In the springtime, Chicago lives up to its official city motto Urbs In Horto — “City in a Garden.” Our countless parks, green spaces, and sparkling waterfront (not to mention world-class museums, stunning architecture, and exciting events) make Chicago a truly spectacular spring break destination.

Here’s our guide to planning an unforgettable spring break (or staycation!) in Chicago. And don’t forget to check out these special offers from hotels all around the city.

Family-friendly spring break in Chicago

A Chicago getaway promises equal parts fun, learning, and fresh air for the whole family. There’s an adventure for kids of all ages in Chicago, whether you’re looking to roller skate around a lakefront park, be wowed by mind-boggling LEGO art, or meet a beluga whale.

Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park
  • Come face to face with lions, leopards, and more at Lincoln Park Zoo‘s brand-new big cat exhibit. Kids are invited to see the resident species in action in this newly renovated space with all-glass walkways, a feeding zipline, and more.
  • Get in the water with friendly belugas, feed a shiver of sharks, or waddle along with the penguins with the Shedd Aquarium’s close-up experiences.
  • After a record-breaking run in New York City, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptationwill arrive in Chicago on March 15, 2022, for a rollicking musical adventure at Mercury Theatre Chicago.
  • The Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park reopens for rollerblading, rollerskating, or scootering on April 30. Mini-scooters are now available to rent, perfect for tiny tots looking to rock and roll on the ribbon.
  • Doze with the Dinos at the Field Museum! Families with kids ages 6 to 12 are invited to stay up late with museum scientists, explore the museum by flashlight, then sleep in the shadow of the world’s largest dinosaur (Maximo!).
  • See the world’s largest display of LEGO art! The Museum of Science and Industry’s The Art of Brick, on display Feb. 10 – Sept. 5, features incredible works of art made entirely from LEGO bricks.
  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck offers bird-eye views of Chicago from 1,000 feet in the air. Daring kiddos will want to take on the TILT!, a sky-high thrill ride that allows visitors to tilt out over The Magnificent Mile.

Chicago spring break for outdoor enthusiasts

Chicago in spring is a nature-lovers paradise. The whole city bursts into bloom, from the sprawling lakefront to indoor gardens to charming neighborhood parks. Here’s how to get outdoors in Chicago during your spring break getaway.

Garfield Park Conservatory fern room
Garfield Park Conservatory
  • Chicago is a biking city with over 303 miles of bike lanes. Rent a Divvy bike and ride the Lakefront Trail, with sweeping vistas of the city skyline and Lake Michigan.
  • Sample each of Chicago’s four favorite food groups — pizza, hot dogs, brownies, and beer — on a Bikes, Bites & Brews Tour. Bobby’s Bike Hike offers award-winning tours of Chicago on two wheels.
  • Stop and smell the flowers at Garfield Park Conservatory’s annual spring flower show. This year’s show kicks off on Feb. 26 runs through May 8.
  • Stroll the Chicago Riverwalk, where you’ll encounter intimate coves, waterfront cafes, and stunning public art, with Chicago’s iconic architecture as an unforgettable backdrop.
  • Stop and smell the roses while exploring the sprawling Chicago Botanic Garden in nearby Glencoe, home to 27 unique gardens.
  • Don’t miss a springtime hike along the winding trails of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, home to over 222,000 plants from 40 countries.
  • Head to Hyde Park for a stroll through the Japanese garden in Jackson Park. The garden is beloved for its cherry blossoms — peak bloom usually takes place in the first two weeks of May.

Spring vacation for art & culture lovers

In Chicago, art is all around you. There’s public art lining the city streets, filling our acclaimed museums, and even lighting up our buildings after dark. Plan an art and culture-filled spring break with these events and exhibitions.

Immersive Frida Kahlo
Photo by Kyle Flubacker
  • Immersive Frida Kahlo is a visually spectacular digital art exhibition that invites audiences to step inside the iconic works of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo via an original score and engaging digital projections.
  • EXPO Chicago, an international exposition of contemporary and modern works, is a must for art lovers. More than 140 exhibitors will take over Navy Pier’s Festival Hall from April 7 to 10.
  • KING JAMES, a fast-paced, basketball-centered comedy, explores the connection between sports and friendship at the acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater from March 15 through April 10.
  • Experience over 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian history at the Art Institute of Chicago’s new gallery, opening this spring, Life and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. The transformed space will showcase the museum’s historic, 100+ object collection of ancient art from the Nile Valley.
  • Meet Tosca, the irresistible diva who brings Rome to its feet when the Lyric Opera presents Puccini’s grand-scale opera, Tosca, running March 12 through April 10.
  • Admire the work of painters, sculptors, photographers, fashion designers, ceramic artists, and more during open studio events at the Bridgeport Art Center.
  • Experience the city’s legendary architecture from the best seat in the house — the three branches of the Chicago River — on  Chicago River architecture cruises, which resume in March and April.
  • In the evening, head to the Riverwalk to experience Art on theMart, which relaunches in April. The light and sound show will be projected on the riverfront facade of the landmark Merchandise Mart nightly.

Chicago staycation for locals

Just because you live here, doesn’t mean you can’t plan a spring staycation. Explore a new neighborhood, check out a museum you’ve been meaning to visit, or try a new restaurant during Chicago Restaurant Week. And don’t forget to check out hotel deals to make it a true spring staycay.

Friends drink margaritas at La Vaca in Pilsen
La Vaca in Pilsen
  • The Adler Planetarium reopens on March 4 with a brand new telescope housed in its lakefront Doane Observatory. The planetarium will be open every Wednesday evening, with free admission for Illinois residents.
  • Explore a new neighborhood with a free Chicago Greeter walking tour. Led by fellow locals, you can take your pick of Chicago neighborhoods. A few favorites include the city’s only national monument in Pullman, Pilsen’s colorful street art, or the historic boathouse and tranquil lagoons of Humboldt Park.
  • The free Smart Museum of Art, located on the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park, reopens on Feb. 15 with a new exhibit: Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine, the first museum exhibition devoted to the visionary artist in more than twenty years. After, take a tour of the meticulously restored interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located steps from the campus.
  • Discover a new restaurant or revisit an old favorite during Chicago Restaurant Week 2022 with special prix fixe, multi-course menus from 300+ restaurants across the city from Friday, March 25 to Sunday, April 10. 
  • Maxwell Street Market is back this April, bringing a colorful mix of street food, live music, and tons of crafts and secondhand items to browse every Sunday.
  • Learn a little about your own city at the Chicago History Museum. Climb aboard the first-ever ‘L’ car, visit a replica of a historic jazz club, and so much more.