August in Chicago: Weather, What to See and What to Pack

Cyclists riding along Lake Michigan shore with the Chicago skyline beyond, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, North America
Amanda Hall / robertharding / Getty Images

Although the heat of summer may have passed in July, the humidity of August and relatively low wind speed (for the "Windy City") keep things steamy in Chicago this month. Still, it's a great time to visit the city with plenty of special events and great places to sample the multicultural cuisine of Chi-Town.

The weather is warm enough to explore outdoors during one of the many walking and biking food tours or a self-guided architectural tour of downtown. With events like the Bud Billiken Parade, Northalsted Market Days, and the Chicago Air & Water Show, as well as plenty of free concerts and movie screenings in the city's parks, August is alive with action to celebrate the end of summer vacation. You can expect moderate to large crowds of tourists, so be sure to book your accommodations, reservations, and travel tickets in advance as many of these fill up this time of year.

Chicago River Cityscape at Sunset
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Chicago Weather in August

The heat of summer starts to fade in August, but increased humidity (up to 88 percent with an average of 55 percent throughout the month) can make it feel much hotter than it is, especially because the winds die down this month, too.

  • Average high temperature: 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low temperature: 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius)

August is also the wettest month of the year for Chicago with an average of 13 out of 31 days with some form of rain throughout. However, on cloudless days, you'll be able to experience a full 11 hours of daylight hours, so there's plenty of chance to soak up the sun on your trip.

Tourists and Chicago Bean
espiegle / Getty Images

What to Pack

Chicago weather can be unpredictable, particularly at night, so you should bring clothing you can layer to accommodate sudden drops in temperature or rainfall. A light sweater or jacket should suffice, but make sure it's water-resistant since you're likely to experience some rain, or at least pack an umbrella. Comfortable walking shoes are important since you'll likely be trekking around the city while sightseeing. Also, remember to pack sun protection—sunscreen and hats—and be sure to stay hydrated.

Millennium Park Film Series
 Choose Chicago 

August Events in Chicago

Along with the usual summer events like free movie screenings and concerts in Chicago's city parks, there are also a number of annual festivals and events that take place during the month of August. Among the most significant events that happen this month is the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic, which is the biggest African-American parade in America and has been happening each August since 1929.

  • Millennium Park Summer Film Series: This annual showcase features hit films from the past and present. It's been canceled in 2020, but the city will put on a series of drive-in movies across the city instead, allowing entrance for pre-registered vehicles.
  • Chicago SummerDance: At the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, Wednesdays through Sundays, you can usually stop by for a free concert or DJ set and dance session. For 2020, however, the events are being held virtually and only on Wednesdays in July. Check the event webpage for instructions on how to tune in.
  • Green City Market: A fresh, open-air produce, art, and baked goods marketplace takes shape in Lincoln Park and West Loop on Saturdays all summer as well as pop-up markets in Boxville on Wednesdays throughout the month. Special restrictions are in place for the 2020 market, including pre-ordering food online and limiting groups from attendance.
  • Retro on Roscoe: Musical performances on three stages, antique vendors, artists, and local restaurant samplings take over Roscoe Street in August. However, Retro on Roscoe is canceled in 2020.
  • Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic: Celebrating African American culture, activism, and history, this annual event will take place via television this year with a special airing on August 8, 2020, at 1 p.m. on ABC.
  • Chicago Air and Water Show: This free show over Lake Michigan includes stunt planes and skydiving acrobatics for a full weekend outdoor fun. The Chicago Air and Water Show is canceled in 2020.
  • Ravinia Festival: The oldest outdoor music festival in the United States features lawn screenings, kids concerts, masterclasses, comedy shows, opera performances, and special concerts all summer long from June through September. The 2020 season of the Ravinia Festival is canceled.
  • Northalsted Market Days: This two-day massive street festival has four music stages and over 200 artists and it's geared toward the LGBTQ community but open to all. The Market Days festival is canceled in 2020.
Crown Fountain
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August Travel Tips

  • If you're looking to cool down, a number of great indoor and outdoor pools and public beaches are open for business, as is Millennium Park's Crown Fountain.
  • High tourism season translates into higher hotel rates, but booking a room at a locally owned bed and breakfast inn is a less expensive alternative.
  • Due to the unpredictable weather and sudden storms of August, there is a strong chance flight and travel delays may occur, but there are plenty of places to dine and drink if you get stranded at one of the airports.
  • The city is home to some of the best restaurants for brunch in the country. For a great meal at a great price, be sure to check out North Pond, Nico Osteria at the Thompson Chicago, the Odyssey luxury brunch cruise, Raised at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, or Parson's Chicken & Fish.
  • For a great way to spend the days outdoors, you can also often get discounts for family tickets at the Lincoln Park Zoo, especially on weekdays.