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Independent Thinking

Your Fourth of July Options, by Intensity

So no big city fireworks display this year—just a mini-show at Navy Pier. That’s okay. The Fourth is on a Monday, anyway. You aren’t planning on anything too crazy. Then again... plans change. Be ready with our guide to the Fourth, ranked by relative sweat level.

Beer and Horseshoes in Wicker Park
SWEAT LEVEL: 1

Beer and Horseshoes in Wicker Park

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds at the beach, it doesn’t get much simpler than a good beer, $1 hot dogs and a horseshoe tournament. Thomas Jefferson would’ve wanted it this way.

Oak Street Beach Pig Roast
SWEAT LEVEL: 2

Oak Street Beach Pig Roast

You’re willing to brave the crowds and head to the beach. Great. Your real line in the sand: you are not packing a picnic basket. Smart move because you’ll find 500 pounds of spit-roasted pig and sugarcane-melon margaritas at this all-you-can-eat tribute to the American appetite.

Jul 4, 2-6pm, $30, Oak Street Beach Food + Drink at Oak Street Beach, 1001 N Lake Shore Dr, 312-988-4650

Fireworks Kayaking Party
SWEAT LEVEL: 3

Fireworks Kayaking Party

So you want to see fireworks from a prime vantage point yet avoid the Navy Pier crowds. Join this kayak flotilla, which paddles its way to the pier. They have everything you need: flashlights, life preservers, a quick lesson and should you need it: kayaks built for two.

Jul 4, 6:45pm, $65, Kayak Chicago, 1501 N Magnolia Ave (at W Le Moyne St), 630-336-7245

Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan
SWEAT LEVEL: 4

Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan

Paddling a kayak presents its own problems: no room for a DJ, dance floor, buffet or cash bar. (It’s so hard to shake a martini while paddling.) Suavely and comprehensively address all those concerns by booking passage aboard this three-hour fireworks tour. That was actually pretty easy.

Jul 4, boards at 6:30pm, sails at 7pm, $99.90, Mystic Blue, 600 E Grand Ave, 877-299-7783, reserve here

Party on a Private Yacht
SWEAT LEVEL: 5

Party on a Private Yacht

Even if the city is on some money-saving mission, you’re under no such constraints. (Your bond rating: AAA.) So gather up to 119 patriotic friends aboard this chartered yacht, cozy up on cushioned sofas and sip champagne under the fireworks. This is what freedom tastes like.

Available Jul 4, starting at $600/hour (three-hour minimum), Free Spirit Yachts, Burnham Harbor, 708-361-2220

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