Ice skating at Millennium Park is a must-do activity in winter in Chicago. The ice rink is located in the heart of the city, right underneath the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as "The Bean." This popular outdoor ice rink is open from November to March, depending on the weather conditions.
Visitors can rent ice skates and enjoy gliding on the ice with the beautiful Chicago skyline in the background. There are also various food and drink vendors nearby, making it a perfect spot for a winter evening out.
Every winter, Lincoln Park Zoo transforms into a magical wonderland of twinkling lights and holiday cheer. The zoo's annual ZooLights event features millions of colorful lights, holiday displays, and festive activities for all ages.
Visitors can stroll through the zoo's winter wonderland and marvel at the dazzling light displays, warm up with hot cocoa and cider, and even meet Santa and his reindeer.
Chicago's Christkindlmarket is a beloved tradition that takes place every year in Daley Plaza. This German-inspired outdoor market features handmade gifts, ornaments, and crafts, as well as traditional German food and drinks like hot spiced wine, sausages, and gingerbread.
Visitors can enjoy the festive atmosphere, shop for unique gifts, and experience a taste of old-world European charm in the heart of Chicago.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is a stunning oasis of nature and beauty, even in the winter months. Visitors can take a leisurely winter walk through the garden's many paths and trails, admiring the snow-covered landscapes and winter flora.
The garden also offers special winter events and activities, such as winter bird watching tours and holiday light displays.
For a thrilling outdoor winter activity, head to Soldier Field for some sledding. The stadium's south lawn transforms into a giant sledding hill during the winter months, offering a fun and exciting way to enjoy the snow. Visitors can bring their own sleds or rent them on site and enjoy a day of snowy fun.
If you are a winter sports enthusiast, head to Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports to experience skiing or snowboarding in the city.
This ski resort is located just 30 minutes west of Chicago and offers a variety of trails for all skill levels. You can rent equipment and take lessons if you are a beginner. There is also a snow tubing hill for those who prefer a less intense activity.
For a unique winter experience in Chicago, head to Northerly Island to cross-country ski on the trails. This nature preserve is located on a peninsula along Lake Michigan and offers beautiful views of the city skyline.
The trails are groomed regularly, and ski rentals are available on-site. You can also explore the nature center and learn about the wildlife that calls the island home.
The Chicago Ice Festival is a yearly event held in February that features some of the most impressive ice sculptures you will ever see.
The festival takes place in the heart of the city and features ice-carving competitions, live music, and a wide range of food and drink options. The festival is free to attend, and it is a great way to experience the city's winter culture.
Polar Adventure Days is a free family event that takes place at Northerly Island during winter. It offers an opportunity for visitors to learn about the polar regions and enjoy various outdoor activities.
The event usually takes place in January and February, and features a range of activities, including dog sledding demonstrations, ice sculpture carving, and interactive exhibits.
Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the history of Northerly Island and its ecological significance.
They can also participate in educational activities that are designed to teach them about the polar regions, the animals that live there, and the effects of climate change. Other activities include arts and crafts, face painting, and photo booths.
Morton Arboretum is a beautiful natural preserve located in Lisle, Illinois, about 25 miles west of Chicago. The preserve is home to over 4,000 species of trees and plants, and it offers a range of outdoor activities throughout the year. During winter, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing on the preserve's many trails.
Morton Arboretum provides snowshoes for rent, and visitors can take guided tours to explore the preserve's winter landscape. The trails are designed to accommodate all skill levels, from beginners to experienced snowshoers. Visitors can also bring their own snowshoes if they prefer.
The Brookfield Zoo is a popular attraction located in Brookfield, Illinois, about 14 miles west of Chicago. During winter, the zoo transforms into a winter wonderland with Holiday Magic, a festive event that takes place from November through December.
Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, including ice carving demonstrations, carolers, and a light show. They can also take a ride on the zoo's Holiday Magic Express train, which takes them through a tunnel of lights and past a variety of animals.
The Aurora Festival of Lights is a free event that takes place during the holiday season in Aurora, Illinois, about 40 miles west of Chicago. It features over a mile of holiday lights and decorations, including a giant Christmas tree, animated displays, and a lighted train.
Visitors can drive through the festival in their cars or take a leisurely walk through the displays. The event also features a Santa's Village, where visitors can take pictures with Santa, enjoy holiday treats, and shop for gifts.
The Lakefront Trail is a popular biking and jogging path that runs along Lake Michigan in Chicago. During winter, the trail is less crowded, making it an ideal spot for a winter bike ride.
Visitors can rent bikes at several locations along the trail and enjoy a scenic ride along the lakefront. The trail offers beautiful views of the city skyline and the lake, and it is well maintained throughout the winter months.
Yes, there are several winter festivals in Chicago, including the Christkindlmarket, which is a German-inspired outdoor market featuring holiday crafts, food, and drinks, and the Chicago Polar Plunge, where participants jump into Lake Michigan to raise money for charity.
Yes, there are several places to go winter hiking in Chicago, including the Morton Arboretum, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, and the Chicago Lakefront Trail. However, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and be cautious of icy conditions on the trails.