Chicago Travel Guide

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Best Times to Visit Chicago

The best times to visit Chicago are April through May and between September and October, when the temperatures are warm, a variety of festivals take place and crowds are manageable. Summer marks Chicago's peak tourist and festival season, with travelers from around the country hoping to take advantage of the warm weather and abundant activities. You'll find higher lodging rates during these seasons, but you'll also escape Chicago's notoriously bitter winters. Chicago experiences frigid temperatures from November to March, but if you can hack it, hotel and airfare deals are easy to find.

Weather in Chicago

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
30.9
16.5
35.2
20.1
46.6
29.1
59
38.8
70
48.4
79.7
58.1
84
63.9
81.9
63
74.8
54.3
62.2
42.8
48.2
32.4
34.9
20.7
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
1.73
1.79
2.5
3.38
3.68
3.45
3.7
4.9
3.21
3.15
3.15
2.25
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

April-May

There are advantages to visiting before or after summer, namely more manageable crowds. Average daytime temperatures hover between the high 50s and low 70s – comfortable conditions for walking around. However, you should come prepared for rain, and be sure to bring a light jacket for those occasional days that fall into the high 30s and 40s.

Key Events:

June-August

Summer is the most popular time to visit Chicago, so expect prices to be at their highest and hotel vacancies to be hard to come by. While booking in advance is generally a good rule of thumb for Chicago, it especially applies to this time of year – plan on locking down your hotel reservations at least three or four weeks in advance. Average summer temperatures range from the high 50s to the mid-80s. But temperatures can fluctuate significantly if there's a passing heat wave with high humidity or strong breezes from Lake Michigan, so pack a mix of clothes. Also, expect to encounter some rain in August.

Key Events:

September-October

Autumn in Chicago offers a sweet spot for tourism. Cooler weather and fewer people mean you'll enjoy pleasant conditions while exploring the city's top attractions. Daytime highs hover in the 60s and 70s, but evenings can see temperatures drop into the 40s. Keep in mind that some of the city's outdoor attractions – like Navy Pier and the Lincoln Park Zoo – may have already reduced their hours for the winter season.

Key Events:

November-March

Biting winds and freezing temperatures (daytime highs rest in the low 30s to high 40s, but wind chills can cause temperatures to drop into the negatives) deter faint-hearted tourists, leaving hotels and flights with plenty of vacancies. If you can stand the wintry weather, you'll find some of the lowest rates during this time. You can seek refuge from the cold in the city's museums, but if you're hoping to visit Millennium Park or shop along The Magnificent Mile, wear your warmest layers.

Key Events:

Popular Times to Visit Chicago

Average Tourist Volumes
Average Hotel Prices   Search Hotels
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec

Tourism volume is estimated based on in-market destination search query interest from Google and on travel.usnews.com in 2015-2016. Hotel prices are sourced from a sample of U.S. News Best Hotels rates through 2015-2016.

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