Chicago in November

As a Chicago local, November was always a favorite month to visit the city as it is lit up with tons of twinkly lights, and everyone is beginning to get into the holiday spirit.

With many years of experience in and around the city, I have been able to create this in-depth guide on what to pack, activities, weather, and more.

There are many things to do in Chicago in November, such as Lincoln Park’s ZooLights, a popular free annual event. Because of the many available activities, November is one of the best times to visit Chicago, even with the chillier, wetter weather.

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Travel guides:

🏙️ Chicago Travel Guides (Amazon)

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

Continue reading our Chicago November guide to discover what it’s like to spend time in the city during November, allowing you to better plan your next trip.

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel | Breathtaking!

Cold November days in Chicago? No problem! The Navy Pier Centennial Wheel is your toasty escape and my must-do tip for this month. Each gondola is temperature-controlled, so you can ditch the chill and bask in warm comfort.

As you rise, get ready for awe-inspiring views of the city and Lake Michigan. It’s not just a ride; it’s an outstanding experience you don’t want to miss! Trust me!

Is November a Good Time?

Chicago in November is one of the best times to visit the city, as you’ll experience crisp weather and exciting holiday activities. While the weather is usually wet and chilly this month, you’ll find plenty of Thanksgiving and Christmas-themed activities to keep you busy.

However, it could sometimes get a little more uncomfortable in terms of weather. That’s why we provide you with essential tips regarding clothing and packing for this month. More about that later.


Some fall colors are still visible: November, 2nd in Chicago downtown. Plus, the average high temps. It gets colder toward the end of the month (43°F average highs)

Chicago in November weather is cool and crisp, with average high temperatures between 43°F (6°C) and 56°F (13°C). With an average rainfall of 4 days this month, you can expect the weather to be wet, cloudy, and windy. However, it’s a great time for checking out the holiday lights.

Average Temperature

Chicago in November begins with an average high of 56°F at the beginning of the month and a 43°F average at the end. While the beginning of the month still feels reminiscent of fall, the cooler temperatures at the end of the month are a sure sign winter is underway.

In the mornings, you’ll find chilly temperatures in the low 40s. I often need to toss on a sweater or hoodie to walk around the house to avoid a chill in the morning. Since November is a rather cloudy month, it’s the perfect time to sit by the fire and sip a hot cup of cider in the mornings or evenings. The November temps are slightly higher mid-day, staying around the high 40s.

Typical temperature progression during a day in November:

  • Morning (8 AM): 44°F
  • Afternoon (3 PM): 49°F
  • Evening (9 PM): 46°F

During November, the weather is quite unpredictable. On some days, you’ll find crisp autumn weather. On other days, it is rainy (or snowy) and cloudy. You may even experience a few days which are a combination of sunny, cloudy, and snowy/rainy.

Because of the unpredictable weather, most Chicagoans will bring extra socks and wear water-resistant items (shoes/jackets) to help them stay warm while out and about. It’s not uncommon to see locals wearing gloves, hats, and thicker layers like flannel shirts as well during this month. 💡 More about clothing later!

On chillier and wetter days in November, I often stop in a café to grab a warm drink and sit in the heat to dry off for an hour or two. I usually seek locations with a warm fire to help keep me toasty. These stops are always a good excuse to try the fall/winter-themed drinks at the local coffee shops.

Average high temperatures in November:

  • Early November: 56°F (13°C)
  • Mid-November: 50°F (10°C)
  • Late November: 43°F (6°C)

The average rainfall in November decreases in Chicago as the month continues, shifting from 2.6″ to 2.2″. As mentioned, the weather is quite unpredictable this month. Chicagoans will carry an umbrella, thicker coat, and extra dry layers on these days.

What to Wear

As November is cold and wet in Chicago, pack water-resistant winter or rain boots. Wear layers, like sweaters, long Johns, long-sleeve t-shirts, and extra socks so that you can stay warm and dry during your visit.

If possible, select a hotel or Airbnb with a washer/dryer to always have at least 1-2 warm/dry layers.

💡 In November, it’s best to bring as many extra layers as possible.

In early November, I typically wear a sweater, jacket, jeans, and boots or sneakers (depending on the day’s activities).

As the month continues, I transition into thicker layers to stay warm (like other Chicagoans). If the weather happens to be warmer and sunny, I may skip the jacket and simply wear a thicker sweater.


During a visit to Chicago in November, you’ll want to bring clothes for fall/winter weather. A thick jacket is necessary for the chilly mornings and evenings. A water-resistant windbreaker is a great option to have on hand, as Chicago is known for being particularly windy during this month.

💡 As the mornings are generally in the 40s in November, you’ll want to wear long Johns, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and thick fleece-lined pants/sweatshirts. Remember to bring a thick coat with you, which has a hood to help keep the wind off your face.

As a child, I often was ill-prepared with shoes during winter due to the unpredictable weather. Once, I wore flip-flops in November, and my parents had to purchase socks and shoes to keep my feet warm while exploring the city. After that, we could not visit the city in the winter without a proper sock/shoe check before leaving the house.

Morning in early November

During the daytime, the weather in Chicago is slightly warmer. However, you will still likely need a few layers to stay warm. If you plan to visit indoor attractions, ensure you wear easy-to-remove layers, as most museums and similar activities keep the temperature toasty.

If possible, carry a backpack with you to hold your extra layers while you’re indoors. A backpack is also great for storing additional dry layers on rainy/snowy days. Remember to remove damp layers as soon as possible to avoid catching a chill.

What To Wear List /Packing List
  • Waterproof thick jacket (easiest way to stay dry in the rain)
  • Windbreaker (to help you stay warm on windy days)
  • Waterproof boots/shoes (to help avoid soggy feet while in the city)
  • Multiple pairs of thick socks (best if they are quick-dry)
  • Medium to thick sweaters/jackets (for cooler morning temps + layering)
  • Thermal layers
  • Jeans/fleece-lined pants
  • Long-sleeve t-shirts (for layering)
  • Sweater dresses (for special occasions, get-togethers, dinners)
  • Hats/gloves
  • Backpack/larger bag (for storing extra dry layers)


Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

While visiting Chicago in November, you’ll notice crowds from the middle of the month and onward. This month, the number of those participating in activities is increasing, especially as you get closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The beginning of the month typically offers smaller crowds, so visiting during this time is best if you want a quieter trip. The middle and end of the month bring in more visitors due to the holiday-related attractions. Both outdoor and indoor activities are popular, depending on the weather and type of activity.

If I’m heading to a Thanksgiving or holiday-themed event, I like to visit the event during slower times, like when the event first opens. Most attendees will arrive at attractions midway through the day or later.

You’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes before attending events like The Thanksgiving Day Parade. One time, I arrived right as the parade was beginning, and I could not find a spot where I could see the floats from the sidewalk due to the large number of people. After that, I always arrived as early as possible to find my desired spot to view the parade and have not had an issue since.

Hotels and Rates

The Blackstone, Autograph Collection is a remarkable and extraordinary 4-star hotel in Chicago. The location is superb. We love this place in November! Click on the image for rates, reviews, and more (via

Rates at the beginning of November for hotels and airfare are moderate. The price of accommodations and travel increases toward the middle/end of the month as you approach the holiday season.

There is a noticeable rate increase for hotels and airfare from about November 15 onward. For the best rates, travel to Chicago during the beginning of the month. If you must travel later in the month, book your airfare and accommodation as early as possible. Otherwise, you may find the hotels and flights booked up or overly expensive.

Find our hotel tips for November below, with some of the best locations so you can walk to the most intriguing places, even when it’s colder or rainy:

Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park
The Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park. Click on the image for rates, photos, and reviews via

The staff is super friendly, our beds were very comfortable, everything was 100% clean and its location is perfect for a visit:  It is only 1 block away from Millennium Park and Navy Pier. You can walk easily to so many hot spots.  It’s also quite close to Lake Michigan beach (20 minutes walk).

Trump International Hotel & Tower
The Trump. Click on the image for rates, photos, and reviews via

This hotel offers spectacular views from every room! The view of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, or the city skyline is iconic. It’s simply the best location when you visit in November.

It is very comfortable from here to join a hop-on/off bus tour, walk along the river or to the Navy Pier, and walk to various restaurants and many other area attractions.

The rooms are luxurious, and spacious, with everything you need.

Home2 Suites By Hilton | Budget Tip
Home2 Suites is our budget tip. Its location is excellent for winter visits. You are so close to ‘Mag Mile’. Click on the image for details, rates, and photos via Thanks to Harry Carmichael for the photo.

This is our favorite budget hotel in Chicago in November! The location is excellent: It is located in Chicago’s River North district, a short walk from the Magnificent Mile’s (Mag Mile), shops, and restaurants. The Navy Pier, downtown, and the Chicago Loop are less than 15 minutes away.

Another thing we loved when we stayed there: You can prepare your own food in the room.

The Best Things To Do

Since there are many exciting things to do in Chicago in November, it’s a great time to visit the city. One of the most notable events is the Thanksgiving Day Parade, which brings many locals and visitors out to the streets.

I love visiting Chicago in November since it’s the start of the holiday activities. Going to all the available attractions is often challenging, so I selected the most fun activities to check out while in the city.

Architecture River Cruise

November is the last month you can go on the Architecture River Cruise in Chicago. Ensure you bring sufficient layers as you learn about the city’s exciting architectural feats.

You’ll experience awesome views and learn about the most famous skyscrapers like the Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower).

IMPORTANT: We highly recommend making a reservation in advance as the cruises are very popular. However, you are free to try getting a ticket on short notice of course.

  • When: Year-round
  • Where: Corner of Michigan (DuSable) Bridge
  • Price: about $40 per person

Book Tickets in Advance

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel

If the weather gets too chilly, the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel is a great option during November. Each gondola is temperature controlled, so you can get a break from the wintery weather as you enjoy views of the city below.

The standard tickets are great for times when there are fewer crowds, like rainy days. We suggest purchasing the express tickets to jump to the front of the line.

  • 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

Book Tickets in Advance

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 November, 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.

Skip the Line Tickets!

Art Institute Tour

If you’ve never experienced the Art Institute in Chicago, we highly recommend visiting this location during November. 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

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
  • 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 chilly or rainy day in November. You will love this tour which takes about 60 minutes.

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

The Magic Parlour
  • 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 in November. They offer incredible magic shows! Very comfortable as only 50 people are allowed.

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. With so many interactive exhibits and unforgettable experiences, discovering everything might take more than one day. So, it will definitely keep you entertained and educated on one or more unpleasant November days.

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 November on a cold and rainy 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!


November is a great time for festive outdoor activities.

Head to the Lincoln Park Zoo to check out Zoo Lights. This free event occurs throughout winter and is fun for the whole family. Each night, the zoo is filled with fun twinkly lights that you can check out as you stroll through. This is one of the best seasonal activities you can experience.

Make sure to go at night to see all of the lights that are placed around the zoo. Most of the animal exhibits are closed during November. However, you’ll still enjoy exploring the zoo and checking out the lights that have been set up. Hot chocolates and snacks are available for purchase as well.

You’ll also want to check out the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival in November. A large parade can be viewed with floats and well-known Christmas characters like Frosty the Snowman and Mickey Mouse. You’ll also see the lighting of the city Christmas tree at the spot where the parade ends.

Of course, there will be live music from well-known singers. In 2020, Jennifer Hudson and Rascal Flatts were performing at this festival as an example. This is a great option for an event to bring the whole family to.

Save the 3 Best Activities