If not interested in flying or taking a long driving trip this Labor Day Weekend, consider making Navy Pier your destination.
Now that Hilton has built The Sable Hotel on Navy Pier, it makes sense to stay where fireworks fill the sky Wednesdays and Saturdays through Labor Day Weekend, delicious dishes please all ages, music and entertainment is free on the Lake Stage and the Beer Garden, movies are shown at the Lake Stage Lawn in Polk Park across the Pier’s entrance through \August, and the Centennial Wheel is a ride you’ll want to take each day of the stay.
After dining at Harry Carey’s Tavern or Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Bar and Grill, take in the views and while sipping well-crafted cocktails at the Offshore Rooftop and Bar, possibly the country’s larges rooftop terrace.
If there Aug. 28, 2021 spend the evening at Navy Pier’s Lake Stage to watch Resurgence, a program showcasing Chicago’s black dance companies. Look for times, tickets and other entertainment options at Cultural Attractions & Public Spaces.
If getting out on the water that lies just outside your door is too tempting to miss while staying so close, check the cruises that pull right up to the Pier.
Even though Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021, reservations fill fast so now is the time to figure out something special. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La, can also apply elsewhere so consider them a guide. For parts two and three in this series visit Chicago Theater and Arts and Dining Out-Eating In.
Book a room or suite at the Deer Path Inn, a historic 1929 hostelry that would fit well in a British town but actually is in Lake Forest, IL. Ranked No 1 Resort Hotel in the Midwest and 18th in the world, according to Travel & Leisure, it s a block from the town’s historic Market Square and Metra train station.
Or reserve a room with a view at Sable at Navy Pier. A new hotel in the Hilton Curio Collection it features Offshore, supposedly the world’s largest roof-top bar. Outside the door, stroll Navy Pier which reopens April 30, 2021 and ride its famed Centennial Wheel (Check ahead for ride tickets).
Relax on a scenic boat ride that starts on the Chicago River near Michigan Avenue. Among the choices are the popular architectural tours on Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise on the First Lady.
Or stroll the paths, scenic water features and see what’s blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Go online ahead of time to get a parking pass because there is timed entry and Mother’s Day is very popular here.
Or enjoy a French Toast Flight at Batter and Berries in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. BTW they also have delish omelets, breakfast sandwiches and waffles.
Pick up a cake, torte or pastry from a great patisserie. Hard to decide what to get when looking at the lineup of cakes, croissants and chocolate treats at Ambrosia, a European style patisserie in the northwest suburb of Barrington.
The same is true of Vanille a French patisserie in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Get Mom a gift certificate for the Peninsula Spa Chicago. She can use the pool before or afterwards or just sit along side it to view the Magnificent Mile. Hotel.
Or get a gift certificate for the Midtown operated spa at the Hyatt Lodge, Oakbrook. The Lodge has nice grounds and spa.
Ooh la la
Say Happy Mother’s Day as if it were Valentine’s Day with candy and flowers.
The Chicago area has several good candy shops. Among them is Sweets in Lake Forest that is also known for its ice cream and Amy’s Candy Bar in Ravenswood. Both are local favorites that may become your new go-to place.
For flower arrangements and plant pots with a little oomf to them check out Phillip’s and Athena.
Say Memorial Day to some folks and the response is it’s the time to commemorate people who died while in military service. To others it signifies the beginning of summer vacation.
On some town’s websites are parades, ceremonies and even a history note explaining that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and started shortly after the Civil War.
On others, it begins the period from the end of May through Labor Day when beaches are open, lifeguards are on duty, several outdoor fests and tourist activities take place and bus routes are added.
Five suggested Memorial Day Weekend activities in the Chicago area range from fireworks and festivals to a parade and party plus there’s a bus route bonus.
The City of Chicago is holding a Wreath Laying ceremony in Daley Plaza at Dearborn and Washington Streets at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 27, 2017. It will be followed by a parade that starts at noon from nearby State and Lake Streets and travels south on State to Van Buren Street. The Grand Marshal is Marine Corps Commanding General Robert S. Walsh. The parade, among the country’s largest, includes veterans’ groups, marching bands and antique military vehicles. Visit Chicago for more info. The national Memorial Day remembrance is 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, 2017. For an excellent government-based web-site with history and other info visit Government.
Chicago House Party – DJs and performers take over Millennium Park,’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion and North Chase Promenade Tent May 27, 2017, from 2 to 9 p.m. Expect a variety of “house music” a style started in Chicago that is danced to throughout the country. The grassy areas are good for picnics or dancing. For performer schedules check City of Chicago. Millennium Park is at Randolph through Monroe Parkways along Michigan Avenue.
ROOF on theWit, a fun space with great cocktails and views of the city is starting its JETSET s series May 26-27, 2017. The party transports guests to Barcelona, Spain minus the airline hassle. ROOF on theWit is 27 stories above the Wit Hotel at 201 N. State St. at Lake Street, Chicago. For reservations visit Roof. JetSet weekends start at 2pm. For more information and reservations, visit Roof or call (312) 239-9502.
The Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest runs from noon to 10 p.m. May 27 and May 28, 2017. A street party that has been going on for more than 20 years, the fest attracts excellent bands, good food, beer and wine booths and also features arts and crafts. A $5 entry donation benefits the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. Entry is at 3200 N. Sheffield, Chicago. Vist Chicago Events for more information.
Celebrate “Mayfestiversary,” a block party at and around Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Rd. Dovetail is celebrating its first anniversary with Begyle Brewing which is marking the second anniversary of its taproom. There will be food trucks, live music and games. B elle Plaine Avenue will be closed from Ravensood to the CTA line. Part of proceeds benefit Foundations of Music.The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 27 and 28, 2017. For more information visit at Dovetail or call (773) 683-1414.
Navy Pier is always good for a holiday outing but the Chicago attraction restarts its summer fireworks display Saturday, May 27 at 10:15 p.m. Among the ways to celebrate the weekend is to cruise on the Spirit of Chicago or Odyssey or stop in at the Miller Lite Beer Garden to hear Hot Rocks do Rolling Stones tributes from 2 to 11:30 p.m. BTW the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism upstairs at Navy Pier is worth seeing. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. , Chicago, IL 800 )595-PIER (7437) For more information visit Navy Pier or call (800) 595-PIER (7437).
The CTA’s No 10 Bus that goes to the Museum of Science and Industry starts again Memorial Day weekend. That means it will be easier to get there from downtown Chicago to see the terrific Robots exhibit.
The kids are saying yea, no school for a week. But what’s a parent to do when there is more to plan for than a weekend outing?
From a tomb and T Rex to penguins and planets, the Museum Campus has lots to keep families fascinated for an entire day.
Penguin antics also make visitors chuckle at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Lego is a hit at the Museum of Science and Industry and at the Legoland Discovery Center in west suburban Schaumburg.
The Centennial Wheel and musical play equipment are awesome at Navy Pier. Check them out and enjoy.
Explore Chicago’s Museum Campus
Youngsters don’t all like the same things but on Chicago’s Museum Campus at the south east end of the downtown, you can probably satisfy two different interests if you plan carefully.
Children fascinated by mummies, dinosaurs and native American tribal life will love the Field Museum while adults will likely want to detour over to its gem exhibit.
Anyone who likes penguins or pretty much anything live that moves through water will want to stop at the Shedd Aquarium across from The Field.
Budding astronomers and space explorer wannabes will want to go to the Adler Planetarium that’s further down the museum campus’ arm.
Families might be able to take in some of two places but really shouldn’t try to do all three museums on the same day.
Tip: While on the museum campus walk past the aquarium towards the planetarium .then turn around and look at the city. This is where journalists take photos of the skyline and TV broadcasters go for a super camera op of Chicago’s skyline. Your photo will look like you are out in a boat on Lake Michigan because you are on a peninsula.
Put on your minor’s hat or thinking cap at the Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry south of downtown should satisfy all interests from its coal mine experience, Lego exhibit and futuristic thinking room to Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, the Great Train Story’s model railroads and the Mirror Maze.
Tip: On April 8 and 9 and April 15, you can also see special Robotics week events.
You play at Navy Pier
Navy Pier, a 3,300 foot long entertainment pier jutting into Lake Michigan from Illinois Street east of the Mag Mile is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, a Ferris-type ride called the Centennial Wheel that is almost 200 feet high and ethnic festivals in its Crystal Garden.
Tip: There is also an IMAX Theater so check out its film schedule. Plus do ‘Impulse: An Interactive Art Exhibit,’ in the Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier, now through May 21. It’s a light and sound experience where visitors can try out seesaws and other play equipment that produce different tones and colors when activated.
Watch animals play at the zoo
Stroll through Lincoln Park Zoo to see two new, polar opposite, animal habitats: South African penguins in their cozy cove (It’s not icy) and Arctic polar bears in a coldly comfortable place.
Tip: The zoo and its Lincoln Park environment are fun places to spend a day so plan on eating at Park Place Café which has Mexican, Italian dishes and burgers or if warm enough, the roof top Café at Wild Things above the Wild Things gift store. .
Discover what can be done with Legos
From things to ride, play with and see in 4D to Star Wars episodes to experience, there is an entire Lego world at the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, Entry and experiences are ticketed so plan ahead because tickets are timed to prevent overcrowding, particularly during winter and spring vacation breaks.
Tip: Online tickets save money so check it out at Tickets.
Maybe now that Chicago’s Ice-Age weekend has come and hopefully, gone, we can lace up the skates and twirl to joyful music. Tip: closing dates are important so put them on your calendar. The first skating spot listed is indoors because it is part of a winter fest that leaves after the first full weekend in January. The second is outdoors but its regular hours change to extended holiday times late December except for special days and events.
If you want to skate at the Chicago Blackhawks Indoor Ice Rink among the rides and slides of the Pier’s Winter WonderFest, go by Sunday, Jan, 8, 2017. It all starts to disappear that Monday. Navy Pier is the nearly mile-long entertainment arm sticking out into Lake Michigan from 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
You have likely passed Rosemont’s mega entertainment complex along the I 294 at I90 near O’Hare International Airport. There is a lot to do there including eating, seeing movies and flying (really) indoors. However, when winter comes there is also Frozemont, an outdoor Chicago Wolves Ice Rink for hockey and free skating. Skate rental is available. Tickets are sold at the rink’s box office. For the address think Monopoly game. It’s 5501 Park Place, Rosemont, IL 60018. Regular hours go through Dec. 23 but open skating has extended hours Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day, Martin Luther King’s Day and Presidents Day.
As those TV ads say, “wait, there’s more” re ice skating at the MB Financial Park. If anyone in the family follows the Blackhawks, consider getting a ticket to the annual Skate with the Greats, 1 to 5 p.m., Jan. 14, 2017. Sponsored by the Chicago Blackhawk Alumni Association, event proceeds to benefit Chicago area Ronald McDonald House charities. Learn more at skate event.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Families will appreciate the casual, no-pressure-to-show-off skating rink near the red barn at the Farm-in-the-Zoo in Lincoln Park. Admission and skate rental are each $5. Go now to also see ZooLights which continues through Jan. 1, 2017. Come back to skate some more through Feb. 26. You might not want to leave before visiting the new snow monkeys in the MacaQue Forest, the penguins in their new compound or Siku, a new polar bear in the Walter Family Arctic Tundra. The zoo’s parking lot is at 2400 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614 and is on the CTA’s 151 and 156 bus routes.
A fun place to skate is below Cloud Gate (The Bean) at the McCormick Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Take photos (can you skate while doing a selfie?) of the city’s skyline and warm up with hot chocolate from the Park Grill. Don’t worry about not skating at Olympic level. Free skating lessons are offered Friday through Sunday by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events during their Winter Workouts an hour before the rink has opend. Other lessons are available other times and dates Dec. 24, 2016 through Jan. 8, 2017. The rink is open weekdays at noon and weekends at 10 a.m. through March 5, 2017. It’s located in one of those “you can’t miss it’ places because it borders the west side of Millennium Park along Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets. Its formal address is 201 E. Randolph St. Chicago, IL 60601. Skating is free. Rentals are $12.
Swirling and curving on the north-east side of Millinneium Park in Chicago Park District’s Maggie Daley Park, is the unusually shaped Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon. Open now through the first week of March, the Ribbon winds through a somewhat rolling, changing “parkscape” that is a fun place to go. Skating is free. Rentals are $12 weekdays and $14 Friday through Sunday and holidays. The park is at 337 E. Randolph St. Chicago, IL 60601.
The city has seven other outdoor ice rinks aside from the Maggie Daley Ribbon. They will stay open through Feb. 20, 2017. To find the location nearest you or one you would like to visit and to see hours and special programs visit CPD.
Peninsula Chicago Sky Rink
You can skate with a city view above Michigan Avenue if eating, using the Spa or staying at the Peninsula Chicago. The upscale hotel has added an ice rink to its Terrace in a romantic setting of pine trees and snowflake lighting. Snack or warm up with hot cider, hot chocolate and other treats. The rink is open through March 1, 2017. Donations of $15 adults and $10 children age 12 and under go to children’s charities.
For other information and rink availability visit Sky Rink and call (312) 337-2888.
Plan now for what you want to do New Year’s Eve. If in or visiting Chicago there are fun runs and cruises, count-downs and parties and delightful cultural programs. Most events require tickets.
1.Celebrate the changing of the year the Viennese Neujahrskonzert way. Performances take place in 24 North American cities near New Year’s Day. In Chicago, the “Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert” will be at Symphony Center 2:30 p.m., Dec. 31, 2016.
The program is all about wonderful Strauss waltzes and music from the Merry Widow, and Die Fledermaus by the Strauss symphony of Canada and the Chicago Philharmonic. Dancers are from Ukraine’s Kiev-Aniko ballet and the International Champion Ballroom. Singers are soprano Lilla Galambos and baritone Thomas Weinhappel from Vienna.
For tickets visit CSO or call (312) 294.3000. For other information visit Salute Vienna or call (416) 323.1403.
2. Celebrate with a Chi-Town Rising event.
The day starts with the Chi-Town Rise & Shine 5K race and Fun Run, check in begins at 7:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. race beginning at Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago. The run also goes through Maggie Daley Park, Grant Park and by the lakefront. The event is a Special Olympics fundraiser. Handouts include pompom hats, gloves and hot chocolate. Click here to register and see details.
It continues with the Family Count-Down from 3 to 6 p.m. at Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square. New Year celebrations start at different times around the world so parts of the event are activity stations showing New Year’s customs in different countries. The event is free. The Kids Countdown Spectacular is 6 p.m.
Chi-Town Rising New Year’s Eve Celebration is 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tickets are free but are required to enter the two viewing areas between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive. There will be food and beverage concessions and views of the midnight fireworks. The North Viewing Area, north of the river, will be the site of NBC 5’s broadcast. South Viewing Area on Upper Wacker Drive will have the main performance stage.
Visit Chi-Town Rising details. For tips on clothing and other viewing areas visit FAQ.
3. Navy Pier is headquarters for two New Year’s Eve Parties.
The 5th Annual Chicago Resolution Gala celebrates with several drink bars and buffet stations and dancing in the Pier’s Grand Ballroom. There is also a good fire works viewing spot. For tickets and details visit Resolution Gala. Visit tickets and details.
There is also a party in the Crystal Garden, the Pier’s six-story glass botanic atrium. There will be several bars and champagne for a toast. For tickets and more details visit Crystal Gardens.
4. New Year’s Eve Cruises go from Navy Pier. Watch the fireworks after partying aboard the Mystic Blue, the Spirit of Chicago or the Odyssey. Each cruise ship hosts a New Year’s Eve Party. Times and prices vary so see which one fits your budget. Visit Mystic Blue Cruises, Odyssey and Spirit of Chicago.
Six tall ships from as far as Baltimore, Erie and Newport Beach and as close as South Haven and Chicago are sailing to Navy Pier for Taste of Tall Ships Aug. 11-14, 2011.
Two of them – Perry’s Flagship Niagara and the topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore II, will be available for boarding.
Friends Good Will, a square topsail sloop with a South Haven, Mich. port and Lynx, a square topsail schooner from Newport Beach, Calif., plus Chicago-based gaff schooners Windy and Red Witch will take passengers out onto Lake Michigan.
Boarding prices are $9 adults, $6 children. A combo ticket of boarding and three Navy Pier rides are $16 adults and $13 children. Boarding hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 11-13 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 14.
Sail away prices and times vary according to ship and length of sail. Sail-away tickets are also available on “Windy” in combination with boarding “Flagship Niagara” or “Pride of Baltimore II.” More ticket information
At the east end of Navy Pier bleachers will be set up for free viewing of the Chicago Grade 2 Match Race. The competition is America’s Cup style racing to give 10 internationally ranked sailing teams match race practice. Qualifying rounds are Aug. 12 followed by semi-finals Aug. 13 and finals on Aug. 14.
Navy Pier was part of famed city planner Daniel Burnham’s 1909 “Master Plan of Chicago.” The 1.5 mile pier was built from 1914 to 1916. Originally called the Municipal Pier, it was renamed Navy Pier in 1927 in tribute to World War I Navy personnel. World War II military pilots trained at the pier as did sailors and technicians. After the war, the University of Illinois had a branch at the pier until 1965. However, the Pier was also designed to include entertainment venues.
Today, visitors can go to a Shakespearean theater, dine at famed Harry Caray’s or Billy Goat Tavern and browse a free stained glass window museum.
Navy Pier is at Lake Michigan at the east end of both Illinois Street and Grand Avenue. Parking is available however CTA buses do go there from the Ogilvie Transportation Center (Metra) and Union Station.