February in Chicago: Weather, What to Pack, and What to Do

Ice and Wind
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Chicago, a sister city to Paris, makes a great stateside Valentine's Day getaway, one you can enjoy without flying over "the pond." If you're looking for romance, why not snuggle up in the Windy City with your significant other and stave off the winter cold? From annual Black History Month celebrations at the Chicago History Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago to restaurant and theatre weeks at area venues, there are plenty of festive events and celebrations to keep you toasty all month long. Just pack some warm layers and check the weather before you go, so you don't get caught off guard.

Horse carriage and Water Tower in Chicago
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Chicago Weather in February

Chicago's northern latitude makes February weather here seasonably chilly, with frequent blustery winds and up to an average of eight inches of snowfall.

  • Average high: 33 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 17 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 degrees Celsius)

Wind speeds range from 5 to 21 miles per hour on average in February, which can make it feel up to 10 degrees colder than it really is. The wind, combined with only three hours of sunshine per day, delivers a particularly dreary and bitter experience during this month. However, with the right clothing and travel itinerary, and a good attitude to match it, you can find ways to stay warm while having fun in this metropolitan haven.

What to Pack

Since Chicago's February can be downright cold, pack layers of clothing like merino wool thermal underwear, warm sweaters, and a down winter coat. A warm winter hat, mittens or gloves, and a scarf will also serve you well while walking around in the cold. Insulated, waterproof, snow-appropriate footwear is a must if you plan on spending time outside, and make sure your boots have ample tread so that you can safely navigate icy sidewalks and snowbanks. During your visit, check out Chicago's many shopping malls to purchase additional apparel or accessory items that you may have forgotten. Winter sales will be in full effect during this time of year.

Skating Rink at night
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February Events in Chicago

Since February is Black History Month and Chicago's history is rich in African-American heritage, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the city's traditions this month. From tours of Black Chicago to events at the Chicago History Museum, you'll find an abundance of cultural celebrations throughout the greater Chicago area. Additionally, Chicago Theatre Week, the Chicago Auto Show, and the Chinese New Year Parade usually take place during this month.

Some events, like restaurant week and the auto show, have been postponed until spring, 2021. Please check with event organizers for the most up-to-date information.

  • Chicago Restaurant Week: Enjoy prix fixe specialty dinners at many restaurants throughout the Windy City and its suburbs as part of this annual celebration of Chicago's vibrant foodie culture. Reservations at participating locales are highly encouraged.
  • Chicago Theater Week: Running from February 25 through March 7, 2021, this 10-day virtual and in-person event allows theatergoers the opportunity to see more than 100 productions. Enjoy half-price shows while contributing to the vibrancy of the local performing arts community.
  • Chicago Auto Show: Taking place at Chicago's McCormick Place convention complex, this annual event is the nation's longest-running auto show and the largest in North America. The car show includes over 30 manufacturers from all over the world as they display their new releases of luxury, economy, sports-utility vehicles, and more.
  • Lunar New Year Parade: Chicago's Lunar New Year Parade, celebrating the Year of the Ox, takes place February 12, 2021. The parade includes lion dances that go from business to business, beginning at noon at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue and ending in Chinatown Square around 1 p.m.
  • Black History Month: The Chicago History Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and various other venues across the city will host a series of events, showcases, and exhibits in honor of African American history and cultural heritage all month long. Also, check out Chicago's Black Restaurant celebration, complete with in-person demos and virtual cooking classes
  • Ice Skating: Various parks across Chicago, including Millennium Park, will host skaters at indoor and outdoor rinks throughout February—most stay open through mid-March.
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
 Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

February Travel Tips

  • Since Chicago's winter is particularly brutal in February, travelers can enjoy lower rates at revered hotel properties like the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Soho House, and Thompson Chicago.
  • Travel to and from Chicago may be subject to weather-related delays and cancelations, should a snowstorm come through. However, if you are stranded at Midway or O'Hare airports, there are several good places to dine and drink.
  • In addition to snow, frigid temperatures are usually expected throughout the month. Make sure you cover as much skin as you can when walking outdoors to avoid frostbite, especially if you're outside after dark.
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