30 BEST Indoor Things to Do in Chicago on a Rainy Day (2024)

Looking for indoor things to do in Chicago on a rainy day or on a cold snowy winter day? I have put together the ultimate list of the best indoor activities in Chicago.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission if you make a booking using my links at no extra cost to you.

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.

Best Indoor Activities in Chicago (2024)

These are the best indoor attractions in Chicago that are worth visiting any time of the year (even when the weather is nice).

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago in one of the best Chicago indoor attractions
The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S Michigan Ave) 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. In addition to its large permanent collection of art from around the world, you can see rotating exhibitions. (Click here to buy a fast pass ticket if you want to avoid long lines).

Museum of Science and Industry

cherry blossoms in front of Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
The Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S Lake Shore Drive) is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere with 14 acres of hands-on exhibits including a 40-foot tornado, a World War II German submarine and a human-sized hamster wheel. (Click here to purchase a skip the line ticket.)

Field Museum

The Field Museum (Museum Campus, 1400 S Lake Shore Dr) is one of the largest natural history museums in the world with more than 40 million specimens and artifacts. 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).

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

360 CHICAGO (formerly John Hancock Observatory), a public observatory on the 94th Floor of 875 N Michigan offers breathtaking 360 degrees views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Visibility can be limited on a rainy day but the views should be great on a cold sunny day.

The 360 Chicago observation deck is also home of TILT – Chicago’s highest thrill ride – an enclosed moving platform that literally tilts you out over Michigan Avenue from the 94th Floor.

Click here to buy a skip the line ticket.

Skydeck Chicago

Skydeck Chicago in Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) (233 S Wacker Dr) has returned with a transformed experience that will allow you to see, hear & be immersed in Chicago from street to sky. Skydeck 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. Visibility might be limited on a rainy day but the views should be great on a cold sunny day.

Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines.

Richard H. Driehaus Museum

The The Richard H. Driehaus Museum (40 East Erie Street) is a museum of art, architecture, and design of the late 19th century to the present which is presented as an immersive experience in the 1883 Nickerson Mansion, one of the last remaining mansions of Chicago’s Gilded Age.

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium (1200 S. Lake Shore Drive) is one of the best and most visited aquariums in the United States.

Titanic: The Exhibition

Titanic: The Exhibition is ending its limited time run in the Chicago area soon. This interactive experience allows you to step inside recreations of the Titanic’s interior. Immerse yourself in the stories of its passengers, see hundreds of artifacts, and discover the tale of the design, creation, launch, maiden voyage, and tragedy of the historic ship.

Where: 4963 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, IL 60077 (about 17 miles from downtown Chicago)

Cost: Price varies. Click here for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is in the Chicago area for a few months. Delve deep into the post-Edwardian era with never-before-seen treasures, from original costumes to iconic props, and exclusive series footage. Traverse the grandeur of the Crawley estate, from the bustling kitchen to the opulent dining room. Explore British society, culture, and fashion amidst historical upheavals.

Where: 4963 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, IL 60077 (about 17 miles from downtown Chicago)

Cost: Price varies. Click here for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.

Free Indoor Things to do in Chicago

Below are the best free Chicago indoor attractions.

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center (78 E Washington St) is a free municipal cultural center. The stunning landmark building, opened in 1897, is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes, and presents hundreds of free cultural exhibits and performances annually.

Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave) 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.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

The Lincoln Park Conservatory (2391 N. Stockton Drive), a public conservatory full of tropical palms and plants, is the perfect warm escape on a cold or rainy day.

Free Museums in Chicago

Chicago has more free museums that you might want to check out on a cold or rainy day. (Read: Free Things to Do in Chicago)

Mindworks: The Science of Thinking, a science museum where visitors can take part in research studies and earn prizes.
National Museum of Mexican Art
National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (NMPRAC)
Design Museum of Chicago
Oriental Institute Museum
Smart Museum of Art
DePaul University Art Museum
Museum of Contemporary Photography
Chicago Fed’s Money Museum

Chicago Indoor Activities for Toddlers and Kids

While older kids will enjoy the museums listed above, these indoor attractions are especially geared towards babies, toddlers and younger kids.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr.) is a natural history museum operated by the Chicago Academy of Sciences which focuses on the natural history of the Chicago region, and offers educational programs for children and adults. It is also known for its live butterfly house.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier (700 East Grand Avenue) is a children’s museum geared for ages 0-10 where play and learning connect. The Chicago Children’s Museum has many hands-on exhibits including The “Dinosaur Expedition,” where kids dig for bones and conduct archaeological research.

Dinos Alive: An Immersive Experience

The Dinos Alive: An Immersive Experience (Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago, 2367 W Logan Blvd) is in Chicago only for a limited time this summer. Dinos Alive is a dinosaur exhibition featuring life-size animated replicas in an immersive Jurassic venue. This immersive experience brings you face-to-face with the fearsome and spectacular dinosaurs that dominated the animal world for 140 million years. From the turkey-sized Velociraptors to the mighty T-rex, interact with life-sized, moving animatronics of a large variety of species, and see these magnificent creatures in their natural Jurassic habitat. Kids can enjoy a “Budding Experts” interactive space, where they can become paleontologists and tame the most iconic dinosaurs. Children ages 3 and under enter free of charge.

Bouncy Games

The Bouncy Games (Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago, 2367 W Logan Blvd) is another limited time experience in Chicago. This large inflatable course is full of giant slides and obstacle courses for kids 4+.

Sloomoo Institute

Sloomoo Institute (820 N. Orleans St.) is an interactive pop-up sensory play experience all about slime with a slime bar, a slime waterfall, ASMR experiences and more.

Visit the Museum of Ice Cream

Museum of Ice Cream (435 North Michigan Ave) is one of Chicago’s newest attractions. Step into an ice cream wonderland that is bound to ignite your senses through a theatrical experience with unlimited ice cream treats as you journey through 14 installations. Ride on the pink Sprink-L line, put your golf skills to the test on the Putt-Putt course, or take a dip in a pool filled with millions of sprinkles. You can see full prices and purchase tickets in advance here.

Fun Indoor Things to do in Chicago

Listen to Music at an Intimate Candlelight Concert

Chicago’s Candlelight Concerts is a series of special classical music concerts that take place in beautiful venues bathed in candlelight.

You can find the full list of candlelight concerts in Chicago here.

Take a Spray Paint ‘n’ Sip Urban Art Workshop

Grab some spray paint and unleash your inner street artist at a Spray Paint ‘n’ Sip Urban Art Workshop. This interactive spray paint workshop will teach you the ins and outs of working with spray paint and other elements of graffiti and street art as you create your own painted mural.

Where: Studio W.I.P. at The Chicago Kedzie Plaza, 800 North Kedzie Avenue, Unit 208, 60651

When: various times on Wednesdays – Sundays

Cost:  $40 per person for adults. Click here to purchase tickets.

Hold and Feed a Bunny

Looking for a unique indoor thing to do in Chicago? Visit the Cuddle Bunny (2901 N Clark St), where visitors can pet and feed bunnies. Cuddle Bunny also hosts special events like yoga and story time. You can read more about the experience here.

Museum of Illusions Chicago

The Museum of Illusions Chicago (25 E Washington St) 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. You can buy a timed entry ticket here.

Visit the Color Factory

Color Factory (320 W Jackson Blvd) is a new interactive art museum located on the lower level of Willis Tower. The Color Factory is a sensory celebration of color, with interactive installations, immersive rooms and carefully curated moments inspired by the city of Chicago including its signature ball pit and confetti room.

WNDR Museum

The WNDR Museum (130 W Monroe St) is an ever-evolving immersive art & technology experience in Chicago that is designed to ignite the curiosity that exists within and around each​ of us. WNDR reimagines the traditional museum experience through interactive, immersive experiences from artist, collectives, and studios locally and globally.

Go Indoor Skydiving

Go indoor skydiving at iFLY Chicago – Lincoln Park (800 W Scott St, Chicago, IL).

Visit an Escape Room

If you have a group, why not go to an escape room. You and your team will work together to find clues, overcome challenges, and ultimately complete a mission. Conveniently located in River North, The Escape Game’s 60-minute adventures play like Hollywood blockbusters with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping surprises around every corner.

Play Indoor Mini Golf

Play mini-golf while having drinks. There are three indoor miniature golf courses in the city:

Big Mini Putt Club (Wicker Park) (1302 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622)
Big Mini Putt Club (Lakeview) (3655 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60613)
Puttery (932 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607)

Play Games at a Barcade

Chicago has several arcade bars where you can have drinks while playing arcade games including Logan Arcade (2410 W Fullerton Ave), Emporium Logan Square (2363 N Milwaukee Ave), Emporium Wicker Park (1366 N Milwaukee Ave), Headquarters Beercade (213 W Institute Pl) and Replay Lincoln Park (2833 N Sheffield Ave).

More Indoor Things to Do in Chicago

Still looking for indoor activities? Here are more indoor things to do in Chicago:

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA)
American Writers Museum in Chicago
Chicago Architecture Center
Chicago History Museum
Medieval Torture Museum
International Museum of Surgical Science
National Hellenic Museum in Greektown
Swedish American Museum
DuSable Museum of African American History
• Explore the Chicago Pedway, a huge indoor walkway system that connects several buildings in downtown Chicago.

• Shop or window shop inside the Merchandise Mart, the world’s largest commercial building which houses architectural and interior design vendors and traders in addition to restaurants, office space and a few other stores.
• Read or study in the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State Street), the central library for the Chicago Public Library System. In addition to work space, the large building contains a beautiful rooftop winter-garden to enjoy some sun.

For even more indoor Chicago attractions, see the complete list of all Chicago museums and cultural attractions here.

What are your favorite indoor attractions in Chicago?

Visiting Chicago for the first time? Check out my Chicago travel guides:



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