June 12, 2014 08:07 ET

Fourth of July in Chicago: Where to Watch the Fireworks in the Windy City This Independence Day 2014

This Independence Day, the Chicago Skies Will Be Alight With Both Professional and Amateur Fireworks Displays; Even Suburbanites Can Take Their Pick of Free Local Shows, While Every End of the City Has Its Own Display Scheduled

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - Jun 12, 2014) - Fourth of July is right around the corner, and knows exactly where to go for the biggest, longest and most dazzling shows. Here are Chicagoland's six best bets for an unforgettably explosive Fourth of July:

1. Navy Pier Fireworks
At 9:30 PM, Lake Michigan will light up with the colorful reflections of Chicago's biggest fireworks display. Navy Pier, the beloved landmark that added a Ferris wheel to the city skyline, already hosts a summer fireworks series with shows every Wednesday and Saturday night. On July 4th, they'll bring the show to a new level with a choreographed musical celebration. The show is so good that there's an encore the next night at 10:15.

Navy Pier's annual spectacle is just one of many reasons that Fourth of July is a great time to vacation in Chicago. Navy Pier is so close to so many main attractions that it makes sense to stay nearby. Hot spots within walking distance include:

  • Millennium Park
  • Cadillac Palace Theatre
  • Chicago Cultural Center
  • Broadway Playhouse
  • The Art Institute of Chicago

Find more information about the Navy Pier fireworks here:

Families in town for the show can stay at the nearby MileNorth Hotel, an iconic and luxurious hotel that's within walking distance of Navy Pier and just a block away from endless shopping opportunities on the Magnificent Mile.

Nearby restaurants with the best of Chicago food include Tre Soldi Trattoria on East Ohio and Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on North Wells Street. However, the city's best food tour is a can't-miss experience that covers all of Chicago's main food groups: hot dogs, pizza, Fanny May chocolates and authentic ethnic cuisine from a variety of countries. Tastebud Tours take visitors on a delicious three-hour tour through Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, as well as the Magnificent Mile, and they even offer specific tours for those who prefer savory or sweet options. Purchase tickets before July 1st to a Tastebud Food Tour and save $5; for more information about Tastebud Food Tours and the special visit

2. Races and Rockets at Arlington Park
This year, Arlington Park has it all: horse races, live music, barbecue specials, and of course, a big fireworks show. Arlington International Race Track will fill up once again for the local tradition, which includes family-friendly activities such as face painting, as well as the musical talents of seven-piece indie rockers How Far to Austin.

The first 5,000 guests will receive a free accessory. The first thousand kids will get a free "firecracker" frozen treat, too, while adults can try firecracker-themed frozen drinks and hot wings. Arlington Park is the best choice for those who want to honor the holiday's roots; members of Marine Air Control Group-48 will present colors during the National Anthem.

3. Lakefront Fireworks in Evanston, Illinois
Anyone who lives near downtown Evanston can simply look up at 9:15 PM to enjoy a festive fireworks display. The town's free event accompanies their annual 4th of July Parade and Twilight Concert. The parade is so highly anticipated that the city allows residents to set up lawn chairs as early as three days before the event.

After the Palatine Concert Band's performance, Evanston officials will announce the parade winners and introduce the fireworks. Hundreds line up along Lake Michigan for the free display, which fire officials launch from Clark Street Beach.

4. Glenview's Twilight Show Concert & Fireworks
While many Chicago-area communities simply set off fireworks come nightfall, Glenview makes a whole day of it. Glenview 4th of July starts with a free bike parade for local children at 11:15, followed by the main parade down Harlem Avenue and Central Road.

The actual fireworks will go off at Glenview Park Golf Club, over the town's well-manicured downtown course, where the North Shore Concert Band will treat visitors to 100-piece performances that synchronize perfectly with the patriotic explosions.

5. Itasca, Illinois Fireworks
Every year, Hamilton Lakes and the Village of Itasca join forces to produce a free, 25-minute fireworks display in the suburb's picturesque, lakeside business park along Park Boulevard. Tiny Itasca is famous for the surprisingly explosive show, consistently ranking among the biggest and best in the whole Chicago area.

At 7:15, singer-songwriter Pat McKillen will kick off the festivities with an hour-long set. Iconic cover band Maggie Speaks will take over from there, entertaining families with classic hits until the main attraction at 9:45: Itasca's free fireworks display.

Parking costs $20 per vehicle at the site, but it's conveniently close and admission is otherwise free. Vendors will also be on hand to supply everything from barbecue ribs to cocktails. Hamilton Lakes is just west of exit 5 on Interstate 290, while I-90 is a few minutes away, making it incredibly accessible for city dwellers who know it's worth the drive.

6. Ribfest & Fireworks in Naperville, Illinois
An hour's Metra ride away from downtown, Naperville actually hosts one of the state's biggest fireworks displays; Chicago radio station 104.3 K-Hits will even broadcast the 25-minute musical production live from Knoch Park.

The pyrotechnic show, which will start at 9:30 PM, is actually part of a larger Fourth of July tradition, one that attracts families from throughout the Midwest: Ribfest. This year's four-day festival only costs $10 during the afternoon (or $12 online, $15 at the gate), making it a good choice for families who want a break from the expenses of the Windy City. Ribfest starts Thursday, July 3 at noon and lasts ten hours each night, through the long weekend.

Out-of-towners can take the Metra to one of three local stations, but the Burlington Northern Train Station on 5th Avenue is by far the closest, because it's also one of the shuttle stops. Event organizers advise everyone to take advantage of the event's free shuttles, which will allow guests to park in one of six remote locations:

  • Naperville North High School
  • Neuqua Valley High School
  • North Central College
  • Cowlishaw Elementary School
  • All Saints Academy (for disabled guests and volunteers)
  • Burlington Lot

No matter where you might be in Chicago this year for 4th of July, stay safe and enjoy the wondrous display of fireworks! Find the perfect Chicago hotel for the weekend, and enjoy all there is to do in the Windy City.

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