Best Things to Do in Chicago in the Spring

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 April and May in the city and suburbs.

Things to Do in Chicago in the Spring 2021

Spring is officially here in Chicago. Due to current events, a few indoor attractions are still temporarily closed although most places have reopened. I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I plan to update it regularly with any new information or updates.

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.

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See the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, a massive indoor digital presentation of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork, made its U.S. premiere in Chicago in mid-February. 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, this is a very popular exhibit). Tickets must be purchased online in advance and they are selling quickly!

When: Tickets for April and May are sold out but there is still availability for 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.

Experience the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes Exhibit at Museum of Science and Industry

The Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes celebrates Marvel history with more than 300 artifacts including original comic book pages, sculptures, interactive displays and costumes and props from Marvel’s blockbuster films. Guests can examine the origins of iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, Hulk, and Captain Marvel and see how they have evolved alongside society over the past 80 years, making these characters a pop culture mainstay. Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes will run through October 24.

When: Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Where: 5700 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637

Cost: Not included in Museum Entry. Requires an additional, timed-entry ticket: Adults $18, Children (3-11) $14, Members $9.

See the Nom Nom: 40 Years of Pac-Man Design and History Exhibit at Chicago Gamespace

Are you a Pac-Man fan? Then you might want to check out the new Nom Nom: 40 Years of Pac-Man Design and History exhibit at Chicago Gamespace (a video game museum and gallery). Comprised of playable arcade cabinets and console titles, art and artifacts from its development and advertising, this exhibit explores the game’s development and evolution from its beginnings at Namco in Tokyo in the late 1970’s to its introduction in the U.S. market where it became a household name. This is a temporary exhibit only through May 30, 2021 so spring is your only opportunity to see it.

When: Open 1:00 – 5:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays by advance ticket purchase only through May 30, 2021

Where: Chicago Gamespace, 2418 W Bloomingdale Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Cost:  Admission is $5. Kids under 12 are free.

Visit the New Museum of Illusions Chicago

The new 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 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 popular “Monet and Chicago” and “Bisa Butler: Portraits” exhibitions.

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.  (Free admission on April 3 and 4 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. (Since the Skydeck at Willis Tower is still closed, this is the only skyscraper to visit for spring break 2021.)

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.

When: Open 9am to 5pm, Thursday through Monday. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Must purchase timed tickets to enter.

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

Cost: Prices vary. Click here to see prices and purchase tickets online in advance.  Illinois residents get free admission on free admission days (April 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, and 29, May 3, 6, 10, and 13, 2021).

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 2021 Spring Flower Show “Saturation”

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 2021 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.

When: Through May 9, 2021

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

FRIENDS™ Experience

If you loved the TV show Friends, this pop-up experience is for you. After a break, the FRIENDS™ Experience will reopen on March 17, 2021. Get ready to explore FRIENDS™ like never before, with 12 rooms of set recreations, original props and costumes, photo ops, a retail store and a Central Perk set. They will donate a portion of the proceeds to My Block, My Hood, My City, an organization that provides underprivileged youth in Chicago with opportunities beyond their neighborhood.

When: March 17 through May 31, 2021

Where: The Shops at North Bridge, 540 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL (corner of N Michigan Ave and E Ohio St)

Cost:  Tickets start at $35 + tax + fees. Standby tickets can also be purchased at the door for an additional $2 fee. Children 3 and younger are free. See https://www.friendstheexperience.com/chicago/tickets/ to purchase tickets in advance.

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. Projections will resume (after a 3 month break) on Thursday, April 1 with the world premiere of The Adler Planetarium’s Astrographics. Art on theMART is establishing a new ongoing partnership with CPS and its All-City Arts Program with a new animated projection entitled Hope is a Light: Select Works from the Chicago Public School Class of 2021 debuting on May 20.

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 slow 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)

Cost: Free

See Flowers at Lincoln Park Conservatory

Lincoln Park Conservatory, one of Chicago’s oldest public gardens, reopened its indoor botanical gardens on March 26. Visitors will need to reserve timed-entry tickets and the conservatory will carry out a one-directional traffic flow.

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:

Lurie Garden is 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 each spring. As as of April 7, the cherry blossoms are here -the peak bloom period for these trees lasts for about 6 to 10 days.

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 and publishes a weekly bloom report. The Morton Arboretum’s newest outdoor art installation, Human+Nature by renowned South African artist Daniel Popper, will open April 9, 2021. The exhibition will feature five 15- to 26-foot-tall sculptures which will be in various locations across the 1,700-acre Arboretum site to lead guests to areas they may not otherwise explore.

• 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 first ever Tulip Festival from April 24, 2021 (or possibly a few days sooner) through mid-May, 2021. They will 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 (even this year).

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