This post lists top things to do in Chicago in March, updated for 2019, as well as things to do at night, free activities and family friendly events. Be sure to look at what’s going on in Chicago in April, or things to do all year round!
This section covers our top ten list for March. When possible, we’ve noted activities that are free or kid-friendly. For more ideas on popular things to do in Chicago, check out our posts on bus tours and walking tours of the city.
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
March 9, 2019
The Field Museum
Enjoy the Field Museum in a unique way – at this annual festival where over 70 beers are featured. Guests can sample from a wide variety, while enjoying live music and exploring select exhibits of the Field Museum at night.
There are a number of ways to explore Chicago with an expert guide for the greatest views and stories. We’re partial to walking tours and as Spring arrives they are the best way to see the various neighborhoods and parks.
Our March walking tour schedule increases in number of tours as the month progresses and you’ll find more tours offered. Check out our calendar here.
But earlier in March, you may be drawn to the heated interior of a hop on hop off bus tour. We compare all the bus tours offered in Chicago on our post here.
March 15-17, 2019
Lincoln Square: Davis Theater
The Davis Theater is celebrating the 10th annual Peace on Earth Film Festival, highlighting the work of filmmakers from around the world. Thirty-four films will recognize the work of these independent films themed around peace, social justice, and eco-balance.
Gene Siskel Film Center
The European Union Film Festival is the country’s largest film festival dedicated to films from the European Union. For the 22nd year, this festival will showcase more than 60 films, representing the 28 European Union nations.
More information on dates and films will be released closer to March.
March 16-17, 2019
Throughout the city you will find many bar crawls, allowing guests to take advantage of drink specials while scouting out many top bars throughout the city in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Below are a couple of popular bar crawl options:
Chicago Shamrock Crawl
March 16, 2019 | Wrigleyville
(Check out our self guided tour of Wrigleyville to learn more about this popular neighborhood.)
Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl
March 16, 2019 | Wicker Park
Saint Paddy’s Pub Crawl
March 16-17, 2019
March 20-24, 2019
This year’s Flower and Garden Show will honor some of the best aspects of Chicago, such as the various neighborhoods, cultural institutions, and the abundant green space throughout the city! During this 5 day show, you will find over 20 life-size gardens to explore, seminars, interactive workshops, and a busy marketplace! This hands-on experience is perfect for anyone, no matter your experience or age!
March 16, 2019
This year, the city gets to celebrate St. Patrick’s day on St. Patrick’s day itself! The annual parade and dyeing of the river green will take place on Saturday, the 16th, and will draw in hundreds of thousands of spectators!
Start the celebration with the parade, that travels north on Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe. The parade is full of green and pays tribute to the Irish with flags, dancing, and bagpipes. The dyeing of the river itself has been a tradition for over 50 years! 45 pounds of vegetable dye color is poured into the river between Columbus and Wacker drives, allowing the river to turn bright green for about 5 hours.
Our Riverwalk and History Tour will tell you more about this tradition, and the crucial role this river has play in Chicago’s history.
March 24, 2019
The Shamrock Shuffle brags of being the largest timed 8k in the world! Join the waves of green making their way around the city, starting and ending in Grant Park, followed by a post race party.
Take advantage of the free Shamrock Shuffle Health and Fitness Expo on the Friday and Saturday before the race at McCormick Place.
Learn more about Grant Park and the buildings that are near it on our pay-what-you-like Architecture Tour.
March 24 – April 7, 2019
Macy’s: 111 N. State Street
During this two week show, Macy’s welcomes spring with beautiful flowers on display, breathtaking blooms, and plants from around the world. This festival includes themed events and specialty gardens.
Learn more about the history of the historic building that Macy’s calls home on our Loop and Millennium Park Tour.
March 22-24, 2019
This annual convention gathers fans from all over to take in the comics, anime, video games, toys and more. This year you’ll have a chance to talk to David Tennant, Paul Rudd, Ralph Maccio and more, as well as take part in or at least look forward to the largest and most prestigious cosplay competition in the world.
There are a number of things to do in Chicago at night. For additional ideas on how to spend your evening, make sure to check out our master Top Ten Things to Do in Chicago at Night post. Some of our Top 10 offers nighttime options.
There are plenty of musicians passing through Chicago and hosting great concerts along the way! With large venues such as The United Center and more intimate settings such as the historic Chicago Theater, there is room for everyone.
Some exciting March concerts include:
With Chicago being the comedy capital of the world, this is a perfect event for some night time entertainment. Popular show options such as Second City and iO, allow you to catch a show to fit your budget and your interest.
A lot of big name comedians will pass through for a show:
Chicago has a great music scene, and is known for its Jazz and Chicago Blues. Here you can learn about some of the best blue bars in Chicago. Some of these you will also discover on our Lincoln Park and Gangster Tour.
Some of these most popular music venues also have historic significance. Read about some of the best historic bars in the city here!
Chicago is a sports city, and in March you will catch us in the middle of the Bulls (basketball) and Blackhawks (hockey) season! Both teams share the United Center, and provide a high energy atmosphere that will allow a great night out for the whole family!
Thursday, March 21st
General Admission Tickets: $20 in advance, 25 at the door
The 3rd Thursday of the month, the Planetarium is open late for this special event! Guests 21+ can enjoy the planetarium after hours with drinks and unlimited entertainment. Escape the chilly night air and enjoy this favorite tradition.
For a family friendly option, check out Doane at Dusk. The Adler’s Doane Observatory has the largest aperture telescope available to the public in Chicago area. You’ll have the rare opportunity to see a variety of celestial objects like the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and more!
This option is FREE and from 8-930pm on March 29, 2019, you’ll be hoping to see M44 (“Beehive”) open cluster.
Some of our Top Ten are great activities for children, but check out our post about Family Friendly Activities in Chicago for a more complete guide. Below you will find a couple other options to keep your children entertained this month!
Navy Pier Crystal Gardens, Tuesdays in March
Come enjoy this free music series every Tuesday this month, in partnership with the Children’s Museum. This March you’ll find pop tunes and Bollywood to jam out to with the young ones.
Chicago is known for its theater scene, and while there will be shows that are fun for the whole family, a great place to start would be the Children’s Theater.
The 2018-2019 season in March features:
March is a great time of the year to take care advantage Chicago’s world class museums! Some of the best museums for children of all ages include the:
Many of the museums have admission costs, so you may be interested in looking into a tourist discount pass if you’re thinking about visiting one (or more) of these museums and a few other Chicago main attractions.
With the weather warming up, a trip to the park is great family friendly activity! There are many wonderful parks dotted across the city, with playgrounds, open space, and fresh air! One of the best parks for kids is also one of our newest, the Maggie Daley Park. There are many playgrounds here, these for different age groups.
Look here for a more complete list of parks in the city.
The Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory are both free and open 365 days out of the year! Head up to this beautiful park to visit some of the animals.
If it starts to get a little chilly you can stop into the Conservatory to warm up in the desert room and see the beautiful plant life there.
There are many free activities to take advantage of in Chicago, during every season of the year. Many of our Top Ten are also free to explore, but below you will find a couple of other free options this month. Check out our comprehensive post about the Top Free Things to Do in Chicago.
Saturday, March 2nd
Navy Pier, Awn Grand Ballroom
This free event features bands, art, dancers, and food from around the world!
Columbus Dr. from Balbo St. to Monroe St.
March 16, 2019
The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest in the country and for 2019, the theme is the Music of Ireland – which should make for an entertaining parade! Find out more above in our Top 10 things to do.
This beautiful stretch of Michigan Ave is known for its high end shopping. But there is beautiful architecture and landscape architecture as you walk this street.
Learn more of the hidden treasures along the a Magnificent Mile on our Magnificent Mile Walking Tour!
This beautiful and historic building is free and open for the public to explore.
They offer their own free tours every Wednesday – Saturday at 1:15pm. Beyond the art that lines the walls, you will find free traveling films, lectures, and performances here.
Check out their calendar of events to see what is going on during your visit.
As spring is starting to arrive, this is a perfect time to explore the Luire Gardens. This five acre perennial garden holds native and foreign plants throughout every season. The serene escape is designed to symbolize Chicago’s transformation from a marshland to the city that it is today.
The garden is protected by a 15 foot tall hedge, meant to illustrate Carl Sandburg’s description of Chicago, the “City of Big Shoulders.”
Chicago has many great breweries, some of which offer free tours! This is a great way to learn about local beers and their brewing process, and some include free samples.
The following breweries offer free tours at various times throughout the week. Some breweries require online reservations, so be sure to plan ahead:
Now that the weather is warming up, many of our walking tours will be picking up again for the season. Be sure to check out our calendar to see which tours are offered during your stay in Chicago!
Walking tours are a great way to see a unique part of the city, or learn about some of the interesting history of the Loop and downtown area. Whether is is architecture, the Gangsters of the 20’s, the Magnificent Mile, or neighborhoods such as the West Loop and Gold Coast that intrigues you there is something for everyone to discover on our pay-what-you-like-walking tours.
Self guided tours are another great way to discover the city! These tours will bring you through different parts of the city, with step by step directions and neighborhood highlights that allow you explore on your own time.