Chicago is known as the windy city, but like much of the midwest, it can also occasionally become the rainy city.
Although it’s not necessarily a guarantee that it will rain on your trip, it is important to make sure that you have some indoor activity ideas in mind for what to do on a potential rainy day in Chicago.
If you’re searching for indoor activities in Chicago, check out a few of our favorite suggestions for rainy day trip ideas.
Some of our must-see spots include…
- Shedd Aquarium
- Observation Decks
- Field Museum
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Adker Planetarium
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center
- The Escape Game Chicago
- And more!
Looking for some fun things to do indoors?
Admission to many of these activities is available on the Go Chicago® Card.
Choose as you go from a number of fun attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
One of Chicago’s most popular attractions should definitely be on the top of your rainy day to-do list. Shedd Aquarium is filled with the world’s most fascinating aquatic plants and animals, from the great whale to tiny tropical fish.
A few of the most popular exhibits include “Waters of the World,” “Caribbean Reef,” and the Abbott Oceanarium. There are also some areas specifically designed with your little ones in mind, like the “Polar Play Zone,” where kids can step into a penguin suit!
With 32,000 fascinating marine animals swimming within the walls of the complex, there’s no shortage of things to see and do here.
Getting In: Shedd Aquarium tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Chicago Observation Decks
If you’re looking for some excellent views of the city that can’t be beat, then an observation deck is your best bet. Luckily in Chicago, you have two incredible options to choose from: 360 CHICAGO or SkyDeck Chicago.
Located on the 94th floor of John Hancock Observatory, 360 CHICAGO offers unparalleled views of Chicago and beyond. You’ll be able to see parts of Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin as well as sparkling Lake Michigan and the Illinois city’s skyline.
SkyDeck Chicago is located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower and looks out from Navy Pier to Soldier Field. The coolest part of SkyDeck Chicago is The Ledge, an all-glass balcony that extends from the side of the building out into space. It’ll feel like your floating in the Chicago sky.
One of the most comprehensive natural history museums around, the Field Museum is founded on the collections of the 1893 World’s Fair. Today, the institution boasts artifacts spanning 4.6 billion years of history across dozens of exciting galleries and exhibit spaces.
Some of their major highlights include SUE, the world’s largest complete T. Rex; the “Inside Ancient Egypt” exhibit which features tools, jewelry, mummies, and more; and the Grainger Hall of Gems, which is one of the largest collections of gemstones in the world.
Getting In: Field Museum tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Art Institute of Chicago
This is a must for the art lovers in your group. One of the best art museums in the world, and certainly one of the top museums of any kind in the country, the Art Institute of Chicago is simply exceptional.
Their classic collections are filled with iconic pieces such as the Chagall stained glass windows, Matisse’s “Bathers by a River,” and Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Black Cross, New Mexico.” And, of course, Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”!
They also offer rotating special exhibits by established and up-and-coming artists, so you’ll find something to inspire you every time you visit.
Getting In:The Art Institute of Chicago tickets is included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Museum of Science and Industry
Kids and adults alike will enjoy the chance to explore this engaging museum. It’s been named a Top 25 US Museum by TripAdvisor, and is consistently popular among locals, too.
14 whole acres of exhibits include an authentic WWII German submarine, an Illinois coal mine, a mirror maze, and much more. It’s the largest science museum in the country, so you’ll be able to spend the day here easily.
Kids will love the chance to run around and play, and you’ll love that they’re learning as they explore.
Getting In: Museum of Science and Industry tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Another jewel of Chicago’s Museum Campus is the family-friendly Adler Planetarium.
Here you can explore the wonders of the endless universe through multiple exhibits and films. Top exhibits include “Planet Explorers,” where kids can climb and play through a “modern-day space adventure,” and “Mission Moon,” which traces the history of the Apollo missions.
Don’t miss out on their new film, either, “Planet Nine,” which probes the question of which planet will replace Pluto in our star system’s line up.
Getting In: Adler Planetarium tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Although Chicago is an easier city than most to find indoor attractions in, it can still be difficult to find the right place for your kids to burn off all that extra energy.
The Chicago Children’s Museum is the solution to all your problems: it’s filled with high-energy, interactive exhibits, hands-on programs, and free daily art classes, among other things.
It’s also located on Navy Pier, which offers a number of other attractions that you can enjoy if the rain clears up, like classic fairground rides, bike rentals, and more.
Getting In: Chicago Children’s Museum tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center
If you’re willing to take a bit of a drive out of the city, you’ll find that LEGOLAND Discovery Center is worth the effort.
This expansive indoor attraction is filled with everything LEGO, from building stations guided by Master Model Builders to rides like the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride.
Be sure to stop by MINILAND, too, where you’ll find small-scale replicas of downtown Chicago landmarks.
This attraction is best suited for children under ten or so. It’s a great activity to take the kids to on a day with iffy weather!
Getting In: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Chicago History Museum
If you’re interested in the history of Chicago, then a visit to this informative museum is a smart choice.
Exhibits focus on significant moments and periods in Chicago history, like the Great Chicago Fire, the World’s Columbian Exhibition, and contemporary architectural movements.
A fun exhibit for kids is the “Sensing Chicago” section, which introduces visitors to all the smells and sounds of the big city.
Getting In: Chicago History Museum tickets are included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Robie House Tours
If you know anything about Chicago’s cultural scene,then you know that it’s a city famed for its extensive, diverse, and striking architecture. Among the great names who have built some of the city’s most iconic buildings stands one of the most iconic architects of them all – Frank Lloyd Wright.
Learn more about this creative giant with a visit to his home and studio. Here is where he designed the Robie House, the Larkin Building, and the Unity Temple.
Architecture buffs will also enjoy a visit to the Robie House itself, one of Wright’s most beautiful private home designs.
The Escape Game Chicago
Can you escape? Test your skills, grit, smarts, and ability and see if you have what it takes at The Escape Game Chicago.
An escape room is the perfect place to go on a day when the heat is just unbearable. At Escape Game Chicago, you’ll have your choice between four different themed escape scenarios.
Choose from Mission Mars, Gold Rush, Prison Break or The Heist. You’ll race against the clock during each of them to escape!
While children are allowed to participate in The Escape Game Chicago, it is recommended for players age 13 and up as some of the content may be too difficult for younger children to understand.
Getting in: The Escape Game Chicago tickets are included on Go Chicago Card.
Spend some time (and maybe some money) doing a bit of shopping in Chicago. A great option that is totally indoors is the Water Tower Place Mall, which offers high end couture shops alongside classic chain stores, plus a LEGO store and a large American Girl Doll Place.
If you don’t mind dodging the raindrops a bit, then the Magnificent Mile is a perfect option, which has a little bit of just about everything (including a really nifty City Target).
Chicago is an amazing theater town. You’ll find everything from Shakespeare to Roberto Bolaño on stage, with plays ranging from classic, big-budget theater to affordable local performances.
Check out the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, which is a conveniently located venue that’s near a number of other attractions, too.
Getting In: Theater tickets are not included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Theater buffs may also enjoy the Chicago Theatre Tour, which is also included with the Go Chicago® Card.
Quick Rainy Day Recap
See? You can stay dry all while having plenty of great options for indoor things to do in Chicago when it’s raining out.
We hope these ideas helped inspire you to create a fun filled indoorsy itinerary.