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Tall Ships Chicago
One of our favorite events is Tall Ships Chicago. It brings some amazing old sailing ships to Navy Pier. There will be 14 tall ships from all over the World docked at Navy Pier this week. 

The festivities begin with a parade of sails on Wednesday July 27. The ships will approach Navy Pier starting at 3:00 pm. The festival will run through Sunday July 31. There is a $10 admission fee and it is $25 if you also want to board some of the ships. Luckily you can see some of the boats from outside of the festival grounds on Navy Pier if you do not want to pay the admission fee. 
PictureThe Waterfront Cafe on the Chicago Lakefront.
Who doesn’t enjoy sitting on a beach sipping a cocktail on a warm day. We at Chicago Social Media Marketers certainly do. Most people will picture Mexico or maybe Hawaii if you mention drinking an ice cold beer on a beach. We are guessing almost no one has Chicago come to mind, but there are actually some very nice places to have a drink on the Chicago lakefront. Some are quiet, secluded places to relax with your loved ones and some are a bit livelier. A few can be downright rowdy.

Our favorite Chicago Lakefront bars starting on the far north of the city and working our way south:

The Waterfront Café: You will be surprised there is even a place like this in Chicago. It feels more like somewhere in Door County or Cape Cod than in the middle of a big city. You can sit under a shade tree and listen to the waves roll in while enjoying a beverage. It is dog and kid friendly and it has the best food of any of the lakefront bars. Their crab cakes are surprisingly good and a real bargain. At Granville and Sheridan it is only place north of lakefront bike path.

Nacho Mama’s: Yes we also think it is a stupid name but it has a great location, tasty Mexican food and a decent beer list. Set on the north end of the Chicago bike trail it overlooks the city’s largest beach at Hollywood. It has high-rises and an endless beach for a view.

The Dock at Montrose Beach: A much livelier places than the first two. What it lacks in charm it makes up for with a party atmosphere. It thankfully is a bit older crowd and is usually not too crazy. Just a lot of people out enjoying the weather and having a good time. They have a strong beer list with a lot of summer favorites and a nice selection of craft beers.

Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course: Yes it is on a golf course but no it is not a clubhouse. They have a deck on the back overlooking the golf course or you can sit in the front with a view of the bike path and the softball fields. The food and drink list are nothing special but it is a nice relaxing place to have a drink. The staff is very friendly and they have daily drink special which you will not find anywhere else on the lakefront.

Castaways: Set on North Avenue Beach in a building that looks like a ship. It is the loudest and craziest of the beach bars. This is the place for you if you are looking for a party and not a relaxing time. It has more of a club feel than a beach front cabana feel. North Avenue Beach can get out of control on weekends and we generally avoid it.

Oak Street Beach: It looks more like a Mexican resort than a Chicago lakefront bar. There are lounge chairs, bar seats, cabanas and games. By far the largest of all of the places it has a great beach and lake view with the skyscrapers of North Michigan Avenue as the backdrop.

Café Olivia: Set on the relatively quiet and small Ohio Street Beach it is more upscale than any of the other beach bars. They serve lobster rolls and lamb burgers rather than just the usual beach fare. Definitely a place you can go for a nice lunch.  

 Navy Pier: It is not set on a beach but it is on the water. All of the restaurants have outdoor patios with spectacular city views and the best people watching in Chicago. The beer garden at the end has a wide selection of beers and offers free concerts all summer long.  

Navy Pier FireworksThe 4th of July Fireworks at Navy Pier
Like all of America, Chicagoans love to celebrate the 4th of July. Of course there will be fireworks, family picnics and warm weather. Unfortunately Chicago draws hordes of tourists for the holiday weekend. That means huge crowds and horrible traffic. Fortunately there are a few easy tricks that will help you beat the crowds and have a great time.

Tips for enjoying your 4th of July weekend in Chicago

Public Transportation. Every holiday Chicago officials go on TV and advise that everyone take a train or bus, to the city for the celebrations.  Take their advice!  Roads will be jammed and parking will either be expensive or nonexistent. Parking at Navy Pier is usually full by the early afternoon and the police will be blocking car access to the northside of the lakefront once the parking lots are full.

Watch the fireworks somewhere other than Navy Pier. Every 4th of July Navy Pier becomes so crowded they stop letting people in by essentially closing this venue. So plan on getting there very early or find an alternative location to see the fireworks. Thankfully there are many great options.  The best one is inner Lake Shore Drive anywhere north of Navy Pier and south of the curve. Along the lakefront just south of Navy Pier also offers an excellent view.  If you are north of the Loop you can head out to North Avenue beach and watch the fireworks over the water. If you are south you can head over to the Adler Planetarium and watch from across the harbor. The best place to watch is at the eastern end of upper Wacker Drive.  From there you will have a great view of the fireworks and the crowds will be small.

Weather. Ignore the Chicago temperature forecast. Chicago is a big place and  temperatures  throughout the city can vary Often the news reports of temperature in Chicago are taken at O’Hare airport which is pretty far from the lakefront .  There will be wind off of Lake Michigan and the water is in the low 70s so expect it to be cool along the lake.

Stay safe. There will be a strong police presence but a few precautions are called for.  It is wise to stay off the lakefront late at night and don’t wander down any alleys. 


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