No matter when your travels sweep you into the Windy City, you’ll find Chicago alive with activity all year long. Spring brings baseball fever and sojourns to see Lincoln Park in bloom. Summer puts Lake Michigan into focus, with beaches, sailing and fireworks; it’s also the time to enjoy many of Chicago’s top festivals. In autumn and winter, locals migrate indoors to linger at top-flight museums and cozy nightspots, or bundle up for skating at the outdoor rinks around town. Whether you help break “The Curse of the Billy Goat” at Wrigley Field, ice skate in Millennium Park or enjoy the largest free blues festival in the world, you’ll discover that Chicago truly is a city for all seasons.
No springtime visit to Chicago is complete without taking in a baseball game. Iconic Wrigley Field, with its ivy-covered wall and famously cursed team, is a national treasure. Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with the never-say-die Cubs fans is one of the great experiences in sports. Can’t get enough of America’s favorite pastime? Head to U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side to cheer on the White Sox, Chicago’s other MLB team.
Perhaps nowhere is spring’s spell more powerful than in the fresh bursts of purple sage at the Lurie Garden, tucked away in Millennium Park near the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The pavilion hosts a variety of concerts and shows, and is a picturesque spot for a spring picnic. Lincoln Park, home to the beloved Lincoln Park Zoo, is also a great family-friendly place to spend the afternoon. As an added bonus, admission is free for both the park and the zoo.
If you want to get moving, rent a bike from the bike station at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, and cycle along the breezy Lake Michigan shoreline. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, return for an alfresco dinner at the sleek and modern Filini restaurant, where Executive Chef Rick Starr serves up authentic Italian cuisine.
In the summer, Chicago is filled with parks in bloom, firework-lit beaches and vibrant festivals in almost every neighborhood. In June, culture lovers should check out both the Chicago Blues Festival–the largest free blues festival in the world–and Remix Chicago, an eclectic event where the streets come alive with recycled art, craft-beer vendors and high-energy bands.
The bustling strip around Navy Pier is a summer hotspot. Catch up with the Bard at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, watch the fireworks on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or take a cruise that glides past some of Chicago’s dazzling architecture. For an unforgettable perspective on the city, get a bird’s-eye view of the skyline with a ride on Navy Pier’s 196-foot Centennial Wheel.
With crisp breezes and a warm rust-and-dandelion palette, autumn envelops Chicago like a favorite wool sweater. Here is Chicago at its most reflective, a setting to launch a thousand indie romance movies. And, like many romances, a good place to begin is at a museum.
Families will enjoy the famed Museum Campus, which includes Shedd Aquarium, the world’s largest indoor aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium, where you can join the hunt for the mysterious Planet 9. If a trip among the stars isn’t enough, autumn also offers the perfect chance to explore nightlife along the Magnificent Mile. In September and October, enjoy beautiful weather while sampling cocktails at the city’s swanky rooftop lounges; later in the season, escape the chill in a cozy Irish pub or a laid-back sports bar.
Winter in Chicago is invigorating. Just a five-minute walk from the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, you’ll find two excellent ice skating venues: the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon, which winds a quarter mile through the park’s undulating landscape, and the beloved rink at Millennium Park, which sits in the shadows of Chicago’s famous skyline. In the soft light of an early winter evening, the rink is one of the most inviting places in the Windy City.
After a day of skating, warm up with a famous Chicago-style deep-dish pizza at Giordano’s. Or, head to the Radisson Blu for Modern Tea service beside the 50-foot-long fireplace, followed by a dip in the hotel hot tub. Cap off the evening with cocktails and late-night jazz at the historic Green Mill, once a favorite of Al Capone.
Top image © iStock.com/Michael Heimlich