The thing we do most during the warm months is picnic. A couple of years ago my mom gave me a picnic blanket that we keep in the back of the car. It’s probably the best-used gift I’ve ever received. At the end of the day we’ll frequently swing through a deli or whatnot, pick up some sandwiches, and head over to a park instead of going home for dinner. Day before yesterday Sophia and I did this, breaking the picnic seal for the season.

Last year I got on a real picnic kit bender, spending an entire afternoon one day hunting for the perfect picnic basket. I know. Total rock and roll lifestyle. I ended up with a roll-up picnic table, a set of reusable flatware, glasses, and plates, and these cute little lamps from Ikea. Then at lunch today, I went to Crate and Barrel and picked up this goodie, a bright yellow melamine tiffin box for transporting our nosh.

We are armed for summer.

Anyway, our favorite place to go, aside from a great show at Ravinia, is the Osaka Japanese Tea Garden behind the Museum of Science and Industry. I love it because it’s a hidden gem that you would never in a million years happen across unless you knew exactly where to go. Chicago has to be the best place for picnics of anywhere I’ve ever lived. We have Grant Park, Lake Michigan, and free evening concerts in Millennium Park, which has become the easy, in-town alt to Ravinia.

There truly is nothing like Chicago in the summertime. After being cooped up inside all winter, you’ll be hard-pressed to get us back indoors of our own free will. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then there are few in the world who love spring and summer more than Chicagoans.