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The best Memorial Day weekend events in Chicago

Scroll through our picks for the best things to do over your three-day weekend.

Emma Krupp
Written by
Emma Krupp
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Memorial Day weekend is here, marking the unofficial start to summer in Chicago with outdoor music festivals, fireworks displays and the annual parade downtown. There's time to fit in a little bit of everything this weekend: Pay your respects during the wreath-laying ceremony and parade in the Loop, see Navy Pier's free fireworks show, grab a meal at your neighborhood BBQ restaurant and hit the best Chicago beaches after they open on Friday (or refer to our longer roundup of weekend events for even more options). Looking for things to do in Chicago on Memorial Day? Read on and start planning your three-day weekend. 

RECOMMENDED: Memorial Day weekend 2022 in Chicago

Things to do over Memorial Day weekend

  • Things to do
  • Fireworks
  • Streeterville

During the summer, one of the best aerial displays you'll find in Chicago originates from Navy Pier. The Chicago attraction hosts twice-weekly fireworks shows (on Wednesdays and Saturdays) from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, with stunning views available from across the pier's public spaces. Of course, you can also take in the show from nearby beaches or while cruising along the Lakefront Trail.

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  • Things to do

Chicago's public beaches officially open for the season on Friday, March 27, at which point visitors are permitted to swim daily from 11am to 7pm. Slather yourself in sunscreen and keep an eye out for beaches with fun amenities like kayak rentals, concessions and picnic areas—and might we suggest dinner and drinks at a waterfront restaurant after your swim? 

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Not brave enough to take a dip in Lake Michigan yet? Get out on the water with one of the city's best boat tours, from mesmerizing architecture tours along the Chicago River to wind-whipping speedboat cruises on the lake. You can even rent a small electric boat and be your own captain for a day, if you're feeling adventurous. 

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