Even when there’s no sunshine, there are plenty of things to do in Chicago. Bring the party indoors by visiting museums and shopping malls that The Windy City has to offer. 

Shedd Aquarium

Dolphin in an aquarium in Chicago, IL.
Dolphin by nakhon100 is licensed with CC BY 2.0

The water-loving creatures at the Shedd Aquarium will be happy to see you as you retreat from the blistering cold or thunder and lightning from outdoors. Embark on an up close and personal visit with nature by touring the exhibitions of animals that thrive in the sea. Try not to become spooked by the menacing teeth of the sharks. You can watch the swimming patterns of larger species, such as the blacktip reef shark and sandbar shark, or admire the uniqueness of other species, including the white-spotted bamboo shark and the spotted wobbegong.

You might catch the beluga whale smiling at you, and you can marvel at the tentacles of the giant Pacific octopus and jellyfishes. You can also catch the schools of saltwater and freshwater fish. Pay attention to the animals that can also spend time on land, such as the sea lion, bullfrog, and white-faced whistling duck. Be sure to check out the center’s reptile collection, which includes the alligator, emerald tree boa, and dwarf caiman. Plan your visit to the Shedd Aquarium by using these details:

  • Location: 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., Chicago.
  • Hours: Opens at 9 a.m. Sunday through Saturday, but closing hours vary each day, so be sure to check the calendar before you plan your visit.

Museum of Science and Industry

Opt for an immersive, educational experience at the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest facility of its kind in the western part of the globe. While the rain falls outside, you can stroll through exhibits inside to learn about the phenomena of the natural world. Head to the Science Storms display to see how Mother Nature produces tornadoes, avalanches, and lightning. In the Farm Tech exhibit, you can study farming and agricultural processes.

Discover the evolution of transportation by touring a submarine or participating in a flight simulation of a supersonic jet. At the Coal Mine exhibit, you can travel underground to embark on a tour of a mineshaft. Feel free to try to show off your mathematical skills in the Numbers in Nature section, where you can walk through a maze of mirrors and gain insight into the patterns that shape our daily lives.

The museum also enables you to fast forward into the future by learning how modern creations will impact the next generations to come. Here’s additional information about the center to consider when you’re making plans for the weekend:

  • Location: 5700 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr., Chicago.
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Field Museum

Another establishment at Chicago’s Museum Campus that encourages discovery and learning is the Field Museum. There’s an assortment of exhibitions that tell stories about animals, societies, and natural events throughout history. For example, at the Pawnee Earth Lodge exhibit, you can stand inside a full-sized model of the 1800s earth lodge and gaze at the stars twinkling above you. The Grainger Hall of Gems features hundreds of jewels, including crystals, diamonds, and gemstones, such as ruby. In the Meteorites section, you can view particles from meteorites that hit the earth.

Besides the exhibitions that general admission includes, you can purchase additional tickets for more discoveries at the museum. The Underground Adventure exhibit allows you to explore the soil and all the four- and eight-legged creatures that live there. Opt for a spooky experience with the Waking the T. Rex 3D exhibit, featuring a movie starring a ferocious dinosaur named Sue and its life. If ancient reptiles interest you, then you may also enjoy Dinosaurs of Antarctica 3D, which highlights scaly beasts that lived in swamps and forests.

Prepare to spend a day at the Field Museum by factoring in the following information:

  • Location: 1400 S DuSable Lake Shore Dr., Chicago.
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.

360 Chicago

Despite the rain or snow, you can still admire the beauty of the Chicago skyline by peering through the glass from 1,000 feet in the air. 360 CHICAGO is an observation deck that invites you to the 94th floor, where you can see panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the city above the Magnificent Mile, all from safely inside the John Hancock Building. 

For an elevated drinking setting, visit the observation deck during Happy Hour to enjoy a signature cocktail, a glass of wine, or a bottle of beer. You can also experience an adrenaline rush by conquering TILT, a ride that allows you to stand behind a panel of glass that protrudes from the building on a downward slope. When you’re ready to soar to new heights, use the following details:

  • Location: 875 N Michigan Ave., Chicago.
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Water Tower Palace

If the rain washed away your outdoor plans, use indoor retail therapy to cheer you up. Water Tower Palace boasts over 100 stores for apparel, electronics, and sporting goods. Shop clothing, shoes, and jewelry to upgrade your wardrobe for the winter. You can add to your fragrance collection by catching deals on body creams and perfumes, or you can look for trending makeup and skincare products.

With several bags adorning each of your arms, grab a snack at one of the palace’s eateries for the second half of your shopping adventure. Grab a cupcake to treat your sweet tooth, or opt for yogurt or a smoothie for you to consume your daily fruit intake. Water Tower Palace is also home to dine-in restaurants, so feel free to meet with friends and family members for a tasty meal. Here’s information to keep in mind when you’re coordinating your visit:

  • Location: 835 N Michigan Ave., Chicago.
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

As long as you bring an umbrella or a pair of mittens, you can spend a fun weekend in Chicago on bad weather days. If there’s another indoor establishment that you want us to add to our list, don’t hesitate to send us a message on our website. Our team at American Auto Insurance is also ready to help you find a reliable vehicle to navigate the rain and snow.


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