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.
I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I plan to update it regularly with new events.
Things to Do in Chicago in the Spring
- Things to Do in Chicago in the Spring
- Visit the Museum of Illusions Chicago
- Admire Famous Works of Art at The Art Institute of Chicago
- Enjoy the views from 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
- Get Some Culture at The Field Museum
- Visit the Shedd Aquarium
- The Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show
- Take an Architecture Cruise
- Watch Digital Art at Art on the Mart
- See Wildlife at Lincoln Park Zoo
- See Flowers at Lincoln Park Conservatory
- Admire Spring Flowers Outside
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Spring is officially here in 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.
Visit the Museum of Illusions Chicago
The Museum of Illusions Chicago offers an interactive, immersive and fun experience for both adults and kids. Visitors can engage in over 80 astonishing and mind-bending exhibits that will teach you about vision, perception, the human brain and science.
When: Sunday – Thursday: 10am – 8pm Friday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Where: 25 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
Cost: Adult (ages 18+): $21; Child (ages 5 – 12): $15; Child (ages 4 and under): FREE;
Student (ages 13+), Teachers, Military / First responders and Senior Citizens (ages 60+): $18 with ID; Family (2 adults + 2 children): $65
Admire Famous Works of Art at The Art Institute of Chicago
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.
When: Hours are 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.
Where: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Cost: $25 for adults, $19 for seniors, students and teens (14-17); members and children under 14 are always free. Visit their website to purchase tickets in advance.
Enjoy the views from 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
Where: 875 North Michigan Avenue, 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611
Cost: $25 for adults, $15 youth.
Get Some Culture at 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 am Early Access VIP Tour if you want to avoid crowds).
When: Open daily 9am to 5pm (last admission at 4pm)
Where: Chicago’s Museum Campus, 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605 (detailed directions and parking information is available here)
Visit the Shedd Aquarium
Visit the Shedd Aquarium for unforgettable encounters with belugas and bluegills, stingrays and sturgeons.
When: Advance purchase of timed tickets is required.
Where: 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605 (detailed directions and parking information is available here)
Cost: Admission is $39.95 ($19.95 for Chicago residents) for adults; $29.95 ($14.95 for Chicago residents) for children (3–11).
The 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. Outdoor gardens remain closed. The Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show “Saturation” will immerse visitors in virtually the entire spectrum in the rainbow. Instead of typical garden design which incorporates different colors scattered throughout the landscape, Saturation concentrates groups of blooming flowers so that visitors will be able to see and understand the wide range of hues and tints within each color and enjoy their vivid, rich and intense nuances. All visits must be pre-booked in advance and bookings can only be made two weeks in advance.
Hours: Wednesday 10am-8pm; Thursday – Sunday 10am-5pm; Closed Monday and Tuesday
Where: Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624
Cost: Admission: FREE but donations appreciated
Take an Architecture 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).
Watch Digital Art at Art on the Mart
Art on theMART is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART.
When: 30-minute program of projections are shown nightly at 8:30 p.m. & 9:00 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.
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)
See Flowers at Lincoln Park Conservatory
Lincoln Park Conservatory is one of Chicago’s oldest public gardens.
When: Open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Hours may be expanded as conditions allow.
Where: 2391 N. Stockton Drive, Chicago, IL 60614
Cost: Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to leave a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.
Admire Spring Flowers Outside
There are many places in and near Chicago to admire beautiful spring flowers in April and May. Some of the best spots to see flowers in the city and suburbs outside include:
• Tulips on Michigan Avenue- Every year tens of thousands of tulip bulbs are planted in the Michigan Avenue medians from Oak Street to Roosevelt Road. You can see them while shopping on the Magnificent Mile or in front of the Art Institute of 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.
• Richardson Adventure Farm (in Spring Grove about 65 miles northwest of downtown Chicago) will be hosting its second Tulip Festival from approximately mid-April to mid-May. They have 5 acres of tulip fields with 300,000 tulips of 30 different varieties.
As you can see there are many things to do in Chicago in the spring.
Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:
- 3 Days in Chicago Itinerary + Travel Tips From a Local
- The Perfect Itinerary for One Day in Chicago (According to a Local)
- Most Instagrammable Places in Chicago