Company Logo - Home Link

What to Do in Chicago in July

Updated: May 23, 2023
 By Mel

This post covers the best things to do in Chicago this July, including, free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime activities, all updated for 2023. 


If you’re looking for the best things to do in July, take a look at our suggestions for the best activities here, which include sports, theatre, and festivals.

For some of the more popular things to do in Chicago, read the following posts:

Some of the things we’ve listed here are included in one of the available tourist attraction discount passes.

1. Go to a Sporting Event

July is a great month to watch Chicago’s WNBA basketball team The Chicago Sky.

Or if you are a baseball fan, head to one of the ballparks to enjoy a Chicago Hot dog.





Seeing a big game is a great way to spend your afternoon or evening! 

For more things to do at night, check the section on nighttime activities below.

2. Attend a Concert

Chicago is a great city to see a concert!  You can beat the heat and head indoors to spaces like The Chicago Theatre or the Riviera, or head to a theatre out in the suburbs.

Alternatively, you can enjoy a concert outdoors at Pritzker Pavilion or Ravinia.



  • Sad Summer Festival | July 21st | Huntington Bank Pavilion | Featuring: Taking Back Sunday, The Maine, PVRIS, and more
  • Windy City Smokeout | July 13th-16th | United Center | Featuring: Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band, and more


For more live music in the area, check out this list of concerts in Chicago in July.

3. Go on a Sightseeing Tour

Take advantage of the great weather and head out on a tour! We offer pay-what-you-like walking tours multiple times each week.

If you’re looking for a bus tour, we have a great comparison of Chicago’s best. 

From hop-on-hop-off buses to nonstop nighttime tours, you’ll find one to suit you here.

To go for something more adventurous, try a kayaking tour or an architecture-focused river cruise

4. Go to the Theatre

Chicago is home to many regional theatres, small black box spaces, and Broadway Tour houses. 

As such, there will be plenty of great theatrical performances to see throughout the month of July.

Plays and Musicals

Performance Art

Kids' Shows

Click here to see a full calendar of June shows.

Check out our self-guided theatre tour to admire the exterior of some of the oldest movie palaces in the downtown Loop.

5. Celebrate the 4th of July

For music try Navy Piers's free concert series State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois, 11:00 am-8 pm July 1st-31st.

There's also Live on the Lake!, their holiday-themed concert series at 2:00 pm on July 1st and 2nd.

Also at Navy Pier, celebrate the 4th of July with a fantastic fireworks show. It starts at 9 pm.

If you want to take our Riverwalk and History Tour that night, it will bring you a short walk to Navy Pier just in time for the fireworks.

The annual tradition of a concert with patriotic anthems and marches to celebrate the nation’s birthday continues as a part of the Grant Park Music Festival with Independence Day Salute, held in Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

It is being held on July 5th at Pritzker Pavilion. There you'll hear "An American Salute: Rhapsody in Blue".

The program takes place from 6:30 pm - 8 pm.

6. Take Part in Chicago SummerDance

All summer long you can enjoy live music or DJs spinning at public parks in Chicago. 

There's dancing as well, of course. Some of the events even include a dance lesson before folks start to boogie!

Throughout the month of July 2023, you can find dance, creative activities, and more in parks across the city. See the schedule here.

For even more free activities, see our post on the top free things to do in Chicago.

7. Eat At the Windy City Smokeout

Chicago loves its food festivals. Here's another one taking place in July!

The Windy City Smokeout is a 4-day BBQ festival combined with a country music festival.

Activities take place July 13th-16th, 2023, in the United Center Parking Lot.

Come by for food, cocktails, craft beers, activities, and games.

Tickets to the Windy City Smokeout Festival can be purchased here. You can buy single-day passes or one for the full four days.

8. Chinatown Summer Fair

This fair returns to Chinatown for its 45th year on July 29th-30th, 2023.

In honor of Far East culture, this celebration features a Dragon & Lion Dance Procession, artisans, amazing food, and activities that are perfect for the whole family!

See their website, Chinatown Summer Fair for the details.

9. Water Flicks at Navy Pier

This summer head to Navy Pier to watch a movie on the lawn with the skyline as a backdrop.

The Pier's film series, Water Flicks, is expanding to two nights this year!

On Monday they show sports-themed movies, and on Thursdays, there are romantic comedies.

The movies are free so you just need to bring along a blanket.

Check the Navy Pier Water Flicks page for a list of dates and movies.

10. See More for Less with a Chicago City Pass

Many of Chicago’s biggest attractions have entry fees.

While you do pay for a tourist discount pass, it can give you a bulk discount and free admission into some interesting tours and museums, saving you up to 55%.

They can also save you time with skip-the-ticket-line privileges.

Each Chicago Tourist Discount Pass includes a variety of fun family-friendly activities and attractions.

Here are a few examples of what you can visit with a tourist pass, for a discount or for free.

For more details, make sure to read our full post covering Chicago tourist passes.


There are many free activities to take advantage of in Chicago including some we have mentioned above like taking a pay-what-you-like tour or attending a food festival.

Check out our comprehensive post about the Top Free Things to Do in Chicago.

Stroll the Riverwalk

With the warmer weather, it is the perfect time to explore the riverwalk.

This beautiful stretch will bring you below the busy streets and right along the river’s edge, lined with restaurants, art, and fountains.

Learn more about the river and the riverwalk itself on our Riverwalk and History Tour.

Check out the Chicago Cultural Center

This beautiful and historic building is free and open for the public to explore.

Beyond the art that lines the walls, you will find free traveling films, lectures, and performances here.

Check out their calendar of events to see what is going on during your visit.

Go on a Summertime Walking Tour

The weather is perfect to see some of the most famous Chicago sights on a pay-what-you-wish walking tour with us!

Check out our Birth of the Skyscraper- Architecture tour which weaves you through the streets of downtown to see the history of the buildings.

Explore the Farmers Market

Now that the weather is warming up, farmers' markets will begin to pop up across the city!

From produce to homemade crafts and baked goods, you will definitely find something interesting or delicious.

Markets are open almost every day of the week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Find a list of the city’s markets and their schedules here.

Go to the Game Room at the Chicago Athletic Association

Inside the historic Chicago Athletic Association building you will find much more than a luxury hotel. 

On the second floor, there is a Game Room with shuffleboard, pool tables, foosball, and bocce.

All are free to use, find the game master to make a reservation while you enjoy something to sip on.

Click here for more details.

Exercise in the Park

During the month of July, you will also usually find a full calendar of exercise classes in the Park.  

Local studios donate their timber offering these free classes under the summer sun, multiple mornings a week.

Check out the exercise class schedule here.

Under the Picasso

You can catch free events all summer long at Daley Plaza by the Picasso Statue. (This is one of the locations we pass on our Loop & Millennium Park Tour.)

Most often the events include music, dance, public art, and sometimes spoken word! 

Look at the upcoming calendar to see what events are scheduled.  


Many of our top ten activities are perfect for the evening hours, such as seeing a sporting event, going to the theater or attending a concert.

Below are some more ideas. Be sure to read our post about the top things to do in Chicago at night for even more suggestions.

Take a Night Tour

Looking to see a different side of Chicago? Take a walk with some spooky history on our evening Ghost Tour.  

You can expect to laugh more than you scream as you learn about past hauntings and the (sometimes funny) reasons behind local ghost stories.

Chicago Ghost Tours

For a lovely view, check out our Twilight Chicago Riverwalk & History Tour which ends a 10-minute walk from Navy Pier.  

The Pier has fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night in July.

Also, several bus tours operate night versions of their day tours.

See an Improv Show

Chicago is well known for comedy and improv. Just ask Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, or Steve Carell.

Below are just a few places to catch an evening show.  

You may be seeing seasoned Chicago improvisers or you might catch a group of students, but who knows?

One of them could be the next Chris Farley or Amy Poehler.

For even more chances to laugh, check this list of stand-up comedy shows in Chicago during the month of June.

See the Local Music Scene

There are plenty of local musical experiences at night.  

If you’re looking for even more opportunities to check out the local music scene, take a look at some of the more popular venues:

Admire Art at the Mart

While strolling along the Riverwalk in the evening, be sure to walk along the south side of the Chicago River so that you can see a newer art installation called “Art of the Mart”.  

It is a series of non-sponsored projections on the side of a historic Chicago building called the Merchandise Mart. 

Find out more from their website, Art at the Mart.

Go to a Game Bar

Whether you want to try an arcade bar with some pinball and Packman or try a classic board game, Chicago has a bar for you.

Check out our favorite game bars across the city.

Batting Cages

Practice your baseball skills right outside of historic Wrigley Field at the batting cages at Sluggers.

Beyond the batting cages, you can participate in other games such as skeeball, and catch some games on the TVs at this beloved sports bar.

Be sure to check out our post on top things to do in Chicago at night for even more suggestions.


Throughout this post, we have listed several activities that are suitable for kids, such as seeing an outdoor movie, going to a sports game, or seeing a musical. 

Below you will find several great options to keep your children entertained this month, including parks, museums, and theater!

Be sure to check out our post about family-friendly activities in Chicago for a more complete guide.

Go to a Museum

In July, on days that are on the hotter side, an air-conditioned museum is a good place to be!

Chicago has a lot of museums that are very interactive and ideal for kids such as:

Go to the Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country, and one of the last few free zoos.

Home to over 1,000 animals, this is a great stop during your time in the city.

While you are in the area, you can also explore the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the park itself.

Visit the Shedd

Head to the Shedd Aquarium with your little ones

You can wander around and view the aquatic wildlife that lives at the zoo.

There's also a 4-D Experience covering sharks, one covering the Octopus, and a third covering Splash and Bubbles, some very colorful fish.

You can also book a guided tour or book a private meeting with a Beluga Whale or some penguins!

Visit the Shedd's website for more information.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Visit this lovely nature museum and attend one of the many kid-friendly events.  

From storytelling to animal encounters to even helping to feed the animals, there is something for every little visitor.  

Check their special event calendar to see what is happening throughout the summer!

Have Fun at the Chicago Library

The Chicago Public Library, Jefferson Park Branch has Preschool Story Time. Kiddos between 3-5 will get to enjoy songs, rhymes, and books.

Other branches offer Family Story Time for kids of all ages, Baby Story Time for kids up to age 3, and other activities around art, science, and crafts.

For a look at their July schedule, click here.

Go to the Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country, and one of the last few free zoos.

Home to over 1,000 animals, this is a great stop during your time in the city.

While you are in the area, you can also explore the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the park itself. 

Play in a Park

Chicago is full of green grass and playgrounds for kids to get out their energy.

One of the best parks, Maggie Daley Park, is nestled between downtown and Lake Michigan.

As one of our newest parks, it is also one of the best, with lots of different playgrounds for kids of all ages, a rock climbing wall, a mini-golf, and tennis courts.

Find out about the many great parks in Chicago by reading our post, Chicago's Beautiful Parks.

See our post about family-friendly activities in Chicago for even more great things to do.

About The Author


Mel loves to be a tourist in her own city. With a background in performing arts, tourism, and photography, giving tours and being a story-teller comes naturally to her. She loves traveling, food, and theatre. Mel splits her time between Chicago and Los Angeles (#theatrelife) and leads tours and manages both cities!
Updated: May 23rd, 2023
Back to Top