Honor our veterans and enjoy festive activities such as firework displays and outdoor picnics during Memorial Day weekend in Illinois. Whether you plan to attend a patriotic parade or grill up some burgers, there’s something exciting for everyone in this Midwestern state. Stay at one of numerous vacation rentals in Illinois to easily enjoy the warm weather of early summer. Experience the beautiful Midwestern scenery of Illinois this Memorial Day by visiting these vibrant cities and towns.

1. Chicago

Source: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

Chicago is well-known for its Memorial Day parade and the wreath-laying ceremony at Daley Plaza, and the fireworks at Navy Pier and the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival are further highlights of Memorial Day weekend in this stunning city. Get out and enjoy the gorgeous weather at one of many beaches along the lakefront including North Avenue Beach, where thousands of tourists gather each year. While downtown, explore the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park to snap memorable photos with the famous Cloud Gate landmark, or experience the Butterflies & Blooms exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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2. Aurora

Source: Flickr/Paul Sableman

After attending the Memorial Day viewings, stand in front of the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, soak up the beautiful weather in Aurora with a trip downtown for a picnic at Mundy Park at Water Street Mall, or enjoy an outdoor musical experience at RiverEdge Park. You can bike along the Fox River Trail before you head north of New York Street to push kayaks into the water to get a one-of-a-kind view of the city. While downtown, take an architectural walking tour in the Stolp Island Historic District to smile at the city’s distinct beauty.

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3. Rockford

Source: Flickr/Hydrogen Ink

Rockford offers more than a typical Memorial Day parade with its Sinking of the Ship ceremony behind the Rockford Public Library. Check out opening day for Magic Waters Waterpark to enjoy the beautiful weather in Rockford as you splash around with your family or friends. Rocktown Adventures offers a fun kayaking trip down the Rock River, or you can explore the outdoors with a hike through weaving trails at Severson Dells. On Memorial Day weekend, you can take part in a biking adventure for the Annual Blackhawk Country Roads Invitational.

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5. Peoria

Source: Flickr/stantontcady

Attend the Memorial Day remembrance ceremony at Marshall Plaza on Peoria’s RiverFront to witness a tribute to the men and women who have fought for this nation’s freedom. Soak up some sun with a ride on the Spirit of Peoria to enjoy a sightseeing opportunity that showcases the beauty of Starved Rock State Park and Pere Marquette State Park. Visit the Forest Park Nature Center for miles of hiking trails complemented by a museum and an observation room for bird watching. To cool off, visit the Lakeview Aquatic Center to have fun in the large swimming pool with two water slides.

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5. Naperville

Source: Flickr/pdanielsen2011

The Memorial Day parade along Jackson Avenue provides the perfect time to applaud our veterans and deliver salutes to those walking toward Central Park. Feel the gentle spring breeze and the warmth of May on your skin as you leave your vacation rental to bask in the art initiatives of Naperville. Experience Century Walk for an in-depth look at sculptures, murals, mobiles, mosaics, and reliefs that highlight downtown Naperville. For some fun in the sand, visit Centennial Beach to play in the water or throw around some bean bags. Catch a glimpse of beautiful landscapes and water fountains as you walk along miles of gorgeous brick paths at the Naperville Riverwalk.

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6. Springfield

Source: Flickr/Daniel X. O’Neil

Known for the Old Capitol Building, Springfield delivers historical sites for veterans like no other city in Illinois. With events at the Camp Butler National Cemetery and exhibits at the Air Combat Museum, this beautiful city offers plenty of ways to celebrate our veterans on Memorial Day. Set your eyes on the shores of the Sangamon River with a visit to Carpenter Park, where you can take advantage of hiking trails and nature observation. Make your way to the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary to take photos of birds or native animals. For some fun and entertainment, take a dip in the pool at Knight’s Action Park, or enjoy a spin on the indoor Ferris wheel at SCHEELS.

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7. Champaign

Source: Flickr/stantontcady

The distinct college town flair of Champaign helps create a memorable experience over Memorial Day weekend. To salute our active military and veterans, attend the annual Campground Memorial Day Parade at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve. This beautiful location also offers the Take Me Fishing event on Memorial Day weekend to teach beginners some fishing basics. Visit Lake of the Woods or Crystal Lake Park to go kayaking or rowboating. Opening day for Clinton Lake Beach occurs during this weekend, providing the perfect opportunity to splash cool water on your friends or family.

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8. Joliet

Source: Flickr/sporadic

Although Joliet is quiet on Memorial Day Weekend, you can take advantage of activities in nearby Shorewood, including a Memorial Day parade and bicycle decorating contest for children. Learn about the local flora and fauna with a walking tour of the Bird Haven Greenhouse and Conservatory, or walk around Champions Park for live entertainment and interactive exhibits. The warm weather is perfect for sitting outdoors to enjoy some racing at the Chicago Speedway, or you can get your adrenaline pumping by racing yourself at the Route 66 Speedway across the street. With a limited number of places to cool off in warm weather, Splash Station Waterpark offers more than 20 acres of water attractions that include Raging Rapids Ravine and Miner’s Mountain.

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9. Elgin

Source: Flickr/downtownelgin

On Memorial Day, the city of Elgin honors veterans interred at seas at Elgin Veterans Memorial Park and provides an annual Memorial Day program at Bluff City Cemetery. This wonderful city is home to the Hawthorne Hill Nature Center, which offers a variety of habitats including wetlands and meadows. Explore these areas with a hike on the trails, and keep your eyes open for colorful amphibians in the ponds. Visit Trout Park Nature Preserve to delight at the freshwater springs and expansive meadows. The water fountains in Festival Park give you a great way to cool the kids down, while the picnic areas are perfect for grilling up burgers and hot dogs.

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