With so much to do, summer in Chicago can be a little overwhelming—especially on your wallet. With an endless supply of outdoor bars, music festivals and street fests, it’s impossible to resist being out and about spending cash. But an infinite number of things to do also means more free things to do. When you’re not kicking back at Chicago’s glorious beaches, try some of these fantastic activities that won’t cost you a dime.
The best free things to do in July in Chicago
The city of Chicago ditched its official fireworks show a few years back, but Navy Pier picks up the slack with its explosive Independence Day celebration. Revelers can head down to the pier or Millennium Park for an up-close view, but if you're not a fan of crowds, you'll want to hit the lakefront or find a friend with a rooftop by the shore.
At this polysexual Logan Square dance-off, party purveyor Kristen Kaza and DJ Audio Jack drop the needle on love-drenched classics by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Prince and the queen of lovers' rock, Sade. Admission is always free and the Whistler's capacity is limited, so there's usually a line out the door. Arrive early if you want to start grooving on the crammed dance floor ASAP.
Each week, Chicago comics bring the freshest, most experimental new material to the Annoyance for the Holy Fuck Comedy Hour. The weekly show is an eclectic mix of sketch, improv, stand-up and everywhere in-between—You never really know what you're going to get at Holy Fuck. Regular players include Emily Anderson, Sarah Ashley, J ack Bensinger, Mike Brunlieb, Danny Catlow, Thomas Kelly, Max Lipchitz, Morgan Lord, Nick Mestad, Jeff Murdoch, Scotty Nelson, Eric Rahill, Wes Perry, Jo Scott, Bill Stern and Nate Varrone.
Stand-up comedy showcase Congrats on Your Success has steadily built up an audience of dedicated regulars, who pack every bit of available space in Logan Square's Uncharted Books. The show's loose, friendly vibe is reinforced by interactive bits and between-set segments that engage attendees with the show's hosts and producers, who describe their audience as "DTF." Lured by the promise of free, BYOB comedy (with some free beverages for those who show up early enough) located in a used bookstore just steps from the Logan Square Blue Line stop, these crowds are treated to sets from Chicago's comedy scene staples.