Chicago 4th of July Weekend 2017 – 10+ Fun Things to Do in July

With the 4th of July falling nicely on a Tuesday 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 Chicago 4th of July Weekend 2017 ideas, check out some of these local activities and fun things do in Chicago in July, including…

  • Navy Pier 4th of July Fireworks
  • Chicago Architecture River Cruise
  • Eyes to the Skies Festival – Lisle Park District
  • The Field Museum Historical Exhibits
  • and more…

Save on Admission to Popular Attractions

Regular admission to a number of these attractions are included on the Go Chicago Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of Chicago attractions & activities and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available passes and Chicago attractions – Learn more.

Please note, some of these special July and 4th of July weekend events may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Chicago Card.

Navy Pier Fireworks
July 4, 2017

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.

Getting In: Navy Pier Fireworks are free to watch.

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel & Rides

Navy-Pier-centennial-wheel-3Since 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.

Getting In:  Navy Pier Ride tickets are included with the Go Chicago Card.

Navy Pier Freedom Fest 2017
July 4, 2017

Part of the daytime celebrations that usher in the free evening fireworks, the Navy Pier Freedom Fest is a delightful  family-friendly event that everyone will enjoy.

Celebrate on the Navy Pier rooftop, which provides phenomenal views of the lake, and of course, the fireworks themselves. Enjoy some great BBQ, too, a July 4th tradition.

There will also be a live DJ to provide entertainment and keep the party spirit going all night.

Getting In: Navy Pier Freedom Fest is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Chicago Card.

Outdoor Activities

bike-and-roll-chicagoSince we’re now in the heart of summer, why not enjoy the great outdoors with a ride along the Chicago lakefront?

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.

Getting In: Chicago Bike Rentals are included with the Go Chicago Card.

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.

This July, you can also pay a visit to their special exhibition, “Jurassic World,” which showcases the amazing dinosaurs based on the blockbuster film franchise.

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

Getting In: The Field Museum tickets and Chicago Historical Museum tickets are both included with the Go Chicago Card. “Jurassic World” is separately ticketed and is not included with the pass.

Museum Special Exhibits

Art Institute Modern Wing 1If you’re looking for more family fun, a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry is a safe bet. Filled with educational exhibits and interactive displays, it’s perfect for kids of all ages to learn as they play.

This July, you’ll also get to enjoy the special exhibit “Robot Revolution,” which highlights the development of artificial intelligence and the changing ways in which robots intersect with human life.

If you prefer art, head to the Art Institute of Chicago for some special exhibits including materials as diverse as photographs, prints, sculpture, medieval armor, and even architectural schemes.

Getting In: MSI Chicago tickets and Art Institute of Chicago tickets are included with the Go Chicago Card.

Cruises & Sightseeing Boat Tours

Shoreline-Architectural-River-Cruise-pt-2While you’ll still be enjoying the breezy afternoons that the Windy City is famous for in the heart of July, it’s fun to get out on Lake Michigan to explore this ocean-like lake.

Take a Classic Lake Tour for a chance to roam this lovely body of water and see everything from the iconic Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier to the skyline stretching east.

Of course, one of the most popular waterborne activities in Chicago is the Chicago Architecture River Cruise – you won’t believe how much of a city’s story can be told through its buildings!

Getting In: Classic Lake Tour tickets and Chicago Architecture Cruise tickets are both included with the Go Chicago Card.

Grant Park Music Festival – Independence Day Salute
July 4, 2017

Pritzker Pavilion ChicagoEnjoy one of the city’s most popular summer pastimes with a visit to the Grant Park Music Festival. Their annual 4th of July concert is not to be missed, and you’re sure to relish the opportunity to hear musical stylings from the city’s top talents.

Performances are held at the Pritzker Pavilion, from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Enjoy favorites like “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “The 1812 Overture,” and much more.

Getting In: The Grant Park Music Festival is free to attend.

Taste of Chicago
July 5 – 9, 2017

Enjoy the city’s most popular food fest this summer. Sample cuisine from all across this great city, with a wide variety of styles from pierogies to empanadas.

There will also be live entertainment and activities for kids, so it’s perfect for the whole family.

Insider Tip: Arrive early and bring wet wipes!

Getting In: Taste of Chicago is free, but food is separately priced and is not included with the Go Chicago Card.

Eyes to the Skies Festival – Lisle Park District
June 30 – July 2, 2017

Another 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.

Getting In: Eyes to the Skies Festival is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Chicago Card.

RibFest – Naperville
June 30 – July 3, 2017

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 the last day of the festival after the music concludes.

Getting In: Ribfest is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Chicago Card.

Remember to Save on Admission

There you go – plenty of fun ideas for things to do in Chicago in July to help you plan your 4th of July weekend itinerary.

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

We really hope you consider adding a few of these popular options to your upcoming plans. Enjoy!

Go Chicago Card

Please leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *