Get us in your inbox

navy pier skyline
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Bert Kaufmann

7 great things to do on the 4th of July in Chicago

Written by
Sara Freund

1. Celebrate freedom on a rooftop

Navy Pier is hosting its annual Freedom Fest packed with a BBQ buffet, icy cocktails and stunning views of Lake Michigan and the cityscape. On the rooftop, you’ll have the best seats in the city to view the Fourth of July fireworks display. (Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, 6:30pm. $45)

2. Make your way to the ‘burbs

If there is a Fourth of July celebration worth making a trip for, it’s definitely Glen Ellyn’s festivities. The all-day event kicks off with a four-mile run, a picnic, a parade and finally closes with a spectacular firework show. (Lake Ellyn Park, 645 Lenox Road, Glen Ellyn, noon. Free)

3. Party on a boat

Celebrate the right way and get on a booze cruise for the Fourth of July. Dance the night away with live DJs on the open rooftop deck and experience an entirely new perspective of the annual fireworks display. (Chicago Yacht Events, 800 S Wells Street, 7-11pm. $40–$350)

4. Learn a little patriotic history

The Chicago History Museum hosts its annual Fourth of July celebration with patriotic performances, a children’s parade and a commemorative Brown Bess musket firing. There will be plenty of crafts, face painting, juggling and games for the kids. (Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St, 10am–12pm. Free)

5. Dig into some saucy ribs

The final day of Naperville Ribfest falls on the Fourth of July. Escape the city and its madness to eat some pork and listen to live music. You’ll also get an amazing display of fireworks to end the night. (Knoch Park, 724 S West St, Naperville, noon–10pm. $20–$125)

6. Have a paddle party

Make your way down to the Chicago River and hop on a kayak to cruise through downtown. The best part is that there’s virtually no traffic on the river and you’ll get a front row seat to the Navy Pier fireworks. (Kayak Chicago, 1220 W Le Moyne St, 7:15–10:45pm. $69)

7. Celebrate at a dive bar

For the past 15 years at Phyllis’ Musical Inn, the bar has celebrated America’s birthday with hot dogs, burgers and beer. Live music will be on all afternoon featuring American Standard, Gnuman, The Phone Calls and more. (Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W Division St, 2pm. Free)

Latest news


    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!