Chicago Indoor Activities – 15 Fun Things to Do

Uh oh! You’ve pulled out all the stops for your Windy City adventure but now you’re being met with buckets of precipitation.

Don’t go nuts wondering what to do in Chicago on a rainy day. Our Chi-town experts have scoured the internet to bring you the best things to do in Chicago on a rainy day.

Follow along to learn everything you need to know about the 15 best Chicago indoor activities.

This Second City is a cosmopolitan hub of culture, history, entertainment, and food. Thankfully, Chicago in the rain doesn’t need to spell ‘stop’ for your tourist fun.

Gear up for hours of Picasso and Renoir at the Art Institute. Or embrace the H20 theme with a splashtastic visit to the Shedd Aquarium. From curious encounters with captivating Belga Whales to afternoons brushing up on the tragic story of the Great Chicago Fire. This Midwest mecca doesn’t need sunshine to show off.

Warm your tummy with a hefty helping of cheesy deep-dish pizza. Or keep kiddies’ developing minds challenged with brick building and Kingdom Quest rides at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center.

Ready to take on Chicago on a rainy day? Read on!

What to Do in Chicago When It Rains

Pull on those galoshes and pony up for a $10 street umbrella because no amount of showers can put a damper on all of the things to do in Chicago in the rain. From inspiring visits to your favorite pieces of contemporary art to soothing tired muscles with a serene bath soak, we’ve rounded up the top ways to wait out the weather during a rainy Chicago day.

group of people walking up the stairs with various colored umbrellas
Menschen mit Regenschirmen auf Treppe

The Best Indoor Activities in Chicago

Visit a Museum

Stay dry and indulge in one of our preferred indoor Chicago activities when you spend an hour or two wandering around any of the Windy City’s museums.

  • Museum of Science and Industry – Sparking creativity for nearly a century, this institution of discovery is ideal for learners of all ages. Take a gander at a real U-505 submarine, or feel firsthand the physics behind tornados and avalanches.
  • The Field Museum – Considered one of the world’s largest natural history museums, curious minds can encounter towering dinosaurs, halls of gems, and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Don’t forget to swing by the famous 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor, which landed in Russia in a flash of brilliant light and instantly went viral.
  • Chicago History Museum – Wondering how the Windy City came to be? Seek refuge from the elements and explore the fascinating history of everything from the Great Chicago Fire to the origins of the city’s Polish communities when you visit the Second City’s oldest cultural institution.
  • Art Institute of Chicago – Widely renowned as one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago boasts an unbeatable collection of works ranging from Tiffany Glass to African art. Come and get lost in the works of Van Gogh, Monet, and Matisse.
  • American Writers Museum – Is the pen mightier than the sword? Channel your inner wordsmith when you uncover five centuries of American history and culture from the writers’ perspective.

Woman looking at a piece of art while others look at more art along other wallsIndulge in some TLC at the Aire Ancient Baths

Escape torrential rain showers for some spa treatments, salt rituals, and tantalizing massage experiences at the Aire Ancient Baths. Located in River West, guests can relish their traditional Roman and Greek-style pampering in this restored 1902 factory.

Settle in for a long soak, or treat yourself to a little something extra when you book a complete holistic ritual or their Signature Wine Experience, featuring detoxifying grapes.

Chicago Cultural Center

A stunning Chi-town Landmark building that reflects the diverse nature of the city, the Chicago Cultural Center has become one of the most visited attractions in Chicago. Constructed over a hundred years ago.

The building is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes. Stroll freely through the hallways as you soak in exhibitions showcasing sculpture, photography, and more.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Who says you can’t commune with nature in the rain? While the Garfield Park Conservatory may be best known for its stunning gardens and fishing lagoon.

Related Post: Chicago Tourist Traps: What to Avoid in the Windy City

True plant lovers know this completely free institution also contains a variety of everchanging exhibits and installations from Chicago-based artists, community members, and Conservatory staff. Admire historic photographs, peek into fairy houses, or learn all about the harmonious relationship between bees and blossoms.

inside of the garfield park conservatory in Chicago, Illinois, USA
photo credit: Garfield Park Conservatory via Facebook

Feast on Chicago Favorites

Chicago hot dogs perfectly dusted with celery salt or hefty helpings of deep dish oozing with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes? Whatever your preference, there’s no denying the Windy City’s epicurean delights.

If you can brave a bit of bad weather, we think it’s well worth it to trek through the city on Bobby’s Bike Hike Chicago Favorites Food and Walking Tour. From the iconic Chicago Theater marquee to the shining Bean, you’ll make your way to all of Chicago’s top sights as you munch away on hot dogs, the original chocolate brownie, craft beer, and of course pizza!

See the Blue Man Group

Feeling Blue? Turn that frown upside down when you jump into an afternoon or evening of paint splatter, percussion, and PVC pipes.

For decades these cerulean men have been entertaining Chicago visitors and locals alike. Blue Man Group is a jaw-dropping audiovisual experience that combines music, technology, and humor to create an unforgettable performance.

Fail to think about that dreary drizzle when you reserve a ticket to this over-the-top multimedia journey of drums, GiPads, and more.

One of the members of the Blue Man Group hyping the crowd up at their concert in NYC, New YorkChicago Indoor Activities for Families

Traveling to the Second City with your family in tow? Don’t let some gloomy weather stop you from relishing some of the premier activities in Chicago. Embrace board games, adorable otters, and GOT-inspired feasting when you partake in any of the following indoor activities:

Shedd Aquarium

Looking for an aquatastic rainy day activity? Travel around the world without ever leaving the confines of the Windy City, when you spend a day with the fishes at the Shedd Aquarium.

Related Post: Skydeck vs 360 Chicago: Which Chicago Observation Deck Should You Visit?

From the flooded forests of the Amazon to wild reef ecosystems that are home to Moon Jellies and Zebra sharks, there are endless wonders to encounter. Peek at waddling penguins showing off their formal attire, or come face to fin with a barking California Sea Lion.

children looking at aquarium at Shedd Aquarium - Chicago, Illinois, USA
photo credit: Shedd Aquarium via Facebook

Visit the Museum of Ice Cream

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream! From chilled treats to an epically Instagrammable sprinkle pool. Every corner of the Chicago Museum of Ice Cream overflows with color and finger-licking good cheer.

Jump into immersive installations, sample unconventional flavor combos, or break out your best swing for rounds of dessert-themed putt-putt. Prime yourself for an unforgettably tasty adventure.

As you sample ice cream treats in 5 different shapes and forms and learn all about this frosty treat’s delicious history.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Chicago Tickets

Royalty, honor, and heart-pounding jousting come together in perfect harmony at our nation’s #1 and longest-running dinner attraction. Experience the pageantry and thrill of Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Chicago.

Ideal for all ages, this live-action tournament showcases brave knights battling for the honor of protecting the Queen. Let yourself be dazzled by the chivalry of these talented swordsmen as they parade their stallions through the court.

Tuck into your feast sans silverware as you devour plates full of roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, and herb-basted potatoes all within the castle walls.

Prince is Captured at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Myrtle Beach - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USABoard Games at Snakes & Lattes

Keep little ones excited sans screen time, when you settle in for a homey afternoon of pretzel bites, themed private rooms, and board games at Snakes & Lattes. The Chicago outpost of this popular game cafe is brimming with rainy-day possibilities.

Related Post: Famous Restaurants in Chicago: A Foodie’s In-Depth Guide

Wrangle up friends and family for rousing games of Monopoly, Clue, and Balderdash. Or assuage that hunger with homey favorites such as truffle mac and cheese, fish & chips, and a warm skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago

Brick, brick, boom! Ditch soggy Millenium Park strolls for a day of educational play at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago.

Glean best building practices from real LEGO masters, gawk at expertly created Miniland recreations, or aid your favorite wizard on the Merlin’s Apprentice ride.

Complete your day of Kingdom Quest adventures and flying hot dogs with an immersive screening in the LEGO 4D Cinema.

father and son building structure with lego in Duplo Village at Legoland Discovery Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
photo credit: Legoland Discovery Center

Chicago Hotels

Awe-inspiring architecture, world-class shopping, and lots of iconic attractions – including a giant metallic bean ensure you’ll want to spend more than a day or two in this buzzing metropolis.

Even with unyielding drizzle, Chicago rainy days have their charm. Take shelter from the weather and plan out your perfect day of indoor activities Chicago when you reserve any of our premier lodgings.

From boutique offerings by Hyde Park to historic stays at the Drake, we offer heaps of Chicago Hotels for every type of traveler. Soak in an on-site spa treatment, curl up in your spacious suite with a piping mug of tea, or sneak in a workout with a 24-hour fitness center.

Once you’ve locked down your premier accommodations, you can work on what to do on a rainy day in Chicago.

chicago street in the pouring rain
Photo Credit: Señor Codo / Flickr

Stormy skies and the ominous crackling of thunder don’t need to derail your plans for a perfect Chicago day.

This city of awe-inspiring architecture, culinary invention, and gritty history is just as fun even when Mother Nature doesn’t comply.

Feast your eyes on real dino skeletons at the Field Museum. Or take in Tiffany Stained glass at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Embrace indoor cat vibes with rounds of Clue or Settlers of Catan at a boardgame cafe. Or inspire sunnier attitudes when you submerse yourself in a pool of multi-colored sprinkles.

From educational museums that celebrate the great titans of literature to rousing suppers spent cheering on Knights and Medieval royalty. There’s no limit to the things to do in Chicago when it rains.

Tell us, Did We Skip Any of The Best Rainy Chicago Activities?

Leave a comment below and detail your ideal Chicago when it raining plans!


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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...


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