Best Things to Do for the 4th of July in Chicago

Spending 4th of July weekend in Chicago and looking for fun things to do? You are in luck because the Fourth of July weekend is a great time to visit Chicago. Summer is in full swing and there are tons of fun things to do in Chicago on July 4, 2024 and even more during the weekend after.

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What to Pack for Chicago for Fourth of July Weekend

For out of town visitors, here are essentials things to pack for Chicago for the 4th of July.

For out of town visitors, please note that the weather in Chicago on the 4th of July is usually hot and humid. Here are some things to pack if you are visiting for the first time:

• Comfortable walking shoes – Chicago is a very walkable city so you will probably do a lot of walking
Reusable water bottle – It is usually hot and humid so it is important to stay hydrated
• Sunglasses
• A hat
• A travel umbrella in case it rains
• Light sweater (and scarf) – For cooler nights, lake cruises and indoor places with too much air conditioning
Waterproof case – For your phone if you plan to go kayaking or spend time in the water
External battery for your phone – To recharge your phone’s battery when you are outdoors
• Mosquito repellent – If you plan to be outside around dusk or at night.
• Sunscreen – A must if you will be spending a lot of time outside in the day
• Bathing suit and other beach essentials (if you are planning to spend time at the beach)

Chicago 4th of July 2024 Weekend Events

Events taking place during the 4th of July weekend include:

Full Moon Jam at Winnemac Park – July 4, 2024

Independence Day Salute – July 4, 2024

Rose on the River at The Salt Shed Fairgrounds (new!) – July 4-7, 2024

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 Concert – July 5, 2024

Chicago Food Truck Fest – July 5, 2024

Chicago Craft Beer Fest (Jonquil Park) – July 5-7, 2024

Chicago Bound: The Great Migration of the Blues Free Concert at Ellis (Samuel Park) – July 6, 2024

Piano Men: A Billy Joel & Elton John Tribute at the Aire Rooftop – July 7, 2024

African Caribbean International Festival of Life – July 4-7, 2024

More Things to Do in Chicago on July 4th, 2024

Below are more things to do in Chicago during the 4th of July and the weekend.

Watch Fireworks

fireworks in Chicago on the 4th of July weekend

The city of Chicago is not hosting an official fireworks show on the 4th of July but you can watch fireworks at Navy Pier on Wednesday, July 3, 2024 and Saturday, July 6, 2024.

If you want to see fireworks shows on the 4th, you can easily find unofficial fireworks shows at various parks throughout the city. You can also drive to a nearby suburb to see their official fireworks show.

While you can watch the fireworks shows from Navy Pier, you can also watch the show from various spots along the Lakefront including North Avenue Beach, Oak Street Beach and the Adler Planetarium Skyline Walk.

The best and most relaxing way to see the Navy Pier fireworks show is on a fireworks lake or river cruise.

You can also join a fireworks segway tour.

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Join a July 4th, Independence Day Cruise

Want to drink while enjoying being on the water? Join a July 4th, Independence Day Cruise and party on the “Summer Of George” boat. Celebrate Independence Day with this epic day cruise with two levels of music and revelry, a DJ and full bar and snacks.

Enjoy the Views from 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

360 CHICAGO, the observatory on the 94th floor of 875 North Michigan Avenue (the former John Hancock Building), has one of the best views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. This is a more quiet spot to see fireworks. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket).

Take an Architecture River Cruise

weekend in chicago bucket list

Chicago has amazing architecture and the best way enjoy it is by going on an architecture river cruise.

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Take a Lake Cruise

skyline from lake cruise in Chicago in the summer
If you enjoy being on the water, a lake cruise is also a fun activity. While you don’t get to see the buildings up close like on a architecture river cruise, you do get to enjoy skyline views and enjoy the cool breeze on the water.

If your time is short, you can do a combination river and lake cruise.

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Watch a NASCAR Street Race

The NASCAR Chicago Street Race (July 6-7, 2024) is back for its second year. Even if you are not interested in NASCAR, check to see that street closures do not affect your travel plans as many streets will be closed off.

For a unique experience you can watch one of the races from the “Summer of George” Yacht during the
Nascar Chicago Day 2 Viewing Party.

Check Out the New Flyover Chicago at Navy Pier

rides at Navy Pier Chicago

Flyover Chicago, an immersive flyover experience, is Chicago’s newest attraction.

Other fun attractions at Navy Pier include a large Ferris wheel (click here to purchase a fast pass ticket and skip the long line) and other rides and games.

Navy Pier is also the starting point for various sightseeing cruises as well as the Chicago Children’s Museum which is geared for toddlers and younger kids.

Go Kayaking

A fun way to explore the city is to go kayaking in the Chicago River or Lake Michigan. You can rent kayaks at Ohio Street Beach here.

There are several companies that offer kayaking tours in Chicago including Urban Kayaks, Kayak Chicago and Wateriders.

Please note that you will get a little wet so bring a waterproof case for your phone and water-resistant or quick-drying clothing.

Hang Out on the Riverwalk

best things to do chicago travel blog

The Chicago Riverwalk is one of the best spots in Chicago for boat and people watching. There are also restaurants, bars, shops and spots to sit and relax along the way.

July 4th is one of the best times of the year to visit Chicago

Where: Along the south bank of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago from Lake Michigan to west of Franklin Street. You can see a map of attractions on the Riverwalk here.

Check out the Independence Day Art on theMart Display

Celebrate U.S. Independence Day along the Chicago Riverwalk with a special Independence Day themed Art on theMart display. Seethe 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART illuminated in red, white and blue alongside a curated soundtrack featuring classic American jazz, bandstand hits, and marches.

When: The display runs from Monday, July 1 through Friday, July 7 at 9pm each night.

Where: Spectators can watch the show from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

Hang out at the Beach

view from North Avenue beach Chicago

Most people don’t think of Chicago as a beach destination but Chicago has many beaches on Lake Michigan.  Oak Street Beach and Ohio Street Beach are conveniently located close to the major tourist attractions. The popular North Avenue Beach, located close to Lincoln Park, has great skyline views and has more of a party vibe.

You can rent kayaks at Ohio Street Beach here.

If you are thinking of swimming or dipping in the water to cool down, you can check swimming conditions here.

Enjoy the Lakefront Trail

walking and relaxing on the Lakefront Trail

If you enjoy being outdoors, head to the Lakefront Trail, a paved path on a 18-mile-long stretch along Lake Michigan. Walking or biking all or part of the trail is a great way to see Chicago skyline, people watch and get some exercise. Here is a map of the trail as well as its access points.

Look for Street Art

Moose Bubblegum Bubble by Jacob Watts one of the most famous street art murals in Chicago

Chicago is full of street art and there are always new murals popping up. One of the most famous Chicago murals is “Moose Bubblegum Bubble” (pictured above) by Jacob Watts which located at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive (formerly 33 E. Congress Parkway). It is part of the Wabash Arts Corridor which is walking distance to Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago and other well known tourist attractions. You can find more detailed mural walks in the Loop here.

Another famous mural is the Greetings From Chicago Mural at 2226 N Milwaukee Ave, in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. You can see this mural and other street art on this street art tour.

Walk The 606

The 606 is Chicago’s version of The Highline in NYC, an elevated trail goes through 2.7 miles of the city’s northwest side neighborhoods: Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, and Logan Square.  It is a bit off the beaten tourist path but it great place to walk, run or bike. There are several access points so you can get off the trail to explore the various neighborhoods.

Eat or Drink on a Rooftop

Chicago has several rooftop bars and restaurants with amazing views of Chicago.  Here are some of the best rooftops in Chicago:

Cindy’s (12 S Michigan Ave) – Restaurant and bar on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel located across Millennium Park which offers panoramic instagram worthy views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.

LH ON 22 (85 East Wacker Drive) – Enjoy classic cocktails and small bites from the outdoor LH terrace of LondonHouse Chicago which offers great views of the Chicago River, Lake Michigan and the Magnificent Mile.

The J. Parker (1816 N Clark St) on the rooftop of the Hotel Lincoln with great views of Lincoln Park.

Kennedy Rooftop (1551 W North Ave) on top of the Hyatt Place Wicker Park, has amazing skyline views.

Watch a Baseball Game

wrigley field Chicago

Chicago is known for their love of sports, including baseball. You don’t need to be a baseball fan to enjoy a game – it is fun to just soak in the atmosphere.

The Cubs have home games during the entire Fourth of July weekend:

Thursday, July 4, 2024 – Chicago Cubs vs. Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field
Friday, July 5, 2024 – Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field
Saturday, July 6, 2024 – Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field
Sunday, July 7, 2024 – Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field

Titanic: The Exhibition

Titanic: The Exhibition is ending its limited time run in the Chicago area on July 7, 2024. This interactive experience allows you to step inside recreations of the Titanic’s interior. Immerse yourself in the stories of its passengers, see hundreds of artifacts, and discover the tale of the design, creation, launch, maiden voyage, and tragedy of the historic ship.

Where: 4963 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, IL 60077 (about 17 miles from downtown Chicago)

Cost: Price varies. Click here for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is ending its limited time run in the Chicago area on July 7, 2024. Delve deep into the post-Edwardian era with never-before-seen treasures, from original costumes to iconic props, and exclusive series footage. Traverse the grandeur of the Crawley estate, from the bustling kitchen to the opulent dining room. Explore British society, culture, and fashion amidst historical upheavals.

Where: 4963 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, IL 60077 (about 17 miles from downtown Chicago)

Cost: Price varies. Click here for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.

Dinos Alive: An Immersive Experience

Looking for a fun activity to do with the kids? The Dinos Alive: An Immersive Experience (Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago, 2367 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647) brings you face-to-face with the fearsome and spectacular dinosaurs that dominated the animal world for 140 million years. From the turkey-sized Velociraptors to the mighty T-rex, interact with life-sized, moving animatronics of a large variety of species and see these magnificent creatures in their natural Jurassic habitat. Kids can enjoy a “Budding Experts” interactive space, where they can become paleontologists and tame the most iconic dinosaurs. Children ages 3 and under enter free of charge.

As you can see there are many things to do in Chicago during the Fourth of July weekend. Here are more things to do in Chicago in July.

Planning a trip to #Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:



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