BEST Things to Do in Chicago in the Spring (From a Local)

The best things to do in Chicago in the spring. From beautiful gardens and parks to the best indoor attractions, there is something for both adults and families with kids to do in March, April and May in the city and suburbs.

Spring is a good time to visit Chicago. The weather is hopefully getting a bit warmer and Chicagoans are looking forward to spending more time outdoors and beautiful flowers.

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, layers and make sure to check weather forecasts right before your trip to know what to expect.

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

Things to Do in Chicago in the Spring

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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 the spring (after pausing in the winter when the water is frozen).


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: Knock Knock 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. Reservations are required.

Cost: Admission: FREE but donations suggested

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 in the spring
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. In addition to its large permanent collection of art from around the world, you can see the rotating exhibits. (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.

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.

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

Cost: $25 for adults, $15 youth.


Visit the Field Museum

The Field Museum is one of the largest natural history 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: Price varies. 

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)

Hours: 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).

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.


See Digital Art Projections at Art on the Mart

Art on theMART resumes April 9 (after a 3 month hiatus) projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART. (You can also tune into the livestream on Art on theMART’s Facebook page on April 9 at 8:30 p.m.)

Presented in partnership with Shedd Aquarium, Art on theMART’s Spring Program features the premiere of two climate change-themed projections. ‘Floe’ by Carrie Hanson, featuring contemporary dance company The Seldoms, marks the first of Art on theMART’s Year of Chicago Dance projections and will run alongside ‘Choral,’ a piece spotlighting marine life, by Marlena Novak and Jay Yim.

When: 30-minute program of projections are shown twice nightly at 8:30 and 9 p.m.

Where: The Merchandise Mart, 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654. Spectators can watch the show from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

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” runs through May 8 and 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

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

See the Tulips on Michigan Avenue

tulips on Michigan Avenue Chicago in the spring
Every year thousands of tulip bulbs are planted in Michigan Avenue medians from Oak Street to Roosevelt Road. You can enjoy the tulips while shopping (or window shopping) on The Magnificent Mile (or The Mag Mile), an upscale section of Michigan Avenue, running from Oak Street to the Chicago River. Although a few stores on Michigan Avenue are pricey, it is totally free to window shop. Landmarks on the Mag Mile include the 360 Observation Deck, the historic Chicago Water Tower and the Tribune Tower. South of the Magnificent Mile you will find Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago.

When: Tulips are in bloom from mid-April to mid-May but exact dates vary annually

Where: Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Roosevelt Road.

Cost: Free.

Look for Street Art

Moose Bubblegum Bubble by Jacob Watts one of the most famous street art murals in Chicago

Spring is a good time to walk around Chicago looking for street art while enjoying flowers and pleasant temperatures with fewer crowds.

One of the most well known Chicago murals is “Moose Bubblegum Bubble” by Jacob Watts which located at 33 E. Congress (South Wall).  This famous mural is part of the Wabash Arts Corridor and is walking distance to Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago and other well known tourist attractions.

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

Other neighborhoods that have a high concentration of street art include Pilsen as well as West Town.

Admire Spring Flowers Outside

There are many places in and near Chicago to admire beautiful spring flowers. Some of the best spots to see flowers in the city and suburbs outside include:

• Although not as many as tulips as Michigan Avenue, you can also find some tulips on State Street in the Loop. There are some tulips on State Street between W Wacker Drive and Monroe – including right across the Chicago Theatre (a popular Chicago photo spot). RELATED: Best Places to See Tulips in Chicago

Lurie Garden – a 2.5-acre garden located at the southern end of Millennium Park. The garden is a combination of perennials, bulbs, grasses, shrubs and trees and offers great skyline views.

• The area surrounding the Columbian Basin in Jackson Park, located just south of the Museum of Science and Industry, is home to about 160 cherry blossom trees that typically bloom in April.

Morton Arboretum (in Lisle about 26 miles west of downtown) is home to more than 4,000 different types of trees among 1,700 acres.

• The Chicago Botanic Garden (in suburban Glencoe about 24 miles north of downtown) is one of the world’s great living museums and conservation science centers with 27 gardens and four natural areas, situated on 385 acres on and around nine islands, with six miles of lake shoreline. You can check their seasonal bloom chart here to see what’s in bloom at the Chicago Botanic Garden during your visit.

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

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