Where to watch fireworks
This is a mention for those who just didn’t read the intro at all. Yes, Navy Pier will be the spot per usual to watch Fourth of July fireworks. The show starts at 9:30pm on Thursday, and the pier will be open from 10am to 10pm. Another option for seeing the fireworks this year is to board any of the pier’s fireworks cruises, some of which are mentioned here. If you want to avoid Thursday’s festivities but still want to be patriotic around the pier, fireworks are also planned at 9:30pm on Wednesday after the Navy Band Great Lakes Wind Ensemble Independence Day tribute concert. Wednesday’s free musical performance starts at 7pm at Lake Stage in Polk Bros Performance Lawn.
A harbor in the heart of the downtown Loop area, DuSable is just south of Navy Pier on North Lake Shore Drive. With this location, you’re going to see tons of yachts and skyscrapers. Right across from the docks is Lakeshore East Park, a near-5-acre space that’s dog- and child-friendly.
A sprawling urban park that includes Millennium Park (yes, where “The Bean” is), Maggie Daley Park, and Grant Park, which is full of gardens, open fields, harbors, and, at its center, Buckingham Fountain. Before the fireworks display Thursday night, get to the park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion at 6:30pm for the ticketed Independence Day Salute, featuring the Grant Park Orchestra. An open rehearsal of the show runs from 10:30am to 1pm, Wednesday, July 3.
North Avenue Beach
Perhaps North Avenue Beach is Chicago’s most popular beach. This destination has a bit of everything: a beach house that looks like an ocean liner; a bar and restaurant named Castaways; kayaks, jet skis, and bikes available to rent; and volleyball courts. Right across the way on the Fourth of July, the Chicago History Museum will host its 60th annual celebration. The event starts at noon and includes musical performances and a children’s costume parade.
A man-made peninsula with a promenade in Burnham Park, this is a frequent spot for locals, perfect for those wanting to observe the lights and sounds a bit further away from the hub-bub.
Ohio Street Beach
Located within walking distance of the pier, Ohio Street Beach is known as an ideal setting for open-water swimming training. Due to its proximity, this beach will fill up quick, but is surrounded by the Addams Memorial Park and Milton Lee Olive Park for those who want to relax in a greener space.
For the families and friends up north who don’t want to deal with too much of the fuss, Montrose Beach at the northern edge of Lincoln Park will have a good/more widescreen view of the fireworks.
Oak Street Beach
A larger area than the pier’s nearby Ohio Street Beach, Oak Street Beach is a popular, fashionable summer hotspot with a restaurant and bar, concessions, and volleyball courts. The view is nice and more upclose for the fireworks.
A 91-acre man-made peninsula with an ever-popular pavilion concert stage, Northerly Island will be full of those wanting a good view of the fireworks. The most popular spots in and around Northerly Island include Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Burnham Harbor.