This post covers the best things to do in Chicago this July, including, free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime activities, all updated for 2022.
- Top 10
- Free Things to Do
- Nighttime Activities
- Any Time of Year
- How’s the Weather?
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO IN JULY
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:
- Architecture Cruises
- Bus Tours
- Visit the Navy Pier
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.
- Baseball | White Sox or Cubs (April – October)
- Women’s Basketball| The Chicago Sky (May – October)
- Soccer | Fire (March – October)
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. Go to 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.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a concert outdoors at Pritzker Pavilion or Ravinia.
For more live music in the area, check this list of concerts in Chicago.
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 our 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. See a Stand-Up Comedy Show
Chicago is home to one of the world’s premier comedy clubs and schools, The Second City, so of course you can be sure you’ll find a comedy scene in the city.
Speaking of Second City, grab tickets for their Improv Brunch. It takes place at UP Comedy Club every Sunday in July.
One big name comedian performing in Chicago this month is John Mulaney. He’ll be appearing at the United Center for three nights, July 14th, 15th, 16th.
Just outside of the city at the Rosemont Theatre you’ll find RuPaul’s Drag Race. These very funny and creative folks are gathering on July 23rd.
You won’t want to miss Weird Al Yankovic. He’ll be appearing at Symphony Center on July 16th.
To see a full calendar of all shows, click here.
5. Celebrate the 4th of July
Celebrate the 4th of July in Chicago as the city honors this country with a day full of American classics, concerts, and spectacular firework shows at 9:00 pm shooting off from Navy Pier.
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 a few days early in 2022, on July 2nd at at 6:30 PM.
For music the day-of, try Navy Pier and Live on the Lake, a free concert series scheduled to run between 1:00 PM and 9:00 PM on July 4th.
After the concert, you can catch one of Navy Pier’s best firework displays of the summer, with patriotic music in the background.
Our Riverwalk and History Tour will bring you a short walk to Navy Pier, just in time for the fireworks on Wednesday and the 4th of July!
6. Taste of Chicago
Join in the fun by attending the world’s largest food festival. This festival has been sharing delicious foods with visitors for over 40 years!
Click here for more information.
In 2022 you’ll find your bite-sized tasting in Grand Park, July 8-10.
Learn more about Grant Park where this famous festival is hosted on our Birthplace of the Skyscraper Architecture Tour.
It was featured on the Food Network in 2014 with Eating America Anthony Anderson.
7. Attend a Food or Music Festival
Chicago loves to celebrate and hold festivals during the summer months and July is no exception.
Here are just a few. Some of these events are free to enter and others require a ticket.
8. Chinatown Summer Fair
This fair returns to Chinatown for its 42nd year on July 30th-31st, 2022.
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 blanet.
- Boomerang | July 8
- 42 | July 12
- Pretty Woman | July 15
- Might Ducks | July 19
- Trainwreck | July 22
- Caddyshack | July 26
- The Big Sick | July 29
Check the Navy Pier events page for more details.
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.
FREE THINGS TO DO
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, 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 seeing 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 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.
Chicago Summer Dance
All summer long you can enjoy live music or DJ’s spinning at public parks in Chicago. Some of the events even include a dance lesson before folks start to boogie!
Throughout the month of July 2022 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.
Many of our top ten activities are perfect for the evening hours, such as seeing a sporting event, going to the theater of 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.
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.
NOTE: Some of these locations are already opened back up again following the pandemic, but others might not yet be open by July.
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:
NOTE: Some of these venues will be open by July 1st, but some will not be opening back up until September, 2021.
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”.
Read more Adventurous Things to Do in Miami!
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.
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:
- The Field Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Children’s Museum
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 live at the zoo.
There’s also a 4-D Experience covering sharks, one covering the Octopus, and a third covering Spalsh 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 Libarary
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 a Baseball Game
We have two baseball teams here, so there are plenty of options for families to go catch a game!
Tour both stadiums, or just enjoy the fresh air while cheering on our Chicago teams!
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, 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.