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TEN THINGS TO DO THIS MEMORIAL DAY IN CHICAGO
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 30 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).
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. 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 also is home to a number of rides, 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 (1 hour) or Wendella (2 hours), learn about Chicago’s great buildings on an architecture and fireworks cruise with Shoreline (1.5 hours), indulge in an open bar while watching the fireworks on a Chicago Line fireworks cruise (1.5 hours), or enjoy a leisurely fireworks dinner cruise with Odyssey (4 hours).
4. Attend a free music concert.
Check out the free concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, a DJ series at SummerDance, film series at Claudia Cassidy Theater and workshops throughout the summer at the Chicago Cultural Center and other locations.
5. 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, 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. Get a taste of authentic Mexican culture at Mole de Mayo, featuring food vendors, live music, an open-air market and Lucha Libre wrestling.
6. 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 23 – Sept. 7) 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 23 – Sept. 7) at the Brookfield Zoo. Or, take advantage of the seasonal tours of Lurie Garden, an urban oasis in Millennium Park.
7. 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. On Saturday, May 30, the museum will celebrate Memorial Day by granting free regular admission from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., as well as featuring special oral history sessions and a big-screen marathon screening of Citizen Soldier. 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. Learn more about some of Chicago’s biggest museum exhibits in 2016.
8. Cheer on a Chicago baseball team.
On Memorial Day, take part in a classic Chicago pastime and cheer on the Chicago Cubs as they play against some tough competition in iconic Wrigley Field which recently unveiled some improvements, such as new seating, terraces, concessions, video boards and more. Or, celebrate Memorial Day at U.S. Cellular Field, rooting for the Chicago White Sox. This holiday game features specially priced tickets for military personnel, veteran and their family and friends. The first 1,800 ticket holders also can join in a pre-game parade on the field.
9. Enjoy a pint of locally brewed craft beer.
Explore the depth and breadth of Chicago’s flourishing craft beer scene during 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.
10. 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 MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive, a five-hour event on Sunday, May 29, 2016, when the waterfront Lake Shore Drive is closed to motorists and open to bicyclists only.