Best Things to Do in Chicago for Spring Break

Wondering what there is to do in Chicago on spring break? Below are the best things to do in Chicago for spring break from a local.

For out of town visitors, please note that the weather in Chicago in the spring is very very unpredictable and changes from day to day and even hour to hour. Temperatures have started warming up after the cold winter, the river and lake are no longer frozen, but you might still encounter cold temperatures (and even snow). Pack a travel umbrella, dress in layers and make sure to check weather forecasts right before your vacation to know what to expect.

I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I plan to update it regularly with any new information and events.

Things to Do in Chicago for Spring Break


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Take an Architecture River Cruise

Taking an architecture river cruise is a must when visiting Chicago. Cruises start up again in March (after being on pause in the winter since the water freezes). If the weather is not too cold (it is colder on the lake), you might enjoy a combination river and lake cruise for more skyline views.

 

Experience the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

From the creators of the blockbuster show at Atelier des Lumières seen by over 2 million visitors in Paris and Toronto and featured in Emily in Paris (one of my favorite travel shows on Netflix), the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, is a massive indoor digital presentation of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork. There are also yoga sessions which include a 35 minute Yoga class + 45 minutes thereafter to enjoy the exhibit.

Where: Lighthouse ArtSpace at Germania Place, 108 W. Germania Pl, Chicago, IL

Cost:  Tickets start at $39.99 plus fees for off peak times. See https://www.vangoghchicago.com/ for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.
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Admire Famous Works at The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best things to do in Chicago Illinois for spring break
Chicago has many great museums which are worth visiting but my top pick is the Art Institute of Chicago conveniently located next to Millennium Park. It is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States and is frequently found on lists of the top museums in the world. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines).

Where: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Hours: Monday and Thursday–Sunday from 11 a.m.– 6 p.m. (10–11 a.m. for members). Closed on Tuesday–Wednesday. Must purchase tickets online in advance.

Cost: $25 for adults, $19 for seniors, students and teens (14-17); members and children under 14 are always free.  (Free admission on April 1 and 2, 2023 for Bank of America credit or debit cardholders under the Bank of America Museums on Us program.)

 

Enjoy the Views from 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

360 CHICAGO, the observatory on the 94th floor of the former John Hancock Building, has the best views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket).

Where: 875 North Michigan Avenue, 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611

Cost: $25 for adults, $15 youth.

Enjoy the Views from Skydeck Chicago

Skydeck Chicago in Willis Tower offers spectacular views spanning up to four states. Make sure to visit The Ledge, a glass balcony extending four feet outside the 103rd floor of Willis Tower. The Skydeck has implemented timed ticketing and they recommend reserving your tickets in advance to guarantee access. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines).

Where: 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Hours: Open daily from 9AM–10PM

Cost: Adult: $28-$35; kids age 3 to 11: $22-$26; and children under 3 are free. They also offer expedited entry for $55 and early bird for $65.

Visit the Field Museum

The Field Museum is a natural history museum in Chicago, Illinois, and is one of the largest such museums in the world. Inside the museum you will see Maximo, the Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur that ever lived. (Click here to purchase an Early Access VIP Tour if you want to avoid crowds).

Where: Chicago’s Museum Campus, 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605 (detailed directions and parking information is available here)

Hours: Open daily 9am to 5pm (last admission at 4pm)

Cost: Prices vary. Click here to see prices and purchase tickets online in advance.


Visit the Shedd Aquarium

Visit the Shedd Aquarium for unforgettable encounters with belugas and bluegills, stingrays and sturgeons.

Where: 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605 (detailed directions and parking information is available here)

When: Open 9 am – 5 pm. Advance purchase of timed tickets is required.

Cost: Admission is $39.95 ($19.95 for Chicago residents) for adults; $29.95 ($14.95 for Chicago residents) for children (3–11). Free admission on April 2, 2023 for Bank of America credit or debit cardholders under the Bank of America Museums on Us program.

Visit Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium is finally reopening March 4 after a two year hiatus. The public museum dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics is the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. Make sure to step outside for one of the best skyline views of Chicago.

Where: 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605

Hours: 9:00 am–4:00 pm daily. 4:00 pm–10:00 pm on Wednesdays.

Cost: Admission starts at $28 for adults and $17 for children (ages 3-11). Every Wednesday is free Museum Entry for Illinois residents with proof of residency. All tickets must be purchased online and in advance.

Tip:  If you are visiting a few museums and indoor attractions, consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card to save money on entrance fees.

 

Enjoy Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show

The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most stunning botanical conservatories in the US. Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” the Garfield Park Conservatory showcases thousands of plant species from around the world throughout eight indoor display gardens. Visitors can enjoy the lush flora and tropical temperatures indoors even if it is cold or rainy outside.

The Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show runs through May 8 and features beautiful blooming flowers, including tulips, hydrangeas, daffodils, and hyacinth. 

Where: 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624

Hours: Wednesday 10am-8pm; Thursday – Sunday 10am-5pm; Closed Monday and Tuesday. Advance reservations are required.

Cost: Admission is FREE but donations suggested

Enjoy Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show 

Although not as large as the Garfield Park Conservatory, the Lincoln Park Conservatory is worth a visit and is more conveniently located for visitors. The Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show, “Pillars of Spring” invites visitors to imagine gardens in a different way – vertically by planting from the ground upwards. Free registration is required for entry.  A limited number of pre-registered, timed-access tickets are released on a rolling basis two weeks prior to the visitation date.

Hours: Wednesdays through Sundays. Timed entry every 15-minutes from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, all guests must exit by 3:00 pm.

Where: 2391 N Stockton Dr., Chicago, IL 60614

Cost: FREE

Hold and Feed a Bunny

Looking for a unique thing to do in Chicago? Visit the Cuddle Bunny in Chicago, where visitors can pet and feed bunnies.  Cuddle Bunny also hosts special events like yoga and story time.

Where: Cuddle Bunny, 2901 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657

When: Open daily from 10:00 am – 08:00 pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Activities and bunny interaction after 6pm are by reservation ONLY.

Cost:  Price varies.

READ: Best Indoor Things to Do in Chicago on a Cold or Rainy Day for more indoor Chicago attractions.

Have Fun at Navy Pier

rides at Navy Pier Chicago
Navy Pier is a must if you are visiting Chicago with toddlers or kids. Fun attractions include a large Ferris wheel (click here to purchase a fast pass ticket and skip the long line), rides and games, restaurants, shops and the Chicago Children’s Museum.

Navy Pier is also the starting point for various boat rides and lake cruises.

 

Look for Street Art

Moose Bubblegum Bubble by Jacob Watts

Chicago is full of street art and there are always new murals popping up. One of the most famous Chicago murals is “Moose Bubblegum Bubble” (pictured above) by Jacob Watts located at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive. It is part of the Wabash Arts Corridor which is walking distance to Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago and other tourist attractions.

Another famous mural is the Greetings From Chicago Mural at 2226 N Milwaukee Ave.

West Town is another neighborhood where you can find tons of street art.

Watch a Baseball Game

what to see in Chicago

Depending on when your spring break is, you might be in town for the start of baseball season. The Chicago White Sox home opener is March 31 and the Chicago Cubs home opener is April 4.

See Wildlife at Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is a 35-acre zoo in Lincoln Park. The zoo is the fourth oldest zoo in North America and one of a few free admission zoos in the United States.

When: Hours are 10 a.m.–3 p.m. daily. Advance reservations are required.

Where: 2400 N. Cannon Drive (detailed directions and parking information is available here)

Cost: Free

Savor Lincoln Park (March 22), Chicago White Sox Opening Day (March 31).

Spring Break Events

In addition to the activities mentioned above, other events scheduled to take place during spring break include: Chicago St. Patrick’s Day River Dyeing & Parade (March 12), Shamrock’n the Block (March 12), Northwest Side Irish Parade (March 13), Southside Irish Parade (March 13), Holi at Navy Pier (March 19), Chicago Restaurant Week (March 25 – April 10), The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art (Expo Chicago) (April 7 -10), Star Trek: Mission Chicago (April 8 -10), Golden Con: Thank You For Being a Fan (April 22-24).

As you can see there are many things to do in Chicago during spring break.


Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:



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