Best Time to Go to Chicago: Finding the Perfect Season to Tour the Windy City

Discover the ideal time to visit Chicago with this comprehensive guide! Explore the best seasons for perfect weather, budget-friendly travel, family fun, festivals, and crowd-free experiences.

If the Windy City is your next holiday destination, you’re likely juggling numerous considerations right now: the local climate, interesting tourist spots, and unique experiences you can savor in this vibrant metropolis.

So, what’s truly the best time to visit Chicago? We’re here to offer insights tailored to your perfect vacation fantasy—be it traveling when the weather is simply divine, or when you can escape the teeming crowds.

Best Time to Visit Chicago for Good Weather

Looking for ideal weather conditions on your Chicago trip? The best time of the year to visit Chicago is between May and October when the Windy City’s harsh winters subside and glorious summer sunshine dominates. You can expect temperatures to range from mid-60s to mid-80s degrees Fahrenheit. This period also sees less rainfall, making it perfect for lakefront strolls, patio dining, and sightseeing on Michigan Avenue.

Because of the good weather, there are more things to do in Chicago. Outdoor activities like riding the Big Bus Tours Chicago are more enjoyable. You can sit in the open-top double-decker bus and really take in the beautiful views of Chicago’s top landmarks, from the iconic skyscrapers to serene Lake Michigan.

Visiting Chicago in warmer months also means you can enjoy a Chicago Premier Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan. It’s the perfect time to spend the evening on a 2.5-hour luxury dinner cruise that features captivating views of Chicago landmarks like the Willis Tower and Adler Planetarium.

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There are so many more activities to do in Chicago from May to October. The weather is warm and dry enough to enjoy a game or tour the Wrigley Field, or you could head over to 360 CHICAGO to take advantage of clear skies from 1,000 feet up. If you’re daring, try TILT! It’s Chicago’s very own one-of-a-kind attraction that angles visitors 30 degrees over Michigan Avenue for an unbeatable view.

For a trip filled with memorable adventures and perfect weather, aim for a visit between the months of May and October. These are the months when Chicago truly shines.

Chicago skyline aerial drone view from above, lake Michigan and city of Chicago downtown skyscrapers cityscape, Illinois, USABest Time to Visit Chicago for Cheap Prices

If budget is a priority when planning your Chicago visit, the period from November to March (excluding the holiday period) is considered the cheapest time to visit Chicago. During these months, less tourism means lower accommodation rates and discounted attraction prices.

The shoulder seasons, specifically mid-September to late October is another sweet spot for cheaper travel, as summer’s tourist crowds dwindle. Prices in Chicago tend to be cheaper during early fall because family travel significantly decreases, further reducing demand and leading to more competitive pricing. Trust us, this is the perfect time to snag Chicago hotel deals and discount tickets.

So if you’re wondering when to visit Chicago for the most affordable rates, plan to go either from mid-September to late October or from November to March (except during the yuletide period).

Ariel view of Ribbon Rink in Daley Park Chicago, Illinois, USA
photo credit: Maggie Daley Park via Facebook

Best Time to Visit Chicago for Families with Kids

Are you considering a family trip to the Windy City? The summer months, from June to August, make for an ideal time especially when traveling with kids. It’s the best time of the year to visit Chicago because the city comes alive with family-friendly festivals, outdoor concerts, and park activities.

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

Just be prepared for some crowds as summer is a peak tourist period. It’s the best time to travel to Chicago even for solo travelers. That being said, June to August is the worst time to visit Chicago if you despise the crowd.

Popular attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier, and Millennium Park brim with interactive programs that your little ones will surely enjoy. If you’re traveling with teens and pre-teens, they will enjoy Chicago’s Lakefront Neighborhoods Bicycle Tour. It’s a three-hour romp through Chicago’s beautiful Near North Side neighborhoods, and you’ll finish off with a cruise down the Lakefront Trail, one of the most popular waterfront bike paths in the nation.

If it gets too hot outside, indoor attractions like the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament are a popular family choice. It’s an immersive experience that steps back into ancient history, with knights and horses taking center stage. The kids will enjoy feasting on a four-course meal served in true medieval style, sans cutlery, while watching knights display their skills in jousting, swordsmanship, and horsemanship.

bean reflection in chicago downtownBest Time to Visit Chicago for Festivals and Events

Planning your trip to Chicago around one of its exceptional music festivals and vibrant events can certainly enhance your experience. The warm, sunny months of June through August are prime times of the year to catch the best events like the world-renowned Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Air and Water Show, and the Taste of Chicago, among other dynamic events.

March is also the best month to visit Chicago, especially if you want to catch the city’s St Patrick s Day celebrations. During this vibrant and historic festival, the Chicago River is magically dyed green! It’s an amazing feat that has been drawing crowds for nearly 60 years.

Related Post: Nightlife in Chicago – 13 Unexpected Things to Do After Dark

The festive day is topped off with parades, traditional Irish music, and dance in the streets but if you want to celebrate in a more special way, we recommend booking the Odyssey Chicago River Premier Dinner Cruise. You’ll cruise along the emerald-green Chicago River while enjoying a savory 3-course plated dinner aboard the glass-enclosed Odyssey Chicago River dining vessel.

crowds gathered at the Chicago Blues Festival in Chicago, IL, USA

Best Time to Visit Chicago to Avoid Crowds

If you’re seeking a quieter and less crowded period to explore the Windy City, the best time to go to Chicago is during the shoulder seasons of either late spring (April and May) or early fall (September and October). During these periods, most tourists have either yet to arrive or have already departed, leaving the city’s iconic attractions such as the Navy Pier, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Millennium Park less bustling.

Now, you may also consider bracing the chill for a winter excursion to Chicago, from December to February. There are fewer visitors in the city during this season primarily because the weather can be quite harsh, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. However, if you’re willing to bear the cold and you’re really determined to visit Chicago in the winter, you’ll find that Chicago in December transforms into a winter wonderland that’s quiet and less crowded.

Regardless of the icy weather, the months of January and February are also ideal times to visit Chicago if you’re a foodie. Why? You can catch Chicago Restaurant Week! This annual event is a celebration of Chicago’s vibrant culinary scene, bringing together a diverse array of the city’s restaurants.

Participating restaurants typically offer special prix-fixe menus at attractive prices. This means you can experience a wide range of cuisines and culinary styles from across the city without breaking the bank! So while there isn’t a lot going on outside during this time, at least you’ll be safely indoors enjoying some of Chicago’s finest dining at more accessible prices.

Buckingham Fountain in Downtown Chicago.
Buckingham Fountain in Downtown Chicago.

A Chicago Vacation Package for Every Season

The key to a memorable Chicago expedition isn’t solely determined by the ‘when’, but also by what your dream vacation in Windy City looks like—whether it involves sauntering in warm weather, experiencing world-class festivals, or diving into unforgettable local experiences without the crowds.

Regardless of the season, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of the exclusive vacation packages offered by Tripster. These packages are curated to enhance your experience in the Windy City, combining your choice of comfortable accommodations located in the heart of Chicago with discounted tickets to various top attractions.

Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s renowned museums, take a scenic architecture boat tour, or enjoy world-class dining, Tripster’s packages let you turn that dream vacation into reality while ensuring the best value.

What Did We Miss?

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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