Heading to Chicago in the spring? Use this guide for tips and suggestions on what warm weather activities to take part in in Chi-town, from afternoons at Cubs baseball games at Wrigley Field, to the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, to outdoor fun at Navy Pier and Lincoln Park, and on.
Like a bear waking from hibernation after a long winter’s nap, Chicago comes alive when the snow starts to melt and the sun warms up. As soon as the temperatures rise above 50 degrees, do like the rest of the city’s denizens and head outdoors for the many events and springtime activities that pop up like budding flowers. In fact, some of the best things to do in Chicago begin just as the weather turns warm.
More than anything, spring in Chi-town means watching the Cubs opening day baseball at Wrigley Field. Or pick any sunny day throughout the months of April and May to try and catch a fly ball. The best way to get here is the most Chicago-ish: hop on the “L” (elevated subway) to Wrigleyville, just north of downtown and a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The leafy neighborhood surrounding the stadium assumes a carnival atmosphere on game day, with fans and street vendors taking over the streets.
Gather with fans at one of several pre-game spots along North Clark Street, especially the famed Cubby Bear across from the stadium entrance. Live music and dancing is also popular before, during and after the game. Or check out the spacious Murphy’s Bleachers, which has been open for some 80 years and was the first to open its rooftop for ticket-less fans to watch the game, while also featuring an open mic and karaoke.
The game itself is a bucket-list event for any baseball fan, whether or not you join the bleacher bums under the scoreboard. Soak up the ambience at the major league’s second-oldest park, which opened in 1914 and still sports its iconic ivy-covered brick walls in the outfield. Be sure to join in a Cubs’ tradition—the seventh-inning stretch—as the 40,000-plus crowd stands and sings, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
The festivities continue after the game in Wrigleyville. Enjoy a burger, brats and other similar fare, or go for some rustic pizza and classic pasta at Mia Francesca. Another option is Dimo’s Pizza for creative pies like steak and fries, burritos, and s’mores. To better enjoy Chicago’s spring weather, try the lively patio at Deuce’s and the Diamond for live music and dancing.
St. Patrick’s Day
Don your finest green and head to the Loop for the annual springtime rite of the St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebration. Irish-Americans in Chicago make up a large portion of the population, and it’s more than obvious with big, enthusiastic crowds turning out for the kickoff event: dyeing the Chicago River green.
Watch as marching bands, drum corps, floats, bagpipers, river dancers, and leprechauns make their way down Columbus Drive in Grant Park for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Spot your favorite local dignitary and sports hero waving from festooned cars or sitting in the viewing stand at Buckingham Fountain. You can also check out the South Side Irish Parade on Western Avenue or the Northwest Side Irish Parade.
From there, multi-day events can be found all over the city, such as festivals at the Irish American Heritage Center with Irish music, dance, food, and beverages at its Fifth Province cafe. Also visit long-time favorite Chief O’Neill’s, which features live music, an outdoor patio, and arguably the best shepherd’s pie in the city.
As springtime arrives, Navy Pier comes alive with visitors in search of outdoor fun under the sun. Rent a bike and pedal around the many shoreline parks, or dig your toes into the sand at Ohio Street Beach. Take the kids to Pier Park for a host of amusement rides, such as a carousel, mini-boats, and the 200-foot-high Centennial Wheel — a new Ferris wheel that opened back in 2016.
The pier’s Chicago Children’s Museum offers daily scheduled activities and interactive exhibits such as the Tinkering Lab and Dinosaur Expedition. Tour Lake Michigan and the Chicago shoreline aboard one of several sightseeing or dinner cruises, including the 148-foot traditional four-mast schooner Tall Ship Windy.
Even if flowers aren’t yet in bloom on the outside in mid-March, you can see plenty of colorful bloomers inside at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier. Instructional seminars, well-tended gardens, and a kid’s activity garden are all part of the five-day event.
Another option is the Chicago Botanic Garden, featuring 27 gardens spread over 385 landscaped acres, as well as an orchid show with over 10,000 vibrant plants. And running through mid-May, the Spring Flower Show at the Lincoln Park Conservatory is a chance to walk among tropical palms, ancient ferns, and hot-house orchids.
What’s your favorite Chicago activity in the spring? Let us know your thoughts by tagging us on Twitter.