Illinois experiences four seasons. The most popular time to visit is during the summer high season, when the weather is warm and school is on break. The spring and fall can be good alternatives to the heat and crowds of summer, as many events and festivals still take place all over the state.
- high season: March to August
- low season: November to February
- shoulder season: September to October
The summer months can be hot and humid, especially in Chicago where a heat spell can last up to four days. Areas around Lake Michigan tend to be cooler and less humid due to strong winds. Winters can bring snowstorms and cold temperatures. The spring and fall offer temperate weather.
The northern and southern areas of Illinois tend to get crowded during the summer, due to golf season and state park attractions. The Chicago summer festival season, which includes Blues fest, Gospel fest, and Taste of Chicago, attracts large crowds. Pre-holiday shopping along the Magnificent Mile can be hectic from late-November through December.
Some historical sites are closed on Mondays or sometimes Tuesdays, depending on location. Small bed and breakfasts may close during certain seasons. It's best to contact the property before making any travel arrangements. Hotels in Chicago remain open year-round, but it is wise to book far in advance in case of visiting conferences.
In hopes of attracting visitors, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism has launched a promotion filled with special events from September 1 through Halloween.
When to Save
The most economical time to visit Illinois, including Chicago, is late fall through early spring.
When to Book
Booking early will not only save money, but will also guarantee a room, especially during the summer when hotels tend to sell out quickly. Make arrangements at least three to four months in advance if planning a trip during high season. Discounted rooms are available at the last-minute in the off-season.
Information provided by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.