Since the City of Chicago cancelled all official fireworks displays this year, we scouted out the best places around the area to watch comets, dragon eggs, Roman candles and all the other Independence Day pyrotechnics you love.
SKOKIE Get ready to have your mind blown with “3-D fireworks.” Special glasses add color to the aerial displays, making them really pop. Head to Niles West High School (5701 Oakton St, Skokie) starting at 5pm, where the Skokie Park District will be giving away free glasses to the first 10,000 people. Show starts around dusk. For more information, call 847-674-1500.
NAPERVILLE This 30-minute display is part of Ribfest, which celebrates barbecue delights from around the country July 1–4. Admission to the fest in Knoch Park (700 S West St, Naperville) is typically $12 for adults, free for kids; on the Fourth of July, the gates open for free for everyone at 7:30pm. Fireworks viewing at 9:30pm is good from anywhere in the park. Naperville provides shuttle buses to Knoch; for location of parking lots and other information, visit ribfest.net.
EVANSTON This 25-minute show, which starts at 9:15pm, is set to patriotic and popular music performed by the Palatine Concert Band. If you’re not close enough to hear the music live, it’s simulcast on 90.5 FM, so pack a portable radio. Dawes Park (1700 Sheridan Rd, Evanston) is the focal point, but Evanston encourages people to park downtown and stake out a viewing spot along the lakefront. Go to evanston4th.org/fireworks for information.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS Arlington Park Racetrack (2200 Euclid Ave, Arlington Heights) puts on a post-racing display July 2. You can arrive any time after 11:15am, especially if you want to watch the horses race starting at 4pm (fireworks start at dusk); admission is $10 per person. Go to arlingtonpark.com for info.
ITASCA One of the largest shows in Illinois takes place in Itasca, with 4,500 individual explosions packed into 25 minutes. It all goes down at Hamilton Lakes Office Campus (Illinois Route 53 and Thorndale Avenue). Parking is $20 per car (or park on nearby streets at no charge), but admission to the show is free. Get there early to hear bands playing U2 covers and other pop music starting at 6:30pm; fireworks start after 9:30pm. Go to jamfests.com/itasca.html.
CHICAGO You can still see fireworks in the city by heading to Navy Pier (600 E Grand Ave). (Okay, you can probably see illegal fireworks all over Chicago, but we wouldn’t—or shouldn’t—advise that.) The 15-minute show starts at 9pm with the pyrotechnics timed to tunes like “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.” Stake out a spot toward the east end of the pier for the best viewing.