Winters in Chicago can get seriously cold, so locals and tourists are more than ready for spring when it comes. It’s no surprise that spring in Chicago is filled with tons of great activities and attractions to celebrate the return of warmer weather, blooming flowers, and a vibrant urban outdoor culture.
If you’re looking for some inspiration when it comes to planning a trip to the Windy City this spring, check out our list of the best things to do in Chicago in the spring, including…
- Art Institute of Chicago
- The Field Museum
- Brookfield Zoo
- Navy Pier Centennial Wheel
- Enjoy Chicago’s Green Spaces
- New Exhibits at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center
Visit the Art Institute of Chicago
Find new springtime inspiration with a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. One of the country’s favorite art museums, this perennially popular institution is filled with enchanting permanent collections and exciting special exhibits.
Highlights of the collection includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Matisse, and Chagall to name a few. They also offer temporary exhibits on textiles, photography, iconic paintings, and more.
Upcoming exhibits you can catch in spring include “Rembrandt Portraits”, “Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well”, and “Everyone’s Art Gallery: Posters of the London Underground” which will start in May.
Be sure to check out their new mobile app to help you explore their collections and find out more about the famous works.
Getting In: Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is included with the Go Chicago® pass.
Explore the Field Museum
One of Chicago’s most popular and prestigious institutions, the Field Museum, is another fantastic spring destination.
There’s so much to see and do in this family-friendly museum that you’ll find hours of fun. If your kids love dinosaurs, you won’t want to miss SUE, the world’s largest complete T. Rex skeleton (who is moving to a new, better space this spring).
Or, if you prefer culture to nature, then check out their impressive collection of Ancient Egyptian art and artifacts or the Ancient Americas exhibition.
And of course, there’s the stunning Grainger Hall of Gems, which contains some of the most striking stones in the world.
Getting In: Admission to the Field Museum is included with the Go Chicago® pass.
Pal Around With Animals
Animals love springtime, too! If you’re a lover of all things furry, feathery, and even scaly, then you’ll want to pay a visit to one of Chicago’s top animal attractions to spend some quality time with your favorite critters.
Greet the bears at the Brookfield Zoo in their popular “Great Bear Wilderness,” and play around with the charming colorful insects in “Butterflies!”
If you prefer aquatic life, then the Shedd Aquarium is a smart choice. You’ll see fascinating creatures of the world’s waterways — great and small — and learn a lot along the way.
Play at Navy Pier
As the weather warms up, Navy Pier becomes an immensely popular springtime destination. It’s filled with so many delightful attractions, from amusement park rides to bike rentals to a fun children’s museum, that you’re sure to have a lovely afternoon at this iconic Chicago locale.
Relax while playing a fun round of mini-golf or ride to the top of the recently refurbished Centennial Wheel for that perfect photo. You can also take in a show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, currently showing Mary Stuart and soon moving on to Macbeth in April.
If you’re traveling with family, you can visit the Chicago Children’s Museum and take in an IMAX film. Or, simply people watch, eat, and shop. You can do it all at Navy Pier!
See New Exhibits at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center
A must-visit attraction for families with younger kids is LEGOLAND® Discovery Center. This spring, they’re opening up two brand new exhibits that are sure to delight their visitors.
A popular permanent exhibit, LEGO® Friends Heartlake City brings guests into the world of Olivia, Mia, and all their friends. Build something new with inspiration from their flip books, and get your photo taken with a life-sized model.
For the Star Wars fans, the next exhibit will be a blast. Found in MINI LAND, this exciting exhibit is called LEGO® Star Wars Episode IV and offers tons of fun for all.
Adults and kids will all enjoy this amazing interactive display, where Obi-Wan and Vader fight, the Millennium Falcon soars, and the cantina band on Mos Eisley plays. Plus, you’ll get to mingle with life-sized figures. A treat for any Star Wars fan!
Getting In: Admission to LEGOLAND Discovery Center is included with the Go Chicago® pass.
Tour the City
If you’re a first time visitor to Chicago, then a perfect springtime activity for you is a comprehensive bus tour. It’s a great, low-stress way to see the city’s top highlights (like the beloved Bean, pictured above), and your tour guide will make it an enjoyable experience, too.
Choose a hop-on hop-off option for the ability to get off at places that interest you and to be able to explore the city at your own pace. Then, catch the next bus to continue on your adventures!
Getting In: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Chicago tickets are included with the Go Chicago® pass.
Ride a Bike
Chicago is a bike-friendly city, with short-term rental facilities popping up with increasing frequency and streets being revised to accommodate bike lanes.
Even if you’re not up to using a bike as your sole form of transportation during your trip, there are plenty of lakefront and park side trails for you to enjoy. It’s an especially lovely time of year to pedal around Lake Michigan and Millennium Park.
If you’re not a local or weren’t able to bring a bike with you, simply rent a bike and you’re all set for a day of adventure.
Getting In: Chicago Bike Rentals are included with the Go Chicago® pass.
Enjoy Chicago’s Green Spaces
Millennium Park and the surrounding green space makes for a beautiful natural expanse in the heart of downtown Chicago.
One of the best things about spring for Chicagoans is the return of the many fun (and often free) events that these amazing parks host during the spring and summer.
While the renowned Grant Park Music Festival won’t come around until the summer, other great special events like “Beyond the Aria” (beautiful operatic and musical theater performances at the Pritzker Pavilion) are still going on.
Getting In: It’s free to visit Chicago Parks.
Save on Springtime Activities in Chicago
Admission to a number of these attractions are available on the Go Chicago® pass.
You can take your pick from the city’s most popular attractions, and save up to 55% on combined admission compared to paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special spring events may be separately ticketed and not available on the Go Chicago® pass.
Local Spring Events
Hyatt Regency Chicago
March 29, 2019
If you’ve got a big budget when coming to town, check out the iconic WhiskyFest, which is the longest running festival of its kind in the country.
Sample a selection from more than 300 whiskeys from around the world, learn more about how this iconic rink is made, and enjoy a gourmet buffet.
Enjoy whiskey, but not the big price tag? Check out some local bars with great and varied whiskey options like Delilah’s (in Lake View) or Old Fifth (West Loop).
Getting In: Admission to WhiskyFest is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Chicago® pass. For more information, please visit the event website.
April 5 – 6, 2019
Another food and drink fest to enjoy, the monumental Baconfest features local restaurants with bacon-infused or bacon-inspired fare who gather together at the UIC Forum for a weekend of bacon-tastic fun.
You’ll also get to enjoy samples of bacon-esque brews, so be prepared for a bit of bacon overload. Which, by the way, is never a bad thing for die-hard bacon fans.
Getting In: Admission to Baconfest is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Chicago® pass. For more information, please visit the event website.
Chicago Latino Film Festival
AMC River East 21
March 28 – April 11, 2019
This year marks the 35th annual offering of the Chicago Latino Film Fest, which attracts tens of thousands of participants and viewers each year.
Over 100 films of varying lengths will be on view, produced by directors and artists from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the U.S.
It’s truly a comprehensive Latinx artistic experience and is a must-see for film buffs.
Getting In: Admission to the Latino Film Fest is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Chicago® pass. For more information, please visit the event website.
Lincoln Square Wine Stroll
Lincoln Square & Ravenswood
April 25, 2018, 6:30 – 9.30 pm
Wine fans have a lot to love in Chicago already — why not make it even better with a “Wine Stroll” through some of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods?
Stop by local businesses throughout the area to sample wine and paired appetizers, with several different “routes” to choose from.
It’s a nice way to spend an evening exploring new parts of the city, and getting to enjoy some of the best wine and food around.
Getting In: Admission to the Lincoln Square Wine Stroll is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Chicago pass.
Remember to Save on Admission
Did we miss anything? A few things to do in Chicago in the spring, including some special events, other seasonal activities in April, May, and June.
Please note, the spring events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not available with the Go Chicago® pass.
We hope you consider adding some of these fun ideas to your spring vacation itinerary.