Our family has a swimming destination every summer, usually we pick between 31st Street Beach or a bit of a drive to Indiana Dunes State Park.

We like them both.

Thought of that while pulling together this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

IDSP is hosting a sand sculpture event on Saturday. It is an annual event I had hoped we could attend for years, but we never have. I have seen some of the photos from other years and they are something else.

Put it this way, they diminish what our kids did a couple years ago in the photo above. It is kind of like a mansion compared to a bungalow.

I will wandering this weekend, but not around here. I am out the door to drive to my dad’s 90th birthday celebration with our youngest and oldest boys.

I will get in some hiking, but otherwise, I will pretty much be inside a car the next four days.

But there is plenty of stuff to do this weekend back here.

With that, on to this Wild Weekend Wandering.

L.L. BEAN SHORE TOUR AT NAVY PIER: Here’s your chance for various opportunities to learn or observe paddling on Lake Michigan.

Here are the details from L.L. Bean:

L.L.Bean Shore Tour Brings Outdoor Adventures to Navy Pier this Weekend

Outdoor retailer brings kayak and paddleboard lessons to Chicago lakeshore July 13-15 

WHAT: Maine-based outdoor retailer L.L.Bean is touring the country to help get people out on the water this summer. The L.L.Bean Shore Tour brings everything you need for a day of paddling on Lake Michigan. Stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking lessons are open to levels of experience and include all needed equipment. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are also available without lessons.

L.L.Bean outdoor gear also available for sale at pop-up shop.

WHO:   L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Program paddling instructors with outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.               

WHEN:  Friday, July 13 – Sunday July 1511:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. each day

WHERE: Polk Bros Park, in front of Navy Pier, and on the water in Lake Michigan

SALMON-A-RAMA: The storied fishing contest in southeast Wisconsin begins Saturday and runs through July 22. There are four divisions: youth, boat, shore and kayak. Click here for details of the events and rules.

WATER-WILLOW PLANTING: It’s late notice but there will be water-willow planting Saturday on the DuPage River.

Here is the word from the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance:

Water Willow Planting on the DuPage Saturday, 7/14
Sorry for the last minute notice, but with the unpredictability of water levels and weather, conditions are now right to get some water willows planted this weekend. Volunteers will meet at the The Urban Stream Research Center (USRC) is located on the Roy C. Blackwell Forest Preserve at 8 am on Saturday, July 14. 
The work isn’t very difficult, bring waders and some gloves and be a part of the habitat restoration of the DuPage River. 
With enough help, we should be done in just a few hours. 
If you can help, please PM John Loebach on the ISA website or post in the Water Willow thread under Conservation & Volunteer Opportunities.

SAND SCULPTURE CONTEST: Here are the details on the sand sculpturing contest at IDSP:

Annual sand sculpture contest at Indiana Dune State Park, July 14

Watch the sand come alive or participate with friends and family at the 21st annual sand sculpture contest at Indiana Dunes State Park on Saturday, July 14.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. on the west end of the pavilion and continues through 11 a.m. or until the field of participants is full. Judging begins at noon, followed by awards at 1 p.m. Teams wanting a jump start may begin as early as 7 a.m.

This year’s theme is movies. Sculptures that follow the theme will earn extra points from judges.

Thanks to the support of the Friends of Indiana Dunes, prizes will be awarded in two categories, one for teams of children ages 15 and younger, and another for individuals and families numbering fewer than eight.

Between noon and 1 p.m., observers can vote for their favorite under the category of the Viewer’s Choice Award.

“With a broader theme like movies, the sky’s the limit,” said Marie Laudeman, interpretive naturalist. “This will be a fun opportunity for visitors to hike our beach and see if they can guess the movie characters or scenes that the contestants have depicted.”

Participation in the contest is free after paying the standard gate fee of $7 per in-state vehicle and $12 per out-of-state vehicle.

For more information, call 219-926-1390.  

Indiana Dunes State Park (stateparks.IN.gov/2980.htm) is at 1600 North 25 E. Chesterton, 46304.

LAKE MICHIGAN COHO: Some really good fishing on our side and end of Lake Michigan continues for coho and steelhead with the occasional brown trout and big Chinook. Not as many lakers, but I think that is because they are targeting other species with success.

If you have an opportunity to get out on a boat, a friend’s or a charter, now would be a good time.

BERRY PICKING: I continue to see lots of mulberries and the kids running with our youngest son said they are still finding wild raspberries. It is that time of year. Feed your face.

LAKEFRONT PERCH: Perch fishing on the Chicago lakefront has been up and down, though did start to hear some boat reports last week in Indiana.

THE DRUM ALTERNATIVE: When the weather is rotten and the wind from the north, consider fishing for freshwater drum instead of perch on the outside of Chicago harbors, especially Montrose. There are some truly big drum being caught.

POND FISHING: In terms of shore fishing, it is that time of the year. Relax if you want, pull up a chair and relax or go more serious and jump around.

DOVE PERMITS: Applications for free dove permits in the second lottery run through July 21. Click here for that.

FROG SEASON: Frog, bullfrogs only, season is open in Illinois. Daily bag is eight. A fishing license is required and legal means of taking them are “hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand, or landing net.” Our youngest and I still have not gotten out. He has been out on his own with buds a couple times.

MIDEWIN: I had a wonderful afternoon hike at Midewin on Saturday and turned it into my Sunday column for the Sun-Times. As long as you can take the heat, end of July/early August  is one of the most striking times on the paririe.

The seasonal guided tours at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie run weekends through October. The Ranger Trailer is open weekends, weather permitting, at the Iron Bridge Trailhead. Trails are open daily 4 a.m.-10 p.m.

For a complete list of events and programming go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd535052.pdf.

JAZZIN’AT THE SHEDD: “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” runs Wednesday nights through Oct. 10. Click here for more info.

ZOO TURNS 150: The Lincoln Park Zoo has the exhibit, From Swans to Science: 150 Years of Lincoln Park Zoo, through the summer. Click here for details and much more information.