It's easy to fall in love with Chicago at any time of the year, but summertime is when the city shines brightest. Be here for the beginning of the season as neighborhood celebrations take over the streets, music and food festivals pop up every weekend and the Aon Fireworks at Navy Pier light up Lake Michigan. Use this guide to plan your Memorial Day weekend trip in Chicago. 

Celebrate Chicago's outdoor recreation

Kayak ChicagoChicago has been waiting all winter to be outside, and it's finally time to get out there. 

The 18-mile Lakefront Trail gives visitors access to boat harbors, nature sanctuaries, boardwalks and Chicago's beaches, which open Memorial Day weekend. Whether you choose to go out on Lake Michigan with your own water sport rentals or paddle down the Chicago River on a kayak, don't miss the opportunity to hang out on the water. 


Cruise the water on a boat tour

Let the captain do all the work for you! Choose between one of Chicago's many boat tour options--we'll help you pick which cruise is best for you. 


Bike around the city

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 27, when the waterfront Lake Shore Drive is closed to motorists and open to bicyclists only. Or, make your way into the neighborhoods, where Chicagoans will be jogging, biking and walking the 2.7-mile elevated trail called the 606.


Visit Navy Pier and watch Chicago's fireworks

Fireworks at Navy Pier ChicagoOne of the city's top attractions is Navy Pier, a six-block stretch of rides, restaurants and entertainment that attracts more than 9 million people each year. Memorial Day weekend kicks off a summer of fun at the pier, and the Miller Lite Beer Garden and Aon Summer Fireworks both start the season this weekend. If you want to scope out the innovative venue called The Yard, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is producing Waiting for Godot during this weekend. 


Kick off our famous festival season

House Music Festival at Millennium ParkFree festivals and public programming is part of Chicago's core. On May 26, make your way to the Chicago House Music Festival in Millennium Park, which launches three consecutive weekends to commemorate Chicago's Black music legacy. 

Of course, we're just getting started when it comes to the robust festival season; see a guide to all of the city's biggest festivals here


Wander around the "city in a garden"

Take advantage of the seasonal tours of Lurie Garden, an urban oasis in Millennium Park. In addition, cook up projects that will get kids and families wondering about the plants and the natural world during Fiddleheads (Saturday & Sunday) at the Garfield Park Conservatory with free admission (also free is the Lincoln Park Conservatory).


Watch the Memorial Day Parade

Memorial Day ParadeJoin together with thousands of people to honor veterans and active duty military at the annual Memorial Day Parade, which will begin at noon on Saturday, May 26, 2018, and run south on State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street. 

The Chicago Cultural Mile Association also hosts the Annual Ceremony and Dedication of the General John A. Logan Monument on Monday, May 28 at 11 a.m. This Memorial Day wreath laying and monument rededication commemorates those who died serving the United States.


Explore new worlds at a museum

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

Other popular exhibits to see this weekend include SNL: The Experience at the Museum of Broadcast Communication, Amplified: Chicago Blues at the Chicago History Museum, the opening weekend of The Science Behind Pixar at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Learn all about Chicago's arts, attractions and museums here


Enjoy a Chicago craft beer on a patio

The Dawson Chicago

Chicago loves patio season, and you have plenty to choose from. Whether you want family-friendly outdoor dining or a sophisticated rooftop, there's a And with more than 60 breweries in Chicago, it's easy to find a local beer on tap. 


Catch a live show

We get it if you need to sit back for a while, and the Chicago theater scene is the perfect excuse. Enjoy shows at one of these unique Chicago venues, or see a show in a neighborhood.


Shop Memorial Day Sales

Wicker Park ShoppingDon't forget to take advantage of Chicago's sizable shopping scene as stores promote Memorial Day sales. From the big names that lines the Magnificent Mile to the trendy boutiques and mom-and-pop shops in the neighborhoods, start your summer looking as good as a trip to Chicago feels. 

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