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Chicago June 30–July 6: Windy City Ribfest & James Taylor

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Eyes to the Skies Festival
Photo by Michael Kappel/Flickr

Eyes to the Skies Festival

The best of what to do in and around Chicago this week

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Hear music from the greats in Chicago this week, first from James Taylor and then from the Indigo Girls. Then, Ribfest takes the city by storm with some of the tastiest meats you’ll have all year. Wrap up the week with unbelievable fireworks displays for the Fourth of July.

AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.  

June 30 | Concert
James Taylor
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter James Taylor will take over Chicago’s Wrigley Field this week with special guest Jackson Browne. Sing along to tunes including “Something in the Way She Moves,” “Everyday,” and “Fire and Rain.” In the stadium, this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will have plenty of room to belt out tunes. This is Taylor’s first performance at Wrigley Field, too, so it’s bound to be a special one. Plan to take public transit or a cab because parking is near impossible in this area. The restaurants and bars nearby, however, are top notch.  
7 p.m. | Wrigley Field, 1060 W Addison St., Chicago | From $45 | website

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July 1 | Concert
Indigo Girls
Folk rock duo Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are back in Chicago singing their politically charged anthems, such as “Shame on You,” “Galileo,” and “Hammer and Nails.” The Grammy-winning twosome sounds like they were made to perform at Ravinia, an outdoor music festival about 40 minutes away from downtown Chicago that’s accessible by Metra and by car. The Metra drops you off across the street from Ravinia, and sells $5 round-trip tickets to most shows. The Indigo Girls will perform with their hearts on their sleeves, as they always do, to a crowd of 3,400 people surrounded by nature.
4 p.m. | 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park | From $33 | website

July 1–3 | Food festival
Windy City Ribfest
You may want to wear an elastic waistband to this annual festival, now in its eighth year. Here, local and international vendors come prepared with their best-selling ribs, including authentic Australian BBQ from Aussom Aussie (based in Sydney with an outpost in Pittsburgh) and Midwest-style ribs from Chicago BBQ Company. Enjoy tasting portions from all or a full meal from a few—either way, you’re guaranteed to get your fill.
12 p.m. | 4700 N. Broadway, Chicago | $5 | website

July 2–3 | Escape the city
Drive 30 minutes west of Chicago to the suburb of Lisle, where this weekend you’ll find the annual, gigantically popular Eyes to the Skies Festival. Make sure you’re looking up: This early Fourth of July celebration makes heavy use of hot-air balloons, which fly from 5:30 a.m. until 8:15 p.m. daily. You can simply watch them float by, or catch a ride for $20. There will also be carnival rides, food, music, crafts, and more entertainment. Of course, each night ends with a fireworks display. When you’re not at the fest, make sure to check out Lisle’s lovely Morton Aboretum, where flowers and other plant life cover 1,700 acres.
Eyes to the Skies Festival, 1825 Short St., Lisle | $8 | website

July 4 | Fireworks
Fourth of July Fireworks
Budget cuts forced the city of Chicago to ditch its fireworks show a few years ago, but don’t worry: Navy Pier picked up the tab and now hosts a massive fireworks display for the Fourth. The show is visible anywhere from the pier, and from as far away as Millennium Park, but these spaces tend to draw big-time crowds. For the fireworks without the people, choose one of the many restaurants or bars along the Magnificent Mile (preferably one with an accessible rooftop). Come in the evening for dinner and drinks, and then camp out by the spot with the best view and wait for the show to begin.
9:30 p.m. | Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave., Chicago | Free | website

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Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.

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