Chicago is great destination for a Memorial Day weekend trip. There’s always lots going on in the city and most of the major museums and attractions are open; there’s enough to do to keep you busy for a long weekend trip, yet you can still leave after 3-4 days feeling like you have seen a lot of the city. If you’re planning a Memorial Day weekend trip to Chicago, here’s what you need to know.
With its location in the Midwest of the US, Chicago is fairly easy to get to from most destinations. O’Hare airport is a major hub for United and one of the busiest airports in the country, making it a relatively affordable destination from other major cities. There are direct flights from cities like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Denver, Houston, Seattle, Las Vegas, and many more. Midway (a smaller airport south of the city) is also serviced by Delta, Frontier, Porter, AirTran, and Southwest and accepts flights from many smaller cities as well.
From the Midwest, Amtrak and low-cost bus services like Megabus provide frequent connections at a very low price.
What to pack:
The weather in Chicago in late May can be unpredictable. It could be nearly 80 degrees and sunny, or it might be rainy and as cold as 45. Your best bet is to check the weather forecast the day before you leave, and to pack plenty of layers.
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Where to stay:
Most tourists stay at a hotels on or near the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue between the River and Oak Street), in the Loop, or near Grant Park, as these areas are the closest to most of the downtown attractions and are easily accessed by public transport. Unless you have a very early morning flight, don’t stay near the airport. The 45-minute ride into the city is no big deal when you have to do it once; doing it every day will quickly become annoying. And if you can avoid it, don’t bring a car. Most hotels in the city charge a premium for parking space and there’s no need for one within the city.
Where to eat:
Chicago has everything from local celebrity chefs and fancy multi-course tasting menus to cheap and tasty diners and cuisine from all other the world. Whether you want excellent Indian, Ethiopian or Greek, a deep dish pizza or Chicago-style hot dog, or a hearty steak, you’ll find it here.
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What to see and do:
The weather at the end of May might be unpredictable, but luckily there’s plenty to do in Chicago now matter what Mother Nature has in store. On nice days you can cruise down the Chicago River, ride a bike or run down the Lakefront path, shop along the Magnificent Mile or even hit the beach. And if the weather turns sour, you can head inside to visit one of the city’s many great museums.
Getting out of the city:
If you have extra time, there are lots of worthwhile day and overnight trips from Chicago. Explore Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, or take a break in Michigan’s southwest wine country. Other Midwest cities like Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, or Kansas City are all an hour or less away by air and 3-5 hours by bus, train or car.
Some final travel tips for Memorial Day weekend:
- Though Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to visit, it’s also a popular time for locals to head out of town and there are fewer business people visiting, which means it can be easier to score a last-minute reservation at a normally hard-to-get-into spot and you may be able to find some great hotel deals.
- Most people will be flying or driving in Friday and leaving Monday, making these the busiest and most expensive days to travel. If you can, arrive on Thursday or Saturday and depart on Sunday or Tuesday.
- Some places do close for Memorial Day Monday; double check the opening hours of any place you really want to visit to avoid disappointment.
Photo by chadmagiera