Things to Do in Chicago on Rainy Days

Summer storms are common in Chicago, and while your visit might fall during a hot, sunny dry spell, you may also find that every day of your vacation is marred by torrential rainfall and frightening thunder storms. Rather than huddle inside the protective enclave of your hotel room, check out some of these things to do in Chicago on rainy days.


Of course, one of the most popular activities for rainy days in Chicago is a visit to one of the many museums in the city. No matter what your interests – classic art, photography, natural or industrial history, science, African-American or Mexican-American art, modern art, stained glass, surgical science, or astronomy – there’s a museum for you. Many of these museums are free or offer free days throughout the year.

>> more on Chicago museums


You’ll have to bring an umbrella and dress accordingly (a raincoat and a pair of waterproof wellie boots are invaluable in Chicago during summer), but shopping can be an excellent rainy-day activity. Choose Michigan Avenue for high-end designer shops mixed with familiar chains, Lakeview for thrift stores and inexpensive boutiques, Lincoln Park or Southport for one-of-a-kind shops at every price point, and Bucktown for trendy designer duds.

>> more on shopping in Chicago


Downtown Chicago is home to hundreds of swanky spas, many in posh hotels like the Peninsula and the Four Seasons (and as a bonus, many allow spa guests access to the otherwise guest-only indoor pools and steam rooms). Spend a rainy day pampering yourself with a facial, massage or mani/pedi.

Theater, comedy and music

When you’re inside a dark theater, who cares what the outside weather is like? Rainy summer nights are the perfect time to take in a play, opera, musical or ballet or see an improv or comedy show. For the more popular shows, you’ll be out of luck if you didn’t buy tickets in advance, but many of the smaller shows and performances spaces sell tickets the day of the show, often at a discount.

>> more on theater in Chicago


Most of Chicago’s sightseeing tours operate no matter what the weather. You won’t want to be on the top deck of the open-air bus, but if you sit inside you can still get a good glimpse of the city (and learn a lot) while you stay warm and dry.

>> more on sightseeing tours in Chicago

Like many places in the midwest, Chicago’s weather can be quite volatile. A day that starts off sunny could end cold and wet, and a day of showers and storms could see several sunshine breaks. It’s even been know to be sunny and raining at the same time! So come prepared for any weather, be flexible with your schedule and always have an inclement weather back-up plan.

Photo by: Tom Gill (lapstrake)