Go Fourth on the Chicago Waterfront

Andrea Mills, Daily Gazette, Sterling, Ill., Jun 15, 2012

Beautiful holiday fireworks will sparkle in the night sky over the Sauk Valley, but sometimes it's fun to see similar displays in a different setting.

That different perspective can be accomplished with the scenery of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

Several cruises draw visitors to the lake during the fireworks. Shoreline Sightseeing offers an architecture fireworks cruise. Passengers will explore three branches of the Chicago River, ending up at the river's mouth to watch the Navy Pier fireworks.

Seadog's lakefront fireworks cruise combines a narrated tour with a speedboat cruise. The ride is 1 hour.

Wendella Boats gets into the swing of things on a 2-hour boat tour that features traditional American music, a journey through the Chicago lock to see the city from the lake, and a mini river tour.

At Entertainment Cruises, Independence Day fireworks dinner cruises meet several needs. This company has live music and a three-course meal on the Odyssey. On the Spirit of Chicago and Mystic Blue, the cruises involve a disc jockey, several dance floors and buffet meals for dinner.

Not every cruise is fine dining. Kayaks are getting into the fireworks mode with guided twilight tours. The choices range from 45 minutes with Urban Kayak, 90 minutes with Wateriders, and 3 hours with Kayak Chicago.

Back on shore, fireworks can be seen at the source -- Navy Pier. The displays start at 9 p.m. July 4 -- 15-minute shows with patriotic music are planned. Fireworks also are at 10:15 p.m. June 30 and July 7.

If you tire of looking up, then visitors can check out the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower. All-glass viewing boxes extend out from the 103rd floor. It's like walking on air.

The John Hancock Observatory also provides an up-in-the-air experience. America's fastest elevator takes guests up 1,000 feet. On the 94th floor, they'll find 360-degree views and a stroll on the Skywalk waiting for them. This is Chicago's only open-air viewing platform.

Whichever choice is most appealing, there's bound to be plenty of opportunity to enjoy Fourth of July fireworks.

If you go

What: Fireworks in Chicago

When: July 4

Where: Various locations and tours, cruises

When: Times vary

Costs: Prices vary

Information: Visit www.explorechicago.org or the individual sites: www.navypier.com, www.shorelinesightseeing.com, www.seadogcruises.com, www.wendellaboats.com, www.entertainmentcruises.com, www.kayakchicago.com, www.theskydeck.com and jhochicago.com or call 312-744-2400 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.