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Our favorite stories from June proved that when it comes to summer, Chicago’s mentality is firmly planted outdoors. There’s no limit to how much sunshine we all get to soak up, so here’s how to keep catching those precious rays:

Bond with butterflies

At the Chicago Botanic Garden’s new “Butterflies and Blooms” exhibit, you’ll see 500 of nature’s most beautiful bug on any given visit. (Who wouldn’t love an insect called the Emerald Swallowtail?) Equally charming are the exotic nectar plants that supply the butterflies with the energy to live out their brief but bold lives.

Snag the best table

We lounged alfresco at three new restaurant patios--Ada St., Red Door and Butcher & the Burger--and found each one as pretty as the next. Try Ada St. after a long day at July’s Pitchfork Music Festival; head to Red Door for adult snow cones; and stake out a spot at Butcher & the Burger to order a treat from the custard cart. 

Take a road trip

If Napa isn’t in your travel plans this summer, try a close-to-home vineyard tour on the Lake Michigan Shore, just two hours from downtown. Check out the trail map to plan your own route, or hire a guide to see the best of the area. The brand-new Goldberry Woods in Union Pier is our B&B of choice for this season’s excursion.

Gear up for camping

Even if you’re not a sleep-under-the-stars type, you’ll want the gear from Chicagoan Tereasa Surratt’s new Wandawega Camp Store. Surratt is a 24-7 curator of chic nostalgia, as her Wisconsin camp attests. Get the look with a handmade slingshot, an old-fashioned dinner bell or a make-your-own moccasin kit. 

Watch your garden grow

We were bewitched by local design company Weetu’s new Plant Lamps when we saw them at the Guerrilla Truck Show earlier this month. True gardening geniuses will want to check out the firm’s commercial-grade Weetree Walls; the made-to-order apparatus for vertical gardening is the prettiest one we’ve seen.

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