Celebrate Memorial Day 2016 in Chicago with this roundup of events, attractions & activities.

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1. Watch the Memorial Day Parade.

Join together with thousands of people to honor our veterans and active duty military at the annual Memorial Day Parade, which will begin at noon on Saturday, May 28 and run south on State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street. Make sure to catch the Wreath Laying Ceremony, which gives special recognition to America’s fallen heroes and their survivors, at 11 a.m. at the Eternal Flame on Daley Plaza (Dearborn and Washington Streets).

Also, on Memorial Day (May 30), the Chicago Cultural Mile Association hosts the Annual Ceremony and Dedication of the General John A. Logan Monument at 11 a.m. This Memorial Day wreath laying and monument rededication commemorates those who died serving our country.


2. Experience the attractions at Navy Pier.

Bringing the family? There’s no shortage of attractions for kids, especially when Navy Pier is on your list. Start at the Chicago Children’s Museum, where kids can enjoy interactive exhibits, including the new Zoom Room exhibit (opened May 14), featuring hundreds of toy cars and more than 40 tracks of every length, height and angle, including two bi-level crash courses. If you’re looking for free Chicago attractions, you won’t want to miss the summertime fireworks at Navy Pier, which kicks off Memorial Day weekend and occurs twice weekly through Labor Day. Navy Pier is also home to the new 20-story Ferris wheel (opening May 27), an IMAX theater and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. While you’re here, get a peek at the reimagined Pier with new local restaurants and a communal dining area boasting unrestricted views of the Lake Michigan waterfront.


3. Take a fireworks cruise.

Experience the summertime Navy Pier fireworks shows with the best seats imaginable — on a Lake Michigan cruise. Watch the fireworks on a cruise with Seadog or Wendella, learn about Chicago’s great buildings on an architecture and fireworks cruise with Shoreline, indulge in an open bar while watching the fireworks on a Chicago Line fireworks cruise, or enjoy a leisurely fireworks dinner cruise aboard the Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago or Mystic Blue.


4. Take in the sights and sounds at a street fair.

Warm weather means street fairs and festivals in Chicago. Over Memorial Day weekend, take your pick. Kick off summer street fest season at Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival (May 28-29), where local tribute bands, indie vendors and local foods are the draw. Shop one-of-a-kind artwork, swoon-worthy antiques, vintage clothing, home furnishings and more at Randolph Street Market Festival (May 28-29). Get a taste of authentic Mexican culture at Mole de Mayo (May 27-29), featuring food vendors, live music, an open-air market and Lucha Libre wrestling. Treat yourself to gelato tastings in Millennium Park at the Gelato World Tour (May 27-29).


5. Marvel at nature.

With the many gardens in Chicago, it’s easy to enjoy some fresh air and natural beauty during your visit. While you’re here, catch the opening of the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit (May 28 – Sept. 5) at Chicago Botanic Garden, where visitors can enter a botanical habitat filled with nectar plants and hundreds of live butterflies from around the world. Or, watch trained birds such as hawks and vultures soar and swoop during the Festival of Flight (May 28 – Sept. 5) at the Brookfield Zoo. Or, take advantage of the seasonal tours of Lurie Garden, an urban oasis in Millennium Park.


6. Peruse a museum exhibit.

On Memorial Day weekend, visit the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, where you can explore the past, present and future of the military. Learn about the United States' most esteemed award for valor in combat with the permanent exhibit Medal of Honor, or explore the Vietnam War through a unique collection of photographs, motion pictures, and artifacts in Faces of War (through Mar. 31, 2017). 

Want to explore even more museums? Boasting nearly 60 museums in Chicago, the options are seemingly endless when it comes to viewing an exhibit to suit your interest. Discover how Abraham Lincoln's changing views toward slavery transformed America at Lincoln's Undying Words (through Feb. 20, 2017) inside the Chicago History Museum. Or, build your own virtual robot in DARPA: Redefining Possible (through Sept. 5) at the Museum of Science and Industry.


7. Cheer on a Chicago team.

Over Memorial Day weekend, take part in a classic Chicago pastime and cheer on the Chicago Cubs as they play against the Philadelphia Phillies (May 27-29) in iconic Wrigley Field, which recently unveiled some improvements, such as new seating, terraces, concessions, video boards and more. The Cubs are also kicking off their homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 30.

Or, celebrate on May 28 at Toyota Park, rooting for the Chicago Fire. They'll play against the Portland Timbers in this Major League Soccer match.


8. Enjoy a pint of locally brewed craft beer.

Explore the depth and breadth of Chicago’s flourishing craft beer scene during Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 19–29), when hundreds of venues throughout the city will be offering special tastings of rare beers and limited time releases, as well as other special events such as beer crawls, a beer cruise, concerts and more.

Get more ideas for experiencing the many breweries in Chicago.


9. Explore Chicago on a bike.

Get some exercise and some sightseeing by exploring the city on two wheels. Rent one of the Divvy Bikes from the many bike-sharing stations around the city, and get pedaling. Take the 18-mile Lakefront Trail to ride by boat harbors, nature sanctuaries, boardwalks and Chicago’s beaches, which open Memorial Day weekend. Wish someone could show you around on a bike? Book a guided bicycle tour with Bobby’s Bike Hike, which offers fun options like a lakefront neighborhoods tour, a night tour and a bites and brews tour. Or, join 20,000 fellow cyclists during the annual MB Bike the Drive, on Sunday, May 29, when the waterfront Lake Shore Drive is closed to motorists and open to bicyclists only.


10. Catch a live show.

Chicago is home to numerous theater and performing arts venues. See the classic, musical love story Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Cadillac Palace Theatre (May 24-29). If you're looking for something unique, the Chicago Philharmonic partners with Cirque de la Symphonie to meld orchestra and cirque into one resounding spectacle for the ears and eyes on May 28 at Chicago's renowned Harris Theater. Or, get your laugh on at one of our numerous comedy theaters like ComedySportz (improv), The Second City (sketch and improv) and Zanies Comedy Club (stand-up).


Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 744-6050
Chicago Fire Soccer Club
Toyota Park
Bridgeview, IL 60455
(708) 594-7700
Chicago Cubs
1060 W. Addison St.
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 404-4200
Chicago Children's Museum
700 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-1000
Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 642-4600
Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414
Pritzker Military Museum & Library
104 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 374-9333
The Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 E. Randolph Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 334-2400
Bobby's Bike Hike - Quality Tours, Rentals, & Urban Adventures
540 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 245-9300
Brookfield Zoo/Chicago Zoological Society
31st St. and First Ave.
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000
Mystic Blue Cruises
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 957-2634
Odyssey Cruises
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 957-2634
Seadog Cruises
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 345-3880
Spirit of Chicago
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 957-2634
Chicago Line Cruises
Ogden Slip
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-2002
Shoreline Sightseeing Company
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 222-9328
Wendella Sightseeing Boats
400 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 337-1446
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Rd.
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-8370
CSz Theater Chicago
929 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 549-8080
658 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(855) 553-4889
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 595-5600
The Second City
1616 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 337-3992
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