What to Pack for Chicago: The Ultimate Guide for Every Trip

Use our guide to help you pack everything you need for a trip to Chicago.

There’s a reason Chicago is known as the Windy City. The weather forecasts can be chilly and blustery one minute and sunny the next. With this in mind, trying to determine what to pack for Chicago can be a daunting task. Ultimately, the things you pack and what to wear in Chicago depend on the season, the weather forecast, and what you plan to do during your stay.

Packing for Chicago: The Essentials

When deciding what to bring as your Chicago essentials, your packing list must begin with the basics. Start by packing your clothes and personal toiletries.

Clothing

Getting ready for your Chicago trip? Here are some things you need to know before setting out on your adventure.

If you are planning to visit during Spring, you need to consider the weather in Chicago in April and the average temperature in the city. 

Related Post: When is the Best Time to Visit Chicago?

Before you stuff a heap of clothing into your suitcase, you should consider the season, temperature, and the best time to visit Chicago. Season in Chicago typically follows this pattern:

  • Spring: mid-March to May, an average of 45-60℉
  • Summer: June through August, an average of 75-85℉
  • Fall: September through November, an average of 55-65℉
  • Winter: late November to early March, an average of 40℉

With this, depending on the time you will visit, you should take note of what to wear in Chicago in March or the weather in Chicago in September. Wondering what to add to your Chicago winter packing list? Lots of layers! A large coat and sturdy shoes that have decent tread. 

While factoring in the season, also check the weather forecast for your intended vacation dates. You never know when extreme weather or above/below average temperature may hit!

Woman in Black and White striped shirt Packing a Yellow SuitcaseWith the weather information in mind, pack these clothing items:

  • Undergarments
  • Layered Outfits
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Socks
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Swimsuit
  • T-Shirts/Blouses
  • Long-Sleeved Shirts (appropriate for the weather Chicago September)
  • Sweater or Sweatshirts
  • Jacket (Appropriate for the season)
  • Pajamas
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Snow boots
  • Scarf

As you decide on your Chicago packing list, prepare a few layered outfits. Having outfit choices will be beneficial in the case of a sporadic rainstorm!

Related Post: Chicago in the Fall: Best Things To Do

If you’re the type that’s weak to the cold weather, preparing clothes suitable for the weather will be your best bet. For sporadic climates such as Chicago’s, bringing a versatile jacket is key.

Toiletries

Don t forget these personal toiletries that are essential for any vacation:

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Eyewear Necessities
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Hair Conditioner
  • Face Wash
  • Soap
  • Razors
  • Shaving Cream
  • Tweezers
  • Q-Tips
  • Makeup
  • Hairbrush/Comb
  • Hairdryer
  • Hair Products
  • Personal Medicines
  • Lip Balm
  • Moisturizer

When travel packing, review what in-room and on-site amenities your Chicago hotel offers. You may be able to skip packing items such as a hairdryer and shampoo if your hotel room provides them.

Plus, if you happen to forget an important item, the front desk attendant should have complimentary toiletries on hand. Or, they’ll be able to direct you to the nearest convenience store or pharmacy.

Chicago skyline aerial drone view from above, lake Michigan and city of Chicago downtown skyscrapers cityscape, Illinois, USAMiscellaneous Travel Items

Every packing list has a few random items thrown in. Depending on the type of traveler you are, these personal belongings may come in handy when you are preparing for your trip to Chicago:

  • Camera
  • Camera Batteries and/or Charger
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Laptop and Charger
  • Umbrella
  • Backpack
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Pens
  • Book/Magazines
  • Neck Pillow
  • Snacks
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Printed Hotel Reservations
  • Printed Tour/Activity/Attraction Tickets
  • Travel Itinerary and Map

What to Wear in Chicago: Packing Per Activity

The beauty of cities like Chicago is the myriad of activities for all types of travelers and interests. Whether you enjoy gawking at historic architecture or finding your next outdoor excursion, you’ll find something for you in Chicago.Entrance to Field Museum - Chicago, Illinois, USA

Museums and Attractions

Bursting at the seams with history and knowledge, Chicago is home to numerous museums and iconic attractions. From meeting Sue, the T. Rex at the Field Museum to seeing Chicago’s skyline from 1,000 feet in the air at 360 Chicago, there is so much to do and see in the city.

If you are planning to visit Chicago or any of Chicago’s notable attractions, museums, art institute, and other institutions, you’ll want to pack the following:

  • Weather Appropriate Attire
  • Light Jacket
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Valid ID/Driver’s License
  • Printed Museum/Attraction Tickets
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Extra Cash
  • Camera
  • Camera Batteries or Charger
  • Cell Phone and Charger

Remember to get your museum and attraction tickets in advance and skip the ticket line! During peak seasons such as summer and school vacations, ticket lines are out the door. You’ll save time and money by buying your tickets beforehand.

Shows and Entertainment

Chicago hosts exciting events, from touring Broadway shows to epic concerts throughout the year. If you’ve got tickets to see a show, you’ll want to pack these belongings for your trip:

  • Appropriate Attire
  • Printed Tickets
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Valid ID/Driver’s License
  • Extra Cash

It is important to know what the theater or venue allows inside. Certain items, such as selfie sticks, luggage, and even cameras, may be prohibited depending on the show.

close up of three Blue Man Group performers on stage with lights in Chicago, Illinois, USATouring Chicago

One of the best ways to experience a new city and experience the breeze of Lake Michigan that borders Chicago is by walking around.

To maximize your time spent in Chicago, sign up for one of the many tours. Choose from walking tours that highlight the city’s architecture and rich history, bus tours that bring you to legendary landmarks, enjoy the ever-famous deep dish pizza, or walk through the renowned Magnificent Mile and even helicopter tours for jaw-dropping views of the skyline.

If you plan to tour the city, here are some packing tips and what to bring to Chicago:

  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Weather Appropriate, Layered Attire
  • Light Jacket
  • Purse/Backpack
  • Camera
  • Extra Batteries/Charger
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Extra Cash
  • Valid ID/Driver’s License
  • Map or GPS App

When you’re spending the whole day exploring Chicago, your phone battery will slowly but surely die. Remember to keep that external battery charged and on hand! You never know when you’ll need it.

distant view of Big Bus Tour bus with skyline in background in Chicago, Illinois, USAOutdoor Adventures

Although Chicago is a concrete metropolis, there are plenty of outdoor adventures awaiting! You can bike through the city’s neighborhoods, go on a harbor cruise, browse Millennium Park, and more. Plus, Chicago is home to several beaches for you to explore during the warmer months.

Should you choose to embark on an outdoor adventure in Chicago, bring along these items:

  • Comfortable and Activity Appropriate Attire
  • Sneakers or Comfortable Shoes
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Picnic Blanket
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Snacks
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses

Sports Games

It’s no secret that Chicago is home to numerous pro sports teams. From the Chicago Cubs to the iconic Chicago Bulls and everything in between, sports fans from all over the world flock to the city for a game.

If you’ve got tickets to see your favorite Chicago sports team compete, you’ll want to pack these belongings:

  • Weather Appropriate Attire
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Tickets
  • Extra Cash
  • Valid ID/Driver’s License
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Extra Batteries/Charger
Wide shot of a large crowd watching a soccer game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA
photo credit: Soldier Field via Facebook

Remember to pack your jersey or team attire! You don’t want to show up to a Chicago sports teams’ game wearing the wrong jersey.

Before you go to the game, be sure to check the arena or venue’s rules about prohibited items. Certain venues do not allow outside food or drink, selfie sticks, or large bags inside the stadium.

Plan Your Chicago Vacation

Now that you know what to wear in Chicago, it’s time to plan your trip. Remember to bundle your attractions and activity tickets with a hotel room for extra savings!


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Written by Sara Berden

Sara is a Content Writer from the Philippines experienced in writing for websites and social media in different industries. She is an introvert...


6 comments about “What to Pack for Chicago: The Ultimate Guide for Every Trip”

makayla

November 17, 2021 at 12:55 pm

What is it like in chicgo by a plane i am going there for summer is it big and some cool skateboard stuff?


I Remain Anonymous

September 28, 2023 at 6:53 pm

I Live In Iowa, But I Am Going To Chicago. What Is The Fastest Way To Get There?


avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt

Teresa

October 5, 2023 at 9:41 am

Hello! A flight will always be your best bet for a speedy arrival. However, if a road trip sounds more fun, check out the quickest routes via a map service like Google Maps or Waze.


Jules Verne

January 11, 2024 at 3:53 pm

Where is the best place to buy mice and beans in Chicago. And no, I actually do mean mice like the mamal.


avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt

Teresa

January 12, 2024 at 8:28 am

Hello Jules! I was unable to find a bookstore in Chicago that sells Mice and Beans. Looks like your best bet will be online. Happy shopping!


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