Best Time to Visit Chicago, Illinois, Weather Year Round
Many visitors explore Chicago in the summer. There are many festivals, but there are also crowds; the weather is quite hot and humid; and hotels raise their room rates. Winter time brings very cold weather, but if you don’t mind this and you are interested in indoor activities, room rates are at their cheapest. Spring is the best time to visit Chicago. The weather is temperate from April through May but it can be a little unpredictable - some days are warm while others are cool. Fall is also considered one of the best times to visit the city. From September through the end of October the temperatures are warm and hotel rates are reasonable. Photo: haveseen/Fotolia
»Chicago Weather & Temperature by Month
In January, Chicago’s coldest month, the city welcomes the new year with freezing temperatures of 32°F (0°C) for an average high and 18°F (-8°C) for an average low. Winter sports like hockey are very popular during this time of the year.
February sees small increases in the average high and average low temperatures, which range between 36°F (2°C) and 21°F (-6°C). This month also receives the smallest amount of rainfall in the year with precipitation levels of 2 inches (49 mm).
Chicago Weather in March: Spring sees a 10-degree jump in temperature with the average high climbing to 46°F (8°C). Average low temperatures remain quite cold at 30°F (-1°C).
April is relatively sunny in Chicago with 215 hours of sunshine. The average high temperature rises quickly to 59°F (15°C) for the second month of spring. The low temperature is 41°F (5°C).
In May, temperatures make another big jump. Both the average high and average low temperatures jump by 11 degrees each settling at 70°F (21°C) and 52°F (11°C) respectively.
June is the wettest month of the year with precipitation rates hitting 4 inches (103 mm). This coincides with another rise in temperature as the average high and average low temperatures range between 81°F (27°C) and 63°F (17°C).
Chicago Weather in July: The heat is on in July as it’s not only the hottest month of year but also the month that receives the most sunlight. Chicago receives 318 hours of sunlight in July while the average high temperature peaks at 84°F (29°C). The average low temperature is 68°F (20°C).
August is the second hottest month of the year with the average high and average low temperatures decreasing by 2 degrees each.
In September, average high and low temperatures make a considerable decrease. The average high temperature returns to a much cooler 75°F (24°C) while the average low temperature decreases nearly 10 degrees to 66°F (19°C).
October brings another big drop in temperature with the average high measuring in at 63°F (17°C). The average low temperature drops by a whopping 20 degrees to 46°F (8°C). Expected rainfall in October is 3 inches (82 mm).
Chicago Weather in November: Things start to get pretty chilly in November with the average high temperature dropping again by over 10 degrees to 48°F (9°C). The average low temperature sinks to 34°F (1°C).
December receives the least amount of sunlight in the year as it averages 106 hours of day light. As the second coldest month of the year, the average high temperature peaks at 36°F (2°C) while the average low temperature drops to 23°F (-5°C).
The best time to see the sights and sounds of Illinois, and Chicago in particular, is in April and May while the summertime crowds have not yet arrived. Many of Illinois’ festivals take place in the summer months. If big events like the Chicago Pride Festival or Chicago Blues Festival are your main reason for visiting Illinois, plan your trip between June through August. Outdoor activities like hiking and camping are fantastic in between September and October while winter activities can be enjoyed from November to March.
»Getting to Chicago
Chicago sits in the middle of the United States and this makes it easy to get to the “windy city.” There are two airports in the Chicago area. O’Hare International Airport is one of the largest airports in the world and North America’s major international gateway airport serving over 67 million passengers per year. Midway International Airport is a smaller airport and offers mostly national service. Amtrak runs about 50 trains in and out of Chicago each day with 21,000 route miles. Getting to Chicago is easy by car as there are many interstate highways that pass through the city. Greyhound and Megabus both serve Chicago: this is an affordable way to get to the city.
»Getting From the Airport
Midway International Airport is a smaller airport and offers mostly national service. Amtrak runs about 50 trains in and out of Chicago each day with 21,000 route miles. Getting to Chicago is easy by car as there are many interstate highways that pass through the city. Greyhound and Megabus both serve Chicago: this is an affordable way to get to the city.
»Chicago Visitor Center
Located near Macy’s on North State Street, the Chicago Visitor Center is the city’s official visitor information center. The information center is found in Chicago’s downtown Loop, and this makes it convenient for visitors to explore popular attraction such as The Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park. Local experts help visitors plan their visit to the city. They offer multilingual maps, free brochures, and a complimentary concierge service. The staff can help visitors with finding and giving directions to accommodations, attractions, events, restaurants, and shopping areas. They can also help visitors choose the best sightseeing tours and plan customized itineraries of the city.
Photo: Increa/FotoliaOleksandr Dibrova
»Getting Around Chicago by Bus, “L” Train, Metra Rail
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates what is known as the “L” train: the “L” stands for “elevated train,” although not all of the trains in the system run above ground level. It is one of the best ways to get around Chicago because it is easy to use and it is inexpensive. There are eight lines, each one identified by a different color. The CTA also operates a bus system: this is very extensive and takes visitors to many attraction. It can be a little difficult for visitors to use. The Metra Rail is another form of public transportation. With 11 lines, it is used to visit Chicago’s suburbs.
»Getting Around Chicago by Taxi and Water Taxi
Some visitors find that using the services of a taxi is an easy way to get around Chicago: a taxi is easy to hail within the Loop and can take visitors to places within the Loop and to places outside of the downtown area. It is more difficult to find a taxi outside the city, so visitors will need to call for a taxi. Another way to get around the center of the city is by water taxi. There are two companies: the Chicago Water Taxi and Shoreline Sightseeing. This is a fun way to get around and the boats run along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan past many attractions.
»Getting Around Chicago by Bike or on Foot
Chicago is one of the biggest cities in the U.S., so it is too big to see by walking. Tourists can walk in order to visit individual neighborhoods: the city is laid out on a grid and this makes it easy to navigate. Riding a bicycle is another great way to explore Chicago. Divvy is a shared bike system that consists of thousands of bikes that are available at hundreds of stations all around the city and beyond. At each station tourists will find a station map, a touchscreen kiosk, and a docking system. Driving a car in Chicago can be difficult because of heavy traffic and a lack of parking options.
Photo: Maria Sbytova/Fotolia
It should come as no surprise that a city as large as Chicago offers an enormous variety of places to eat. There are very upscale fine dining restaurants: some are world-renowned and some have celebrity chefs on the cutting edge of culinary trends. Steakhouses are still popular, but Chicago is also known for its deep-dish pizza cafes and its large number of casual ethnic food restaurants. In addition to Italian food, some of the other ethnic restaurants found in the city include Cajun and Creole, Japanese sushi, Indian, Macanese (from Macau), Mexican, Middle Eastern, Spanish and Tapas, Vietnamese, and many more.
Courtesy Brent Hofacker/Fotolia
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»Shopping in Chicago
Chicago has many shopping options, but its best and most well-known shopping area is The Magnificent Mile. This area on Michigan Avenue is a historic area on the one hand, and full of contemporary shops and boutiques on the other hand. There are other shopping areas to be explored like Chicago’s Loop. Here you’ll find Macy’s. The gigantic Macy’s is a “must shop” destination: it was built in the 19th century as Marshall Field’s and is a Chicago landmark. There are also plenty of trendy boutiques found in many of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. There are interior decorating stores in River North and many boutiques in Wicker Park.
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»Chicago Neighborhood Guide
Chicago is made up of an amazing 77 neighborhoods: each one is unique and offers its own attractions, historical sights, nightlife, restaurants, and shopping. Lake Michigan and the Chicago River divide the city into three large geographic areas: these are the North Side, the South Side, and the West Side. These three areas surround the Loop, Chicago’s compact downtown. The Loop is located near the shores of Lake Michigan: it is surrounded by the “L” train and, as the city’s central business area, it is full of high rise buildings. The North Side is home to the Magnificent Mile and many hotels; the West Side is a residential area with many cultures; and the South side is experiencing a renaissance.
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»Getting Married in Chicago
Many people choose Chicago for their wedding because of its many venue options. Visitors can obtain an Illinois marriage license at the County Clerk’s office for the county where the wedding will take place: there are eight counties in the greater Chicago area. Great hotel venues abound: some of these include W Hotels of Chicago, Congress Plaza Hotel, LondonHouse Chicago, Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago, and many more. Resorts include the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa. There are also banquet halls such as the European Crystal Banquets and Conference Center, and clubs like the Metropolitan Club. Other options are the Adler Planetarium, The Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier, and more.
Photo: Esin Deniz/Fotolia
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»Where to Stay in Chicago
As the business center of the Midwest, Chicago has a huge variety of accommodations from which visitors can choose. Many of the hotels are found within the Loop and North Michigan Avenue. Rooms with views of Lake Michigan offer spectacular views, but can be very expensive. There are luxury hotels like the Peninsula and the Ritz-Carlton, and boutique hotels such as the James Chicago and the Hotel Felix. For budget and family-friendly accommodations, there are casual hotels like the Best Western River North and Embassy Suites. Another interesting option is to stay in a private home. A company called At Home Inn Chicago offers more than 70 accommodations in the city.
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Best Time to Visit Chicago, Illinois, Weather Year Round
- Chicago Weather & Temperature by Month, Photo: Courtesy of Yasgosh - Fotolia.com
- Getting to Chicago, Photo: Courtesy of james_pintar - Fotolia.com
- Getting From the Airport, Photo: Courtesy of SOMATUSCANI - Fotolia.com
- Chicago Visitor Center , Photo: Courtesy of Increa - Fotolia.comOleksandr Dibrova
- Getting Around Chicago by Bus, “L” Train, Metra Rail, Photo: Courtesy of marcin_sroka - Fotolia.com
- Getting Around Chicago by Taxi and Water Taxi, Photo: Courtesy of lulubrazilia - Fotolia.com
- Getting Around Chicago by Bike or on Foot, Photo: Courtesy of Maria Sbytova - Fotolia.com
- Chicago Restaurants, Photo: Courtesy Brent Hofacker - Fotolia.com
- Shopping in Chicago, Photo: Courtesy of artifirsov - Fotolia.combruno135_406
- Chicago Neighborhood Guide , Photo: Courtesy of kanonsky - Fotolia.com
- Getting Married in Chicago, Photo: Courtesy of Esin Deniz - Fotolia.com
- Where to Stay in Chicago, Photo: Courtesy of monticellllo - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
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