Memorial Day weekend often signals the beginning of summertime in downtown Chicago (and to some, the earliest appropriate time to don white pants). This year, it hits even harder as the city has begun to roll back COVID restrictions and more places are opening back up starting this week. If you’re looking for things to do this Memorial Day weekend near downtown Chicago, we’ve got you covered!

Get Away While Staying Local

Spending the day at Navy Pier can feel like being in a whole other world. With an array of activities, rides, waterfront walkways, dining, shops, and nightlife, Navy Pier is really like it’s own little town. Head over to watch the Memorial Day fireworks, ride the iconic Ferris Wheel, and grab some outstanding food at one of Navy Pier’s multiple restaurants, like its newest concept, Lirica, or aboard the Odyssey lakefront cruise. Make your stay-cation complete with a reservation at the Loews Hotel in Streeterville, just a 12 minute walk to Navy Pier.

Get a Fresh Perspective

Whether you’re a Chicagoan or visiting, you may have walked around downtown Chicago countless times, but how familiar are you with the city from the water or sky? Enjoy new views of downtown Chicago from a helicopter or boat tour. If you’re feeling a little more hands-on, you can also rent a pontoon boat or kayak down the river. (Unfortunately, flying your own helicopter is not an option for the public.)

Have a Beach Day

Of all of Chicago’s lovely beaches, North Avenue beach is one of the most lively. Go for a swim, rent jet skis, or play a few games of beach volleyball surrounded by stunning views of the city. Dine along the waterfront at Shore Club or Castaways.

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