Chicago Memorial Day Weekend Guide: Beach Openings, List of Events, Traffic and More


Welcome to Memorial Day weekend, Chicago: the unofficial start to the summer season. And this year, the weekend will be filled with perfect beach weather — just in time for their 2023 season opening.

Friday, Saturday Sunday and Monday will all be filled with mostly sunny skies, with high temperatures in the high 60s near the lake, but warming into the high 70s for most other areas, the NBC 5 Storm Team says.

Beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, residents sand visitors will have the chance to dig their toes in the sand as Chicago beaches open for the 2023 summer season. But this year, guests will see a big change.

In a public safety announcement Thursday, Mayor Brandon Johnson and the Chicago Police Department said beachgoers can expect to see more patrols nearby, as well as bag checks.

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“It’s going to take all of us, not just the police, not just city government, to ensure that our communities can live and thrive in peace and safety,” Johnson said at the 63rd Street Beach, as he was surrounded by department heads.

“However you decide to spend your holiday weekend in Chicago, your safety is my top priority,” he said.

Memorial Day weekend in Chicago historically means a violent start to summer months. Over the holiday weekend in 2022, more than 50 people were shot, nine fatally.


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Interim Chicago Police Supt. Fred Waller Thursday said his department has a “comprehensive safety plan” for the weekend that includes putting more officers on public transit and in business areas, as well as conducting bag checks at beaches and Millennium Park.

Additionally, The Illinois Department of Human Services and Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this week announced that the state will send a Citywide Crisis Prevention and Response Unit to Chicago for Memorial Day weekend in an effort to help keep residents safe.

As you look to plan your Memorial Day weekend in and around Chicago, here’s a roundup of events taking place, what to know if you plan to head to the beach and more.

Chicago’s N. Lake Shore

Chicago Beaches Open

Chicago beaches open for the 2023 season at 11 a.m. Friday, with the season running through Sept. 4, the Chicago Park District says.

“We’re excited to welcome back Chicagoans and tourists to Chicago’s 26 miles of pristine coastline, a backdrop to summer fun in Chicago and home to 22 gorgeous lakefront beaches,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño in a press release.

According to the the park district, swim conditions are updated each day around 11 a.m. “based on weather and surf conditions, and around 1:30 pm based on water quality conditions.”

“Flags may be updated throughout the day as needed,” the park district continues.

This year, the park district says its safety team unit will “provide additional resources to support our busiest beaches.” According to the city, that team is trained to de-escalate situations, and will be monitoring beaches and concession areas.

Here’s how to check the water temperature at Lake Michigan.

Memorial Day Things to Do

In and around Chicago, Memorial Day weekend is filled with festivals, flea markets, food and more. Here’s a glimpse into some of the events planned across the city and suburbs.

Sueños Music Festival

The Latin music festival featuring Fied, Wisin Y Yandal, Grupo Firme and Nicky Jam takes place Saturday and Sunday in Grant Park. The event also features a number afterparties and other events. The full lineup can be found here.

Passes are currently on sale and begin at $199.

Randolph Street Market

The fan-favorite Randolph Street Market, a curated, vintage and antique market takes place Saturday and Sunday and includes more than 200 vendors.

Tickets are required and begin at $12. The market takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at 1341 W. Randolph St.

Giant Bounce House in Aurora

An “Inflatable Festival” of eight bouncy attractions is coming to Aurora for four weekends, beginning Memorial Day weekend.

“Bounce The Mall,” located in the parking lot of the Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora May 27 through June 18. Advanced tickets are encouraged. General admission begins at $23 for a 90-minute bounce session. More information here.

Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival

The 38th annual street festival in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood at 3200 N. Sheffield features tribute bands, food, shopping and more. The festival runs Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

Navy Pier Fireworks

The iconic fireworks displays at Navy Pier will make their thunderous return on Memorial Day weekend, with the biweekly shows set to last throughout the summer.

The fireworks take place at 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Here’s a full list of other events taking place.

Memorial Day Traffic and Travel

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, more than 1.56 million travelers will pass through O’Hare and Midway International Airports this Memorial Day Weekend.

On the roads, more than 42 million Americans are expected to travel for the Memorial Day weekend, and according to researchers, there are specific times when the traffic will be at its absolute worst.

AAA, in conjunction with transportation analytics website INRIX, recently published its findings of the peak hours of travel during the holiday weekend, and identified the stretches of roadway where traffic will be most impacted by those seeking a getaway.

According to those researchers, the busiest stretch of road in the Chicago area will be Interstate 94’s eastbound lanes between Milwaukee and Chicago.  

The estimated travel time between those two cities will increase by more than 30% during peak congestion, which is expected to occur at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday.

Travelers moving between Chicago and Milwaukee on the westbound side of Interstate 94 will likely see their worst traffic on Saturday at approximately 11 a.m., according to researchers.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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