Chicago’s Millennium Park, the Loop and the Grant Park area took the #1 spot in Priceline.com’s annual survey of the top 50 most popular Fourth of July destinations. Celebrate the summer’s biggest holiday and America’s birthday by visiting lakefront beaches, enjoying magnificent fireworks on the lakefront, experiencing the Taste of Chicago or attending a Major League baseball game.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Daily 10am–5pm. 2200 N Cannon Drive, Chicago (lpzoo.com).
This 35-acre animal attraction in Lincoln Park makes the A-list of family activities–not only because it’s entertaining, but also because it’s free. Open year-round, the zoo is bordered on the south by Cafe Brauer, where families can eat drippy ice cream cones and take paddleboat spins around South Pond, and on the north by the popular Lincoln Park Conservatory and the serene greenery of North Pond. All ages.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Free Thursday evenings. 700 E Grand Avenue, Chicago
Founded in 1982 in response to program cutbacks in the Chicago public schools, the museum has grown from two hallways inside a public library into a 57,000-square-foot space on Navy Pier. More than 10 permanent exhibits involve kids in the arts, science and humanities. Activities include exploring the over-sized urban garden in the Big Backyard exhibit, and putting imaginations to work in the Inventing Lab. All ages.
Taste of Chicago
Today- Sunday 7/4 11am–9pm. Grant Park 300 S Columbus Drive, Chicago.
Loosen up your belt and head out to try more than 200 culinary delights; a strip of 12 tickets costs $8. The Family Village serves up live entertainment, carnival rides and even organic gardening demos. All ages.
Chicago Fourth of July Fireworks
Sunday 7/4 9pm–midnight. Navy Pier 600 E Grand Avenue, Chicago.
The city joins forces with Navy Pier for an explosive Independence Day fireworks show (on Jul 4 instead of the usual Jul 3). Three lake barges mark the shoot-off point for the festivities. North Siders can get an eyeful from Foster Avenue to Montrose Avenue along the lakefront. Navy Pier marks the central location, and on the South Side, watch the sky light up from 63rd Steet to Promontory Point. All ages.
Independence Celebration in Millennium Park
Saturday 7/3 10am–3pm. Grant Park, Chicago.
Get a head start on the holiday festivities at the Grant Park Music Festival’s Independence Celebration on July 3, at 1:30 p.m. A free concert by the Grant Park Orchestra at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park celebrates our country’s birthday and musical heritage and features the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s BAM! and the Trinity Irish Dancers. Other events on July 3 include workouts in Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates, and salsa lessons on the Great Lawn, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Family Fun Festival, presented by Target, offers interactive activities and musical games for kids of all ages.