Apr 2, 2022 - Things to Do

4 ideas for your best spring in Chicago

Photo of flowers blooming in front of big skyscrapers.
Flowers in bloom in Millennium Park. Photo: Robert Knopes/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It's that time of year where the birds start chirping, the flowers start blooming and the snow stops falling ... sometimes.

We put together a few ideas for you to enjoy the elusive spring months in Chicago.

1. Chicago's big weekend of festivals
Drawing of a music festival with skyscrapers in the background.
An artist rendering of the Chicago Blues Festival when it was in Grant Park. Art: Mark McMahon/Franklin McMahon/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

With spring comes more street, music and food festivals. If you want to get out of your pandemic cocoon and experience the soul of Chicago, there are plenty of festival-packed weekends to look forward to.

  • But one weekend rules them all: June 10-12. Check out all these festivals:

The Chicago Blues Festival: The annual free city festival returns to Millennium Park. Lineups have yet to be announced, but this gathering is more about celebrating hometown music than lineups.

Hyde Park Summer Fest: Back after a two-year hiatus, it takes place in the Midway Plaisance and features headliners Busta Rhymes and Lupe Fiasco.

Andersonville Midsommarfest: The popular street fest returns after two years off. It takes over Clark Street and celebrates the neighborhood's Swedish origins.

Puerto Rican Festival: The weekend shindig takes over Humboldt Park, culminating in the Puerto Rican People's Day Parade on Sunday.

The Old Town Art Fair: One of the longest-running art fairs in the country, this joins in with the Wells Street Art Festival to shut down Old Town.

Taste of Chicago Pop-Ups: The city is bringing the downtown festival to neighborhoods in June, leading to a scaled-down version of the Grant Park festival in July.

The 2022 James Beard Awards: The awards technically take place on Monday, June 13, but the weekend will feature public events and restaurant parties galore.

⚾ This weekend will also have a rocking Guaranteed Rate Field, as the White Sox welcome the Texas Rangers to town.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: Does anyone want to try and take on all of these events in one weekend? I'm in.

💭 Monica's thought bubble: Sounds like too much for my fun-sensors to handle at once. I may leave and rent my place on Airbnb.

2. Visit the Jackson Park cherry blossoms
GIF of the cherry blossom trees in front of a museum.
The 2021 Cherry Blossoms in Jackson Park GIF: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Your fancy Washington, D.C. friends may have been posting about cherry blossoms throughout March, but we do our cherry blossom frolicking in mid-April (weather permitting).

  • And the best place to do it is Jackson Park, where the city has planted 160 trees near the Museum of Science and Industry Lagoon and the Japanese Garden of the Phoenix.
  • The scene is so transportive that you may feel like you've arrived on another planet.

Pro tip: Consider bringing a picnic of sushi or other Japanese delights to enjoy under a shower of falling petals.

3. Great picnic spots
Photo of a man sitting on a rock with a computer in his hands and doughnuts next to him.
Justin works during his doughnut picnic at Calumet Park last summer. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Calumet Park: Grab some smoked or fried fish from Calumet Fisheries and head over to this 181-acre park along the lake. On top of its wide stretches of green grass and shady groves, it offers some of the closest free parking to the lake in the whole park system.

Photo of a woman leaning against a light pole with the city skyline in background.
Monica finds the best spot at 31st Street Har to picnic. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

31st Street Harbor: Yes, it's a harbor, but there's this wonderful plaza and green space built over the building that includes picnic tables and grassy knolls with lovely lake views for picnickers. Plus, there's nearby parking.

Skokie Lagoon: The North suburban gem gives you a glimpse at nature right off the Edens. It sprawls 894 acres and features fishing, biking/hiking, and picnic areas. You can even rent a canoe!

Swallow Cliff Woods: Ever thought about eating a picnic lunch on a 100-foot high bluff? These woods near Palos Park feature 125 limestone stairs to get up to the bluff. Great for sledding, but also for a nice spring hike.

4. Help clean rivers, forests, and parks
Photo of a turtle and a graphic promoting Chicago River Day.
Chicago River Day is on May 14th. Flyer courtesy of Chicago River Day

Spring is a great time to get out and help make your community look better. Our area has a bunch of opportunities in the coming months, including:

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