When to Go in Chicago

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Chicago's climate isn't really as harsh as its reputation. It's four unique seasons provide for various activities all year long. It also has its own microclimatic effects due to its close proximity to Lake Michigan. Sometimes these effects are so strong, that the weather in parts of the city near the lake is totally different that the weather in parts of downtown Chicago far from the lake.

Spring and Summer

Spring is one of the nicest seasons in Chicago. Temperatures range from 28 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the flowers begin to bloom, and everything smells fresh. This time of year is great for golfing, camping, berry picking, and strolling along Lake Michigan. Plus, the humidity levels aren't too high during spring. Summer gets a little more uncomfortable, the humidity increases significantly and temperatures rise to the upper 70s to the 90s. Nighttime temperatures decrease, but not much.

Thunderstorms and scattered rains are very common. August and July are the wettest months in Chicago. Still summer is a good time to visit if you want to boat, go to the beach, swim, hike, tube down a river, or do some shipwreck diving in the lake. The record high temperature for summer in Chicago is 105 degrees, but it's rare for it to get that high, especially as the cool breeze off the lake helps to regulate high temperatures.

Autumn and Winter

Autumn is when the air gets a little chilly, football season starts, and the cider mills and apple orchards open. Temperatures range from 31 to 73, generally a comfortable range. It's a beautiful time to visit, as all the leaves on the trees change color, and the weather is perfect for walking around the city seeing all of its highlights. Winter is less pleasant, but still beautiful if you like that winter wonderland look. The average snowfall is 38 inches, and there is at least one big snowstorm every year generating 10 to 14 inches in one day. Even though Chicago is next to Lake Michigan, it doesn't receive the same lake-effect snow as other cities such as Cleveland. January and February have the most days below 32, and the lowest recorded temperature is -27 degrees. Winter is the best time for visiting museums, going to holiday events, ballets, operas, and art shows. It is also the best time for ice fishing, ice skating, hockey, sledding, and gambling at the casinos.

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