Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend: Things to Do Around Chicago During the Pandemic

Here is a list of COVID-friendly activities for this holiday weekend

As the summer season comes to a close, Chicagoans can still celebrate this Labor Day weekend without even leaving the city.

While the coronavirus has placed several travel restrictions over the past months, those in the Chicago area can still find local activities that are COVID-friendly.

Here are some things to do around Chicago during this holiday weekend:

See a Drive-in or Outdoor Movie

Since the coronavirus temporarily shut down movie theaters in the area, Chicago has surged in new locations to watch drive-in or outdoor movies.

Solider Field features movies each night Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8:30 p.m. and sold at $55 per vehicle. A ticket also provides a free bucket of popcorn.

Both the films, "The Incredibles" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," will air Friday and Saturday nights of Labor Day weekend.

As part of Chicago Park District's "Movies in the Park" series, here is a list of free films for the holiday weekend across the city:

Drive-in movies in Chicago's Pilsen, Bridgeview and Hoffman Estates locations, along with in suburban McHenry, have not announced movie airings in September.

Take a Boat Cruise on Lake Michigan or the Chicago River

As sunny skies are expected to continue into September, boat cruises on Lake Michigan and the River allow for Chicagoans to see the city from a new angle.

Here's a list of some city boat cruises over Labor Day weekend:

Enjoy a Virtual Jazz Festival From Home

Millennium Park's annual jazz festival is still prepared to take place this Labor Day weekend, but online.

From Thursday, Sept. 3 at 4 p.m. through Sunday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m., Millennium Park at Home: Chicago Jazz will feature an array of live performances and past footage.

The festival will air on the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events' YouTube page throughout the weekend.

Take a Trip to a Sunflower Field

Though sunflower fields may not be located in downtown Chicago, many can be found on the boarders of Wisconsin and Indiana.

Some sunflower fields close to the Chicago area include Thompson Strawberry Farm, Thistleberry Farm, Johnson's Farm Produce and Von Bergen's County Market, some of which allow for taking home the flowers.

Tickets for these farms range from $5 to $8 per person, with some providing deals for young children and cars of people.

Walk, Run or Bike Along Chicago's Lakefront Trail

Though the trail continues to promote their "keep it moving" policy, the Lakefront is open for walking, biking, running and rollerblading every day.

The Lakefront trail is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, according to the Chicago Park District, and stretches nearly 18.5 miles along Lake Michigan.

The parks west of Lake Shore Drive are open at this time, but beaches and parks east of Lake Shore Drive continue to remain closed to the public.

Enjoy Outdoor Dining

Since June, Chicago has closed several streets downtown to make room for an expansion of outdoor dining during the pandemic.

These streets originally included the following in Chicago's Gold Coast and Lake View areas:

  • Balmoral Street – closed on both sides of N. Clark
  • Chinatown Square – adjacent to Archer Avenue from Wentworth to Princeton
  • Taylor Street – closed from Loomis to Ashland
  • Oliphant Avenue – closed from Northwest Highway to the first alley to the North
  • 75th Street – sidewalk dining areas from Indiana to Calumet
  • Randolph Street – closed from the Expressway to Elizabeth
  • Rush Street – closed from Oak to Cedar
  • Oakley Street – closed from 24th Street to 24th Place

Wells Street between Superior and Huron as well as Clark Street between Grand and Kedzie were also closed to allow restaurants to expand seating into street space, according to a newsletter from 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly.

Several restaurants in Chicago's River North neighborhood announced they would participate in Mayor Lori Lightfoot's outdoor dining program.

For a full list of restaurants participating in the outdoor dining program in the River North area, click here.

Check Out a Chicago Museum

Though the coronavirus closed museums across Chicago for a few months, many have opened back up with various COVID-19 health and safety requirements.

Currently, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Museum of Contemporary Art are open with limited hours.

The Art Institute and the Field Museum are open Thursday through Monday, while the Shedd Aqarium is open daily. The Museum of Science and Industry is open Wednesday through Sunday, while the Museum of Contemporary Art is only open weekends.

If the in-person experience at these museums causes discomfort, many have opted for virtual experiences that can be found on their websites.

Visit Navy Pier Before it Closes for the Season

Navy Pier announced it will close after Labor Day as the iconic Chicago attraction faces restrictions and budget shortfalls during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pier will continue to remain open through Labor Day, including free arts and cultural programs, restaurants, retail shops, tour boats and dining cruises. There will be "multiple layers of safety precautions in place," officials said.

Public access to the pier's outdoor spaces, including Polk Bros Park and the North and South Docks, will also be limited or prohibited during the closure.

Explore the Zoo

For another outdoor experience downtown, the Lincoln Park Zoo is open to the public daily.

The zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with all buildings within the facility closed until further notice. Daily activities such as seal and polar bear training remain open, according to the website, along with various attractions.

For those in Chicago suburbs, the Brookfield Zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. costing adults $24.95, seniors $19.95 and children $17.95 for entry.

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