The nation celebrates Memorial Day on Monday, May 29 in 2017 — and in Chicago, the whole weekend is an occasion to mark the holiday. From the annual parade to the kick-off of the summer season (which means fireworks at Navy Pier and fun street festivals in the neighborhoods), here's how to spend your Memorial Day trip in Chicago.


1.      Watch the Memorial Day Parade.

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 27 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 29), 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.

Chicago Children's Museum

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. 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 Centennial wheel, 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 27-28), 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 27-28). Get a taste of authentic Mexican culture at Mole de Mayo (May 26-28), featuring food vendors, live music, an open-air market and Lucha Libre wrestling.


5. Marvel at nature.

Garfield Park Conservatory

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 27 - Sept. 4) 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, 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).


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.

Jurassic World: The Exhibition

One of the biggest blockbusters in cinema history is set to hit The Field Musuem in Chicago. Starting on Friday, May 26, you can walk through the world-famous Jurassic World gates at Jurassic World: The Exhibition to get up close to the towering dinosaurs, some more than 24 feet tall, and explore the Park through a specially guided tour. Visitors will experience the family-friendly Gentle Giants Petting Zoo; step behind the glass into The Hammond Creation Lab; get a special preview of Jurassic World's top-secret project, the Indominus rex; and go inside the Raptor Training Paddock.

Exhibitionism — The Rolling Stones

Not only that, Navy Pier is home to the first ever major Rolling Stones exhibition! Exhibitionism — The Rolling Stones, which opens April 15, will run a four-month engagement through July 30. Exhibitionism is the largest touring experience of its kind ever to be staged, and the first time in history the band has unlocked their vast private archive exploring the very beginning of their history to The Stones' superstardom of today. Get a look back at the high points of the band's career through a new film with a high-octane soundtrack.

Want to explore even more museums? With nearly 60 museums in Chicago, the options are seemingly endless when it comes to viewing an exhibit to suit your interest. Experience more than a dozen giant Lego constructions, including a 60-foot Golden Gate Bridge, at the Brick By Brick exhibit, see the only German sub in the U.S. in U-505 Submarine, or explore how robots will change how we play, live and work together during Robot Revolution (opening May 11) at the Museum of Science and Industry.


7. Lounge on Chicago's Beaches

Oak Street Beach

Cool off in the blue freshwater and relax in the soft sand at Chicago beaches that stretch 26 miles along Lake Michigan. Chicago has 26 free beaches and an 18.5-mile long bike path along the waterfront. While most cities build industrially all the way up to their respective lakefronts, Chicago's remains an open playground to the public. Chicago beaches are free and open daily to the public for the season beginning Memorial Day (May 29) through Labor Day (September 4) so plan for a swim, build sand castles, join a game of volleyball or just catch some rays.


8. Enjoy a pint of locally brewed craft beer.

Goose Island

Explore the depth and breadth of Chicago's flourishing craft beer scene during Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 18-25), 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 28, 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 Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (April 11-July 2); Objects In The Mirror at the Goodman Theatre (May 26-28);  Shakespeare in Love at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (May 26-28) 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).

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