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.
- What to Pack for Chicago for Fourth of July Weekend
- Things to Do in Chicago on July 4th
- Watch Fireworks
- Enjoy the Views from 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
- Join a 4th of July Booze Cruise
- Take an Architecture River Cruise
- Take a Lake Cruise
- Have Fun at Navy Pier
- Go Kayaking
- Hang Out on the Riverwalk
- Watch Digital Art at Art on the Mart
- Hang out at the Beach
- Enjoy the Lakefront Trail
- Look for Street Art
- Walk The 606
- Eat or Drink on a Rooftop
- Watch a Baseball Game
- Listen to a Music Concert in Millennium Park
- Attend a Candlelight Concert
- Prince: The Immersive Experience
- Take the Water Taxi to Chinatown
- Free Millennium Park Summer Workout
- More Chicago 4th of July Weekend 2022 Events
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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 2022.
Navy Pier will have its usual Saturday night free fireworks show on Saturday, July 2, 2022 from 9:30- 9:40pm.
You don’t have to visit Navy Pier to enjoy the fireworks, you can see them from the lakefront and various restaurants.
One of the best and most relaxing ways to see the fireworks is on a fireworks lake or river cruise.
If you want to watch fireworks on July 4th, many suburbs in the Chicago area have 4th of July fireworks, parades and other festivities. You can see a full list of suburban fireworks shows 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).
Join a 4th of July Booze Cruise
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.
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 also home to Pixar Putt, a pop-up, open-air 18-hole mini-golf course featuring characters from Disney and Pixar movies.
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. There are several companies that offer kayaking tours in Chicago including Urban Kayaks, Kayak Chicago and Wateriders. They even offer evening 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
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. You can also hop on a water taxi here.
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 2, 6:15 PM – Chicago Cubs vs Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field
Sunday, July 3, 1:20 PM – Chicago Cubs vs Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field
Monday, July 4, 7:10 PM – Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field
Listen to a Music Concert in Millennium Park
The Grant Park Music Festival has two outdoor music concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park during the 4th of July weekend.
Britten Spring Symphony – Friday, July 1, 2022 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Independence Day Salute – Saturday, July 2, 2022 from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
There are both paid and free seat options available.
Attend a Candlelight Concert
Chicago’s Candlelight Concerts is a series of special classical music concerts that take place in beautiful venues bathed in candlelight. The Candlelight: Women of Pop ft. Songs by Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Lizzo takes place on July 2.
Prince: The Immersive Experience
Perfect for Prince fans and music lovers alike, Prince: The Immersive Experience, is an interactive, multisensory experience opening in June for a limited-time run. Tour 10 immersive spaces and explore his life, revolution, and talent as you step inside the iconic Purple Rain album cover and an audiovisual dance party designed by Prince’s lighting and production designer. Explore exclusive artifacts curated by The Prince Estate and play music producer with the original sessions from one of Prince’s greatest hits in Studio A. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Where: 540 N. Michigan Avenue (on the Mag Mile)
Cost: General admission starts at $39.50 per person. Click here for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.
Take the Water Taxi to Chinatown
The water taxi operates on Saturdays and Sundays in the summer. There are several routes but one of the best places to visit on a water taxi is Chinatown. The water taxi drops you close to Ping Tom Memorial Park, which has great skyline views. You can also find many authentic Chinese restaurants here.
Free Millennium Park Summer Workout
Want to join free yoga (and other exercise classes) while also spending time outside? The Millennium Park Summer Workouts program offers a series of free 45-minute workouts at Millennium Park Great Lawn on Saturday morning (July 2, 2022) as follows.
8–8:45am – Tai Chi
9–9:45am – Yoga
10–10:45am – Pilates
11–11:45am – Zumba
More Chicago 4th of July Weekend 2022 Events
In addition to the activities mentioned above, other events taking place this 4th of July weekend include: CircEsteem Around Chicago Summer Tour at Union (July 1, 2022), Chosen Few DJs Festival (July 2, 2022), Neighborhood Artisan Market (at Navy Pier) (July 2-3, 2022), and African Caribbean International Festival of Love (July 2-4, 2022).
As you can see there are many things to do in Chicago during the 4th 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