What’s the Fourth of July without a party or two? This year, take your Independence Day plans to the next level in the Chicago area by hanging out at a party on Lake Michigan or in a bar. If you’re looking for a family-friendly option, then the city and suburbs have something in store for you, too. Sip a few drinks designed specifically for the holiday, catch a live performance by a favorite musical group, and maybe even learn a little bit about history with the number of parties on the calendar for the Fourth of July in the Chicago area. Keep this list handy so you and your crew can have a fun night out on the town.

Fireworks burst above Lake Michigan along the shores of downtown Chicago, Illinois. (Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Fireworks burst above Lake Michigan along the shores of downtown Chicago, Illinois. (Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

57th Annual Fourth Of July Celebration
Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 642-4600
Monday, July 4, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 noon

Start your Independence Day celebrations early on July 4 by attending the 57th annual Fourth of July Celebration at Chicago History Museum. The event includes kid-friendly activities, including a costume contest. Other events include a speech by Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin. While you’re visiting the museum, which is located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, learn a little bit about the city’s history, too. The free event takes place from 10 a.m. to noon, and is followed by free admission to the museum for Illinois residents from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Fourth Of July Fireworks Dinner
Spirit Cruises
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Monday, July 4, 7:00 PM – 10:30 P.M

Make a splash this year when you and your friends party on Lake Michigan with the Fourth of July Fireworks Dinner. Held on board the Spirit of Chicago, the cruise on Lake Michigan includes a dinner buffet as well as views of the fireworks show that will make you the envy of your Facebook friends. The cruise takes place July 4, and boarding begins at Navy Pier at 7 p.m. Just remember that you need to be at least 21 years of age and have a valid ID. Tickets start at $159.90 per person, and tickets should be made in advance.

(Photo Credit: Belly Up Smokehouse & Saloon's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Belly Up Smokehouse & Saloon’s Facebook)

Fourth Of July Patio Picnic Party
Belly Up Smokehouse & Saloon
1132 S. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 929-3856
Sunday, July 3, 11 A.M. to 3 P.M.

This year, celebrate Independence Day one day early by taking part in the Fourth of July Patio Picnic Party. Held July 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the South Loop restaurant and bar will be serving up a special “1776” menu in honor of the occasion, where candied bacon is $1, Windy City sliders are $7, bacon-wrapped smoked franks are $7 and fried pickles are $6. Themed drink specials for the holiday are also on the menu. Make sure to wear your most Instagram-worthy ensemble in honor of the holiday, and you and your crew can pose for pictures in front of the restaurant’s giant flag.

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Duke Childs Field
Hibbard and Willow Roads
Winnetka, IL 60093
Monday, July 4, 6:00 PM

Celebrate the Fourth of July in the suburbs when you take part in FourthFest in Winnetka. The Independence Day event, held on July 4, kicks off at 6 p.m. with games, balloonists, and other family-friendly activities. The event also includes performances by the Blooze Brothers and Jesse White Tumblers. Plan to stay a bit late, too, as the fireworks show starts at 9:20 p.m. If you’d like to make it an all-day event, then consider starting the day with Winnetka’s parade, which kicks off at 10 a.m. The full schedule is posted on the Winnetka Park District’s website.

Naperville Ribfest
Knoch Park
724 S. West St.
Naperville, IL 60540

Dig in and feast on ribs, ribs, and more ribs when you make plans to check out Naperville Ribfest. The much-anticipated annual event, which will be held July 1-4 this year, includes an assortment of food vendors. In addition to barbecue, you can chow down on ice cream, tacos, wraps and so much more. A number of musical acts will take the stage during the Naperville Ribfest, including Lee Brice, Gin Blossoms, Sheryl Crow, Sister Hazel, and 3 Doors Down. The event culminates with a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. on July 4, and ticket details are on the event’s website.

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Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.