Chicago in March yields warmer days, melting snow, and a combination of rain and sun. Crowds and hotel rates are slowly increasing during this month, yet still on the lower end. See our guide for March below – we dive into everything you need to know about Chicago before you visit.
Weather in March
In March, Chicago’s average high temperature is 47°F, allowing you to wear fewer layers when visiting. During this month, rainfall increases to an average of nine days, making it quite wet outside. March is one of the best months to visit Chicago if you don’t mind some colder days.
March begins with an average of 40°F (4°C) and ends with an average high of 51°F (10°C). At these temperatures, especially when the sun is out, you can expect to see snow melting.
Icicles/Danger: Be careful to avoid standing under icicles, as they are known to melt and fall off buildings at this time.
Average high temperatures during March:
- Early March: 40°F (4°C)
- Mid-March: 44°F (7°C)
- Late March: 51°F (10°C)
Early mornings and evenings are generally colder by about 5-10°. Daytime temperatures reach their high point in the early afternoon.
During this month, more outdoor activities are available, and you can venture out for more extended periods in the evenings without being too cold.
The snowfall in March decreases from 2.4″ at the beginning of the month to 0.6″ at the end of the month. Snow can be sporadic in March, as this month is known for unpredictable weather. You can expect some days to be cold and snowy and others to be warmer and sunny.
March Quick Tips
These are our must-know quick tips from a Chicago local:
- If you’re planning to visit around St. Patrick’s Day, book well in advance. Many popular hotels won’t have rooms available on short notice.
- Dress appropriately for March weather, which can be quite chilly and windy, as well as pleasant on sunnier days.
- Watch the dyeing of the river on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day in mid-March.
What to Wear
In Chicago, it’s always best to bring layers. As noted, the weather can be very unpredictable, especially in March. You will want to bring a thick coat for colder, snowy days and a light jacket or sweater for warmer days.
During the beginning of the month, expect to wear more layers in the mornings and evenings to avoid the colder temps. This is when you will need a winter jacket, thicker pants, socks, boots, long sleeves, a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
During the daytime, especially when the sun is shining, you can usually get away with a lighter jacket, waterproof shoes, medium thickness socks, a light long sleeve shirt, and thinner pants.
Depending on the shirt worn under your jacket, you may even get too hot and need to remove the jacket. It’s always best to bring too many layers instead of not enough when visiting Chicago.
What To Wear List for March
- Lighter jacket (necessary for warmer days)
- Winter jacket
- Medium-thick socks
- Waterproof boots
- Long sleeve shirts
- Medium to thick pants
- Hat, gloves, scarf
Special Tip: St. Patrick’s Day | Green River
There is one very special day in March: The Saturday before March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day). Every year, on this particular Saturday, when the parade takes place, you can also watch the dyeing of the river.
The dyeing process usually starts at 9 AM. on the morning of the parade. Orange powder is used, which turns green when mixed with water.
During the pandemic, it’s possible that they dye it without announcing the exact time to keep the crowds low.
The best spot to view this fascinating procedure is from the east side of Michigan Avenue or on Upper and Lower Wacker Drive (Google Maps Location) between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive.
As the weather grows warmer, you’ll notice more crowds in Chicago. March is when more locals are spending time outside of their apartments, and tourists are only beginning to travel to Chicago to explore. There are not usually large crowds of people except for during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities when you’ll encounter a good number of people.
Hotel rates are pretty reasonable during the month as well. As the month continues, rates slowly increase as demand increases. Of course, rates will be higher during the weekend during the St. Patrick’s Day activities.
Things To Do
There are many things to do in Chicago in March. With more people venturing outside, the festivities and outdoor events continue to grow in numbers. Below you’ll find some activities you can participate in.
The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour (Year-round)
- When: Year-round
- Where: 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601
- Price: $18 per person
This tour of the Chicago Theatre Marquee is an excellent activity to try on a cold and dreary day in March. The tour lasts for 60 minutes and discusses the history of this building erected in 1921 as a movie theater. You’ll be guided through the lobby, auditorium, dressing rooms, and other areas of the Chicago Theatre Marquee.
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. This location offers magic shows that have been running for years. 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 March
- 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 cooler day in March! This 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 unpleasant March days.
Field Museum of Natural History
- When: Year-round | Great in March
- Where: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
- Price: $26 ticket
The Field Museum of Natural History is worth visiting year-round, but especially in March. 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
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 March, the 360 Observation Deck is a must-visit. Soaring 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue, 360 is one of the city’s most impressive attractions.
Tickets to skip the line for a faster entry: 360 Observation Deck – Skip the Ticket Desk.
Architecture River Cruise
- When: Year-round | Possible in March, best from Spring to Fall
Chicago is known for its architecture, and seeing it by cruise is the ideal way. You’ll get to enjoy the beautiful skyline while learning about the architecture of the area. The best cruise for this experience is the Architecture River Cruise.
In colder months, most tours shut down as the water will be frozen in some areas, and the temperatures will be too frigid. However, some boats operate year-round with heated interiors, and in March you can enjoy a tour on the upper deck on a sunny day. Just dress accordingly and use layers!
Book your tickets as early as possible to ensure you get the day and time you want. Cruises/water tours can get pretty busy.
Blackhawks Game (Oct – Apr)
Art Institute of Chicago (year-round)
Multiple events can be attended while visiting Chicago in March. One of the main events is the St. Patrick’s Day Festival (see our tip above). Below you’ll find details for what you can attend.
Orchid Show At The Chicago Botanic Garden (Feb + March)
- When: February 12 – March 27
- Where: 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022
- Price: $14 per adult + parking per car
The orchid show at the Chicago Botanical Garden is beautiful every year. You’ll be able to view many different varieties of orchids from around the world in varying colors. This event is perfect for the whole family and features these gorgeous flowers throughout multiple rooms, plus options for purchasing orchids.
You can easily spend the day here – especially if the weather is warmer. There are different gardens outside with gorgeous scenery, though there will not be many blooms at this time. There is a café inside with excellent food and a shop to explore.
This event is situated about 30 minutes outside of Chicago. It is best to head here when you have a car available to drive.