No other city relishes spring quite like Chicago. As soon as the sunshine arrives on the scene, Chicagoans creep out from their winterized abodes, ready to soak in the sunshine and warmth. You might know Chicago as the “Windy City” or the “City of Broad Shoulders,” but one of our city’s most fitting nicknames is Urbs in Horto, “Garden City” in Latin. Come springtime, everywhere you turn, you’ll see flowers in bloom, ushering in this beautiful season of renewal. Here are six wonderful ways to celebrate springtime in Chicago.
1. Explore the city and area nature preserves by bicycle
“My favorite thing about spring in Chicago is watching the surge of energy as people get out to enjoy the beautiful spring weather after several months indoors,” shares Jessica Mlinaric, author of “Secret Chicago.” “My favorite way to celebrate spring in Chicago is to tune up my bike and explore its neighborhoods. I love seeing the spectrum of different people cruising the sidewalks of my neighborhood, Wicker Park, from shoppers to street musicians. Between the 18-mile Lakefront Trail and hundreds of parks, there are plenty of places to take in nature on a ride. Biking may still be chilly come spring, but I’m always happy to warm up with a brewery break!”
The City of Chicago boasts a wonderful map of bikeable neighborhoods and city trails. For a more nature-inspired bike journey, the Forest Preserves of Cook County offers a new web map designed to help bikers and hikers plan trips and navigate the many area preserve trails. And before you head out, read our family-friendly guide to biking in Chicago.
2. Catch a spring show
“The spring stage rivals autumn when it comes to inspiring entertainment of all genres,” explains Bonnie Kenaz-Mara, Chicago theater expert and blogger at ChiILLiveShows. “I catch an average of 20-plus plays a month and consider Chicago’s theater scene second to none. I have three performances on my radar for spring: ‘An Enemy of the People‘ at Goodman Theatre, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s classic written nearly 150 years ago, though it feels as if it were penned today for our current environmental and political woes; ‘Buried Child‘ at Writers Theatre, Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic starring one of Chicago’s favorite actors, Larry Yando, under the direction of another Chicago favorite, Kimberly Senior; [and] ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Seas‘ is a great spring pick for families. Lookingglass has a well-earned reputation for merging theater arts with circus arts over their 30-year span. This world premiere, adapted by ensemble members David Kersnar and Althos Low from the books by Jules Verne and directed by David Kersnar, is sure to be one to see.”
3. Find all the flowers
Two venues pack the house with flowers every spring, rolling out a truly green carpet for guests.
Macy’s on State Street bursts and blooms with the spirit of the season during its annual Macy’s Flower Show (March 25 to April 8, 2018) when expert florists adorn the entire store with gorgeous flowers, creating a shopping experience like no other. A wonderful array of free workshops and related events rounds out the flowery fun. Free to the public, the show is open during regular store hours. A wide array of cooking and floral demos make this event not just fun but also educational.
Spring arrives early to the Garfield Park Conservatory, thanks to the annual Spring Flower Display (through May 13, 2018). The conservatory brims with hundreds of tropical plants, azaleas, tulips, snapdragons, camellias, and more. This year’s Spring Flower Show celebrates social sharing with its quirky theme “Hashtag No Filter” and encourages visitors to capture the beauty of blooming flowers on Instagram with the hashtag #gpcnofilter.
4. See the animals come out of hibernation at Lincoln Park Zoo
Humans aren’t the only city inhabitants that look forward to coming out of hibernation every spring! Located in the heart of a charming city park, the Lincoln Park Zoo is educational, fun, and free, and in the springtime it’s one of the best places in the city to enjoy a sunny afternoon. The zoo also does an amazing job of connecting people to animals thanks to a wide array of workshops and events: Guests at the zoo this spring can take part in a yoga class along Nature’s Boardwalk, take a walk on the wild side at the Zoo-ologie gala, and even campout with the animals!
5. Indulge in a springtime spa treatment
Springtime calls for sloughing off dry, wintery skin and prepping for strappy sandals and sundresses. Fairmont Chicago‘s in-hotel MySpa offers a 30-minute Seasonal Body Treatment that promises to exfoliate and hydrate your skin, leaving it smooth, soft, and ready for spring. For a more indulgent spa experience, the hotel’s Spa Retreat Package includes overnight accommodations for two in a Fairmont guestroom and a $200 credit per room per night to be used in Fairmont’s MySpa for service. In the ‘burbs, Kohler Waters Spa Burr Ridge and Hampton Social Burr Ridge have dreamed up a duo just in time for spring: Available now through May 31, the two locations are teaming up for the “Relax and Rosé” package, offering guests who book the exclusive “Relax and Rosé” massage a special 50 percent off the Rosé of the Day bottle selection at Hampton Social, which just opened its doors in November 2017. Spa-goers will receive a special voucher at check-out to claim their coveted bottle during their next visit at the nautical-themed restaurant highly lauded for its coastal fare, East Coast beach vibes, and, of course, rosé.
6. Stroll an open-air market and shop spring’s bounty
Chicago’s premier sustainable and seasonal farmers market, the Green City Market, opens for the spring season on Saturday, May 5, at 7 a.m. You can count on finding the best of spring’s bounty at this beautiful market, located at the south end of Lincoln Park, between Clark and Stockton Drive. Green City Market isn’t just a farmers market: It’s on a mission to provide a marketplace for purchasing sustainably grown food while also connecting farmers and local producers directly to chefs, restaurateurs, and the greater Chicago community. Alice Waters calls this beloved market “the best sustainable market in the country,” and it truly is a fantastic place to shop for the best seasonal, organic, and local fruits, veggies, and specialty gourmet products. Bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch or take part in an onsite cooking demo. Opening day festivities include a 10:30 a.m. demo by Chef Paul Virant of Vie and Vistro and live music by The Winchesters.
Amy Bizzarri is a Chicago-based freelance writer focused on food and travel. She has a keen interest in Chicago history and is the author of “111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss” and “Discovering Vintage Chicago.” Amy is also a proud member of [email protected], a movement that works to ensure children around the globe have access to the vaccines they need.