Discover the Coldest Place in Illinois

Written by Brandi Allred
Updated: March 7, 2023
© justoomm/
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Located in the Great Lakes region of the United States, Illinois is one of the most populous states in the country. While its capital is Springfield, Chicago is actually the largest city. Illinois benefits from both fertile farming lands and access to shipping via both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The state is generally very flat, with a climate largely influenced by its proximity to the vast waters of the Great Lakes. But, just where is the coldest place in Illinois?

Here, we’ll discover just how cold Illinois gets, and where you can expect to find the coldest temperatures. Then, we’ll take a deeper dive into the coldest temperature ever recorded in Illinois, before exploring the coldest place a little more. We’ll learn about the history of the coldest place in the state, as well as what kinds of wildlife live there. Finally, we’ll finish up by discovering a few of the funniest things to do in the coldest parts of Illinois.

The Coldest Place in Illinois

street during winter
The coldest place in Illinois is Mount Prospect.


Ranked by average maximum temperature, the coldest place in Illinois is Mount Prospect. The average maximum temperature in Mount Prospect is just 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Not sure where Mount Prospect is? Well, it’s actually a suburb of Chicago, located to the northwest of the city center. Illinois, and especially the Chicagoland area, is known for its cold, biting winters. In fact, the coldest month in Illinois is January, with an average temperature of just 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The average year-round temperature in the state is only 52 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, July sees the hottest temperatures of the year, with an average maximum temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Illinois

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Illinois was in Mount Carroll when the temperature hit -38°F on January 31, 2019. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration verified this state record, noting the equipment at the observation station was functional and proper protocols were followed in recording this bone-chilling record low for the Prairie State.

History of Mount Prospect

Officially known as the Village of Mount Prospect, this Chicago suburb is home to just over 50,000 people. The land was originally occupied by Native Americans until European farmers and settlers began expanding west and pushing Native peoples out of their ancestral lands. In the case of Mount Prospect, farmers were the first to move in, led largely by “Yankees” and immigrants from Germany. But, Mount Prospect didn’t really make it onto the map until the construction of a train depot in town in 1850.

By 1917, the Village of Mount Prospect had 300 residents and a distinct downtown area surrounding the train station. Thousands flocked to the quaint village just outside Chicago from the 1920s onward, with the most significant population increase occurring after WWII. Today, the village is home to diverse businesses, an open air mall, and a downtown area that combines history with modernity. Visitors are welcome, a fact reflected in the coldest place in Illinois’ slogan: “Where Friendliness is a Way of Life.”

Wildlife and Ecology

Western gray squirrel, center frame, facing right withers paws in its mouth, in green grass with
You are likely to see squirrels in Mount Prospect.

©d murk photographs/

When it comes to wildlife in Mount Prospect, urban critters are the rule. However, the village also borders the Camp Pine Woods area, which features a segment of the Des Plaines River. It’s also very close to the Busse Woods. Urban animals you’re likely to see in Mount Prospect include squirrels, raccoons, rats, and birds of all shapes and sizes. Venturing into the woods, you may catch sight of a coyote, red fox, or striped skunk. And, if you’re lucky, you might even see a black-crowned night heron preying on small creatures like lizards, mice, and fish.

Things to Do in Mount Prospect

Mount Prospect, the coldest place in Illinois, is largely suburban, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in things to do. One of the first things visitors will want to do is check out the Randhurst Village and Downtown shopping districts. Both areas are chock full of opportunities to shop local, as well as eat, drink, and stay. Mount Prospect is also home to a wide variety of parks, golf courses, dog parks, and even skate parks. Don’t forget to check out the Mount Prospect Historical Society, located inside a historic building. Lastly, the iconic village water tower (painted bright blue) sits just down the street from the Historical Society-you don’t want to miss it!

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Blizzard Snow
Blizzard Snow
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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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