APR 2024

Memorial Day in Chicago? Expect fireworks, festivals, and unforgettable fun!

Searching for the best things to do on Memorial Day this year in Chicago?

Need a little help planning for the long weekend?

Don’t worry - We got you!

Memorial Day Weekend 2024 in Chicago

Chicago buzzes with excitement as Memorial Day Weekend marks the city's jump into summer. 

From skyline-grazing fireworks to vibrant neighborhood festivals, and relaxing kayak tours at sunset, the city has it all. 

Here’s how to make your long weekend unforgettable with Chicago's Memorial best, from waterfront dining to rooftop bars with a view.

See the Memorial Day Fireworks

Navy Pier fireworks - top Memorial Day activity near you!

One of the best family-friendly Memorial Day attractions in Chicago.

Kick off your summer with Chicago's most iconic Memorial Day tradition - the Navy Pier fireworks. 

In fact, the Navy Pier kicks off its summer fireworks season with the Memorial Day event.

Other Navy Pier attractions to check out

  • Centennial Wheel: Get sweeping views of Chicago's skyline as you go up and down on our famous Ferris Wheel. Website.

  • Offshore Rooftop: Enjoy cocktails, sliders, and stunning lake views at the world's largest rooftop bar. Website

  • Chicago Children's Museum: Got kids (including babies & toddlers)? Take them to the Children's Museum. It’s got everything from fire trucks to dinosaurs and even a climbing area. Website

  • Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Discover your inner thespian. The Theater hosts both classic and contemporary performances. Website.

Pro tip: Starting 2024, the Navy Pier offers an annual pass/passport with exclusive deals and perks.

Website: Visit the Navy Pier website

Date & Time: Saturday, May 25th, 2024 (Tentative).

Location: Plan your route on Google Maps

Nearest Subway Stations: 

  • Grand Station (Red Line)

  • Lake Station (Red Line)

  • State/Lake Station (Loop Elevated Lines)

Attend the Chicago Memorial Day Parade

The centerpiece of Memorial Day in downtown Chicago.

Head to downtown Chicago for the Memorial Day Parade - our tribute to military personnel who died while serving.

It will begin with a wreath laying ceremony at Daley Plaza at 11 AM. 

Then the parade will march down State Street from Lake to Van Buren.

Pro tip (best spots to catch the action): Arrive at Daley Plaza in time for the wreath laying ceremony. Then head for the intersection of State and Madison (via Washington and State) - that's the best spot to watch the march.

Website: Visit the City of Chicago website

Date & Time: Saturday, May 25th, 2024. Begins at 11 AM.

Location: Plan your route on Google Maps (Daley Plaza)

Nearest Subway Stations: 

  • Washington/Wells Station (Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple Lines)

  • Clark/Lake Station (Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple Lines)

  • Washington Station (Blue Line)

  • Lake Station (Red Line)

Other Memorial Day Parades and events in Chicago suburbs

  • Naperville: Naperville's Memorial Day includes multiple events ending with the Parade and an Observance Ceremony at noon. Website.

  • Evanston: The Evanston American Legion Post 42 hosts a community ceremony in Fountain Square. It features singing and speeches by veterans and elected officials. Website.

  • Arlington Heights: The parade marches downtown to Memorial Park for a remembrance ceremony. 2024 will be their 105th parade. Website.

  • Beverly/Morgan Park: Their Memorial Day begins with the BAPA Ridge Run, followed by a parade to Ridge Park for a wreath-laying ceremony and community performances. Website.

Visit a museum

Great chi-town mdw weekend - museum visit!

A museum visit on Memorial Day is a great way to start summer in Chicago.

There’s something for the entire family, from interactive displays to workshops that bring history to life.

Many museums offer free or special entry rates for veterans and active military members.

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library

This Pritzker Military Museum & Library has over 35,000 books, posters, and other exhibits showcasing America’s military past. 

Highlights include training comics from WWII & Korea, files on early ambulances, rifles, and medals.

You can request a docent-led tour or check it out by yourself.

The National Veterans Art Museum

Want a different take on people who've been in the armed forces?

Visit the National Veterans Art Museum on Memorial Day.

With 2,500+ permanent pieces and frequent temporary exhibits, this is a great venue to understand our veterans' creative and emotional side.

Other Chicago museums to visit over the Memorial Day holiday Weekend

  • Field Museum of Natural History: The Field Museum is packed with wonders like Sue the T. Rex and ancient Egyptian mummies. Website.

    • Tip: Kids will find it particularly fascinating, making it a perfect Memorial Day stop for families.

  • Museum of Science and Industry: Explore a coal mine, navigate through a mirror maze, and see how storms are formed. Website.

    • Tip: The U-505 (WWII German submarine) exhibit should be a must-visit on Memorial Day.

  • Chicago History Museum: Watch Chicago’s stories come to life. From the Great Fire to the civil rights movement. Website.

    • Tip: Blues buffs will be thrilled with its exhibits on Chicago's Blues culture.

  • The Art Institute of Chicago: The Art Institute boasts a variety of exhibits from Impressionist Art to an Arms and Armor collection. Website.

    • Tip: Not interested in art? Ask where their paperweight exhibit is (they have a collection of 1400 paperweights; I’m not kidding).

Attend a summer festival

Chicago Memorial Day music concerts & summer festivals.

I bet you’re tired of hearing this, but the Memorial Day holiday Weekend kicks off Chicago’s festival season.

Here are the best ways to celebrate festival fever in the Windy City!

  • Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest: Local bands, great food, and unique artisans light up The Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. 

  • Randolph Street Market: The Randolph Street Market typically celebrates its anniversary on Memorial Day. It also hosts an indoor/outdoor festival marking the beginning of summer in Chicago.

  • Sueños Music Festival: Reggaeton and Latin beats echo across Grant Park at the Sueños Music Festival. Big names like Rauw Alejandro & Peso Pluma share the lineup with fresh talent.

  • Mole De Mayo: Mole de Mayo sees local restaurants and chefs compete for "Best Mole" and "People's Choice" awards. Plus music, dancing, and merchandise from local merchants and artisans.

    • It takes place in Pilsen from Friday, May 24th to Sunday, May 26th, 2024.

  • Mayfestiversary: Yet another Memorial Day Weekend festival in Chicago for you to choose from! Mayfestiversary is kind of our spring party with music, food, and a host of family-friendly activities.

Hit the beach

Have a great memorial weekend at Chicago beaches.

Put the “long” in “long weekend” with swimming, beach volleyball, or just chilling with a cold one!

Just like festival season, Memorial Day also kicks off beach season in Chicago.

Gather your family, friends, or partner. 

Pack your best swimsuit, and enjoy a day of sand, sun, and spray on Memorial Day.

Enjoy the energy at all-time favorites like North Avenue Beach & Oak Street Beach. Or go for more laid-back and relaxed surroundings at Montrose and Hollywood Beaches.

Dine outdoors

Most Chicago restaurants are open on Memorial Day.

The Memorial Day holiday is ideal for indulging in quality outdoor dining in Chicago.

  • Picture this: wine in hand on a waterfront patio or a craft cocktail on a rooftop with stunning views. 

  • In the mood for a Lake Michigan view as you dine? Choose from the various restaurants that line our beaches. 

  • Don't forget the Riverwalk, dotted with spots perfect for dining with a view. 

Or take your partner on a stroll through any Chicago neighborhood. You’re sure to discover a tucked-away café that you fall in love with instantly.

Catch some baseball


Memorial Day baseball - home runs & hot dogs!

Here's to a true summer tradition - Spend Memorial Day cheering your favorite baseball team!

Prepare for a day of power swings, stellar catches, mascots fooling around...and, of course, fireworks :)

This Memorial Day in Chicago (2024), the White Sox face the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field.

PS: Do you think you'll catch any foul balls out there?

Website: Visit the Guaranteed Rate Field website

Location: Plan your route on Google Maps

Nearest Subway Stations: 

  • Sox-35th Station (CTA Red Line)

  • 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Station (CTA Green Line)

  • 35th Street "Lou" Jones/Bronzeville Station (Metra Rock Island District Line)

Bike around Chicago


Jumpstart your summer fitness routine with a Memorial Day bike ride through Chicago. 

Rent a bike from Wheel Fun Rentals in Humboldt Park and race around the park’s picturesque paths. 

Or, grab a Divvy bike and head down the 606, cutting through some of Chicago’s most hip and eclectic neighborhoods. 

Continue your ride along the stunning Lakefront Trail, soaking in the holiday vibes.

Connect with nature at Lincoln Park


Lincoln Park is perfect for a Memorial Day family picnic amidst nature. 

Feed the birds, watch fisherfolk try their luck at the fishing piers, and try your hand at various sports.

Head to Lincoln Park Zoo to marvel at everything from polar bears and seals to apes, and red wolves. 

Finish your getaway at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, offering views from green ferns to exotic orchids.

More must-visit parks this Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago

  • Garfield Park Conservatory: Enter a world of plant wonders with rare and exotic plants from around the globe. Website.

  • Jackson Park: Don't miss the beauty of spring in full swing, especially the serene Garden of the Phoenix (formerly Osaka Garden). Website.

  • Lurie Garden: Join seasonal tours to explore this urban oasis's stunning landscape design and plant diversity. Website.

Hop on a boat tour