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THINGS TO DO: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND IN CHICAGO

May 25 – 27, 2019

In Chicago for Memorial Day weekend? Here's our roundup of events, attractions & activities in 2019.

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. 

1. Rent a kayak on the Chicago River

Urban Kayaks on the river

The Chicago River is buzzing with activity during the summer. Rent a kayak and paddle through the heart of the city, past the bustling Riverwalk and some of the city's most iconic buildings. 

2. Explore the Lakefront Trail

Lakefront Trail

The 18-mile Lakefront Trail hugs Lake Michigan and is a popular place for walkers, bikers and hikers all year long. The scenic path connects to boat harbors, nature sanctuaries, boardwalks and Chicago's beaches, which open Memorial Day weekend.

3. Get on the lake

Chicago Stand-Up Paddle Board

There's no shortage of ways to enjoy the vast waters of Lake Michigan. You can rent a variety of equipment right on the beach, including jet skis, kayaks, and paddle boards. There's also banana boat rides, paddle board yoga, water jetpacks and more. Plus, the skyline view from the lake is spectacular.

4. Cruise along on a boat tour

Seadog Architecture Cruise

Take a day-time river cruise to learn about the city's groundbreaking architecture. Or set sail on the lake at night for dinner, dancing, and dazzling views of the city. On Memorial Day Weekend, there's plenty of cruises and boat tours to choose from.

Explore and compare boat tours

5. Bike around the city

The 606 Chicago

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 26, when the waterfront Lake Shore Drive is closed to motorists and open to bicyclists only. Or, make your way just west of downtown to the The 606, a 2.7-mile elevated trail that cuts through some of Chicago's most hip and eclectic neighborhoods.

6. Hit the beach

Chicago Beach

Chicago beaches officially open on Memorial Day Weekend, so make sure to pack your swimsuit. Swim, tan, play volleyball, or head to a nearby beach bars to enjoy a cold drink with your toes in the sand. Check out our beach guide on the best places to soak up the sun.

7. Visit Navy Pier and catch the summer fireworks

Navy Pier fireworks

One 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.

8. Kick off our famous festival season

House Music Festival at Millennium Park

Chicago's festivals bring the whole city outside to eat, drink and dance in the streets. And Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of the summer fest season. Here's what the city has in store:

Mole de Mayo Saturday, May 24 – Wednesday, May 29
Chicago House Music Festival Saturday, May 25
Randolph Street Market Saturday, May 25 –  Sunday, May 26
Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival Saturday, May 25 – Sunday, May 26 

Check out the full festival and events guide.

9. Wander around the "city in a garden"

Lurie Garden Chicago

Take advantage of the seasonal tours of Lurie Garden, an urban oasis in Millennium Park. Explore the free Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory, home to hundreds of rare, native and foreign plants.

10. Watch the Memorial Day Parade

Memorial Day Parade in downtown Chicago

Join thousands of people to honor veterans and active duty military at the annual Memorial Day Parade on Saturday, May 25. A wreath laying ceremony begins at 11 a.m., followed by the parade at noon, which will 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 25 at 11 a.m. This Memorial Day wreath laying and monument rededication commemorates those who died serving the United States.

11. Explore a Chicago museum

Pritzker Military Library

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.

Explore more Chicago museums and exhibits.

12. Drink and dine on a patio

The Dawson Chicago

Chicago loves patio season. From buzzing sidewalk cafes to swanky rooftop bars, there are plenty of ways to eat al fresco. Here's our guide to the best outdoor dining in the city.

13. Shop Memorial Day Sales

Wicker Park Shopping

Don'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. 

Related Listings

Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 744-6050

Chicago Cubs
1060 W. Addison St.
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 404-4200

Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 642-4600

Pritzker Military Museum & Library
104 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 374-9333

Odyssey Lake Michigan (formerly Odyssey Cruises)
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 957-2634

Spirit of Chicago
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Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 957-2634

Shoreline Sightseeing Company
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 222-9328

Chicago Children's Museum
700 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-1000

Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414

Bobby’s Bike Hike Chicago – Bike, Walking, Food Tours & Rentals
540 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 245-9300

Mystic Blue Cruises
Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 957-2634

Seadog Cruises
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Chicago, IL 60611
(888) 345-3880

Chicago Line Cruises
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Wendella Sightseeing Boats
400 N. Michigan Ave.
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(312) 337-1446

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