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 seeing blooming flowers. From beautiful gardens and parks to the best indoor attractions, here are best things to do in Chicago in the spring 2023.
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 (2023)
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Below are the best things to do in Chicago in March, April and May.
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 theme of the spring flower show varies every year and is not yet announced.
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
Attend a Candlelight Concert
Chicago’s Candlelight Concerts is a series of special classical music concerts that take place in beautiful venues bathed in candlelight. Concerts taking place this spring include:
Candlelight: A Tribute to Taylor Swift
Candlelight: A Tribute to Adele
Candlelight: A Tribute to Beyoncé
Candlelight: A Tribute to Juan Gabriel
Candlelight: The Best of Hans Zimmer at Music Box Theatre
You can find the full list of candlelight concerts in Chicago here.
Admire Famous Works 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. (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.
(Click here to buy a skip the line ticket).
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 will resume in the spring (after a 3 month hiatus) projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART. ART on THE MART’s 2023 spring season kicks off on April 14, 2023 with a new commission by internationally acclaimed artist Derrick Adams entitled Funtime Unicorn: Ruby Rides Through Four Seasons.
When: 30-minute program of projections are shown twice nightly.
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. Advance online reservations are required for entry.
Hours: Wednesdays through Sundays. 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, all guests must exit by 3:00 pm.
Where: 2391 N Stockton Dr., Chicago, IL 60614
See the Tulips on Michigan Avenue
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.
Look for Street Art
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. You can see this mural and other street art on this street art tour.
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 and near 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.
Chicago Spring 2023 Events
In addition to the activities mentioned above, other spring 2023 events include: Uncorked Wine Festival (March 25, 2023), Shamrock Shuffle (March 26, 2023), C2E2: Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (March 31-April 2, 2023), Golden Con: Thank You For Being a Fan (March 31-April 2, 2023), The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art (Expo Chicago) (April 13-16, 2023), Night Nation Run (April 22, 2023), One of a Kind Spring Show (April 28-30, 2023), Chicago Mayfest (May 12-14, 2023), Spring Lincoln Roscoe Art & Craft Fair (May 13-14, 2023), Renegade Craft Fair (May 20-21, 2023), Paint the Town Red (May 25, 2023), Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival (May 27-28, 2023), and Sueños Music Festival (May 27-28, 2023).
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
- Free Things to Do in Chicago
I love seeing the tulips on Michigan Avenue in the spring. Also definitely recommend the architecture tour for any first time visitor!
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