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Best Ways To Commemorate MLK Jr. Day In Chicago

With Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 18 across the nation, it's time to think about how you can honor the leader of the civil rights movement in the U.S. In the Chicago area, you can spend the day serving others through a volunteer project. Other options include exploring museum exhibits or taking in a musical performance in honor of the occasion. Take a look at some of the best ways to remember Dr. King in the Chicago area.

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Brookfield Zoo
8400 W. 31st St.
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000

Experience a hands-on event in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 18 when you visit Brookfield Zoo in the suburb of Brookfield. The celebration will be held in the zoo's Discovery Center and includes a display featuring Dr. King's iconic speech "I Have A Dream," and musical performances are also on the schedule. The event also includes an emphasis on Dr. King's enduring message of peace, as visitors are encouraged to create peace doves of their own during the event. General admission to the zoo is free on that date.

Celebration Of Service

This year, consider taking part in volunteer projects and making a difference in your community for Martin Luther King Day. If you're not sure where to start, through the website for Chicago Cares you can participate in the a number of volunteer opportunities through the city-wide Celebration of Service and honor Dr. King's legacy through service. Volunteer opportunities are available throughout January and include playing games with senior citizens and reading to children. You may need to register in advance for a volunteer opportunity.

Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 642-4600

Spend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day learning about the civil rights leader when you and your family visit Chicago History Museum. Through the museum's commemorative day on Jan. 18, visitors to the museum can participates in arts and crafts and a production of "The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights." A musical performance by Chicago Chamber Choir is also in the plans, and the events are scheduled between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day. Heads up: admission to the Chicago History Museum is free for Illinois residents on commemorative days. After taking in the events, take some time to explore the museum's other exhibits and programming.

Related: 5 Historical Facts You Didn't Know About Chicago

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Of Service
Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion
S. Western Ave. and W. 87th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(708) 386-4042

If you'd rather roll up your sleeves and do some serious cleaning, then consider volunteering to spend Martin Luther King Day at Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion. Forest Preserves of Cook County will hold a Day of Service on Jan. 18 at the pavilion, where volunteers can help get rid of invasive plants. Held from noon to 3 p.m., the event can be a way to meet people who are passionate about nature while also helping to keep the forest preserves healthy. Other days for volunteer restoration events through the Forest Preserves of Cook County include Jan. 16 at River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook, and Jan. 30 at Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Willow Springs.

'Tribute To MLK'
Wentz Concert Hall
North Central College
171 E. Chicago Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 637-7469

Honor the life of Dr. King through Chicago Sinfonietta's "Tribute to MLK." Held at North Central College in the suburb of Naperville on Jan. 17 at 3 p.m., the performance includes gospel music with the orchestra performing with Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir. Mei-Ann Chen will conduct the performance, and composer and bassist Victor Wooten is also set to perform. A second performance is scheduled for Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Symphony Center in Chicago. Tickets can be purchased in advance.

Related: Best Used Bookstores In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at

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