enter a drawing to win public skating passes, or a skating class at Centennial Ice Arena.

Sponsored by the Garrett Collopy Foundation


Monday, February 19

Centennial Ice Arena (3100 Trail Way)

Event is free (includes skate rentals).

As we are beginning to think about pulling out our snow boots and parkas from the back of the closet, our parks department has already been working hard to prepare our parks for the winter chill. Their year-round commitment ensures that our parks remain inviting and well-maintained for everyone to enjoy! Check out their winter to-do list.

Throughout the fall, our parks crews complete leaf-clearing and mulching at all our 44 parks. The mulch protects the grounds and plant life during the colder months. Weather permitting, crews aerate, seed, and sod to contribute to the health and vitality of the parks. Teak benches are brought in for refinishing to preserve their longevity. In addition, the team conducts a thorough inventory of picnic tables throughout the parks, collecting those in need of repair. New tables are constructed when necessary, ensuring well-maintained and sturdy seating options.

In November, the staff spends two to three days preparing the Danny Cunniff Park sled hill for winter fun by removing rocks and filling any holes. They are also fencing in the driving range at the Highland Park Golf Learning Center in preparation for the Winter Dog Park. At the same time, another crew is installing the hockey boards in preparation for the outdoor rink at Sunset Woods Park. Once the temperature drops to below-freezing for five consecutive days, the crew strategically floods the frozen ground 24 hours a day over 5-6 days to create a thick ice floor.

Winter is an opportune time for tree maintenance & tree trimming to promote the long-term health of our parks’ beautiful trees, particularly our beautiful oak trees. Crews also take this opportunity to remove buckthorn and other invasive species. This eco-conscious effort aims to preserve the natural biodiversity of the parks, promoting a healthy and balanced ecosystem.

In the early spring, the crews meticulously take down the sled hill, Winter Dog Park, and hockey boards at Sunset Woods. Benches and picnic tables are also placed back in our beautiful parks, signaling a seamless transition from winter to spring and preparing the parks for the warmer seasons.

By: Trainer Amy Hohman

As the cold weather approaches, many outdoor exercisers dread the idea of moving their workouts indoors. The following tips may help:

By: Trainer Adam Dicker

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and, let’s be honest, indulgence. While the festivities often bring delicious treats and hearty meals, it’s essential to find a balance to stay fit and healthy. Here are a few tips to keep you on track with your fitness goals during the holiday season.

Prioritize Quick Workouts

Recognize that time might be a constraint during the holidays. Opt for shorter, high-intensity workouts that can be easily squeezed into a busy schedule. Quick bursts of exercise can be just as effective.

Involve the Whole Family

Plan activities that involve everyone, from hiking and biking to a friendly game of touch football. It’s a fantastic way to bond while staying active.

Mindful Eating

Enjoy holiday treats but practice mindful eating. Pay attention to portion sizes and savor each bite. When preparing meals, incorporate nutritious options. This can help you avoid overindulging while still enjoying the festive flavors.

Stay Hydrated

With holiday beverages and cozy drinks in abundance, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Water not only keeps you feeling full but also supports overall well-being.

Get Creative with Gifts

Give the gift of fitness and consider presents that encourage physical activity. Purchase Fitness Club 10-Punch passes, personal training sessions, beach yoga punch passes, and more for the Recreation Center of Highland Park.

By: Group Fitness Instructor and Pilates Reformer Trainer, Cara Schlussel

Tis the season to be baking cookies! And while those cookies are in the oven, you’ve got 12 minutes to whip up a quick, high-intensity workout. Try these short, intense exercises the next time you’re in the kitchen. Here’s your plan do each exercise below for 40 seconds each with a 15 second rest, and repeat 2x:

  1. Squats: Stand hip-width apart and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping your weight in your heels, back flat, and chest upright.
  2. Jumping Jacks: Get your heart pumping and maximize calories burned. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Jump your feet out while raising your arms above your head, and repeat. Engage your glutes and push back to the start position. Repeat.
  3. High Knees: Bring one knee up to hip level and then switch legs. Try to go as fast as you can.
  4. Lunges: Stand with one foot in front of the other, about 2-3 feet apart. Keep your torso straight, shoulders back and your core engaged.  Bend your knees, lowering your body toward the floor and push back up to the starting position.  Be sure to do this exercise for both legs.
  5. Butt Kicks: Kick your right heel up to touch your butt and then your left foot, and repeat.
  6. Mountain Climbers: Start in a high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged. This is the starting position. Keeping your core tight, draw your right knee to your chest. Return to the starting position and immediately draw your left knee to your chest. Return your left leg to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. Continue to alternate. The quicker you move your legs, the more of a cardio challenge this will become.

The Park District of Highland Park is partnering with SaLT: Service and Learning Together and the Highland Park/Highwood Rotary Club to collect pre-packaged food donations to provide groceries to Highland Park and Highwood families facing food insecurities.

About 21.3% of Highland Park/Highwood residents live in poverty, 18% of residents over 60 years qualify for food stamps, and 22% of elementary school students are classified as low-income with many facing food insecurity, together we can make a meaningful impact in our community.

Drop-off Dates: Monday, August 14 – Sunday, September 10.

Items Needed

Drop-Off Locations

Every day, the lake presents itself differently, from the calm blues and greens of a peaceful morning to the vibrant oranges and pinks of a dramatic sunset. This mural celebrates the lake’s majestic sunrises, reminding those who look upon it of the positivity, creativity, and curiosity invoked by Lake Michigan.

Highland Park-based Christie Russert is the artist behind Sunshine Canteen®.  Christie’s work uniquely blends abstract patterns and landscapes and reflects her life, travels, and love of design. Her signature style focuses on vibrant colors, bold patterns, and themes of peace, love, and happiness, evoking a sense of freedom, joy, and a gateway to paradise. 

The Moraine Park Mural Project is a partnership between the Park District of Highland Park, The Art Center of Highland Park and the North Shore Water Reclamation District. A design competition was held in February 2023, inviting local artists to propose a design to paint the concrete structures at Moraine Beach. Christie, the winning artist, and her husband Joe worked hard throughout the summer to bring her design to life on the NSWRD structures.

Project Background

In February, the Park District of Highland Park and The Art Center of Highland Park began seeking submissions to decorate the two concrete structures at Moraine Beach. Artists participated in a design competition and submissions were due in March. Submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges who narrowed down the submissions to two finalists. The finalists’ designs were shared with the community through a survey and then shared with the Park District Board of Commissioners who determined the winning design in April. The winning artist began work in June and completed the murals in August, 2023.

Lake Michigan Sunrise, Christie Russert, 2023
Lake Michigan Sunrise, Christie Russert, 2023
Lake Michigan Sunrise, Christie Russert, 2023

“Camp was not just a way to pass the summer break, but a vital part of who we became.” Michael Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Company, talking about how he and his business colleagues look back on their summer camp experiences.

The wonderful summer sports camps run by the park district offer your child seven weeks of fun and games, running around outdoors with their friends.

And that used to be enough.

Now, the experienced coaches, counselors, and student-athletes who teach the fundamentals of a wide range of sports—including baseball, basketball, golf, and soccer—provide campers with much more than a respite from school and a glimpse of glory as “the boys & girls of summer.” We’ll get to the extras after this short break to tell you what happens each week.

Jr. Varsity Sports Camp, for everyone in grades 1–4

While all of that fun is happening, kids are learning some mighty important life skills, from caring adults they trust—their coaches and counselors:

Troy Hoffmann, Athletic Supervisor at the Park District, said “These are things that help shape kids into good people, and we emphasize them every day. Happily, none of them require looking at a screen!”

Varsity Sports Camp, for everyone in grades 5–8

While the Varsity Sports Camp is great fun for everyone, if your young sports enthusiast is a girl in grades 3–6, take a look at our Girls Play Strong camp. It’s filled with special features designed specifically for them.

We’re looking forward to seeing your child this summer!