Someplace like Miller’s Pub (Adams & Wabash) might be a good Loop restaurant choice. Not trendy by any means, or fabulous in anything, but a long menu and waitstaff that doesn’t blanch at substitutions and will take care of the kids. Artists Snack Shop at Van Buren & Michigan is similar, less expensive, and has a sidewalk cafe option. If weekday lunch, you might consider the Under 55 “food court” at 55 East Monroe, lower level—though offering everything means they don’t do anything exceptionally well. There’s a similar place at Bank of America, 231 S. LaSalle, lower level. And right across the street is the Money Museum, a free display in the Federal Reserve that the kids will enjoy. A slightly pricier “food court” on the 7th floor of Macy’s State Street offers more ambitious food and good views into the skyline.
Chicago no longer has downtown Independence Day fireworks. Chances are there will be a town-sized display in Itasca or nearby. There are, however, the regular fireworks at Navy Pier every Wednesday and Saturday night. Since the 4th falls on a Wednesday, Navy Pier will be crazy that night, but there’s a good view from the lakeshore just east of Buckingham Fountain. There’s no safety issue on Metra at any hour.
Because the L, ahem, loops around the Loop, it doesn’t really matter where you board. Quincy & Wells is a good choice if you’ve arrived at Union Station from Itasca. Ride the Brown Line to Merchandise Mart or even Sedgwick, cross to the other side and catch a southbound train all the way around to Randolph & Wabash, near Millennium Park. Some weekends this summer there will not be service on the Wells and Van Buren parts of the Loop due to construction.