Early September is a great time to visit Chicago. Days are still warm enough to enjoy the beaches along Lake Michigan or Chicago's great parks. Most locals prefer to spend Labor Day weekend going to picnics and barbecues. West Loop and Ukrainian Village restaurants also offer Labor Day brunches with special menus. There are also plenty of things to do in the city, as the long Labor Day weekend is usually packed with various festivals and fun family-friendly events.
Labor Day Getaways
The three-day weekend is a perfect occasion to make a day trip to see some of the picturesque sites in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Check out the famous Nordhouse Dunes, which is 49 mi (79 km) away from Chicago, lush Starved Rock State Park a 93 mi (150 km) drive, or the beautiful Wisconsin Dells Area Wisconsin Dells Area 195 miles (314 km) from Chicago.
Labor Day Fireworks over Navy Pier (early September 2021)
Labor Day Weekend is your last chance to enjoy summer fireworks at Navy Pier. The area hosts a large Ferris Wheel and many attractions for all ages during the day. At night, the colorful display is launched from the center of Michigan Lake. The fireworks take place on Saturday at 10:15 pm. A spectacular 15-minute spectacle is free. You can watch it from Navy Pier or along the shoreline. Downtown rooftop bars are another great viewing spot. Alternatively, you can take a Fireworks Cruise on the lake for the most romantic experience.
Southeast Side Labor Day Parade (early September 2021)
Chicago has always had strong unions and labor movement since it's one of the largest steel producers in the world. Southeast Side Labor Day Parade has been a tradition since 1959. It usually occurs on a Saturday and runs north on Ewing from 112th to Calumet Park. The event is organized by the Chicago Federation of Labor celebrating community, union pride, and solidarity.
Chicago Jazz Festival (late August–early September 2021)
A four-day Chicago Jazz Festival is one of the best Labor Day Weekend traditions in the city. This incredible event draws outstanding musicians and promotes awareness for jazz music through quality live performances. And it also offers free admission! The celebration of jazz and creativity takes place in Millennium Park pavilions and the Chicago Cultural Center. The festival educates and encourages jazz audiences of all ages and showcases emerging jazz talent. Over the years, it hosted Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, BB King, and many others.
Lake Michigan Beaches
Don't hesitate to enjoy warm sunny days by the water during Labor Day weekend. Oak Street Beach is one of Chicago's most popular beaches. It hosts volleyball tournaments and also offers a great view of the city skyline. Rainbow Beach and Park on the South Side has many playgrounds, gyms, and handball courts. North Avenue Beach has a few restaurants, a unique beach house, volleyball courts, bike, and kayak rentals.