Celebrate the Fourth of July, Chicago History Museum style

The Fourth of July is about more than fireworks (although we’re all suckers for that pyrotechnic pageantry). This year you can honor our nation’s independence in a fun and educational way at Chicago History Museum’s annual celebration.

If you go

56th Annual Fourth of July Celebration

10 a.m.-noon July 4

Free

Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago

chicagohistory.org

The outdoor party begins at 10 a.m. and includes patriotic music (start practicing those Sousa marches!), a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and a children’s parade led by what’s billed as “The World’s Tallest Uncle Sam.”

After you’ve enjoyed the red, white and blue festivities, head inside the museum (it’s free that day!) for the grand re-opening of the Naphtali ben Yakov Pritzker American History Wing. The updated area of the museum includes the state-of-the-art Robert R. McCormick Theater, which shows a brand new film that transports audiences through the history of Chicago (you’ll practically feel the flames from the Fire from your seat!). Plus, the new Guild Gallery invites visitors to learn the meaning of Chicago’s iconic flag and then use an interactive 12-foot wall to help select a fifth star, as inspired by our city’s most important people, places and things.

While you’re at the museum, be sure to take advantage of the free price tag and visit “Facing Freedom,” which delves into our nation’s long and complicated history with the notion of liberty, and “Chicago: Crossroads of America” which has an `El’ car to explore and activity carts for families.

Your kids will thank you for stopping by the “Sensing Chicago” exhibit, where they can ride a high-wheel bike, smell some odors from the city’s past and even turn themselves into a Chicago-style hot dog–just hours before you’re flipping your own on the grill.

The best part is, after all that patriotic learning, the fireworks will be just the cherry on top of your Independence Day.

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