Happy birthday to the Stars and Stripes! It’s the weekend before the 4th, so in between the fireworks, parades and Yankee Doodle-ing around, check out these can’t-miss events. You’ll have finger-licking’ fun at two different rib fests, watch hot air balloons take flight in Lisle, sit in awe watching fireworks at Navy Pier and more. Get out there and celebrate!

photo: Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies


Navy Pier

Have an Explosive Night at Navy Pier’s Summer Fireworks 
This one is kind of a must-do the weekend before the 4th . . . keep the kids up a tad later to experience the fireworks display synchronized to music at Navy Pier. Sat. Event details.

Last Chance to Celebrate Family Equality at Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum is giving families a chance to get in on June’s Gay Pride action! Kids can transform a thee-story staircase into a giant rainbow by adding colorful ribbons and write their ideas about family on the “What Makes a Family?” chalk wall. Fri. Event details.

Roscoe Village

Helmet Up for a Kidical Mass Bike Ride
Join Kidical Mass for a slow, easy-going, fun, group ride focused on kids and families that will tour the Roscoe Village neighborhood. Sun. Event details.


Ready Your Bellies for Windy City Ribfest
Get the wet naps ready! This fest is the messiest kind of fun. The area’s top rib cookers have sauced-up creations for sale. Kids will have fun playing in the family zone and casting their votes for best ribs. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

West Loop

Go Global on the 4th
Show your pride in America, and other countries, too. This is a globe-trotting adventure that spans the cultures of Africa, the Caribbean, Hispanic Latin American and the U.S.A. It’s big, bright and bold in music, food and dance. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Wicker Park

StoryTime! at Volumes
Pop into this recently opened book café for storytime with the owner, a former pre-K teacher, Miss Kimberly. While you’re there, hit her up for recommendations for your little readers based on age and interests. Sat. Event details.



Enjoy Your Day and Summer Nights at the Zoo
See Brookfield Zoo in a new light with cooler evening weather at Summer Nights.  Families are treated to roaming entertainers, live music on the kid’s stage, close-up animal encounters and a laser light show, all surrounded by the intrigues of the zoo. Fri. Event details.


Nothing Says Summer Like Butterflies & Blooms
Fill your summer days with butterflies and blooms at Chicago Botanic Garden’s temporary exhibit where visitors can immerse themselves in a habitat filled with hundreds of winged beauties and pretty petals. Fri.-Sun. Event details.


Origami in the Garden
A stunning tower of white cranes ascending skyward. A glorious winged horse. A life boat suspended by bronze oars. The Morton Arboretum’s newest temporary exhibit, Origami in the Garden, is inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding and it’s reams of wholesome fun. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Eyes to the Skies Carnival and Festival
Here’s your chance to see a hot air balloon up close — or even ride in one! There’s also a carnival and a children’s area with LEGO building, martial arts and dance performances, storytelling, music, games and animal shows. Fireworks that end the festivities every night round out this spectacle. Fri.-Sun. Event details.


Savor the Food and Fun at Rib Fest
There’s a reason why this annual, finger-licking extravaganza of BBQ is so popular: Grillers come from all over the country to dish their ‘cue and compete for the festival title. The Family Area is a fest unto itself with a petting zoo, magic shows, inflatables and more. Fri-Sun. Event details.

For more ideas on how to spend your weekend, check out our Family Events Calendar.


Chat with us about how you’re going to spend your weekend in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers