Though people around the world regard Chicago as the midwest epicenter of culture, development, and modernity, visitors are often deterred by the chilly climate. Even some residents will reclude after November begins and wait until the spring lets them return to the city’s scenic lakeside.
Regardless of the snow and low temperatures, wintertime brings seasonal fun-filled activities for locals and tourists alike. Here are some of the best winter activities for you, your friends, and your family members to enjoy.
If you live in Chicago, you’ve probably been ice skating at Millenium Park once or twice. Though skating at the iconic rink is an essential part of winter, there’s another place where residents have been flexing their Olympic muscles. The Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is an unconventional rink that’ll bring excitement to one’s normal wintertime activities.
Aptly named for its shape, the Skating Ribbon winds and twists through this outstanding downtown park. The rink is double the size of a traditional one, allowing you and your friends ample space to practice your moves. Pine trees and other winter foliage can be seen at each turn of the Skating Ribbon, providing the perfect snowy landscape for this adventure.
Tickets are already on sale, and the rink will be open throughout early March 2023.
Soldier Field is home to Chicago’s prize-winning football team, the Chicago Bears. During the winter, the field provides another attraction: its adjacent sledding hill. The perfect spot for sledding for kids of all ages is located just south of the stadium.
The hill stands over 33 feet high with a slope that spans 200 feet. At the top, there’s a beautiful view of Lake Michigan, the city’s downtown area, and Northerly Island. It’s one of the most accessible sledding spots in Chicago, with plenty of nearby train and bus stops nearby.
If you’ve seen professional curling on TV and wanted to try it out, this winter is a great time to do so. In Chicago, multiple bars have curling lanes available for reservations.
Kaiser Tiger, one of the city’s most renowned beer gardens, offers attendees a chance to test their potential at the West Loop location. Patrons can reserve a court one week in advance, with 40-minute time slots per team. The outdoor courts are lined with 10-foot-long infrared heaters, optimal for keeping attendees warm as they enjoy this unconventional sport.
This expansive garden north of the city may be known for its summertime exhibits, but the Chicago Botanic Garden offers plenty during December and January.
The outdoor gardens are still open during the chillier months, with many colder-climate plants aligning the perimeter of the walkway. There’s also an outer circuit path surrounding the gardens, perfect for exercise, scenic jogs, or a refreshing morning stroll.
When the snowy weather gets too unbearable, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s greenhouses are open for perusing. One of the glass structures holds the Semitropical Greenhouse with colorful, exotic plants from all over the world. The greenhouse’s temperature range from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the optimal getaway from Chicago’s end-of-year briskness.
In Lisle, Illinois, lies another well-known nature preserve called the Morton Arboretum. The arboretum features wonderful activities in all seasons, from summer to winter. Once the snow begins to fall, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available on the preserve.
The snowshoeing season begins after January 7th, 2023, if there are more than four inches of snow. Guests can bring their own equipment, but snowshoes and cross-country ski rentals are available on the arboretum grounds. Trails are marked throughout the terrain, freshly groomed for easy traversing. The Morton Arboretum map also identifies the best scenic trails, allowing guests to see the most beautiful winter landscapes available.
For those brave enough to face the snowy outdoors, Chicago has countless activities to enjoy during the winter months. Even if you’d rather be indoors, there are infinite opportunities for fun this December and January.