Instead of worrying about getting around downtown Chicago with the NASCAR Race July 1 and 2 in 2023, consider taking a fireworks cruise on Tall Ship Windy that Saturday before or Wednesday after July 4.
It goes from Navy Pier so you get the Pier’s Fireworks without the downtown hoopla and street closures. You can also come down a day early and stay in the Sable Hilton Hotel right on Navy Pier to enjoy fun rides, a beer garden, restaurants, art exhibits and a vacation with great views.
On the Fourth
Tune in to PBS at 8 p.m. CT July 4 for “A Capitol Fourth,” a really special annual concert from Washington D.C. that features international stars and patriotic music.
Among this year’s headliners are Renée Fleming, Boyz II Men, Belinda Carlisle, the Broadway cast of “A Beautiful Noise (Neil Diamond) the Muppets, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly.
Then, stay tuned forWashington DC Fireworks shooting over the National Mall at 9 p.m. CT, co-sponsored by the National Park Service.
Go to Downtown Chicago to Millenium Park for the Chicago Blues Festival, June 8-11, 2023.
It celebrates Chicago contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock and hip hop. And it’s free. Visitors can bring a chair or spread out but lots of folks stand to watch because others are standing.
Hours: Thurs: 5:30-9 p.m., Friday-Sunday: noon – 9 p.m. Enter from Michigan Ave. at Washington St. or Madison St., Randolph St. or Monroe St. Millenium Park is free and has a Welcome Center on Randolph Street that is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. but open later on performance nights. For Blues Festival information visit City of Chicago :: Chicago Blues Festival
Or go to Skokie for MadKap Productions’ 2023 Short Play Festival June 10 at 7:30 p.m. and June 11 at 2 p.m. It’s just $15.
Plays are each about 10 minutes and written include pieces by David Alex, DC Cathro, Eric Coble, Eva Schultz and Judy Schindler
For more information visit Skokie Theatre. The theater is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., downtown Skokie near the S.W. corner of Lincoln and Oakton Avenues.
In addition, there is Chi-Soul Fest, a free, two-day music/comedy festival throughout Navy Pier.
If guests are in town for the holidays or enjoying Chicago’s festive downtown before the season ends is on the do list, think skating near skyscrapers, colorful lights, holiday trees. Think Downtown Chicago. Two ice rinks are in or next to Millennium Park and one is a short distance away at Navy Pier. Bring skates or rent them.
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Operated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and special Events, the Millennium Park Foundation and presented by Hilton, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink has free admission. However, skaters need to reserve a time. Very few time slots may be available at the last minute. Sessions are 90 minutes.
The rink has been up since mid-November and continues through March 5, 2023, weather permitting. It’s at 11 N. Michigan Ave. between Randolph and Monroe Streets.
Skaters are requested to arrive 45 minutes before their reserved admission time. Snacks and hot drinks are available in Momentum Coffee and Millennium Hall. For Thursday through Sunday and holiday sessions at 5 p.m. and later, entrance is at a Security Checkpoint. For weather closure updates check Millennium Park’s facebook and twitter pages.
The Pier’s ice rink is part of “Light Up the Lake” festival on now through Jan. 7, 2023.. Bring skates or rent them, There’s no charge beyond the festival admission of $15 for adults and children. Lockers are also available. Area is not for photo and flashing light sensitive visitors. Online tickets needed.
Mark the calendar or add to the mobile phone places to go the day after Thanksgiving. One event is only Friday. The others start that day but go for a few weeks to just over a month.
Wreathing of the Lions
Be at the Art Institute of Chicago at 9 a.m. Nov. 25, 2022 to celebrate when the museum’s two famed lions are adorned with their holiday wreaths. The event is at the 111 S. Michigan Ave. entrance
Millennium Park Sing Along
Join groups and visitors at Cloud Gate (The Bean) on Fridays from Nov. 25 through Dec. 16, 2022 to celebrate holiday and other songs from 6 to 7 p.m. supported by the Millennium Park and Pritzker Foundations.
An indoor lights festival that includes a winter wonderland forest, Santa, animated lights display and skating rink, Light Up the Lake runs Nov. 25, 2022 through Jan. 7, 2023. Tickets are $15. For tickets and more information visit Light up the Lake. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave.
Watch the sky over Navy Pier Saturday night as Hilton which now has a hotel on the Pier, hosts an incredible fireworks display beginning at 9:30 p.m. Watchers can receive “diffraction glasses,” courtesy of Hilton (while supplies last so get there early. The glasses add even more visual interest to the fireworks. accompanied by holiday-themed music, is just one of the many free programs celebrating the Fourth of July.
“Nothing says summer in Chicago like fireworks at Navy Pier. We’re grateful to Hilton for helping Chicago’s favorite destination light up the sky by presenting our spectacular July 2 fireworks display,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “Navy Pier is known as the People’s Pier for a reason. We hope that all of our neighbors come out to enjoy the free programs planned for the holiday weekend and throughout the year, ” said Gardner.
While waiting for the fireworks, stopt at the Navy Pier Beer Garden to hear Manny Torres followed by a Creedence tribute band and then the alternative rock Pino Farina Band.
The Pier has numerous dining choices including the very casual Billy Goat’s Tavern, mid-casual Harry Caray’s Tavern and the more elaborate cuisine of the Offshore Rooftop. Visit Navy Pier | Navy Pier for food and drink options.
Get a ticketed seat ($26-$80) in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or sprawl for free on the Great Lawn to hear the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra. The program includes such popular and patriotic music as John Williams’ “Liberty Fanfare, George Gershwin and Armed forces medleys and a Sousa march from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Pavilion is in Millennium Park at Randolph St and Michigan Ave. (Don’t bring alcoholic beverages. There will be beer and wine)
Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021 but reservations fill fast, so figure out something special, now. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La are merely a guide.
Book a package deal at the 5 star Peninsula Chicago, among the city’s top luxury hotel. It has an exceptional spa, large lap pool with great views and a great roof-top lounge.
Or get a room with a view at Sable, a new Hilton hotel. You will be staying on Navy Pier, Chicago’s No. 1 attraction that re-opens April 30, 2021. Plus the hotel has Offshore, the world’s largest roof-top bar.
Stroll Lincoln Park with stops at the Zoo to talk to the animals and the Conservatory for its Spring Garden show, opening May 9. Reservations are needed because of COCID protocols.
Or snag tickets for an architectural tour on the Chicago River. Two popular tours are the Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise’s First Lady.
Do brunch at longtime favorite, the Signature Room at the 95th. The restaurant is atop of what was formerly called the John Hancock Center, a skyscraper now known as 875 N. Michigan Ave.
Or reserve a table (may be on a heated patio) at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago or Schaumburg.
Or look one North Shore suburb north for Gerhard’s, a European style bakery in Lake Forest.
Get Mom a gift certificate for a spa experience. There is likely a spa in her neighborhood but if going downtown Chicago and the oriental-flavored Peninsula is booked consider the spa at the Langham an upscale Chicago hotel with a British accent.
Ooh la la
Flowers and candy have traditionally said “We love you.” The Chicago area has several good florists. Check out Blossoms or AshlandAddison, two popular and highly rated choices.
For candy, a top stop is Windy City Sweets in the Lakeview neighborhood. The only problem is that everything looks so good you’ll end up with stuff to also take home.
Or go to Long Grove Confectionary in suburban Long Grove. A longtime destination, the store also has factory outlets in Buffalo Grove, Wauconda and Chicago. Go back for a factory tour, good sale items and for holiday goodies.
Except for the falling leaves, it’s hard to believe that Labor Day Weekend is almost here.
With the pandemic changing our lifestyle, vacation plans and the events we usually use to mark off warm weather months such as the Chicago Air and Water Show, the usual Labor Day holiday might feel like just another weekend unless we plan something special.
Chicago’s most popular destination will close Tues., Sept. 8, 2020 until sometime in spring of 2021 so plan an outing to the Pier Labor Day Weekend.
Stretching out into Lake Michigan at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago’s arguably most popular destination will close Tues., Sept. 8, 2020 until sometime in spring of 2021 so plan an outing to the Pier Labor Day Weekend.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed lots of towns’ and parks’ Fourth of July celebrations in the Chicago area with most fireworks canceled including those at Navy Pier.
But many restaurants, particularly those with outdoor seating are open, cruises are going on area waterways, music is lifting spirits at some bars and eateries and you can tune into two concerts with live fireworks at Capitol Fourth from Washington D.C. and at CNN’s The Fourth in America streaming live from New York and Washington D.C. for subscribers on CNN.com’s homepage and via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android. It can also be viewed on CNNgo.
Try something different this Fourth of July weekend. Take a lunch or dinner cruise on the Odyssey on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan.
Navy Pier Restaurants and Music
Go over to Navy Pier, open 10 a.m. to midnight to eat outdoors at Harry Caray’s Tavern, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and other outdoor spots. Find a seat at the Miller Lite Beer Garden for its “Live on the Lake” from 2-11 July 3 and all day on July 4. Stop at the Wave, Wall, Wax platform to hear DJs from 5pm to 7pm. Face coverings required. Visit Updates Navy Pier .
For great celebrity performances, meaningful tributes to heroes and spectacular fireworks go to your PBS station or online for Capitol Fourth. This year, the annual program has taped performances from 7 to 8:30 p.m. CT followed by live fireworks.
“For four decades “A Capitol Fourth” has paid tribute to our nation’s birthday and the hopes and dreams of all Americans,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This year, our broadcast will reflect what we as a country have faced and the challenges ahead, while showcasing our message of inclusion, patriotism and love.”
Aired from 7 to 11 p.m. CT, T the program will be hosted by CNN’s Don Lemon from New York and CNN’s Dana Bash from Washington, DC.
Performers include Jewel, Barry Manilow, Martina McBride, Kenny Loggins, Andy Grammer, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana, CeCe Winans, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, The O’Jays, Don McLean, Jesse Colin Young and Little Kids Rock, Billy Ray Cyrus, Burt Bacharach & Musicians from the Berklee College of Music, Harlem Gospel Choir.
In addition, there will be the original Broadway cast of Girl From the North Country, inspired by the Bob Dylan’s songs and the cast of Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations.
Orchestral numbers are performed by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, the US Navy Band and the US Army Field Band, the new York Philharmonic and youth symphonies from San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Chicago and New York.
Fireworks highlights from New York, Washington Houston, Jacksonville and Nashville will be shown throughout the program which will be available to subscribers on CNN.colm’s homepage and CNN’s apps for iOS and Android.
The outdoors beckons now that Chicago and Illinois has entered Phase 3 of its COVID-19 fighting strategies. Just know that restrictions such as social distancing and face coverings are still part of the experience.
Also note where reservations and permits are still required.
The Pier at the eastern end of both Illinois Road and Grand Avenue, among Chicago’s most popular destinations, is opening its outdoor spaces excluding rides on June 10, 2020
Parking garages will have free access during the opening phase. Polk Bros Park across from the entrance and the Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion will open and some boat tours will be operating. There will be access to North and South Docks.
Several restaurants and retailers will have outdoor spaces such as Harry Caray’s Tavern, McDonald’s, Margaritaville Chicago, Billy Goat Tavern, Rainbow Bone and the large Offshore Rooftop & Bar. For updated information
The Morton Arboretum, a 1,700 acre park and outdoor plant and research museum, is open now on timed visit, reserve-ahead tickets through Jujne 14. Visits will be available to nonmembers on a restricted basis beginning June 15.
Located at 4100 IL Hwy 53 in west suburban Lisle, IL, the park is interlaced with walkway and hiking and biking trails. For membership, admission fees and hours visit Know/visit/information.
Lake County Forest Preserves dog park
Off-leash dog exercise areas begin opening second week of June, 2020 to annual permit holders. Dog Exercise Areas using COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.
“Once reopened, modified use practices will be in place for the health and safety of Forest Preserve staff, dog owners and their pets,” said Chief Operations Officer Mike Tully.
“Access will be limited to annual permit holders only. To help prevent overcrowding, daily permits will not be sold at this time. Additional signage will remind permit holders to do their part and abide by safety rules and protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Tully.