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Chicago Like a Local Blog

Unique perspectives on the city from the people who live here.

Fourth of July is creeping up on us, Chicago. Conveniently, this year it falls on a Tuesday, meaning it’s the perfect opportunity to spend a long July 4 weekend in Chicago. Celebrate this Independence Day with a concert or a food festival or a boat cruise. Work your way through this summer bucket list to cover all the basics. Or test out this action-packed adventurer's itinerary. Below are more ideas on things to do in Chicago this weekend and events for the extended holiday!

Visiting the Windy City this summer? Chicago is a must-visit destination every season of the year, but in the summertime, it truly shines. From our beautiful, Lake Michigan beaches to our playful, imaginative parks, there is something for every adventure-loving family under the sun. Budget-wise moms and dads will be happy to learn that the best things to see and do this summer in Chicago are totally free!

Here are our family's picks for the top seven free things to do this summer in Chicago. 

The worlds of pop culture, folklore and art join together for the Museum of Contemporary Art's eye-popping retrospective Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg. Displaying over 50 works that represent three decades of Murakami's groundbreaking career, some for the first time in North America, the exhibit supplies a riveting look at how the artist blurs the lines and boundaries of traditional art.

A Kiki is urban slang for a party with good music and friends meant to calm the nerves, allowing people to spill the tea and dish the dirt for the purpose of reducing anxiety and stress. Given the political climate, the LGBTQ community and their allies seem in desperate need of a kiki.

Early in 2017, the Laugh Factory Chicago (3175 North Broadway) launched the new LGBTQ monthly show, the Kiki — Queer Comedy with Variety. Since then, the Kiki has provided a solid roster featuring Chicago’s top queer talent.

There’s no better way to celebrate summer than with a barbecue party. Beer in hand, grilled meat, and cool tunes are some of the best ways to beat the heat. The Windy City Smokeout brings all this together with Downtown Chicago as the perfect setting.

This year’s festivities mark the festival’s fifth. The event is hosted by popular Chicago restaurant Bub City, and award-winning Joe’s Bar. The weekend-long event (July 14-16, 2017), is expected to bring in over 45,000 attendees. Besides enjoying some of the country’s best BBQ and craft beers, attendees will be jamming alongside country music’s biggest names and upcoming talent.

Chicagoans embrace summer by spending as much time outdoors as humanly possibly. From working out on the beach to dining on a lake or river-side patio, there are so many ways to make it a summer to remember. Here's yet another great outdoors option: Trade an air-conditioned movie theater for an evening under the stars and catch an outdoor movie on a Chicago summer night. Here are three venues that offer free outdoor flicks.

Nothing celebrates the joy of summer better than the annual Chicago SummerDance Festival. Combine the beauty of Grant Park's Spirit of Music Garden with warm weather and the fun of live music and dance, and you have the ultimate  Chicago weekly summer event. And it's all free!

There's a first time for everything right? Well, Chicago has TWO first time events happening this weekend and you're going to want to be part of the festivities. Other events and things to do in Chicago this weekend range from craft beer to Chicago hockey to boat races to nacho eating and so much more. That's on top of all the FREE summer-long happenings at our lakefront parks, from SummerDance in Grant Park to Family Fun Fest in Millennium Park. Check out these 6 Chicago events below and scratch them into your weekend planner. 

It's no secret that Chicagoans love to eat... and eat well. Named the best restaurant city in America by Condé Nast Traveler, our windy city is a mecca for gourmets, gourmands and everyone who just loves to take a bite into the extraordinary. One of the city's premier foodie events, Chicago Gourmet (September 19–24), is celebrating its 10th birthday in 2017, and several new anniversary events promise to bring star chefs and foodies together in Millennium Park and beyond for a bash like no other. 

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