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5 Reasons To Visit Chicago in the Spring

April 24, 2023 By CityPASS

After a long cold winter in Chicago, the first hint of spring does wonders for the soul. There's nothing like the warming air, fresh green grass, and pops of floral color to bring out a relaxed state of mind. In this city on the shores of Lake Michigan, you'll find nature destinations, architectural beauty, and springtime activities to celebrate. Here are the top things to do in Chicago in spring.

When Does Spring Start in Chicago?

Spring in Chicago takes its first step in late March. The days and nights can still be cool, and it's typical to get a bit of snow sometimes — even though it tends to melt or turn slushy with the warming sun. Expect average highs around 48ºF and average lows near freezing. You may still see the white stuff in shaded areas, and those compressed snow banks from the depth of winter often take their sweet time melting.

However, the warmer temperatures and spring rain work their magic as you get into April. Spring weather in Chicago can reach the low 60s during the day and the low 40s at night. Moving into May, you can expect those temperatures to keep climbing and the rains of April to shift into sunnier skies. May averages 72ºF during the day and 53ºF at night.

5 Reasons Why You Should Experience Spring in Chicago

Whether you've enjoyed Chicago's charms in spring before or only set foot during the tourist-heavy summers or frosty winters, you'll want to set aside time for a shoulder-season trip. Here are five reasons why.

1. The Beautiful Gardens of Millennium Park Flourish

Each year, the outdoor gardens of Millennium Park come alive with a stunning array of colors. So start your journey along Michigan Avenue, where thousands of tulip bulbs burst into a medley of blooms from the raised-bed medians. The city plants the bulbs in the fall, with the tulips opening in early April. They often last until late May.

You'll also enjoy Lurie Garden, a 2.5-acre, four-season habitat in downtown's Millennium Park. Urban gardening is on full display in Lurie Garden, where birds, bees, butterflies, and other creatures find abundance and beauty. As you walk the public paths, you'll see spring flowers like tulips, crocuses, lilies, and anemones — just some of the plants filling this space.

If you're ready to marvel as cherry blossom trees come to life, head to one of the top city parks, Jackson Park — the former home of the 1893 Exposition.

2. Countless Boats Set Sail on Architecture River Tours

Chicago's Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour gives you a 60-minute tour of the river, historic buildings and landmarks, and incredible skyline views. This tour takes you through the Chicago River's three branches, where tour guides share details about Chicago's architects and engineers and their famous buildings. You'll find that the tour schedule opens up the further into spring you get, with the choice of eight tour times in March and up to 23 by the end of May.

You can start the tour at the Magnificent Mile Michigan Avenue dock near the DuSable Bridge or the Navy Pier at Polk Bros Park.

3. Appreciating the Arts in Less-Crowded Museums

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best art museums in the city. First opened in 1879, it moved to its current lakefront setting in 1893 in exchange for use during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

Inside the Beaux Arts building, you'll find almost 300,000 artworks spanning ancient to modern times — including the world's second-largest grouping of Impressionist and Postimpressionist pieces. Enter from the main entrance on Michigan Avenue or through the 2009 expansion along Monroe Street.

To keep the art admiration going, check out the National Museum of Mexican Art in the Lower West Side and the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Near North neighborhood, a block or two from 360 CHICAGO.

Need more art in your day? You might enjoy the exhibits at the Smart Museum of Art on the University of Chicago campus, the Museum of Contemporary Photography on Michigan Avenue across from Grant Park, and the Chicago History Museum at the south end of Lincoln Park.

4. Celebrations and Festivals Galore

Chicago spring is full of celebration and entertainment. From the annual Cubs home opener in Wrigley Field (and the White Sox opener in Guaranteed Rate Field) to the Chicago Latin Film Festival, there are opportunities galore to enjoy Chicago in spring.

Check out these other spring-season celebrations and festivals that draw in yearly crowds.

  • Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo
  • Suenos Music Festival
  • Manifest Arts Festival
  • Uncorked: Chicago Wine Festival
  • Maxwell Street Market
  • Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest
  • Chicago Mayfest

Once you've fallen in love with the city, start planning your return trip! Come back for the Chicago Jazz Festival in September, the Chicago Air and Water Show in August, and the Windy City Smokeout in July.

5. Stunning Skyline Views Atop Willis Tower

If you're ready to travel to new heights with stunning views, make your way to Willis Tower. Skydeck Chicago sits on the 103rd story of this iconic skyscraper and offers panoramic views across the city, state, and Lake Michigan.

On a clear day, your sightlines can extend 40 to 50 miles to Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. One incredible feature is The Ledge, a glass enclosure that extends 4 feet from the building and 1,353 feet from the ground. It's like you're walking on air!

Make the Most Out of Your Springtime Trip to Chicago

Spring in Chicago has all the arts and culture, floral beauty, and excitement you want in a city vacation. So whether you stop to smell the spring flowers, enjoy the grassy parks, or hop on a river tour to ogle the architecture, you'll love your time in the Windy City.

Are you geared up for spring activities in Chicago? As you plan your schedule, don't forget to pick up your Chicago CityPASS® tickets and save up to off admission costs!

Chicago Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Chicago, we recommend finding lodging near Chicago's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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