Things to Do for the Fourth of July in Chicago

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Everyone’s favorite summer holiday is quickly approaching! Nothing says July 4th like BBQs, pool days, parades, and of course – fireworks! While last year most firework shows and celebrations had to be called off due to the pandemic, this year, some celebrations are able to return. Read on to see what’s happening around Chicago this Independence Day and gather up some ideas for your Fourth of July weekend.


Great news! The city of Chicago is bringing firework shows back this year to celebrate the holiday, which means you can spend your Independence Day night watching a stunning (free) firework display off of Navy Pier! You can even make a day of it and spend the whole day at Navy Pier, as most of its attractions have reopened. These include the country’s largest rooftop bar and lots of waterfront restaurants. There’s also a beer garden which will be hosting Live on the Lake!, a series of musical performances every Sunday. You can catch the bands performing from 2 to 8 pm before the fireworks go off.

Booze Cruise

Want to keep the party going until Monday? Hop on the Red, White, and Booze Cruise at 1 pm on July 5th. You’ll enjoy city views from a spacious 3-story yacht on the breezy outer decks or hit the air-conditioned dance floor indoors to groove to Top 40 hits spun by a DJ. Your ticket includes giveaways and a drink at the afterparty (there’s a full bar where you can get more drinks, too.)

African/Caribbean International Festival of Life

This 18th annual festival of Afro-Caribbean culture returns this year to Washington Park. The festival takes place from July 2nd through July 5th from noon to 10 pm daily. Enjoy international food, arts and crafts, and the event’s main attraction – two concert stages featuring lots of hip-hop, reggae, gospel, and soul performers. Four-day passes are just $30 and you can buy them and learn more here.

Enjoy the Water

Spending time along the water is always nice on a sweltering July day, and between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, this city has plenty of it! Get on the river by renting a kayak, a cute little retro-style electric boat, or even chartering an Island Party Boat with booze and a captain. Or just wander along the river, enjoying all the shops and restaurants along Chicago’s Riverwalk. If you’d prefer expansive views of the lake, walk or bike the 20-mile stretch of trail along Chicago’s lakefront.

Take a Swim

Simply enjoying the view of the water not enough for you on a hot day? Then you’re going to want to hit one of Chicago’s downtown beaches and take a dip in Lake Michigan. A few great ones to visit on the 4th include:

·   Oak Street Beach – conveniently located near the Magnificent Mile, this beach is known for its volleyball courts.

·   North Avenue Beach – this popular peninsula of sand jutting out into the lake is right near the Lincoln Park Zoo, which would make a great combined day of fun with kids.

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