On Memorial Day weekend, you get a bonus day to remember those who served in the military—and also have a brilliant time with the family. Plan ahead with our list of must-do’s. You can be patriotic at the downtown parade, see butterflies flutter at Chicago Botanic Garden, catch fireworks at Navy Pier and more. Read on and march on into the holiday weekend.

photo: courtesy of U.S. Army via flickr

1. Catch the downtown Memorial Day Parade & Wreath Laying Ceremony. Lucky for us, one of the largest Memorial Day Parades in the country is right here in Sweet Home Chicago. You’ll tap your feet to high school marching bands, and drum and bugle corps, watch military vehicles pass by, and keep your eyes peeled for Gold Star Pins worn by family members of those lost while serving in the Armed Forces. More details.

2. Take a Brick Safari adventure at Brookfield Zoo. 
Brookfield Zoo’s temporary exhibit, Brick Safari, features more than 40 life-size animal sculptures created from millions of LEGO bricks. You’ll recognize many zoo favorites as you walk along the menagerie of animals located along a winding, wooded path on the east side of the zoo. More details.

photo: courtesy of Scott L via flickr

3. Start off the season with a bang. Catch the fireworks at Navy Pier for the first time of the summer 2019 season. The dazzling show is the perfect way to end a fun-filled day at the recently updated Pier. More details.

4. Go back in time at Kline Creek Farm. Whether your choose to check out the Life on the Farm tours, horse drawn carriage rides, or Memorial Day Remembered Ceremony, you and the kiddos will learn something new while you wander this recreated farm of the 1890s. More details.

5. Sprinkle some Christmas into your Memorial Day. 
Part nostalgic theme park (hello, Tilt-a-Whirl) and part petting zoo (aww, look, it’s a baby deer), Santa’s Village Azoosment Park is open for the season and ready to dazzle with rides that looked ripped out of a retro movies and creatures galore. More details.

photo: Chicago Botanic Garden courtesy of H. Michael Miley via flickr

6. Get your train fix.
Experience the delightful sights and sounds of miniature trains traversing high and low tunnels, across bridges and around buildings at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Model Railroad Garden. More details.

7. Stop to smell the blooms.
Immerse yourself in a habitat filled with hundreds of winged beautifies and pretty petals at Chicago Botanic Garden’s new Butterflies and Blooms exhibit. More details.

photo: Chicago City Mini Golf

8. Have old-school fun with mini golf. 
Stop by one of the many mini-golf courses to brush up on your putting skills and test your luck at getting past the amusing obstacles. Don’t let your kids beat you! More details.

9. Enjoy a day built on fun at Morton Arboretum.
Morton Arboretum welcomes back Nature Connects Art with LEGO Bricks by Sean Kenney, who’s a “professional kid” and the first-ever LEGO Certified Professional. LEGO enthusiasts of all ages will be dazzled as they search for 15 larger-than-life, nature-inspired sculptures throughout The Morton Arboretum. More details.

photo: Cirque du Soleil’s Volta

10. Be amazed by Cirque du Soleil.
Get excited! Cirque du Soleil is back, this time presenting VOLTA, a captivating voyage of discovery that showcases never-before-seen under the Big Top acrobatics in a visually striking world. Driven by a stirring melodic score and inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of street sports, VOLTA is a story of transformation. More details.

11. Take your first dip of the season at Raging Waves.
Splish, Splash! Illinois’ largest waterpark dedicated to family fun for all ages, Raging Waves, is excited to officially kick off its 12th season. You’ll find several family-friendly attractions, including 26 water slides, a huge wave pool, three kiddie pool areas, relaxing lazy river, 37 private cabanas and more. More details.

— Maria Chambers

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