Chicago in February

Chicago in February is chilly and snowy; this is a great excuse to participate in the available indoor activities. Crowds and hotel rates are low, allowing you to find excellent hotel rates easily.

It can be unpleasant this month, with the colder temperatures and the wind, along with only three hours of sunshine each day. However, you can still have a great time in this city.

With our February tips below, you’ll know the in-depth weather details, what to wear, and more to prepare you for when visiting Chicago during this month.

Weather Guide

In February, the average high temperature in Chicago is 36°F (2°C) which is slightly warmer than in the previous month. There are seven days of precipitation which accounts for the snowier weather.

Temperature Details

The Chicago February weather starts with an average high of 33°F at the beginning of the month. Throughout the month, the temperature increase as it begins shifting out of wintery weather. At the end of the month, 40°F is the average high.

  • February 1: 33°F (average high), 22°F (average low)
  • February 15: 36°F (average high), 25°F (average low)
  • February 31: 40°F (average high), 28°F (average low)

Quote from a local: ‘February is snowy, with possible periods of extreme cold. However, most locals believe we have ‘turned the corner,’ and the worst is behind us after the typically freezing January.’

Tip: With the average high of 40°F, it is definitely a little more pleasant outside at the end of the month. So, you may plan your Chicago vacation late in the month to take advantage of the more comfortable temperatures.

Average Daytime Temperatures

As you may expect, mornings and evenings are chillier than daytime. Temperatures in February usually stay between the high twenties and the high thirties.

Early February
  • Morning (9 AM): 25°F
  • Noon (12 PM): 29°F
  • Afternoon (3 PM): 30°F
Mid-February
  • Morning (9 AM): 28°F
  • Noon (12 PM): 32°F
  • Afternoon (3 PM): 33°F
Late February
  • Morning (9 AM): 32°F
  • Noon (12 PM): 36°F
  • Afternoon (3 PM): 37°F

Good to know: When there is a high wind chill, the temperatures feel much colder than they are. On some days, it can feel up to 10 degrees colder in a Chicago winter.

Snowfall in February

During February, the average snowfall decreases from 3.4″ to 2.4″. As the temperature increases, you’ll find areas that have more “slush,” aka wet snow.

How often does it snow? The most common snowiest month in Chicago is February, followed by January, then December. However, while we can promise you cold temperatures in February, a Chicago winter wonderland with blankets of snow is not guaranteed. Although rare, sometimes very little snow may fall during the month.

Good to know: Even if there is a winter storm, they usually clear the snow quickly afterward.

Snow everywhere? It depends on where you are in the city. There are spots with more snow and others with less. When the news reports heavy snow in Chicago, they are not specific to the area in the city. They might say that there are 8 inches of snow in Chicago, and along the lake, you might get 4 inches only.

There is generally less snow in the city near Millenium Park as the tall buildings block it out. Wide-open spaces, like the park itself, can collect a good amount of snow.

Quote from a local: The weather here in winter is confusing, even for a Chicago native.

Our complete Chicago guide with tips for the best time to visit has more tips for each month.

Ice Balls

There is a phenomenon that occurs every few years or so on Lake Michigan during the winter months. The lake forms ice balls because of the waves constantly hitting the ice at the lake‘s edge in combination with freezing temperatures. Since it does not occur all the time, you’ll want to take pictures if you happen to see them.

 

What to Wear

As February offers cold weather, you will need multiple layers to stay warm. With the wet, slushy snow, you will want to bring extra pairs of socks and pants if yours happen to get wet.

Morning/Evening

Since the mornings and evenings are chillier, you will want to wear an extra layer. Ensure you wear a thick hat, gloves, and scarf. You will also need a thick winter coat, boots, and thick socks.

Daytime

As the daytime brings slightly warmer temperatures, you can wear one less layer, if necessary, under your winter coat. For example, you may be warm enough with a thicker long-sleeved shirt under your jacket instead of a shirt and sweater. The sun will make you feel warmer when you’re out and about during the day.

Shoes

Bring waterproof shoes or boots. It’s no fun when your feet are freezing in early February, or you step into 4 inches of slush while crossing a street later in the month.

What To Wear List
  • Waterproof winter coat (necessary for keeping the chill off when walking)
  • Multiple pairs of thick socks
  • Sweaters/long sleeve shirts
  • Waterproof boots
  • Gloves, hat, scarf
  • Thick pants
  • Leggings, tights, or long underwear

Crowds

View of Navy Pier and the Centennial Wheel visible in the distance

While visiting Chicago in February, you’ll notice the crowd levels are low. This month presents one of the lowest numbers of tourists. Outdoor activities are not as popular and are replaced with indoor events.

You will notice larger groups inside places like museums, restaurants, and theaters. Usually, these crowds are mainly made of locals in February.

Rates



Booking.com

Rates for Chicago hotels are low this month as demand is low. You are highly likely to find hotel deals or accommodation deals for Airbnb in February. Depending on your budget, you may consider staying a few extra days to enjoy the city due to the low rates.

Things To Do

Even though it’s snowy and slushy outside, you’ll find plenty of things to do inside to keep you warm. Check out the below activities and see which appeal to you.

Aire Ancient Baths

When the weather is too snowy or slippery, it’s a great reason to spend time indoors at a spa. This is not a modern-style spa. You’ll find a roman and Greek-inspired ancient bath-style spa built in an old, remodeled factory.

You can also book massages with this experience. Head here for a romantic activity or to relax inside between other events. Green juices and scalp treatments can be enjoyed before soaking in the baths.

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

This location is a favorite for us. It’s an arcade filled with games from the ’90s, including Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, pinball, and even air hockey. This location is 21+ as alcoholic beverages are available for purchase – they are 90s themed and include items like a Peanut Butter and Jelly shot, which adds to the ambiance.

Food is also available for purchase at this location. At the door, there is a cover charge. However, once you enter, the majority of the games are free to play, except for some pinball machines.

Museum of Science and Industry
  • When: Year-round | Great in winter
  • 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 a cold January day! The Museum of Science and Industry is a year-round science study paradise, but particularly during the Chicago winters! With so many interactive exhibits and unique experiences, exploring the museum might take more than one day. So, it will definitely keep you entertained and educated on one or more cold January days.

Sledding
  • When: November through March
  • Where: Warren (Lawrence) Park
  • Price: Free

There are excellent sledding locations in the city during February. One of the best locations is Warren (Lawrence) Park which features a large cleared-out area and stairs. Sledding is the perfect family-friendly activity for this month, and this park offers the activity for free – though you’ll need to bring or purchase your sled from a store.

Observation Deck, TILT, and Mob Bus Tour
  • When: Tours available throughout the year
  • Where: 163 East Pearson Street, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Price: $83 per person

If you spend only a few days in Chicago in February, sign up for the observation deck, TILT, and mob bus tour. You’ll be able to see some of the most famous attractions (observation deck and TILT) while learning about the intriguing history of Chicago. This city is well-known for having a past filled with famous mobsters like Al Capone, which you’ll hear about while riding on the bus.

Tickets and more information can be found here: 360 Observation Deck and TILT with Mob Bus Tour.

Ice Skating in Magie Daly Park
  • When: November – February
  • Where: 337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601
  • Price: $16-$22 per person with skate rental (depending on entry day)

Ice skating in Magie Daly Park is another excellent family in February. The ribbon is the more recent of the two most popular skating locations in downtown Chicago. Double-check the skating direction before heading onto the ice – employees who will guide you before you reach the ice.

Tickets can be purchased online or in person. Keep in mind that tickets purchased at the venue will be more expensive than those purchased beforehand. For more information, take a look here: Magie Daly Park.

Art Institute Tour (Before Opening Hours)
  • When: Year-round | Great in winter
  • Where: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
  • Prices: $101 per person

If you’ve never experienced the Art Institute in Chicago, we suggest visiting this location in February, primarily via 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 the museum, you’ll be guided through sections that are filled with paintings, sculptures, and other mediums by the likes of Picasso and Rembrandt. Purchase tickets and find additional details here: Art Institute Tour.

Walking by Lake Michigan
  • When: November through March
  • Where: Lakefront trail off Fullerton Avenue
  • Price: Free

In February, walking by the lake is an excellent way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Multiple routes can be taken; however, we’ve found walking near Navy Pier on the beach offers stunning views. Make sure to bundle up to avoid a chill, especially during nighttime walks in February.

Adler Planetarium (year-round)

Events

There are plenty of events to attend in February as well. As you may expect, these events are (mainly) indoors.

Mardi Gras Bar Crawl
  • When: February 26, 2022
  • Where: TBD depending on final bars chosen
  • Price: $15+ Tax per person

Towards the end of February each year, Chicago hosts this Mardi Gras Bar Crawl. You’ll be traveling from bar to bar in River North. This event in downtown Chicago features fun, bright costumes that are Mardi Gras-themed.

You may see some locals wearing fewer layers for this event. However, if you’re visiting from a warm-weather environment, you will want to wear the described layers above. Get to know the area by attending this adult-only event.

Find more information and purchase tickets here: Official Mardi Gras Bar Crawl.

Chicago International Salsa Congress
  • When: February 17-20
  • Where: (Westin O’Hare) 6100 N River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018
  • Price: $219+ Tax per person

If you love all things related to salsa dancing and dancing in general, this is an excellent event for you. During this event, you can attend classes to learn different styles of Latin dancing. There are performances throughout this three-day event, including dance productions and live entertainment in the evenings.

People of all ages are welcome – bring your significant other and children to this event. There are even DJs to keep the music pumping and famous dancers who make an appearance.

For more information, click here: Chicago International Salsa Congress.

Chicago Auto Show
  • When: Feb. 12-21
  • Where: McCormick Place, 2301 S. King Drive
  • Prices: $13 adults, $10 seniors 62+, $10 children 12 and under

With more than one million square feet of show floor space, this is the nation’s largest auto show. The manufacturers are getting creative with the displays they’re featuring at the Chicago Auto Show. Aside from the hottest debuts, the latest production, concept, and exotic automobiles, the show offers plenty of free and unique driving opportunities.