Fireworks, Booze Cruises, BBQ: How to Celebrate the Fourth of July in Chicago

The Fourth of July is a complicated holiday, and it’s not surprising that many of us have complicated feelings surrounding it. That said, you don’t need to be dyed-in-the-wool patriot to throw on your best crop top, house an irresponsible amount of hot dogs (sans ketchup, natch), and kick back with a frosty domestic light beer. From boat-borne fireworks cruises to parades to boozy brunches and beyond, here are our recommendations to make this Independence Day one to remember.

Tuesday, July 4
DuSable Harbor
If you’ve been barbecuing all morning, it’s time to chug a few Red Bulls and rally for a booze cruise to remember. Setting sail at 8:30pm on the 4th, not only will you be treated to the best view of the fireworks in the city, but you’ll also be able to enjoy 3(!) dance floors, multiple bars, and all 192 feet of a luxury yacht. Below Deck, eat your heart out. As a note, the city has not (as of yet) confirmed a fireworks display at Navy Pier on the 4th itself, so if you’re looking to have a side of fireworks with your cruise, book for the 1st of July instead!
Cost: Tickets start at $35 per person

Saturday, July 1
Navy Pier
Every holiday has its own Chicago spectacle: for St. Patrick’s Day, the river turns Ninja Turtle-green. For Thanksgiving, State Street gets its own float-filled parade. For Christmas, Daley Plaza turns into a German holiday village wafting with mulled wine. But the Fourth belongs to Navy Pier. We encourage you to arrive early to smoosh yourself into a prime viewing spot—but don’t worry, if you get there early, there’s plenty of live music and activities to keep you busy until showtime. The fireworks show starts at 10 pm.
Cost: Free

Wednesday, July 5
Grant Park
Don your finest stars and stripes and convene at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for a post-holiday musical medley of classic patriotic tunes from Michelle Cann and the Grant Park Orchestra. Starting at 6:30 pm, the picnic-friendly affair will feature classics like George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and other patriotic tunes.
Cost: Reserved seating starts at $26, free seating is available in the bowl and on the lawn

Saturday, July 1 - Tuesday, July 4
Washington Park
One of the most culturally rich festivals in town is back for the long holiday weekend, as the International Festival of Life spotlights and celebrates Caribbean and African cuisines, music, games, art, and more. Look for DJs and musicians putting on sets of gospel, reggae, R&B, blues, jazz, African, and Latin tunes.
Cost: Tickets start at $25