Huffpost Chicago

32 Reasons It's Completely Worth It To Put Up With Chicago's Miserable Winters

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This post is part of HuffPost's Good News USA series, which showcases both past and present ways cities across the country have created a positive impact worldwide and within their own communities.

Chicago is the sort of city that always seems to come alive in the warmer months.

But after the brutal winter the Windy City endured -- its coldest ever, by one measure -- no one can blame Chicagoans for having a particularly serious case of spring fever this year.

Now that Chicago has finally strung a couple of days in the 60s together, we thought it was time to remind the world why Windy Citizens resist the urge to pack it up and move somewhere tropical every winter. These are just some of the many reasons why it's worth all that polar vortex pain.

  • 1
    Of course, baseball season.
    Enjoy a lunch of hot dogs, cotton candy or whatever guilty pleasure ballpark food you're craving at Wrigley -- or a helmet full of nachos or ice cream at The Cell -- while taking in a game. It's a pretty spectacular way to spend an afternoon, even if the home team loses.
  • 2
    Miko's Italian Ice opening for business.
    Miko's Italian Ice/Facebook
    The refreshing Logan Square and Bucktown summer staple, made from real fruit, opened for business last week.
  • 3
    Crocuses, another early sign of hope.
    If only these gorgeous little guys knew the impact their April emergence makes every year when they begin popping up throughout the city. It's the little things.
  • 4
    A lot more of these are opening up.
    Chicago loves its al fresco dining and most restaurants are already opening up their sidewalk seating and patios by mid-April. Bonus for dog owners: many restos don't mind if you bring your pooch along to enjoy some fresh air too.
  • 5
    The best smell the Loop has to offer.
    Tim Boyle/Getty Images
    Since you're actually outside long enough to take notice now, you'll probably note the unmistakable scent of chocolate in the air downtown, thanks to the Blommer chocolate factory. It smells so good it partially masks some less desirable smells you might encounter.
  • 6
    The live music offerings get way, way better.
    Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Soho House
    Who could blame touring artists for avoiding touring during the winter, especially when it comes to the Midwest? By April, most musicians' travel itineraries are in full swing and Chicago is practically a mandatory stop for artists. The next three weeks alone in Chicago boast acts like The National, The Knife, Black Lips, M.I.A. (pictured) and Diana Ross swinging through town.
  • 7
    Waves beat ice floes hands down.
    Remember when this was almost completely frozen not that long ago? Even if the water along Lake Michigan is still too cold in April, it won't stay that way for long.
  • 8
    Perfect biking weather.
    Biking (or running or walking) along the 18-mile-long lakefront trail offers one of the finest vantage points of the city out there.
  • 9
    Brave souls kayaking the Chicago River.
    AP Photo/Scott Eisen
    The earlier in the season, the braver they are -- that water is still pretty cold! These kayakers are always such an inspiration, why not join them?
  • 10
    The water taxi, probably the most relaxing commute imaginable.
    Want to traverse the river but feeling less adventurous? Chicago Water Taxi is both cheap -- just $6 to go from Michigan Avenue to Chinatown or $8 for an all-day pass -- and scenic. Its season begins April 14.
  • 11
    Buckingham Fountain is flowing again.
    The city's iconic Buckingham Fountain shoots water 150 feet into the air and reopens each April.
  • 12
    Rooftop bars with an unbeatable view.
    Vertigo Sky Lounge/Facebook
    Rooftop bars are not unique to Chicago, of course, but some of these views are. Vertigo Sky Lounge (pictured), Drumbar and the Roof on the Wit are just a few of the city's best spots for an open-air cocktail amid the skyscrapers.
  • 13
    It's finally farmer's market season.
    Logan Square Farmer's Market/Facebook
    The city's farmer's markets begin setting up shop in May, so you don't have to rely on your neighborhood grocery store for overpriced, lower-quality produce any longer. Chicago has so many farmer's market options to choose from, it's almost overwhelming.
  • 14
    The beaches.
    Tim Boyle/Getty Images
    Chicago is unique for having so many miles of beaches so easily accessible from its downtown area. The city's public beaches officially open in May.
  • 15
    Seriously, the beaches.
    AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
    Perfect for sports, lazing around or any combination thereof, Chicago's beaches are tough to top in terms of urban recreation.
  • 16
    Twice-weekly fireworks over Navy Pier.
    Starting in late May, Navy Pier sets off fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night. No local relishes a trip to this tourist trap, but neither would one deny having paused to take in the spectacle.
  • 17
    Outdoor music at Millennium Park.
    An array of music can be enjoyed all summer long at Millennium Park, and almost all of the shows are free. The popular Downtown Sound concert series begins in early June.
  • 18
    The beauty of Osaka Garden.
    The Osaka Garden in Hyde Park is one of the city's most serene spots -- and though it's beautiful year-round, it's especially stunning in the summertime. The perfect spot for a picnic.
  • 19
    The lushness of Garfield Park Conservatory.
    Garfield Park Conservatory/Facebook
    This gem is always gorgeous on the inside, but the Garfield Park Conservatory's grounds -- some of the largest of any conservatory in the nation -- come alive in the summertime with some of the most unbelievable gardens you can stroll through anywhere in the city.
  • 20
    Tacos and tequila at Big Star.
    Big Star Chicago/Facebook
    Wicker Park's Big Star has the patio to be at all summer -- and with good reason. The tacos are tasty and the cocktails are perfection.
  • 21
    Pop-up water park fun.
    AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong
    The Chicago Fire Department doesn't exactly condone this practice, but some days are just so hot they tend to look the other way when someone pops open a fire hydrant.
  • 22
    The original rainbow cone.
    Rainbow Cone is simply a must if you're anywhere near the South Side over the summer. The hotter it is outside, the more delicious this tastes.
  • 23
    Elotes in the park. Ice cream on the beach. Chicharrones on the street.
    Tim Boyle/Getty Images
    By May, vendors' tasty treats are cropping up everywhere, like crocuses in April. You can't beat it.
  • 24
    Music fest-a-palooza.
    Roger Kisby/Getty Images
    Sure, music fests are everywhere now and come with their share of downsides, but Chicago has far more than its fair share of offerings for festivalgoers: Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Riot Fest, Blues Fest, Spring Awakening, North Coast, Wavefront and Do-Division, just to name a few.
  • 25
    Flowers, flowers everywhere.
    Chicago Botanic Garden/Facebook
    By May, the city is filled with bountiful blooms practically as far as the eye can see. Just outside of the city, in Glencoe, the Chicago Botanic Garden boasts the finest display gardens in Midwest. Very much worth the day trip to the North Shore.
  • 26
    Movies in the park.
    Chicago Park District/Facebook
    The city no longer offers its massive screenings at Grant Park, but continues to screen an array of films in neighborhoods throughout the city all summer along, beginning in June. Our favorite screening? Watching "Willy Wonka" at Fulton River Park some years ago, directly across the street from the Blommer chocolate factory. Perfection.
  • 27
    Cooling off at Crown Fountain.
    Tim Boyle/Getty Images
    Can't take the heat? Just throw yourself into the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. (We'd recommend having a change of clothes on you.)
  • 28
    Street fests, street fests everywhere.
    Renegade Craft Fair/Facebook
    It seems like every neighborhood has gotten into the street fest game by now, making for seemingly endless options for open-air shopping, eating, and '80s-cover band-watching every weekend from May onward.
  • 29
    The Thoreau-ness of Caldwell Lily Pool.
    If there was one place to have a "Walden" moment in Chicago, it would be here. On the grounds of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool was designed to "resemble a river meandering through a great midwestern prairie." A perfect place for an afternoon escape.
  • 30
    The view of the city from Promontory Point.
    WikiMedia:
    This Hyde Park spot might just be one of our favorite hidden gems in the city. A beautiful spot for a picnic.
  • 31
    This sunrise.
  • 32
    This sunset.
    JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images
    Yep, the winter was worth it.

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