Memorial Day 2021 Guide for Chicago Families

Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend that kicks off the summer season. It’s also a time to remember all the military men and women who have made this country what it is.

If you’re planning to head to a parade, you might be able to catch one this year or you can simply attend a virtual event to teach your kids about patriotism. Then end your day with some great food with an easy summertime grill.

We’ve put together a full day itinerary to help you family celebrate Memorial Day, from parades to patriotic desserts. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Read more: Things to Do with Kids This Spring in Chicagoland


Many Memorial Day parades and ceremonies have been canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic. You can see some of our family-friendly picks below and find more Memorial Day events listed in our calendar. 

Bolingbrook Memorial Day Carnival

May 28-31, 2021

Families can enjoy the kick-off to summer — complete with rides, games, food, fun and more — with 2021 safety measures in place. Masks will be required to enter and ride rides. Sanitizing stations will be located at every ride and social distancing protocols will be used both in waiting to ride and for rider safety.

South Holland Memorial Day Parade

May 31, 2021

The parade honors military personnel who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The parade begins at the Community Center and travels north on South Park Avenue to Veterans Memorial Park. Spectators are asked to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, including social distancing along the route and masking where social distancing isn’t possible.

Memorial Day Observance 

May 31, 2021

Join Winnetka Park District for a ceremony this Memorial Day to remember and honor those who gave their lives serving our country. The Village Green will be split into four sections, with a limited number of attendees in each section to maintain social distancing. Participants must register in advance for their desired section.


After spending the day out, head home to enjoy a good meal. Having a small Memorial Day get together with your bubble? We rounded up grilling and other great recipes to enjoy with the entire family.

Kid-Friendly Recipes for the Grill (Epicurious)

 You can’t leave out the grill when cooking for Memorial Day weekend. Epicurious cobbled together kid-friendly recipes (besides hot dogs) to make on the grill. You can try grilling campfire potatoes, sliders, quesadillas and more. 

No-Cook Meals for Hot Summer Days

Want a quick dinner that won’t heat up your kitchen? These no-cook recipes are quick, simple and packed with flavor. Our personal favorite on the list is the BBQ chicken salad. Plus, you can grab pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store to make it super easy.   

DIY Popsicle Recipes

Even if the temps aren’t that high yet, popsicles still make a yummy treat. Make it a fun Memorial Day activity with one of these homemade popsicle recipes. Flavors include cookie dough, fresh berry and more.   

More Activities

Memorial Day Crafts

 It wouldn’t be a Memorial Day celebration without red, white and blue decorations. If you don’t have a flag currently, you can try painted lawn stars or patriotic painted rocks. Learn how to make these crafts.

Pritzker Military Museum and Library

 Located in Downtown Chicago, learn about military history from the past and present. The museum recently opened a new exhibit, Drawn to Combat: Bill Mauldin & The Art of War, featuring nearly 150 of the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist’s drawings. Admission is always free on Memorial Day, though reserve spots early for your family.

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This article originally published on May 17, 2011. It has been updated with the most recent information. 

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