Things to Do in Chicago 4th of July 2016 Weekend

With the 4th of July falling nicely on a Monday this year, you have the perfect opportunity to spend a long weekend in Chicago – a city known for its festive summer celebrations.

All of the great Chicago attractions that the city has to offer are sure to keep you entertained on Independence Day.

Extravagant fireworks displays and music festivals are just the beginning, and you’ll find plenty to do in any of Chicago’s many diverse neighborhoods.

If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago 4th of July 2016, check out our list of the best local activities and attractions, including…

  • Navy Pier 4th of July Fireworks
  • 360 CHICAGO Sunset Series
  • Chicago Architecture River Cruise
  • Eyes to the Skies Festival – Lisle Park District
  • and more…

Save on Attraction Admission

Regular admission to a number of the below fun Chicago attractions are included on the Go Chicago® Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Please note, the special events taking place at these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Chicago Card.

Navy Pier Fireworks – Navy Pier

July 4, 2016

By far the most popular 4th of July fireworks in Chicago is the Navy Pier display, hosted as part of the AON Summer Fireworks series.

The event is more elaborate than the weekly summer presentations, so you’re in for a treat even if you’ve been lucky enough to catch them on another night over the summer.

Head to Navy Pier or Millennium Park for the best views – but be warned the crowds will be fierce. This year’s fireworks begin promptly at 9:30 pm.

Since opening in 1995, the Navy Pier has brought thousands of international and domestic tourists to the shore of Lake Michigan. The park is the perfect destination for the entire family and will surely be a great place to enjoy the 4th of July.

There are tons of great rides to go on including the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel, Navy Pier Wave Swinger and The Light House at Navy Pier. There’s also a miniature golf course featuring 18, Chicago-themed holes.

360 CHICAGO Sunset Series


Located just a short walk from Navy Pier, head to 306 CHICAGO at the John Hancock Tower.

This 360-degree observatory offers up some of the best views of the Chicago waterfront and it’s beautiful skyline.

NEW in Summer 2016, they announced an exciting ‘Sunset Series’ featuring free weekly activities, which is open to all visitors from 6–9 p.m. and includes:

  • Mondays: Photography Night – Visitors can bring in tripods to capture the incredible images of the Chicago skyline (on Monday nights only).
  • Tuesdays: Chicago Architecture Foundation docents serve as “guides in the sky.”
  • Thursdays: DJs from Mode Events offer entertainment while visitors toast sunsets.

Getting In: All Sunset Series activities are included with the Go Chicago Card. Go to the Go Chicago Card entrance in the admissions area and present your pass for validation. Please note that you may still experience a line at the elevator.

Eyes to the Skies Festival – Lisle Park District

June 29 – July 3, 2016

Eyes to the Skies FestivalAnother unique event is the Lisle Community Park Eyes to the Skies Festival. Enjoy vibrant fireworks displays at night and colorful hot air balloons during the day.

You can even take a ride in one of the balloons if you’d like to add some adventure to your Independence Day weekend!

Throw in a carnival, live music, craft booths, and a food court and you’ll never want to leave.

RibFest – Naperville

July 1 – July 4, 2016

Image copyright Ribfest.

Image copyright Ribfest.

This one is for those of us who just can’t get enough barbecue in our summer. And BBQ is pretty much one of the most essential things to do in Chicago during the 4th of July.

Justifiably advertised as the “best BBQ you will ever taste,” the food at this festival is like no other.

With over a dozen different rib vendors competing to see who can provide the tastiest fare, everyone’s a winner at this carnivore’s delight.

You’ll also find plenty of family-friendly activities, great live music, craft beer tasting, and special events – one heck of a party!

Don’t miss out on the fireworks, either! They’ll go off at 9:30 pm on Monday July 4th after the music concludes.

Outdoor Activities

Since we’re now in the heart of summer, why not enjoy the great outdoors with a Chicago bike rental?

Pedal leisurely along the Chicago River and down by Navy Pier, or head out to the Museum Campus to pay a visit to one or two of its famed institutions.

Prefer to explore on two feet? Stroll around Millennium Park and the Lurie Gardens for a combination of culture and nature that can’t be beat in the heart of one of the nation’s largest cities.

Historical Attractions


What better way to celebrate the country’s independence than with a visit to a few attractions that capture the essence of American history? The Field Museum is a great place to start, with its World’s Fair heritage and unbeatable collection of American artifacts.

You could also explore the Chicago Historical Museum to learn about this city’s place in American history.

Of course, one of the most popular ways to learn about Chicago history is with the Chicago Architecture Cruise – you won’t believe how much of a city’s story can be told through its buildings!

Remember to Save on Admission

So if you’re lucky enough to spend this 4th of July in Chicago, check out a few of these activities and attractions to make the most of your vacation.

With everything from barbecues to boat cruises and beyond, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Chicago.

Remember, a number of these great attraction options are included on the Go Chicago Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Please note, the 4th of July events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Chicago Card.

Consider adding a few of these fun options to your summer vacation itinerary.

Go Chicago Card

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