Though many people are skeptical about traveling to Chicago in winter, we assure you that it’s the most magical time to be there. The city is all lit up because of the festive season, and there is a beautiful white dreamy coat of snow, adding a unique charm to the city that you wouldn’t be able to experience if you visit during another time.From the best attractions to the most interesting things to do, Chicago offers it all and the winter season adds magic to the charm of the city. So put all your inhibitions aside, there’s no better place to be at than Chicago in winter, and with our detailed guide to Chicago city, you’ll have all the information you need before you embark on your journey!
Weather In Chicago In Winter
If you’re wondering about the Chicago winter temperature, yes it will be cold. The Chicago weather in winter gets pretty cold, and may sometimes even go into the minus degree, so be prepared for it, and there are very few chances of a winter storm in Chicago. All in all, it’s the perfect weather for some warm beverages, cuddling up with your loved one, and exploring right from the churches to the amazing casinos in Chicago that happens to be the most beautiful city in the USA.
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Why Should You Visit Chicago In The Winter?
A few people may be wondering what’s so special about travelling to Chicago in winter and why you should pick this season to visit, over any other time of the year. We have some of the top reasons why Chicago should you be your next winter vacation destination:
- It is less crowded in the winters
- The festive Christmas spirit is surely a sight to see
- The city is all lit up during December
- The hotels and airfares are much cheaper during this time since it’s not peak season
- The beautiful snow-capped city skylines makes for a breathtaking view during Chicago winter travel
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Best Places To Visit In Chicago In Winter
We have gathered a list of all the top places you need to visit in and around Chicago city during your winter vacation:
1. The Art Institute
Not many people might know this, but Chicago is known for its museums and art galleries, and The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most famous museums in the whole country. If you’re visiting Chicago in winter especially, it’s even better to visit this museum because there will be lesser crowds and you can explore the museum in all its glory.
Location: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
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2. Lincoln Park Zoo
If you’re traveling with children and are confused about the places to visit in Chicago in winter with kids, then taking them to the zoo is always a good idea. If you find yourself in Chicago during the winter season, you cannot miss out on visiting this zoo as they have their annual light festival, and have light show performances scheduled regularly! This surely is one of the best sights to see on your vacation during winter in Chicago.
Location: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
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3. Willis Tower
During the winter season, it’s always nice to find indoor spaces to go to escape the winter breeze, and what better place to visit than the most famous (and tallest) building in Chicago, the Willis Tower that happens to be one of the best places to see in Chicago in winter. You can take a lift to the top floor and have a spectacular view of those beautiful city skylines we mentioned earlier!
Location: 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, USA
4. Garfield Park Conservatory
Opened in 1908, the Garfield Park Conservatory is described as the ‘landscape art under glass’. It is not just one of the largest in the world but also flaunts a unique structure. The haystack structure and intricate stonework on the walls make this building unique and interesting. Spread over 1.6 acres of space, the conservatory has about 120,000 plants of 600 different species. The place has various zones displaying vivid categories of plants including the Desert House, the Fern Room, and the Aroid House. Garfield Park Conservatory is open 365 days a year and the entry is free.
Location: 300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624, USA
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5. Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park is one of the newest additions to the Chicago Park District. The Park has been built pay tribute to the late first lady of the city. Spread over 20 acres of recreational area, the place includes a 40-foot climbing bridge, a ribbon-shaped skating platform and a very interesting playground. Though the Chicago winter weather may seem a little restrictive for an outdoor sport like skating, this place has already become popular among visitors. This is one of those places in Chicago where you can spend some fun time with your entire family. The entire playground is diveded into different themed zones including Slide Crater, Enchanted Forest and Watering Hole.
Location: 337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
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Top Things To Do In Chicago In Winter
We have a list of the three best things for tourists to do in Chicago in winter that deserve a place on your USA itinerary during your visit:
1. The Chicago Winterfest
One of the most exciting and fun things to do in Chicago in winter, for both tourists and locals, is attending the annual Winterfest in Chicago. A completely entertaining indoor festival that promises some exciting fun activities for the entire family, like shows, arcade games, and an indoor ice skating rink. There are also many food stalls where you can relish some delicious Chicago food. So do not miss this one of the most amazing winter festivals in Chicago.
2. Chicago Bulls Game
The Chicago winter travel guide is incomplete without this one on the list. Want to get a real taste of Chicago? Then you must absolutely make sure you attend one of their baseball games as it is one of the best indoor winter activities in Chicago for your vacation. It’s amazing to see the locals gather to cheer their favorite teams, not minding the cold climate. Make sure to get the signature Chicago Bulls winter jacket to show your support for the team, and cheer on with the rest of the fans at the bleachers! Even if you are not a fan of baseball, just the excitement and energy of the game are guaranteed to make you have a great time.
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3. Film Locations
Are you filmy at heart? This one of the most unique things to do in Chicago in Winter. Some of your favorite films have been shot here, and one of the best Chicago winter activities is to visit places where the famous stars once stood and filmed. Some of the most iconic shooting locations in Chicago are:
- Chicago Union Station – My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Untouchables
- Jeweler’s Building – Transformers
- Old Chicago Main Post Office – The Dark Knight
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What To Pack For Chicago In The Winter?
- Essential Chicago winter clothes – sweaters, winter coat, some thermal wear, plenty of gloves and scarves, and even a winter cap.
- Footwear – warm winter boots
- Carry all your IDs with you at all times
- Always make sure to have cash on you wherever you go and not rely on credit and debit cards.
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Winter is surely an exciting time, and now that you’re aware of how much fun visiting Chicago in winter will be, there’s no other place to plan your great winter vacation! Let us help you plan the most perfect winter vacation in the US!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Chicago In Winter
What is the best time to visit Chicago?
The best time to visit Chicago is either during the summer or winter months
Which are the most celebrated festivals in Chicago during the winter season?
The main festivals that are celebrated in Chicago during the winter season are Christman, New Year, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah.
What should you wear in Chicago in the winter?
You should wear warm clothes in Chicago in the winter.
Which is the best place to visit in Chicago during winters?
When it comes to the best place to visit in Chicago, it has got to be the Millennium Park during the winter. Get to enjoy ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Rink that happens to be the special attraction of the season.
What is the one experience that one should not miss when in Chicago?
Witnessing the extraordinary game of Chicago Bulls is the one experience that one should not miss when in Chicago.
Which is the coldest month in Chicago?
January happens to be the coldest month in Chicago.
Is Chicago colder than Boston?
While it is true that Chicago is way colder than the winters in Boston, the latter too is pretty famous for its snowstorms.
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If you really want to avoid crowds and have a quieter vacation, then winter is your best time to visit Chicago. You'll never see hotel occupancies as low as they are in January and February.Is it worth going to Chicago in winter? ›
If you really want to avoid crowds and have a quieter vacation, then winter is your best time to visit Chicago. You'll never see hotel occupancies as low as they are in January and February.How do you stay warm in Chicago in the winter? ›
Wear loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers (the trapped air between the layers insulates). Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Wear outer garments that are tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat (half of body heat is lost through the top of the head).What is the best time of year to visit Chicago? ›
Best Season to Visit Chicago Weather-Wise
Most people enjoy the summer months the most, specifically late June through September. But, there are two small periods of time in the year that are equally enjoyable, in late May and early October, when crowds are small and the temperature is comfortable.
January tends to be the coldest month, but also the snowiest month of the year. The temperatures reach between 26 °F and 36°F (-3 - 2 °C), with an average high of 31 °F (-1 °C). On the other end, the average low this month is 17 °F (-9°C).Is Chicago expecting a snowy winter? ›
According to the forecast, most of the country will see traditional cool temperatures and snowy weather this winter. Illinois and the Great Lakes could be in for "below-average temperatures and lots of snowstorms, sleet, ice [and] rain," according to the forecast.Which US state has the worst winter weather? ›
Alaska is the coldest state in the US, with an average annual temperature of 30.7 F°. The second coldest state in the US is North Dakota, with an average temperature of 42.4 F°. Minnesota is the third coldest state, with an average temperature of 42.5 Fº.What states stay the warmest in winter? ›
- New Mexico.
- South Carolina.
1. Fairbanks, Alaska. With a minimum average temperature of about minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit, Fairbanks takes the cake as the coldest city in the U.S. The northernmost major city in Alaska, Fairbanks has seen record cold temperatures reaching minus 66 degrees in the past.What pants to wear in Chicago winter? ›
Winter bottoms could be good woolen thermal bottoms to keep you warm and dry or waterproof snow pants to help you navigate through the ankle-deep snow in Chicago winter.
Keep your thermostat set at lowest comfortable point that your furnace can reach and turn off. Simply put, it is not a good idea to maintain July temperatures in your home during the coldest months of Chicago's winters. Anywhere between 66˚ and 72˚ is a pretty good rule. Remember to dial it in and stick to it.What shoes to wear in Chicago in December? ›
The best shoes to bring to Chicago are by far snow boots, or insulated boots to help keep warmth in your feet. Look for boots that have a warm inner lining, from fleece, faux fur, down-fill, or other soft and warm materials.How many days is enough in Chicago? ›
How many days do you need in Chicago? 3-5 days is enough time to visit Chicago. For seeing the top tourist attractions and exploring some different areas, 3 days in Chicago is enough, just know your days will be packed. If you want a slightly slower-paced trip, 5 days will provide extra leisure time.What time of year is cheapest to stay in Chicago? ›
If you're looking for a cheap hotel in Chicago, you should consider visiting during the low season. You'll find cheaper hotels in Chicago in January and February. Hotel room prices vary depending on many factors but you'll most likely find the best hotel deals in Chicago if you stay on a Saturday.What is the winter weather like in Chicago in 2023? ›
As a result, forecasts for the coming winter in the Chicago area are suggesting that residents could experience warmer-than-normal temperatures, with below-normal precipitation. During meteorological winter, which takes place between Dec. 1, 2023 and Feb.Is it worth visiting Chicago in December? ›
If you're visiting Chicago in December, you can find a wide range of special events that only happen this time of year. Chicago standbys like the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago Botanic Garden, the Morton Arboretum, and Navy Pier all turn into illuminated wonderlands for the holiday season!Is Chicago better in summer or winter? ›
As the temperatures drop, so do the flight and hotel prices. Many travelers opt to explore Chicago in the summer to enjoy the warm, sunny days, but traveling in January, the coldest month, is when you'll find the best deals and the lowest crowds.Is Chicago worth visiting in January? ›
Best Time to Visit Chicago:
Also, there are lower fare-rates on everything, hundreds of indoor opportunities that will make you forget the cold weather. The Windy City has a lot to offer, even during the colder months of the year. Chicago in January is ideal for the winter-lovers.
New York has an Average high of 39 F and Average low of 26 F. Chicago's Average high is 32 F and Average low of 18 F. Snow total wise, on average, New York gets about 30 inches and Chicago gets 37 inches. By both standards, Chicago has harsher winter as it colder and snowier.