Chicago in August – Travel Guide

Visiting Chicago in August offers warm yet humid weather. Even when there is an increased chance of rain, it’s still a great time to see Chicago’s famous landmarks and enjoy the city.

Growing up in Chicago, I have plenty of experience exploring the city and have compiled a list of what to pack, what to expect weatherwise in August, and much more.

In this guide about Chicago in August, you will learn about

  • Chicago’s Public Transportation System
  • The Weather in August
  • What to wear in August | Outfits | Packing List
  • How to Avoid Crowds
  • Rates
  • The Best Things to Do in August
  • Events in July
  • 5 Top Food Spots (at the end of this article 💡)

and more helpful tips!

💡 Visiting earlier? Read our summer guides:

Essential Links to Save | Activities | Hotels | Guides:

🎟️ Best Chicago Tours/Cheap Tickets
🏠 Low-Price Chicago Hotel Deals

🏙️ Chicago Travel Guides (Amazon)

All of the links above open in a new tab. They are incredibly useful for your Chicago summer visit.

In this guide, we provide you with details on the weather, what to wear, and more to help you plan your trip.

💡 Don’t forget to check out our hand-picked food places at the end of this article!

Must-Do Activity in July: River Cruise

If you’re visiting Chicago this summer, a river cruise is an absolute must-do, the highlight of the city’s attractions.

It’s a breathtaking journey where the vibrant landscapes and the architecture along the riverbanks come to life. Among all the amazing experiences in Chicago, cruising the river during this season stands out as a truly unique adventure, offering unparalleled views of the city’s iconic views.

💡 It’s an experience so enchanting that if you choose just one activity in Chicago, make it a river cruise in the summer!

Essential August Packing Tip | Light Rain Jacket

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A light rain jacket is essential for every summer month in Chicago. More outfit and packing tips later!

Get to Know Chicago’s Buses and Trains

Chicago has a great system for getting around, which includes buses and trains that many people use every day. It’s a cheap way to see the city and feel like you’re part of it. Here are some tips to help you use public transportation like someone who lives in Chicago:

  • Start by Understanding the System: The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) runs both the buses and the “L” trains. These can take you almost anywhere you want to go in the city.
  • Use a Map or App: It’s a good idea to look at a map or use an app on your phone to find out how to get from one place to another. This can save you a lot of time.
  • It Saves Money: Using the CTA is much cheaper than taking a cab or renting a car. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to park.

Additional Tip for Using Public Transport:

  • Buy a Pass: If you’re going to be in Chicago for a few days, think about getting a pass for the CTA. You can buy a pass that lets you ride as much as you want for a certain number of days. This is a great way to save money if you plan to use the bus and train a lot.

Remember, taking public transport is not just about getting from one place to another. It’s also a chance to see the city in a new way and meet people who live there. Give it a try!

Chicago Travel Guides | Our Tips

SaleBestseller No. 1
Fodor's Chicago (Full-color Travel Guide)
  • Fodor's Travel Guides (Author)
SaleBestseller No. 2
SaleBestseller No. 3

Weather

The Chicago weather in August is perfect for a river cruise

Chicago in August is warm and pleasant with an average high temperature of 81°F (27°C). With an average rainfall of about 9-10 days during this month, you can expect the weather to be pretty humid.

Average Temperature

In August, the average high temperature starts at 85°F and slowly decreases to about 79°F toward the end of the month as Chicago shifts into fall. In the morning, temperatures are typically in the low 70s, with the hottest temperatures hitting around 3 pm each day.

Average high temperatures in August:

  • Early August: 85°F (29°C)
  • Mid-August: 81°F (27°C)
  • Late August: 79°F (26°C)

Typical temperature progression during a day in August:

  • Morning: 73°F (23°C)
  • Afternoon: 80°F (27°C)
  • Late Evening: 75°F (24°C)

In the evenings, the temperatures remain around the high 70s to low 80s. We promise it will feel cooler in the evenings, even with higher temperatures, once the sun goes down.

If you’re looking for the weather and more visiting tips during other months, please check out our complete guide about the best time to visit Chicago.

Rainfall

In August, it rains an average of 9-10 days, with only about three days offering heavy rain. During this month, the average rainfall is about 3.4″. While it may seem like a lot of rain, it’s often dry and hot. However, the rain provides the opportunity to explore the famous museums of Chicago like the Art Institute.

Can You Swim in August in Lake Michigan

Throughout August in Chicago, Lake Michigan is comfortable for swimming, particularly on hot and humid summer days. When the air temperature is in the 80s, the water usually feels great. Swimming is only permitted in designated areas at the beaches when lifeguards are on duty (11 AM – 7 PM).

Keep in mind that you are not allowed to swim outside the designated zones. There is no fee, as admission to Chicago’s beaches is free. The beach season runs until early September (Labor Day).

What to Wear | Packing Tips | Outfits

During August in Chicago, the weather is quite humid and you should wear light layers during the day. This includes cotton shirts and shorts/pants. Most visitors and locals wear dresses during this month to keep cool.

Morning/Evening
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In the morning and evening, you’ll want to bring a light waterproof jacket. Because the weather is unpredictable, you may experience rain during these times. If possible, wear waterproof or water-resistant shoes to avoid walking around with wet socks during the day.

We also recommend extra socks if you get stuck in the rain. If possible, bring a raincoat with you, especially when rain is expected. Otherwise, light long sleeve tops, breathable pants/shorts, and comfortable shoes are great for mornings and evenings.

Daytime
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While there is still a chance of rain during the day, you’re more likely to encounter sunny or cloudy weather with humidity. Wearing light clothing during this time is ideal as the high level of moisture will make the temperature feel warmer.

💡 Even on hot days, bring a light sweater as some restaurants really crank up the air conditioning. That’s a lifesaver if you get cold easily.

If it’s sunny out, wear a cap or hat as it’s easy to get sunburned, especially when you’re not in the shadows of the skyscrapers. Wear comfortable sneakers, a breathable t-shirt, and shorts for exploring the city. You may want to bring a light water-resistant jacket in case rain occurs.

Tops
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  • Tank tops: Essential for hot days, choose breathable fabrics.
  • Crop-tops: Stylish and great for keeping cool.
  • Short sleeve shirts: Versatile and comfortable for walking around the city.
  • Lightweight blouses: For a dressier look during the day or for evenings out.
  • Open front or back tops: Offers ventilation and style in the heat.
Dresses and Skirts
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  • Sundresses: A must-have for their airflow and ease of wear.
  • Flowy skirts: Comfortable and can be dressed up or down.
  • Maxi dresses: Offer coverage and comfort while still being chic.
Comfortable Shoes | Essential
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Visiting Chicago often involves a lot of walking. Come prepared. Prioritize stylish summer sneakers over sandals. If you like, include one fancier shoe or heel that can go with multiple outfits.

What to Wear and Packing List
  • Raincoat or light waterproof jacket (necessary for rainy days/unpredictable weather)
  • Light, breathable shirts
  • T-shirts/blouses
  • Light shorts/pants
  • Caps or hats (during sunny days)
  • Water-resistant shoes/comfortable shoes
  • Multiple pairs of socks (necessary when rain is present)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Swimsuit/swimwear
  • Pajamas
  • Sunscreen

Crowds

It doesn’t have to be crowded in August everywhere at anytime: Rogers Park, The Lighthouse at Loyola Beach in the morning. Google Maps location – Lighthouse

August in Chicago brings many people – both tourists and locals. You can expect busy popular places and a good amount of people to be out and about enjoying the weather. The beginning of August is typically more crowded as families visit the city before school starts.

Avoid the crowds by arriving at activities as early as possible. If you can arrive when the doors open, you should have about an hour without long lines for most locations like museums or restaurants.

Rates



Booking.com

As crowds are relatively high in August, you can expect higher rates for hotels and flights. Try to book your accommodation and flights as early as possible. Otherwise, you may not get the dates you want for your hotel and flights.

Things to Do

Navy Pier in the summer

August offers some of the best activities in Chicago, with options for indoor and outdoor choices. You can choose from free exercise classes in Millennium Park, free concerts, walking along the Chicago Riverwalk, exploring the historic district on Milwaukee Ave., or hunting down street art. Below, you’ll find additional free and paid things to do while visiting the city.

Architecture River Cruise

Chicago River architecture tours are a must-see for anyone visiting Chicago for the first time and August offers the perfect weather for a cruise. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the city while floating along on a boat. You’ll be learning about the most famous skyscrapers like the Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower).

Tickets and more information can be found here: Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Tour. IMPORTANT: We highly recommend making a reservation in advance in August, as the cruises are very popular. However, you are free to try getting a ticket on short notice of course.

  • When: Year-round | Best in the summer
  • Where: Corner of Michigan (DuSable) Bridge
  • Price: about $40 per person
Navy Pier Centennial Wheel

The Centennial Wheel is one of the most iconic activities in Chicago and a must-do in August. This 200-foot Ferris wheel offers spectacular panoramic views of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and Navy Pier.

The standard tickets are great for times when there are fewer crowds, like rainy days. As it will be quite crowded in August, you can purchase the express tickets to jump to the front of the line. If you have children under the age of 2, they can ride for free.

Recommended tickets and more information can be found here: Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket.

  • When: Year-round
  • Where: 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611
  • Price: $19.62 per person for standard entry, $30.52 per person for express entry
Art Institute Tour (Before Opening Hours)

If you’ve never experienced the Art Institute in Chicago, we highly recommend visiting this location in August, primarily via this tour. You’ll be able to recognize this famous building by the green lions that “guard” the exterior, which is also the meeting point for the tour.

Inside, you’ll be guided through sections of the museum that are filled with paintings, sculptures, and other mediums by the likes of Picasso and Rembrandt. Purchase skip-the-line tickets (highly recommended) and find additional details here: Art Institute Tour.

  • When: Year-round
  • Where: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
  • Price: $115.54 per person
Walking by Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is stunning to see, but nothing beats walking along the lake nearby Navy Pier on a sunny day in August. This route allows you to view the famous Ferris wheel with the skyline of Chicago in the background.

We love this route as it will take you alongside the beach. You can walk, jog, or bike ride on this path.

  • When: Year-round
  • Where: Lakefront trail off Fullerton Avenue
  • Price: Free
The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour (Year-round)
  • When: Year-round, great in April
  • Where: 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601
  • Price: $18 per person

This tour of the Chicago Theatre Marquee is a perfect activity to try on a rainy day in August. The tour lasts for 60 minutes and discusses the history of this building erected in 1921 as a movie theater.

Purchase tickets and find additional information here: The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour.

The Magic Parlour (Year-round)
  • When: Fridays + Saturdays year-round
  • Where: 17 E Monroe Street, Chicago IL 60603
  • Price: $79 per person

Take your family (12+ years old) to view a show at The Magic Parlour in Chicago during August. They offer fantastic magic shows! You’ll find a fancy yet intimate setting inside as only 50 people can view shows at a time.

There is a dress code for the shows, which is noted as cocktail attire. Expect to be called up on stage at any point during the show. The magician (Dennis Watkins) has been featured on larger TV channels like FOX, ABC, and WGN.

Find more information and purchase tickets here: The Magic Parlour Chicago.

Museum of Science and Industry

  • When: Year-round | Great in April
  • Where: 213 W Institute Pl, Chicago, IL 60610
  • Price: $10 entry fee

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is fun to explore science on one of those rainy days in August! With so many interactive exhibits and unforgettable experiences, exploring the museum might take more than one day. So, it will definitely keep you entertained and educated on one or more unpleasant days in August.

Field Museum of Natural History
  • When: Year-round | Great in April
  • Where: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
  • Price: $26 ticket

The Field Museum of Natural History is worth visiting year-round, but particularly in August on an unpleasant day. It holds over 35 world-renowned natural history exhibitions. Explore the subterranean life in the Underground Adventure exhibit. Experience the gemstones in the Hall of Gems and one of the largest collections of Chinese jade in North America in the Hall of Jades.  Check out the Ice Age mammoth hunters and the temples of the Aztecs. Finally, visit the Dinosaur Hall Evolving Planet exhibit. Your kids will love it!

360 Observation Deck
  • When: Tours available throughout the year
  • Where: 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Price: $30 per person

If you spend only a few days in Chicago in August, the 360 Observation Deck is a must-visit. Soaring 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue, 360 is one of Chicago’s most impressive attractions.

Tickets to skip the line (recommended) for a faster entry: 360 Observation Deck – Skip the Ticket Desk.

Events

There are many exciting events in August in Chicago. Here are a few that you can attend while visiting during this month.

Chicago Air and Water Show

The Air and Water Show is one of the most anticipated events in Chicago each year. During this time, large crowds of tourists and locals head to North Avenue Beach to watch water skiing, boat jumping, parachuting, and planes controlled by the Navy Blue Angels dipping and diving in the sky.

  • When: August 20-21
  • Where: North Avenue Beach
  • Price: Free
Windy City Smokeout

The Windy City Smokeout is a large concert event held annually in Chicago’s United Center parking lot. It features live music performances, craft beer, and amazing BBQ from the best chefs worldwide.

This is great for adults and children. Children 10 and under get free entry to this event.

  • When: August 4-7
  • Where: United Center parking lot 1901 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60612
  • Price: $49.95 per day/person + fees

 

5 Top Food Spots | Restaurants

Restaurants on Rush Street, Chicago
1. Charly’s Burgers
  • BURGERS
  • Location: HERMOSA
  • Price: $
  • PERFECT FOR:
    • SERIOUS TAKE-OUT OPERATION
    • QUICK EATS

Charly’s Burgers, a spot in Hermosa, is perfect for when you’re craving a really good burger. These burgers are made with a mix of beef and bacon, giving them a juicy and smoky flavor. They’re topped with just the right amount of cheese, onions, garlic aioli, and pickles, all on a soft bun that stays together as you eat.

Why you should go: It’s the ideal burger spot for any time, not just when you’re feeling the effects of the night before. The combination of flavors and the quality of the ingredients make these burgers stand out.

Tip: Try to go at off-peak hours to avoid a long wait. And don’t forget to ask about their special sauces to add an extra zing to your burger!

2. Johnnie’s Beef
  • Hot dogs
  • Location: Suburbs
  • Price: $

Johnnie’s Beef is an old-school stand in Elmwood Park known for its Italian beef and ice. It’s a place that feels like stepping back in time, where the Italian beef sandwiches are a local legend.

Why you should go: It’s a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience a true Chicago Italian beef. The long lines are a testament to its popularity, but the wait is worth it for that juicy beef, dipped with hot peppers, and a refreshing lemon Italian ice to cool down after.

Tip: Plan your visit to avoid the busiest times, usually around lunch and dinner. And if it’s your first time, trying the beef dipped with hot peppers is a must for the full experience.

3. Birrieria Zaragoza
  • Mexican
  • Location: Archer Heights
  • Price: $

Birrieria Zaragoza, a family-owned Mexican spot in Archer Heights, is known for its incredible goat meat dishes. They serve their food with thick handmade tortillas and fresh salsas, perfect for making tacos.

Why you should go: Their unique approach to birria, where the goat meat isn’t combined with consommé until it’s served, sets them apart. It’s a flavor experience that’s hard to find elsewhere, making it the best place for tacos in the city.

Tip: Don’t skip on the extras like the hot sauce, lime, and onions to customize your tacos to your taste. And try the bright-pink agua fresca for a refreshing drink alongside your meal.

4. Kasama
  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Location: East Village
  • Price: $$

Kasama is a modern Filipino-American restaurant in East Village, offering both a casual daytime menu and a Michelin-starred tasting menu at night. It’s run by a husband-and-wife team known for their culinary expertise.

Why you should go: Whether you’re there for the breakfast sandwich in the morning or the 13-course tasting menu at night, Kasama provides an unforgettable dining experience. It’s a journey through Filipino-inspired dishes that are as innovative as they are delicious.

Tip: If dining indoors isn’t a must for you, consider ordering online for pickup. It’s a great way to enjoy Kasama’s offerings without the wait, especially on weekends.

5. The Publican
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Location: West Loop
  • Price: $$

The Publican is a European-style beer hall in West Loop, specializing in pork and seafood. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and communal dining setup, inviting guests to share in the enjoyment of food and beer.

Why you should go: For a taste of everything from fresh oysters to charcuterie and seasonal plates, The Publican is a standout. Their commitment to sourcing ingredients from local farms adds to the freshness and quality of each dish.

Tip: The brunch at The Publican is among the best in the city, featuring items like maple-braised bacon. Don’t miss out on this weekend treat, and make sure to try the spicy pork rinds and bread from Publican Quality Bread.

Save the 3 Best Activities