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Mario from Dallas asked

3 days in Chicago over July 4th weekend

What are the best thing to do in Chicago over the weekend of July, 4th? Arriving on Thursday evening and leaving sunday evening. We already have a place to sleep which is pretty central. Please, no museums (expect they are exceptional). Where do you have the best view on the fireworks? Where to go for a awesome brunch/breakfast? Where to dinner? We like to walk around and do some people watching. No budget restrictions.

Every comment is very much appreciated!!! 

Chicago (Illinois)

7 Answers
top answer by
Anthony from New York City

If you are feeling adventurous and enjoy fine dining, head to El Ideas for both the cookery and the engaging, intimate atmosphere. Truly one of a kind culinary experience.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. El Ideas (restaurant)
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answered by
Len from Chicago

People often don't go very far outside the loop, and that's a mistake. I highly suggest these activities.

1) Take the Blue Line (this is the train that goes back and forth to the airport) to the Damen Ave/North Avenue stop. There dine on tacos, donuts, beer, and coffee. There's lots of all of these things and I won't make specific recommendations. Just stumble and you'll find something great.

2) Take the Blue again to Chicago Avenue and then walk down to Flo for brunch. It's my recent favorite and does a lot of Mexican infusion.

3) In the loop make sure you go to the Chicago Cultural Center. The building itself is gorgeous and frequently gets overlooked. They have rotating exhibits there. 

4) As cheesy as it might seem to go to the zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo is the last free zoo in the country. It's worth a quick go-around and make sure you check out the massive greenhouse.

5) Go to Revolution Brewing - Kedzie Brewery & Tap Room. It's now one of Chicago's largest independent brewers and it's awesome.

6) Greektown - It's what you think it is. Delicious.

7) Great people watching on Division Street between Ashland and Damen. They have extra wide sidewalks on that street so almost all the bars and restaurants have massive patios. 

8) Like ribs? This:

9) Although watching the Fireworks from Navy Pier might seem like the thing to do, it's way more interesting to find another spot where you can see multiple shows at a time. There are a bunch rooftop bars at hotels and restaurants around the city. Find one and make a reservation to enjoy drinks on the 4th.

Enjoy your trip!

Comments (1)

Thanks Len for the great input. This seems like a pretty good plan!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Damen Ave (attraction)
  2. North Avenue (attraction)
  3. Chicago Avenue (attraction)
  4. Flo (restaurant)
  5. Chicago Cultural Center (attraction)
  6. Lincoln Park Zoo (attraction)
  7. Revolution Brewing - Kedzie Brewery & Tap Room (attraction)
  8. Greektown (attraction)
  9. Division Street (attraction)
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answered by
Dabs from Chicago

If you have a sunny day, take a boat ride on the Lake or River.  If you are an architecture buff, then the Chicago Architecture Tour on River is the best, if you just want a nice boat ride there are lots to choose from including Wendella, Shoreline and SeaDog (although of the ones I've done, that's my least favorite).  Go for a bike ride along the lakefront, you can rent bikes or use the Divvy bikes (but make sure you know how they work, they are time restricted).  See if there's a free concert at Millennium Park.  Take an instragreeter tour starting at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The big fireworks along the lakefront was cancelled a few years back but Navy Pier has them on the 2nd, 4th and 5th, I assume that the ones on the 4th will be the largest display. 

My favorite breakfast place downtown is Bongo Room but expect a pretty hefty wait on the weekend.  On Sunday, consider going to the Maxwell Street Market where you can get amazing Mexican food and the most delicious churros.

Dinner?  100s of choices so without knowing your preferences I'll mention Lou Malnati's Pizzeria or Giordano's for pizza (multiple locations for both), Morton's for steak (they have an anniversary deal on their website), Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab for seafood, Wildfire, Rosebud or Carmine's for Italian.  If you want to get out into the neighborhoods the list expands a lot.  Chinatown Chicago, Greektown, Wicker Park and Lincoln Park (Illinois) are all easy to get to.  Lots of trendy places along Randolph Street just west of the expressway, I don't eat trendy but you might have a look at Maude's Liquor Bar, Nellcôte, Girl & the Goat, Little Goat, Au Cheval

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chicago Architecture Tour (attraction)
  2. Millennium Park (attraction)
  3. Chicago Cultural Center (attraction)
  4. Navy Pier (attraction)
  5. Bongo Room (restaurant)
  6. Maxwell Street Market (attraction)
  7. Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (restaurant)
  8. Giordano's (restaurant)
  9. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (restaurant)
  10. Wildfire (attraction)
  11. Rosebud (restaurant)
  12. Carmine's (restaurant)
  13. Chinatown Chicago (attraction)
  14. Greektown (attraction)
  15. Wicker Park (neighborhood)
  16. Lincoln Park (Illinois) (attraction)
  17. Randolph Street (attraction)
  18. Maude's Liquor Bar (attraction)
  19. Nellcôte (restaurant)
  20. Girl & the Goat (restaurant)
  21. Little Goat (restaurant)
  22. Au Cheval (restaurant)
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answered by
Sarah from Houston

Hello there!

I will actually be traveling back to Chicago, where I'm originally from, over Fourth of July weekend as well. I've been researching the best places to see fireworks and I would say especially if you have no budget restrictions is to go to Navy Pier and go on one of the boats that are there to see the fireworks out on the lake Michigan waters. I believe this may be around $150 or so a person to do but I have heard that it is very nice. 

Where to for dinner out in that area I would totally suggest for a real Chicago non-tourist vibe RJ Grunts which is very well known for the invention of the 'first salad bar ever,' which is really huge and has so many fresh choices plus they have amazing burgers!

For breakfast and it is only a breakfast establishment one of the best places to get a cinnamon roll the size of your head pretty much is Ann Sather. They are only open until about 1-2pm in the afternoon and be prepared to wait for a table because the food is that good! I don't believe they take reservations there so it's first come, first serve.

I would also say check out Geja's Cafe if you want a very romantic place to eat at, it's a fondue restaurant set in like a little groto. They have guitarists and it's all candlelit and it's a lot of fun to cook your own food. Now be sure to call them ahead of time, make reservations and ask them for a booth... You have curtains with the booths so you can make it much more intimate. ;)

Entertainment wise Chicago is a huge improv city so I would suggest checking out Second City and The I.O. Theater. You are there during summer so definitely swing by Millenium Park and check out our infamous bean. If I remember more to do I will be sure to add to my list but hopefully this helps you!

Comments (1)

Thank you Sarah. This sounds fantastic

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Navy Pier (attraction)
  2. RJ Grunts (restaurant)
  3. Ann Sather (restaurant)
  4. Geja's Cafe (restaurant)
  5. Second City (attraction)
  6. The I.O. Theater (attraction)
  7. Millenium Park (attraction)
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answered by
Melissa from Chicago

Don't forget to bring you bathing suits and hit one of the beaches. Oak Street Beachand North Avenue Beach are great places on a summer day.

If it gets too hot outside, The Art Institute of Chicago is an exceptional museum. One of the best in the world.

For Chicago food staples, I would get a stuffed pizza form Giordano's and an Italian beef sandwich from Portillo's or Al's Beef. Asked for it to be dipped in the juice!

The view from The Terrace at Trump Tower) is amazing, but be prepared to spend $$$ on drinks for that view. I think it is worth it. I recommend the mojito.

Have fun!! 

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oak Street Beach (attraction)
  2. North Avenue Beach (attraction)
  3. The Art Institute of Chicago (attraction)
  4. Giordano's (restaurant)
  5. Portillo's (restaurant)
  6. Al's Beef (restaurant)
  7. The Terrace at Trump Tower (attraction)
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answered first by
ross from Chicago


Yolk (3 downtown locations) or Ann Sather for brunch/breakfast.

Michigan Avenue/ Bucktown / Wicker Park/ Gold Coast neighborhoods. All good for people watching. Navy Pier to watch fireworks or Grant Park. Millenium Park is fun.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ann Sather (restaurant)
  2. Michigan Avenue (attraction)
  3. Bucktown (neighborhood)
  4. Wicker Park (neighborhood)
  5. Gold Coast (neighborhood)
  6. Navy Pier (attraction)
  7. Grant Park (attraction)
  8. Millenium Park (attraction)
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answered by
Kal from Minneapolis

Go to Navy Pier

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Navy Pier (attraction)

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