Are you thinking about visiting Chicago in the springtime and wondering what there is to do in April, May, and June? Visiting Chicago in the springtime is great as there are tons of things to do outdoors, in Chicago, at this time of year. This is my favorite time to go in to the city as the weather is beautiful, and the droves of tourists haven’t arrived yet.
We typically get 4-5 months of winter weather in Chicago, so by the time spring rolls around we are ready to get outside! So I’ve selected outdoor activities for this list. If you find yourself needing indoor activities (rain, wind or snow), there are a plethora of activities. Check out this post for 15 things to do in Chicago, indoors with kids. If you have older kids, there are plenty of things to do in Chicago with teenagers as well!
Below is a list of fifteen things to do in Chicago, in the spring, with kids.
1. Music or Food Festival
Chicago hosts a TON of music and food festivals during the spring and summer months. A few spring kid-friendly ones are below, but there are many more. A lot of the festivals are downtown; however, over 400 neighborhood festivals are held each year. Don’t be afraid to jump on the train and get out into the city! Check out the city of Chicago website for daily lineups and more information.
2. Blues Fest
In my opinion, Blues Fest is the best springtime festival in Chicago. It’s an annual festival in Millennium Park, typically held in early June. It’s a three-day festival usually running from 11am-9pm. One of the best things about Blues fest (besides the music) is that it’s FREE. I’d recommend bringing a blanket and setting up shop on the lawn. You can bring a picnic (and drinks) or buy food there. While the music is playing the kids can run around on the grass or have a dance party!
3. Midsommar Fest
Another great Chicago springtime festival is Midsommar Fest held in Andersonville, in early June. It’s a three-day festival, and although it’s free, they do ask for a $10 donation at the door (kids 12 and under are free).
It’s a street festival, and they have food, entertainment, vendors, artists, and family-friendly activities.
Andersonville is historically a Swedish community, so there are nods to this heritage throughout the festival. Midsommar Fest is the start to the Chicago neighborhood festival season, so it’s a great one to attend! Check out the Andersonville website for more information.
4. Kids and Kites Festival
Kite Fest is an annual event held in early May, in Lincoln Park. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a kite extravaganza. The best thing about Kite Fest is not only that it’s free, but that the City of Chicago provides free kite to kids (while supplies last). They also have kites for sale.
Additionally, the past few years they have had a Professional Kite Team, flying kites in synchrony. Check out their website or Facebook page for last minute details.
Springtime in Chicago means baseball season. Baseball season typically starts at the beginning of April. In case you live under a rock, Chicago has two major league baseball teams, the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are located on the south side, and it’s a quick ride on the red line to U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox have lots of theme nights, like Jackie Robinson Day, GoT night, Country Music night, and Elvis night, so check out their schedule to see if something interests you.
They also give away a lot of free stuff, usually to the first 10,000 people, so check out the schedule to see what’s on offer. Lastly, they have a fireworks display, after many of the games, so try and catch one of those!
Chicago Cubs: I’m a White Sox fan, and even I’ve been to a few Cubs games. Wrigley Field is iconic, so it’s worth it to visit the stadium, even if the Cubs aren’t your team. The Cubs are located on the north side; about a 20-minute ride on the red line, from downtown. The Cubs also give away free stuff, so check the schedule to see what they’re giving away.
6. Check Out a Downtown or Neighborhood Park
Ok, you could do this at home BUT, Chicago boats over 600 parks throughout the city. There are an endless amount of neighborhood parks with fun and unique equipment. Many of the parks also have water playgrounds and splash pads for hot days.
A few of the bigger, well-known parks are Millennium Park, Grant Park, Lincoln Park, Maggie Daley Park, and the 606.
7. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is located downtown Chicago and is bordered by Michigan Ave., Randolph St., Columbus Dr., and Monroe Street. It is best known for Cloud Gate, affectionately known as the ‘Bean’ and for Crown Fountain.
The Bean is a stainless steel, reflective sculpture, in the shape of a giant bean. Its location, in the center of the Park, makes it a perfect hub from which families can explore the rest of the park.
Crown Fountain is a pair of identical towers that project faces of Chicago residence and spit out streams of water. It’s right along Michigan Avenue and is an excellent place for kids to play and cool off. Crown Fountain’s water feature opens late-April/early-May, depending on the weather.
Another great family-friendly attraction in Millennium Park is the Lurie Garden. It’s located along the southern edge of the Park, and it is a vibrant garden full of an array of plants, bugs, and a water feature. It’s a great place to let little ones stretch their legs and explore a little bit of nature!
Check out the City of Chicago’s Millennium Park site for more information.
8. Maggie Daley Park:
Maggie Daley Park is a child’s dream come true; it is seriously something out of a children’s book. The park is open 365 days a year from 6 am to 11 pm.
It’s located between Randolph St. and Monroe St. to the north and south, and Columbus Dr., and Lake Shore Dr. to the east and west. It is accessible from Randolph and Monroe Streets or Millennium Park via the BP Pedestrian bridge that connects Maggie Daley Park to Millennium Park.
Maggie Daley Park offers an array of activities for kids, including mini-golf, a climbing wall, and my favorite, the Play Garden.
Mini-Golf: Mini-golf is located to the south of the BP bridge, along Columbus Drive. It’s an 18-hole course with replicas of Chicago icons interspersed throughout. The mini-golf is open seven days a week and is first-come, first served. Also notable is that parties of five or more will be split up.
Climbing Wall: The climbing wall opens mid-April and operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Children under 18 can climb the wall; however, a parent must sign a waiver.
Play Garden: The play garden is comprised of six distinct interconnected areas spanning three acres. Two of the areas are for ages 2-5, two are for 5-12, and two are for all ages. The play areas include a splash-pad, an enchanted forest, a wave lawn, and many distinctive ‘playgrounds.’
9. Navy Pier-Fireworks Start Memorial Day
Navy Pier is Chicago’s number one tourist destination. In this post, I cover things to do inside on Navy Pier (below I’ll cover what to do outdoors). What’s nice about Navy Pier is that the exterior walls slide up (like garage doors) which makes the inside of the Pier open air.
While on the Pier, during the spring, I would spend as much time outside as possible. The Pier Park, along the side of Navy Pier, has the iconic Ferris Wheels, along with other rides, including a carousel. You will also find a climbing wall and an assortment of games for kids.
Another cool thing about the Pier is that they have a free fireworks show every Wednesday and Saturday, Memorial Day through the end of August.
Lastly, check out the beer garden, at the end of the Pier. Most people don’t make it down that far, but it’s an excellent area. You can grab a bite to eat, have a beer, and listen to some stellar live music. Also, this is where you want to be to get the best views of the Chicago skyline!
10. Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks
Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks is comprised of over 2,000 events spread across Chicago’s 77 neighborhood parks. Contrary to its name, many of the activities are in the mornings or the early afternoons. Activities and events include Easter egg hunts, movies, play performances, zombie garden walks, concerts, and a ton of nature, bird, and wildlife programming.
Search ‘My Chi Park’s’ in the App store to download an app with a list of all of the events. There is something for everyone at the Night out in the Parks.
Movies in the Park
Movies in the Park are part of the Night out program; however; I think that these events deserve their own blurb. Movies begin at dusk and are held throughout the neighborhood parks. The films range from G rated to PG-13. Check out their webpage for upcoming movies.
11. Millennium Park Summer Film Series
This film series is held at the Pritzker Pavilion, in Millennium Park, on Tuesday nights at 6:30 pm. The series runs from early June through August.
Past movies have included Hairspray, Groundhog Day, Man on Wire, Get Out, Crash, WALL-E, and Slumdog Millionaire. Films range from G rated to R rated, so take care to check the rating if you are attending with small children.
Bring a blanket, dinner, and drinks and enjoy a ‘free’ night out. Check out their website for an up to date movie schedule.
12. Millennium Park Summer Music Series:
This music series is also held at the Pritzker Pavilion, in Millennium Park, from early June through August. Check here for an up-to-date lineup.
13. The Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory is located on Chicago’s near-west side. You can drive out there or jump on the green line. The Conservatory is free, and parking is free (woot-woot); however, they do have a suggested donation.
I cover the indoor attractions at the Conservatory, in my 15 things to do in Chicago indoors post.
When visiting in the spring (and presuming it’s warm out) I would stroll through the Palm house and visit the Children’s Garden, but then I’d head outside.
Outside they have a ‘Play & Grow Garden’ (which is essentially a natural playground), a sensory garden, a little maze, and a big field for running around. They also have a ton of programming for kids so check out their site to see upcoming activities.
14. The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is located in Lisle, Illinois, about 45 minutes west of Chicago. The Arboretum is 1,700 acres of trees, elaborate gardens, and various collections and habitats.
For kids, they have an elaborate Children’s Garden which is a natural playground, including interactive activities for all ages. Beyond the Children’s Garden, there is a ‘Troll Hunt,’ ‘Mud Kitchen’ and a ‘Word Garden.’ Bring your swimsuit and prepare to get a little dirty!
They also have a ton of events and programming so check out their website for upcoming activities.
15. The Chicago Botanic Gardens
The Chicago Botanic Gardens is located in Glencoe, Illinois, about 30 minutes north of Chicago. The Botanic Gardens is free; however, parking is not. Purchase your parking in advance for a $5 discount.
The Botanic Gardens boats hundreds of flowers, shrubs, and trees, that bloom throughout the spring and summer.
In addition to their vast array of blooms they also have lots of activities for kids, including a butterfly exhibit, a train garden, and tram rides. Also, check out the Regenstein Learning Campus which has a Children’s Garden and a Learning Center. Additionally, they have a bunch of weekly and monthly programming for kids, along with seasonal events. Beware that most of their exhibits and programs cost an additional fee (including the butterfly exhibit and the train garden).
Springtime in Chicago may be the off-season, but there is still a TON of things to do, downtown and further afield. Have you been to any of these places? If so, what did you think?
The most important thing is that once Chicago warms up, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the city! There are so many things to do in Chicago, in the spring; there is no reason to be inside.
Also, if you have any other events or attractions that you think should make the list drop me a comment below!
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3 thoughts on “15 Fun & Relaxing Things to do Outdoors in Chicago in the Spring with Kids”
We’re yet to make it to Chicago but it’s on my wish list. Sounds like Spring is a good time of year to visit!