7 Winter Activities That Chicagoland Families Can’t Miss

Winter in Chicago can be very L O N G. Like November through April long. I get it…it’s brutal. But here’s the thing…it can also be a beautiful. Stunningly beautiful, actually. Don’t believe me? Just check your Instagram feed the day of the first yearly snowfall. You aren’t going to see those same happy posts come April, let me tell you. But here’s the thing…you shouldn’t just hibernate all winter long. The fresh air does everyone good and there are some amazingly cool (haha…get it? cool…bwahaha) outdoor adventures to explore. Don’t believe me? Here are 7 winter activities that Chicagoland families just can’t miss.

#1. Sledding
Why it’s so awesome:  Because there is no better way to celebrate a snow day than by riding down a local hill with a petrified smile on your face (or is that just me?). There are some spectacular and free sled hills across Chicagoland for kids of all ages and abilities to take advantage of. Here are my family’s favorite sled hills.
#2. Brookfield Zoo
Why it’s so awesome: Admission is free and discounted at the Brookfield Zoo during January and February and since most of the crowds stay away, you can have up close and personal encounters with the animals. And it’s absolutely adorable to see how the animals play in the snow. Don’t miss FREEze day on February 6, which will include dog sledding and other family friendly winter exhibits.
#3. Ice Skating
Why it’s so awesome: IF you ask me, there is nothing better than skating outdoors. And with all of the gorgeous backdrops for so many free rinks, such as the Bean, Maggie Daley Park, and countless evergreen forests, there is no reason why you and your family shouldn’t get laced up and hit the ice. Skating newbie? Then be sure to read my tips and advice before heading to the rink.
#4. Ice Castle
Why it’s so awesome: Speaking of ice, there is a brand new Ice Castles exhibit in the Wisconsin Dells (on the Mt. Olympus property) that is an absolutely jaw dropping ice castle. This huge and interactive ice display includes caves, tunnels, slides, and even sled hills. My favorite element is the thousands of icicles that covered all the walls and ceilings…words can’t describe how beautiful they are! Keep in mind that this is a VERY ICY exhibit, so leave the babies and itty bitty ones at home, and take a pass if you are pregnant or have trouble walking.
#5. Northerly Island Polar Adventure Days
Why it’s so awesome: Bundle up and head out to meet animals (my favorite…huskies!), enjoy live music, create nature based crafts, and engage in family friendly winter activities. The remaining winter dates are January 21 and February 25. Click here for more info.
#6: Skiing
Why it’s so awesome: I’m not gonna lie…I get pretty bummed when we have a winter of very little snow. But when that does happen, our remedy is to flee to where they make their own snow…ski resorts! So many local resorts have family friendly ski and snowboarding lessons for both the young and old, as well as warm pools to warm up in once you are done hitting the slopes.
#7: Winter Sports at the Morton Arboretum
Why it’s so awesome: Snow might be covering the ground during the winter…but that’s a good thing. Why? Because you can rent snowshoes and cross country skis to view the beautiful grounds of the Morton Arboretum. And don’t miss the “Last Call for Winter” fun on March 25 and 26 in the Children’s Garden.
Looking for places to warm up after all this winter fun? Here are our favorite spots for indoor play.
Have fun and stay warm!
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  1. robin masshole mommy says

    Sounds like there is lots of fun to be had in Chicago. We have an Ice Castle up in New Hampshire that is super cool to see in the winter.

  2. Heather Lawrence says

    We live in the land of Ice and snow as well!
    Winter normally can start as early as the second week of October and we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel until end of April as well. We have an ice castle here but the prices are expensive so we haven’t gone yet.

  3. Jacqui @FlightsFancyMom says

    The ice castle looks beautiful! I could probably spend a few hours there lol. We have some of these activities close to my home, but living in a small town means us having to drive at least 1/2 hour to get to something.

  4. Dee says

    Okay, never in a million years would I believe that the Ice castle is in Chicago. Its looks so beautiful that I am going to have to take my family there to see it ourselves.

  5. candy says

    If I take the train up visiting the ice castle would be awesome. Weather good for ice skating but no snow on the ground so sledding is out.

  6. Pam says

    Sounds like there’s a lot of fun things to do in the Chicago area in the winter. There’s something for every family!

  7. Susan Shipe says

    I’m making your chicken fried rice tonight and I came over to see the status of your blog! So happy to see you are still blogging here in the land of twigs n berries!!!

  8. Jenn says

    Your photos look amazing, but I’m just not a fan of the cold. I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life, and have never enjoyed winter.

    • Amanda says

      I don’t love the winter, either, but I’m all about experiencing beautiful and fun things no matter the weather!

  9. Rebecca Swenor says

    These are all great winter activities to do during the winter months. Morton Arboretum looks gorgeous for sure and would be a place we will have to see. Sledding is something we do a couple times a month during the winter in our area. Thanks for sharing these activities.

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