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 4th and even more during the weekend.
I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I plan to update it regularly with any new events and information.
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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
• 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)
Things to Do in Chicago on July 4th
Below are the top things to do in Chicago the 4th of July weekend.
The city of Chicago has not scheduled a 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.
The best and most relaxing way to see the fireworks is on a fireworks lake or river cruise.
If you want to see fireworks in Chicago on July 4th, there will be post game fireworks after the Chicago White Sox baseball game.
Several Chicago suburbs will be holding fireworks displays, pardes and celebrations on July 4th – you can find the full list here.
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
Chicago has amazing architecture and the best way enjoy it is by going on an architecture river cruise.
Take a Lake Cruise
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.
Join a 4th of July Themed Cruise
Want to drink while enjoying being on the water? You can join several 4th of July themed booze cruises including the following:
July 4th Weekend Sunday Funday Booze Cruise – Sunday, July 2
Fourth of July Weekend Sunset Party Cruise – Sunday, July 2
Fourth of July: Independence Day Cruise – Tuesday, July 4
Have Fun at Navy Pier
Navy Pier is a must do if you are visiting Chicago with toddlers or kids. There are fun attractions at Navy Pier including a large Ferris wheel (click here to purchase a fast pass ticket and skip the long line).
Navy Pier is the starting point for various sightseeing tours and cruises.
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.
They are also evening tours (including fireworks tours) for those that want to avoid the summer heat and sun.
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
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.
Watch Digital Art at Art on the Mart
If you are on or near the Chicago Riverwalk in the evening, you might want to check out Art on theMART, the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART. The programming changes every few months and you can see current projections here.
When: 30-minute program of projections are displayed twice nightly
Where: The Merchandise Mart, 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654. 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
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.
If you are thinking of swimming or dipping in the water to cool down, you can check swimming conditions here.
Enjoy 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
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.
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.
Watch a Baseball Game
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.
Both the Cubs and White Sox have home games happening during the Fourth of July weekend:
Saturday, July 1- Chicago Cubs vs Cleveland Guardians at Wrigley Field
Sunday, July 2 – Chicago Cubs vs Cleveland Guardians at Wrigley Field
Tuesday, July 4 – Chicago White Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field (with post game fireworks)
More Chicago 4th of July Weekend Events
In addition to the activities mentioned above, other events taking place during the 4th of July weekend include: American Music Festival (June 30 – July 3), The Beer Mile World Classic (July 1), NASCAR Chicago Street Race (new!) (July 1-2), Live on the Lake (July 1-2 & 4), African Caribbean International Festival of Life (July 1-4), Afro Fusion Independence Day (July 1-4), Independence Day Remember, Reconnect, and Represent Event at Chicago History Museum (July 4), 4th on 53rd Parade (July 4), and An American Salute: Rhapsody in Blue Concert (July 5).
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:
- 3 Days in Chicago Itinerary + Travel Tips From a Local
- The Perfect Itinerary for One Day in Chicago (According to a Local)
- Most Instagrammable Places in Chicago
- Best Free Things to Do in Chicago