Chicago in July – Travel Guide

Chicago in July is one of the best times to visit the city. The warm weather and sunny days provide the best environment for enjoying the sandy shores of Lake Michigan and the many festivals.

It’s one of the drier months, making it an excellent time to explore Chicago’s many outdoor activities and events.

Growing up in the Chicago area, I have plenty of experience exploring the city and have compiled a list of what to pack, what to expect weatherwise, and much more.

July is a fantastic time in Chicago, especially if you enjoy live music events, food festivals, and other outdoor events.

In this guide about Chicago in July, you will learn about

  • Chicago’s Public Transportation System
  • The Weather in July
  • What to wear in July | Outfits | Packing List
  • Tips for Crowds and Rates
  • The Best Things to Do in July
  • Events in Jul
  • 5 Top Food Spots (at the end of this article 💡)

and more to help curate the best Chicago visit ever.

While the crowds are higher, the ample activities and events that occur during this month more than make up for it. With the drier weather, it’s one of the best months to enjoy a boat tour or boat-related activity.

💡 Tip: Read our complete Chicago Summer Guide if you visit in June or August.

Essential Links to Save | Activities | Hotels | Guides:

🎟️ Best Chicago Tours/Cheap Tickets
🏠 Low-Price Chicago Hotel Deals

🏙️ Chicago Travel Guides (Amazon)

All of the links above open in a new tab. They are incredibly useful for your Chicago summer visit.

In this guide, we provide you with details on the weather, what to wear, and more to help you plan your trip.

💡 Don’t forget to check out our hand-picked food places at the end of this article!

Must-Do Activity in July: River Cruise

If you’re visiting Chicago this summer, a river cruise is an absolute must-do, the highlight of the city’s attractions.

It’s a breathtaking journey where the vibrant landscapes and the architecture along the riverbanks come to life. Among all the amazing experiences in Chicago, cruising the river during this season stands out as a truly unique adventure, offering unparalleled views of the city’s iconic views.

💡 It’s an experience so enchanting that if you choose just one activity in Chicago, make it a river cruise in the summer!

Essential July Packing Tip | Light Rain Jacket

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A light rain jacket is essential for every summer month in Chicago. More outfit and packing tips later!

Get to Know Chicago’s Buses and Trains

Chicago has a great system for getting around, which includes buses and trains that many people use every day. It’s a cheap way to see the city and feel like you’re part of it. Here are some tips to help you use public transportation like someone who lives in Chicago:

  • Start by Understanding the System: The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) runs both the buses and the “L” trains. These can take you almost anywhere you want to go in the city.
  • Use a Map or App: It’s a good idea to look at a map or use an app on your phone to find out how to get from one place to another. This can save you a lot of time.
  • It Saves Money: Using the CTA is much cheaper than taking a cab or renting a car. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to park.

Additional Tip for Using Public Transport:

  • Buy a Pass: If you’re going to be in Chicago for a few days, think about getting a pass for the CTA. You can buy a pass that lets you ride as much as you want for a certain number of days. This is a great way to save money if you plan to use the bus and train a lot.

Remember, taking public transport is not just about getting from one place to another. It’s also a chance to see the city in a new way and meet people who live there. Give it a try!

July Weather

The average high temps in July

In Chicago, the average high temperature in July is between 81°F and 83°F (27-29°C) and about 5°F higher than the previous month. There are only six rainy days this month on average. While it is rather humid this month, visitors can still enjoy almost every outdoor activity.

Average Temperature

Chicago in July weather begins with an average high of 81°F (27°C) at the beginning of the month. 83°F (28°C) is the average at the end of the month. You’ll feel the most difference in temperatures in the morning between the beginning and the month’s end. At the start of July, mornings are in the 60s, while at the end, morning temps are in the 70s.

In the mornings, the temperatures are cooler, yet the humidity is higher. You’ll find the best time to do outdoor activities is in the evening, when the humidity lets up, and the temperature decreases.

Ensure you bring plenty of water when booking activities in the morning, as the moisture will make you sweat more than usual.

At the end of July, expect the temperature and humidity to make it feel quite hot. Many people visit indoor attractions or head to the water park to get a break from the heat.

This month is my favorite time to visit the local beaches and go swimming, as the water is warmer at this time of year. As a local, I always try to plan at least one stop in a grocery store or shop during an activity-packed day to help cool down in July.

Average high temperatures in July:
  • Early July: 81°F(27°C)
  • Mid-July: 82°F (28°C)
  • Late July: 83°F (28°C)
Summer flowers in July in Grant Park, Chicago. Grant Park is just beautiful and totals 312.98 acres
Typical temperature progression during a day in July:
  • Morning (8 AM): 74°F
  • Afternoon (3 PM): 81°F
  • Evening (9 PM): 76°F
Rainfall

During the month, the average rainfall increases from 3.2″ to 3.5″. Even with this increase in rainfall, most Chicagoans do not bring umbrellas to activities during this month unless the daily forecast notes rain.

What to Wear | Outfits | Packing List

July is the best time to wear shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, and sundresses in Chicago to help you keep cool. With the heat and humidity, you’ll want to bring along a bathing suit so you can stop by a pool if the heat is too much during the day.

I typically wear shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, and skirts in early July. If the morning temp is in the 60s, I will bring a light jacket that is easy to pack away in my purse when the temperature rises later in the day.

💡 Most locals and I wear the same clothing throughout the month since the entire month is rather hot. As the month continues, I stop bringing along a jacket for morning activities.

Morning/Evening
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As mentioned, when visiting Chicago, it’s best to bring a light jacket for early morning activities, such as walking along Lake Michigan. Generally, the evenings remain warm, so you can leave the jacket behind for nighttime activities.

I usually walk around Chicago in breathable shorts and a flowy top or tank top in July. However, I once believed it to be a cooler day, so I wore long pants and a light jacket. By midday, I was overly warm and had to purchase a reusable bag to store my extra layers.

Daytime
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During the daytime, you’ll find the hottest temperature around midday and early afternoon. It’s important to bring clothes that help you stay cool and shaded from the sun. Otherwise, you may find yourself sunburned. Wear t-shirts or light cotton shirts that help cover your shoulders to help you avoid redness.

You won’t need a jacket during daytime activities unless you plan on spending the day inside to help combat the high A/C levels in museums, shops, and other attractions.

I recommend investing in a packable jacket, as they can be compressed and easily stored in backpacks or bags when you’re outside.

This is my personal recommendation:

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Basic Packing List
  • Sunglasses
  • Cap or sunhat (to help keep the sun off your face)
  • Light sweaters/jackets (for cooler morning temps)
  • Cotton pants (or other light material for nice occasions)
  • T-shirts/lighter blouses & shirts
  • Dresses (for special occasions, get-togethers, dinners)
  • Swimsuit, beach towel, sunscreen (if you get a warmer, sunnier day)
  • Easy-to-carry water bottle (to stay hydrated on more humid days)

Crowds

The Fourth of July fireworks in Chicago are gorgeous, but it’s also the most crowded time.

Due to the warm weather and long list of events, July is one of the busiest months in Chicago, so expect events, activities, and attractions to be crowded. You can avoid some crowds by arriving slightly before events begin and businesses open, as most Chicagoans will arrive later in the morning or early afternoon.

Expect the number of visitors and crowds to grow during the Fourth of July weekend, as it’s a popular holiday in the city. If you plan to visit this weekend, purchasing event tickets as early as possible is best.

Book your reservations for restaurants before heading to the city, as they fill up quickly on July Fourth weekend.

Outdoor and indoor activities will be busy this month, especially with more visitors in the city.

💡 My top way of avoiding crowds this month is by scheduling activities during the week. Most Chicagoans work 9-5 Monday through Friday and primarily see attractions on Saturday and Sunday.

Parking: I have found city parking to be tricky in July. The best way to avoid parking snafus is by using public transportation or booking a parking spot with an app before you leave your accommodations. By using these methods, you can easily save yourself the headache of circling the block for 30 minutes.

Rates and Hotel Tips

The Blackstone, Autograph Collection is a remarkable and extraordinary 4-star hotel in Chicago. The location is superb. We loved this place in July! Click on the image for rates, reviews, and more (via booking.com)

Rates for Chicago hotels are high in July since it is a popular month to visit. Expect the hotel and flight rates to remain high throughout the month. However, you will see an additional spike in pricing for the fourth of July weekend.

You can help cut hotel and flight costs by flying during the week instead. Another option is putting a travel alert on your phone for lower prices and booking as soon as you receive the alert. If hotel prices are too expensive, consider looking at alternative accommodations like Airbnb.

Our hotel tips for July with some of the best locations, so you can walk to the most intriguing places:

Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park
The Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park. Click on the image for rates, photos, and reviews via booking.com.

The staff is super friendly, our beds were very comfortable, everything was 100% clean and its location is perfect for a visit:  It is only 1 block away from Millennium Park and Navy Pier. You can walk easily to so many hot spots during the warm and hot July weather.  It’s also quite close to Lake Michigan beach (20 minutes walk).

Trump International Hotel & Tower
The Trump. Click on the image for rates, photos, and reviews via booking.com.

This hotel offers spectacular views from every room! The view of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, or the city skyline is iconic. It’s simply the best location when visiting during July. Very comfortable from here to join a hop-on/off bus tour, walk along the river or to the Navy Pier, and walk to various restaurants and so many other area attractions.

The rooms are luxurious, and spacious, with everything you need.

Home2 Suites By Hilton | Budget Tip
Home2 Suites is our budget tip. Its location is excellent for winter visits. You are so close to ‘Mag Mile’. Click on the image for details, rates, and photos via booking.com. Thanks to Harry Carmichael for the photo.

This is our favorite budget hotel in Chicago in the month July! The location is excellent: It is located in Chicago’s River North district, a short walk from the Magnificent Mile’s (Mag Mile), shops, and restaurants. The Navy Pier, downtown, and the Chicago Loop are less than 15 minutes away.

Another thing we loved when we stayed there: You can prepare your own food in the room.

Things To Do

Tip: Make sure to grab the Chicago City Pass! It is 100% worth it and will save you a lot of money!

July is packed with activities, festivals, and events, so it’s one of the best months to visit the city.

One of the top festivals occurs during this month – Lollapalooza, which typically runs from the end of July to the beginning of August. Other events to check out are the Windy City Smokeout and the Taste of Chicago.

I love spending time in the city in July because of the many activity options available. The Taste of Chicago is one of my favorite events because of the variety of food available. Many restaurants in the city set up booths, so you can try various food at the same time. This is one event I look forward to every year!

Below, you’ll find the most exciting things to do and see while in Chicago during July.

Architecture River Cruise
  • When: Spring to Fall | Perfect in July
  • Where: Corner of Michigan (DuSable) Bridge
  • Price: about $40 per person

July is an excellent time to ride on the Architecture River Cruise. The weather is usually perfect for viewing the buildings. Tip: Book an early morning tour in advance!

Chicago River architecture tours are a must-see for anyone visiting Chicago for the first time and July has the perfect weather for a memorable cruise. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the city while floating along on a boat.

Tickets and more information can be found here: Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Tour. IMPORTANT: We highly recommend making a reservation in advance, as the cruises are very popular. However, you are free to try getting a ticket on short notice of course.

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel
  • When: Year-round
  • Where: 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611
  • Price: $19.62 per person for standard entry, $30.52 per person for express entry

The Centennial Wheel is one of the most iconic activities in Chicago and a must-do in July. This 200-foot Ferris wheel offers spectacular panoramic views of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and Navy Pier.

July is a great time to ride the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel, as each gondola is air-conditioned. This way, you get a break from the heat while visiting one of the most popular attractions in Chicago.

As will be busier than usual during this month, please purchase the express tickets to jump to the front of the line. If you have children under the age of 2, they can ride for free.

Recommended tickets and more information can be found here: Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket.

💡 If you decide to dine on a rooftop at Navy Pier, you can see fireworks in the evenings. This occurs on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Aim for later dinner reservations as the fireworks begin at 9:30 pm.

Great for kids: Additionally, the Navy Pier itself is a great family destination with a variety of activities and attractions. It includes an interactive children’s museum, an IMAX theater, an amusement park, and a giant Ferris wheel.

There are also many restaurants, shops, and live entertainment venues to explore in July. Kids will love the fun attractions, rides, and entertainment available at Navy Pier.

Art Institute Tour
  • When: Year-round
  • Where: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
  • Price: $115.54 per person

On a rainy or hot and humid day in July, an Art Institute Tour is one of the best options. This tour will allow you to see the permanent and rotating exhibits in person.

If you’ve never experienced the Art Institute in Chicago, we highly recommend this tour in July. You’ll be able to recognize this famous building by the green lions that “guard” the exterior, which is also the meeting point for the tour.

Inside, you’ll be guided through sections of the museum that are filled with paintings, sculptures, and other mediums by the likes of Picasso and Rembrandt. Purchase skip-the-line tickets (highly recommended) and find additional details here: Art Institute Tour.

Walking by Lake Michigan
  • When: Year-round
  • Where: Lakefront trail off Fullerton Avenue
  • Price: Free

In July, you’ll find many people walking, jogging, and bicycling along Lake Michigan. Remember to stay to the right to help avoid any collisions while enjoying the views.

💡 Avoid the crowds that gather around Lake Michigan by walking early in the morning or later in the evening. The sunrises and sunsets are especially pretty from the path near the lake.

The lake is stunning to see, but nothing beats walking along the lake nearby Navy Pier on a warm day during this month. This route allows you to view the famous Ferris wheel with the skyline of Chicago in the background.

We love this path as it will take you alongside the beach. You can walk, jog, or bike ride on this path.

The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour
  • When: Year-round, great in July
  • Where: 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601
  • Price: $18 per person

This tour of the Chicago Theatre Marquee is a perfect activity to try on an unpleasant afternoon in July. The tour lasts for 60 minutes and discusses the history of this building erected in 1921 as a movie theater.

Purchase tickets and find additional information here: The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour.

The Magic Parlour
  • When: Fridays + Saturdays year-round
  • Where: 17 E Monroe Street, Chicago IL 60603
  • Price: $79 per person

Take your family (12+ years old) to view a show at The Magic Parlour in Chicago in July. They offer amazing magic shows! You’ll find a fancy yet intimate setting inside as only 50 people can view shows at a time.

There is a dress code for the shows, which is noted as cocktail attire. Expect to be called up on stage at any point during the show. The magician (Dennis Watkins) has been featured on larger TV channels like FOX, ABC, and WGN.

Find more information and purchase tickets here: The Magic Parlour Chicago.

Museum of Science and Industry

  • When: Year-round | Great in July
  • Where: 213 W Institute Pl, Chicago, IL 60610
  • Price: $10 entry fee

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is fun to explore science on an unpleasant day in July! With so many interactive exhibits and unforgettable experiences, exploring the museum might take more than one day.

Great for kids: The Museum of Science and Industry offers a fun and educational experience for kids. It features interactive exhibits, live science demonstrations, and a variety of programs and workshops. Kids will enjoy exploring the different galleries, learning about science and technology, and attending the many fun activities the museum has to offer.

What’s so cool about this museum? Stand inside a tornado, experience the world’s largest pinball machine, climb into a real-life WWII submarine, explore a coal mine, get lost in a mirror maze, and more intriguing things.

Field Museum of Natural History
  • When: Year-round | Great in July
  • Where: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
  • Price: $26 ticket (subject to change)

Like the Art Institute, this is a great rainy-day activity. Please purchase your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line for an hour or so.

The museum holds over 35 world-renowned natural history exhibitions. Explore the subterranean life in the Underground Adventure exhibit. Experience the gemstones in the Hall of Gems and one of the largest collections of Chinese jade in North America in the Hall of Jades.

Great for kids: The Field Museum is a great place to take the kids to learn about natural history. It has a variety of exhibits, including dinosaur fossils, ancient artifacts, and cultural displays. Don’t forget to check out the Ice Age mammoth hunters and the temples of the Aztecs. Finally, visit the Dinosaur Hall Evolving Planet exhibit.

Your kids will love it!

360 Observation Deck
  • When: Tours available throughout the year
  • Where: 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Price: $30 per person

This attraction is another top option that allows you to get out of the heat for a few minutes. Drinks, air conditioning, and the famous TILT ride are all available at the 360 Observation Deck.

If you spend only a few days in Chicago in July, the 360 Observation Deck is a must-visit. Soaring 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue, 360 is one of Chicago’s most impressive attractions.

Tickets to skip the line (recommended) for a faster entry: 360 Observation Deck – Skip the Ticket Desk.

Field Museum of Natural History

On days when temperatures rise to 90°F, visiting the Field Museum of Natural History is a great way to take a break from the heat.

Events

July is an excellent time for outdoor activities.

It is the month during which the Taste of Chicago happens. This event occurs in Grant Park every year in July.

If you love trying new kinds of food, this is the place for you. When you arrive, you’ll see rows and rows of different white tents, each containing food from a different area in the world. You can find Italian, German, American, and many other options. Prepare your tastebuds and your wallet for this enjoyable activity.

Lollapalooza is another highly attended event in July that you won’t want to miss. This is the largest outdoor music festival that occurs annually in Chicago. It runs at the end of July each year.
This concert event is held in Grant Park and sees visitors from not only Chicago but all over. You can expect to find more prominent bands/performers at this event.

The event lasts for six days, and tickets can be purchased by the day or as a pack. You will see tents around as some people camp out for multiple days during the event.

5 Top Food Spots | Restaurants

Restaurants on Rush Street, Chicago
1. Charly’s Burgers
  • BURGERS
  • Location: HERMOSA
  • Price: $
  • PERFECT FOR:
    • SERIOUS TAKE-OUT OPERATION
    • QUICK EATS

Charly’s Burgers, a spot in Hermosa, is perfect for when you’re craving a really good burger. These burgers are made with a mix of beef and bacon, giving them a juicy and smoky flavor. They’re topped with just the right amount of cheese, onions, garlic aioli, and pickles, all on a soft bun that stays together as you eat.

Why you should go: It’s the ideal burger spot for any time, not just when you’re feeling the effects of the night before. The combination of flavors and the quality of the ingredients make these burgers stand out.

Tip: Try to go at off-peak hours to avoid a long wait. And don’t forget to ask about their special sauces to add an extra zing to your burger!

2. Johnnie’s Beef
  • Hot dogs
  • Location: Suburbs
  • Price: $

Johnnie’s Beef is an old-school stand in Elmwood Park known for its Italian beef and ice. It’s a place that feels like stepping back in time, where the Italian beef sandwiches are a local legend.

Why you should go: It’s a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience a true Chicago Italian beef. The long lines are a testament to its popularity, but the wait is worth it for that juicy beef, dipped with hot peppers, and a refreshing lemon Italian ice to cool down after.

Tip: Plan your visit to avoid the busiest times, usually around lunch and dinner. And if it’s your first time, trying the beef dipped with hot peppers is a must for the full experience.

3. Birrieria Zaragoza
  • Mexican
  • Location: Archer Heights
  • Price: $

Birrieria Zaragoza, a family-owned Mexican spot in Archer Heights, is known for its incredible goat meat dishes. They serve their food with thick handmade tortillas and fresh salsas, perfect for making tacos.

Why you should go: Their unique approach to birria, where the goat meat isn’t combined with consommé until it’s served, sets them apart. It’s a flavor experience that’s hard to find elsewhere, making it the best place for tacos in the city.

Tip: Don’t skip on the extras like the hot sauce, lime, and onions to customize your tacos to your taste. And try the bright-pink agua fresca for a refreshing drink alongside your meal.

4. Kasama
  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Location: East Village
  • Price: $$

Kasama is a modern Filipino-American restaurant in East Village, offering both a casual daytime menu and a Michelin-starred tasting menu at night. It’s run by a husband-and-wife team known for their culinary expertise.

Why you should go: Whether you’re there for the breakfast sandwich in the morning or the 13-course tasting menu at night, Kasama provides an unforgettable dining experience. It’s a journey through Filipino-inspired dishes that are as innovative as they are delicious.

Tip: If dining indoors isn’t a must for you, consider ordering online for pickup. It’s a great way to enjoy Kasama’s offerings without the wait, especially on weekends.

5. The Publican
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Location: West Loop
  • Price: $$

The Publican is a European-style beer hall in West Loop, specializing in pork and seafood. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and communal dining setup, inviting guests to share in the enjoyment of food and beer.

Why you should go: For a taste of everything from fresh oysters to charcuterie and seasonal plates, The Publican is a standout. Their commitment to sourcing ingredients from local farms adds to the freshness and quality of each dish.

Tip: The brunch at The Publican is among the best in the city, featuring items like maple-braised bacon. Don’t miss out on this weekend treat, and make sure to try the spicy pork rinds and bread from Publican Quality Bread.

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