Even on a rainy day in Chicago, you can still have a great time. There are plenty of indoor activities when the Windy City becomes a rainy city! Take advantage of this detailed selection of the 23 best indoor things to do in Chicago, mainly when outdoor activities aren't optimal!
1. Take in a Show at One of Chicago's World-Famous Theaters
Take advantage of the thriving theater scene in Chicago in one of many neighborhoods in the city. The most famous is the downtown Loop. Check out the iconic Chicago Theater, or choose a theater slightly off the beaten path. The Chicago Magic Lounge, located in the Andersonville neighborhood, offers a unique blend of a speakeasy, magic show, and theatrical production that you won't find anywhere else. Enter through the secret door to a laundromat and be transported into a mysterious location. Find a list of the top Chicago theaters here.
2. Head Up High to the Ultimate Indoor Activities in Chicago
The 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, located at the top of the former John Hancock building, boasts awe-inspiring 360-degree views of Lake Shore Drive and the rest of downtown Chicago from nearly 1,000 feet up. Marvel at the magnificent vistas of the Windy City during the day, at sunset, or under the illuminated night sky. Check 360 Chicago ticket availability.
3. Play in an Alternate Reality
Embark on an adventure in the world of digital entertainment with Redline VR. This virtual reality experience provides an exhilarating ride for children and adults, allowing them to explore everything from outer space to underwater realms. Utilizing top-of-the-line technology and offering interactive gameplay, Redline VR ensures an unforgettable and thrilling activity, ideal for a Chicago rainy day.
4. Enjoy Chicago's Cool Indoor Bars and Clubs
The city boasts a thriving and dynamic bar and club scene that caters to a diverse range of preferences, and it's one of the best indoor activities in Chicago for adults. With an array of options from historic dive bars to sophisticated lounges, there is something for everyone seeking indoor nightlife activities.
For a unique and unforgettable experience, the CloudBar at 360 CHICAGO is a must-visit destination. This lounge, located on the 94th floor, is the highest bar in Chicago and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan. Its modern and sleek setting provides an ideal backdrop for a date or a night out with friends, and visitors can enjoy elevated cocktails, specialty coffees, mocktails, and snacks.
5. Make it a Game Night (or Game Day) in Chicago
Get ready for a night of wildly fun interactive games. Game Night Out is a fully hosted game night (or game day) experience. It's an indoor activity in spacious, private living rooms that feel like one of your friend's homes. The competition will be fierce, and the memories will last a lifetime.
6. Get in a Good Belly Laugh
Chicago is renowned for its comedy scene and is home to the birthplace of some of America's greatest comedians. For a chance to witness legends and future stars, visit the various locations offering improv and sketch comedy, such as Zanies Comedy Club, known for special appearances from iconic comedians such as Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, and Ellen DeGeneres. Zanies hosts both local and national acts. However, the most famous of Chicago's comedy clubs is Second City, where legendary comedians from John Belushi to Tina Fey and Steve Carell have trained. Laughter is the best medicine, so why not spend your rainy day in Chicago indoors at one of these top clubs and get ready to laugh until it hurts?
7. Savor the Sweet Side of Life at the Museum of Ice Cream
Experience the thrill of indulging in boundless desserts and unrestricted playtime within a dynamic wonderland of immersive installations at the Museum of Ice Cream. Rekindle your inner child as you embark on an adventure featuring delectable ice cream hot dogs, a miniature golf course with dessert-inspired obstacles, and a plunge into the world-renowned sprinkle pool. The Museum of Ice Cream offers the most delightful venue in Chicago for an unforgettable frosty excursion!
8. Be in Awe at the Field Museum of Natural History
Opening its doors in 1894, The Field Museum has a collection of over 40 million specimens and artifacts from all over the world that are bound to amaze anyone who walks through its corridors. The building itself has an incredible history of its own. Visit again and again, as there is always a new exhibit to explore.
9. Ride a Thrill Ride Up in the Sky
It's one of the highest thrill rides in the world, and it's indoors! TILT at 360 CHICAGO Located on the 94th floor of the former John Hancock Building, TILT provides a unique and thrilling view of the city. Visitors can lean outwards on a glass window that tilts forward to a 30-degree angle, offering an exciting perspective of the Windy City. It's an exciting ride not to miss and ideal for a rainy day.
10. Witness the Incredible Underwater World at The Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium is the perfect indoor activity in Chicago on a rainy day. This exhilarating indoor public aquarium, with a diverse collection of over 32,000 marine animals and creatures worldwide, offers a rare and fascinating opportunity to discover marine life and its preservation. From the thrill of touching stingrays to witnessing impressive dolphin shows and engaging exhibits, the Shedd Aquarium promises an unforgettable experience. Whether on a rainy day or otherwise, visiting this aquatic wonderland in Chicago is highly recommended.
11. Take in some Indie Film Classics
Step back and explore the historic Logan Theatre, an iconic vintage movie house that opened in 1915. This landmark establishment is a cornerstone of North Milwaukee Avenue and is known for its unique blend of cinematic experiences, including indie films, cult classics, and exciting new releases. Adorned with an impressive collection of sports artifacts and boasting a beautifully renovated bar and lounge, the Logan Theatre provides a memorable atmosphere for moviegoers of all kinds.
12. Shop til you Drop on the Mag Mile
Shop to your heart's content at Macy's, on State Street's discount department store zone, or at an array of eclectic boutique shops. For luxury shopping, visit 900 North Michigan Shops, a 450,000-square-foot retail space with over 70 luxe retailers like Gucci, MaxMara, Montblanc, Bloomingdales, and Aster Hall Food Hall. Learn about more things to do on the Mag Mile.
13. Discover Fun in Chicago Indoors on a WhirlyBall
Experience a day of exhilarating entertainment with your loved ones indoors at WhirlyBall in Bucktown. The entire family can participate in various activities, including laser tag, bumper car racing, and the timeless game of WhirlyBall. With an array of options available, children and adults can relish a day filled with excitement.
14. Sip and Savor an Afternoon High Tea
Make your rainy day afternoon a little fancy. Visit the Drake Hotel at Palm Court for Afternoon Tea. This century-old tradition has had royals grace its halls, from the Queen to Princess Diana. Peruse the menu of 17 unique tea blends of classic choices or teas with a modern twist. Tea is served in individual tea pots accompanied by the traditional three-tiered tea tray filled with finger sandwiches, scones, and petit fours with house-made preserves.
15. Test Your Problem-Solving Skills in an Escape Room
Discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks with a group of friends or family on a rainy day! Move throughout the puzzle room to find the fastest way out. Some of the most highly rated locations in Chicago include The Escape Game and Fox in a Box, with escape rooms that have different themes.
16. Surround Yourself in Nature Indoors
Indulge in a journey to another world at the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Nestled in the heart of Lincoln Park, this renowned landmark encourages visitors to immerse themselves in its four breathtaking display houses - the Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House, and Show House. As you stroll through the lush greenery, you'll feel transported to a tropical paradise, no matter how wet or cold the weather is outside!
18. Sing Along to Some Traditional Favorites
Explore your musical side at The Music Box Theatre, Chicago’s go-to venue for independent, foreign, cult, and classic films since 1929. For some added fun, visit during a sing-along movie screening throughout the year, like The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, or a seasonal Christmas movie.
19. Catch a Live Music Show
Chicago's rich musical legacy dates back decades. Experience the electrifying energy of live performances at the city's eclectic music venues, such as The Hideout. This venue showcases various music genres, ranging from country to punk, and offers unique events like poetry readings and open mic nights. For jazz aficionados, The Green Mill, a century-old institution, is the ultimate hotspot to catch local and national jazz acts any day of the week. This venue offers an elegant and nostalgic atmosphere.
20. Get Curious About Science
The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is globally recognized for its 400,000-square-foot expanse of interactive exhibits. It seeks to stimulate scientific curiosity and ignite the flame of creativity in its visitors. What sets it apart is not just its collection but also its unique architecture, including the building from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.
21. Take a Break at the World's Largest Starbucks
After touring Chicago, a pick-me-up is essential! There is no better place than a visit to the World’s Largest Starbucks, located on the Magnificent Mile. Indulge in a coffee, tea, refresher, frappuccino, or anything else calling your name. In no time, you'll be energized to continue your exploration because there is so much to experience in Chicago, even on a rainy day.
22. Devour Some Delicious Bites in a Food Hall
Chicago loves a good food hall. There are several food halls where you can sip, eat, shop, and sample plates from some of the top restaurants in the city, all under one roof. Check out Time Out Chicago, a 50,000-square-foot market featuring 18 eateries. Or visit Revival Food Hall in the heart of the Chicago Loop, specializing in local food. For a comprehensive Italian-focused food hall experience, head over to Eataly for al dente pasta plates, wine pairings, Neapolitan pizza, and more.
23. Delve into Cosmic Truths
Immerse yourself in the wonders of the cosmos at America's first planetarium. Engage with interactive exhibits and delve into mesmerizing cosmic truths. Discover two impressive domed theaters covering an expansive 60,000 square feet, and explore the renowned Doane Observatory, which houses the most extensive publicly available telescope in the Chicagoland area. Prepare for an unforgettable indoor activity in Chicago that truly takes you beyond the realm of Earth.