Winters in Chicago are sadly long and freezing. It is not uncommon to reach February and wonder if you will feel the heat of the sun on your face again. To make the most of the upcoming winter months (and gasp – maybe even enjoy them), we’ve compiled a list of the best winter family activities to try in Chicago. Whether you love the cold outside or prefer to hide inside, Chicago has plenty of activities to enjoy this winter.
300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624
If you need a break from the gray skies, Chicago’s Winter Gardens provide the perfect respite. As one of the largest botanical conservatories in the world, the Garfield Park Conservatory owns several garden exhibition houses. From desert cacti to tropical palm trees, the conservatory presents thousands of plant species from all over the world. Their winter flower show, Serenity, owes its name to the calming properties of flowers such as hyacinth, zinnias, salvias and the cosmos on display.
Reservations can be made online and are required before visiting.
2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
For another place to escape the cold, enter the greenhouse of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and you will experience vibrant flowers and warm tropical temperatures. Built in the late 1800s, the tranquil space features four exhibition halls for visitors to browse, including The Palm House, Orchid House, Fern Room, and Show House.
Reservations are required before visiting the conservatory.
Put on your skates and go to the ice rink – the famous ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is now open. Skate in circles at your leisure with a beautiful backdrop of the city’s silver skyline. In addition, the park has teamed up this year with Immersive Van Gogh, an experiential art exhibition, to project works inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Sunflowers on the ice.
If you prefer a more traditional rink, the McCormick Tribune rink in Millennium Park is another nearby place to skate. The Bean Sculpture overlooks this popular ice rink, which means you’re right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Both open until March, admission to the skating rinks at Maggie Daley Park and Millennium Park is free on weekdays. However, skate rentals are chargeable and reservations must be made online. Weekends only have selected sessions for free.
See Frozen at the newly reopened Chicago Broadway
175 E Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60611
Transport yourself to Adendelle’s frozen kingdom this winter when you see the hit Disney movie Frozen come to life on stage. Follow Princess Anna as she sets off in search of her sister, Queen Elsa, whose magical powers unwittingly trap the kingdom of Arendelle in an endless freezing winter. This Broadway production of Frozen features twelve new songs as well as seven songs from the original film, such as Do You Want to Build a Snowman ?, Love is an Open Door, and of course, Let It Go.
With dazzling set design and fun musical performances, Frozen on Broadway is the perfect show for the whole family. The production runs through January 22 at the Cadillac Palace Theater.
The Christmas season is without a doubt the best part of winter in Chicago. Fortunately, there are endless ways to celebrate the holidays in this city. First, head to the Christkindl Market in the Loop or in Wrigleyville for a cup of hot chocolate in a souvenir mug as you browse unique handmade gifts and German delicacies from the vendors. Around the block, check out Macy’s on State Street, known for its cheery window displays and a 45-foot Christmas tree in the store’s restaurant.
After that, head to Zoolights in Lincoln Park to see the Lincoln Park Zoo transformed into a winter wonderland thanks to thousands of dazzling lights and beautiful Christmas displays. While you’re there, visit Santa Claus and take a ride on the endangered species carousel. Admission to Zoolights costs $ 5 and tickets must be purchased online in advance.
Cheer on your favorite Chicago team
The Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks are back in action this winter at the United Center with game tickets on sale now.
Catch superstar DeMar DeRozan and the rest of the Bulls’ impressive team have hit the pitch this season. While you’re there, stop by one of the arena’s many food vendors for a snack. Grab a taco from Big Star Taco or a chicken sandwich from Leghorn Chicken. Unique game tickets can be purchased online
If basketball isn’t your thing, pull on your Blackhawks jersey and watch a thrilling game on the ice. Tickets start at around $ 15 for each game. Purchase a Family Pack (includes ticket plus food and drink credit) or opt for an expanded game experience package, which includes a tour of the practice facilities Blackhawk, a pre-game buffet and free skating at Fifth Third Arena.
Discover the perfect toboggan hill
Put on your snow boots and take your sled for an afternoon in the park. Chicago might not be known for its hilly terrain, but there are several places in the city to pick up speed.
Just outside Soldier Field, a designated toboggan hill with a drop of 33 feet and a slope of 220 feet overlooks stunning views of the city skyline. When there isn’t enough snow in winter to cover the hill, the Chicago Park District pumps fake snow to maintain perfect gliding conditions.
Often dubbed one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets, a different slope at Dan Ryan Woods offers an exciting descent up a 200-foot hill. Located in the Beverly neighborhood, the hill is occupied seven days a week by the Cook County Forest Preserve.
Develop your imagination at WNDR Museum
1130 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60607
Do you feel uninspired during the winter months? Stimulate your creativity by visiting the WNDR Museum. Located in the West Loop, the WNDR Museum is a multi-sensory and experiential art exhibit designed by contemporary artists. Curiosity is the key to being fully immersed in all that this museum has to offer. From a playful light installation to a mirrored infinity hall, each exhibition invites you to interact with the art itself and be amazed by the unique perspectives.
Plan your trip to the WNDR Museum by purchasing tickets online. General admission tickets cost $ 30 and tickets for children (ages 3-12) cost $ 25 for the experience. Children two and under are free.
Image Credit Featured: Lincoln Park Zoo