Top 10 Things To Do in Chicago in Winter – Snowy Delights

Winter is a magical time of year in Chicago, with the snow adding an extra sparkle to the city. You can fully embrace the season by embarking on wintry adventures such as ice skating next to Cloud Gate, sledding, and snowshoeing with views of the snowy lakefront.

There are many reasons to fall in love with winter in Chicago.

Go Ice Skating at A Unique Rink

millenium park ice skating

For an ultimate winter experience in Chicago, don’t miss the opportunity to skate on the iconic ice rink at Millennium Park. The stunning winter views of Chicago, including Michigan Avenue, the downtown skyline, and The Bean covered in snow, will take your breath away.

Additionally, at the nearby Maggie Daley Park, you can rent a pair of skates and skate through a winter wonderland along the curvy Skating Ribbon. This path is twice the length of a traditional skating rink and features scenic pine trees and a rock climbing wall. These rinks are open from November through early March, weather permitting.

If you’re looking for more places to skate in Chicago, check out the Midway Plaisance Ice Rink in Hyde Park. The rink is located on the University of Chicago campus and is situated where the first-ever Ferris wheel was constructed for the 1893 World’s Fair. There’s also a warming center available to thaw out before heading back onto the ice. Another option is the Sky Rink at the Peninsula Chicago, which is the only hotel ice skating rink in the city and provides great views of Michigan Avenue from its elevated position.

Enjoy Cocktails and Curling

curling chicago

Looking for a unique winter activity in Chicago? Head on up to The Gwen hotel’s rooftop curling rink for a classic game of curling, complete with signature cocktails. Cozy up by the fire pits and enjoy the full food and drink menu.

If you’re a fan of beer and bocce in the summer, you won’t want to miss Kaiser Tiger’s outdoor curling rinks in the winter. Warm up with boozy hot chocolates and cocktails while enjoying the game.

But that’s not all – a new curling experience has just opened up in the West Loop! Stone’s Throw at The Emily Hotel offers four Olympic-size courts, heated yurts, and hot cocktails to keep you warm and entertained. Don’t miss out on this exciting winter activity in Chicago.

Go Sledding and Snowshoeing

Sledding and Snowshoeing chicago

Get your adrenaline pumping by sledding down the towering hill at Soldier Field, home of Chicago Bears football. With a slope spanning more than 200 feet, this sledding hill is a must-visit for thrill-seekers, and offers a stunning panoramic view of Lake Michigan from the top.

For a more serene winter activity, go snowshoeing on Northerly Island, a man-made peninsula just east of Soldier Field. Explore winding nature trails and catch glimpses of winter birds and the beautiful Chicago skyline. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter Siberian huskies, wolves, and birds of prey during the free Polar Adventure Days. Plus, you can get crafty with nature-inspired winter crafts.

Meet the Cold-Weather Zoo Animals

zoo animals chicago winter

The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is a free attraction that you can visit any day of the year, even in winter. Bundle up and watch the playful antics of polar bears, penguins, and snow monkeys outside in the chilly weather. If it gets too cold, head indoors to the animal houses where you can view even more creatures like gorillas and penguins up close

Snap a Snowy Selfie with The Bean

snowy bean

Winter brings a special charm to Millennium Park, which is home to one of Chicago’s most famous landmarks, The Bean. Take a break from the cold and capture a selfie on its glistening surface before gliding down the steps to the park’s free ice skating rink. There are plenty of other winter activities to enjoy at Millennium Park too!

Sip Cocktails on A Winter Rooftop

winter cocktail

Don’t let the cold weather stop you from exploring Chicago’s vibrant food and drink scene. Cozy up by the fire pits, dine in heated outdoor spaces, or step into a personal greenhouse for a unique winter dining experience. For a truly unforgettable evening, try ice skating on a rooftop rink, or visit a winter-themed pop-up. And for a truly enchanting experience, reserve a personal igloo and feel like you’re in your own private snow globe. Check out these rooftop spots that offer all-seasons dining and drinks.

Visit a Stunning Indoor Garden

indoor garden

Get inside and warm up at one of Chicago’s free indoor botanic gardens and conservatories. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is a free experience in historic Lincoln Park, with multiple rooms dedicated to exotic flora and flowers. And the Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest conservatories in the nation, occupying two acres of lush greenhouse space. Find more indoor gardensto explore in and around Chicago.

Warm up With Hot Cocoa

hot cocoa

Chicago is the perfect place to warm up with a delicious cup of cocoa during the winter months. Check out Katherine Anne Confections for their rich and decadent drinking chocolate, or head to Kristoffer’s Café & Bakery in Pilsen or XOCO in River North for a taste of Mexican hot chocolate. For something extra special, make your way to BomboBar in the West Loop for over-the-top, Instagram-worthy cups of cocoa.

Admire the Frozen Lake

frozen lake

Winter in Chicago offers some amazing views of the frozen Lake Michigan from the Lakefront Trail, where you can capture some stunning shots of the skyline. Warm up after your icy adventure by exploring some of the city’s best shopping spots and museums, like The Magnificent Mile or the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Don’t miss out on the cool museums such as the Adler Planetarium or the Museum of Science and Industry.


What is the best time to visit Chicago in winter?

The winter months in Chicago can be extremely cold and snowy, so it’s best to plan your visit during the months of November through February. December is also a great time to visit because of the festive holiday season.

Are there any indoor activities to do in Chicago during the winter?

Yes, there are plenty of indoor activities to do in Chicago during the winter. You can visit indoor botanical gardens and conservatories like the Lincoln Park Conservatory or the Garfield Park Conservatory. You can also explore the city’s many museums, like the Art Institute of Chicago or the Field Museum.

What are some other winter activities in Chicago?

Chicago offers a variety of winter activities, including visiting the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German Christmas market, or taking a winter architecture boat tour on the Chicago River. You can also attend winter festivals like the Chicago Polar Plunge or the Chicago Restaurant Week.

Is it safe to visit Chicago during the winter?

Chicago is generally a safe city to visit, but it’s important to take precautions when traveling in the winter. Dress warmly and appropriately for the weather, be mindful of icy conditions on sidewalks and streets, and stay aware of your surroundings.

Are there any outdoor festivals or events during winter in Chicago?

Yes, Chicago hosts several outdoor festivals and events during the winter months. One of the most popular events is the Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which takes place in Millennium Park each November. The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is another must-see event, featuring a parade, live music, and fireworks. Additionally, the Chicago Polar Plunge is an annual event where participants jump into Lake Michigan in freezing temperatures to raise money for the Special Olympics.

What are some indoor activities to do in Chicago during winter?

Chicago has plenty of indoor activities to offer during the winter months. The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned museum featuring a vast collection of artwork from all over the world. The Museum of Science and Industry is another popular attraction, with exhibits on everything from space exploration to weather patterns. For a more unique experience, check out WhirlyBall, an indoor entertainment center that combines bumper cars, lacrosse, and basketball for an exciting game.

What are some other winter sports to try in Chicago besides ice skating and curling?

In addition to ice skating and curling, Chicago offers several other winter sports for adventurous visitors. One of the most popular is cross-country skiing, which can be done in many of the city’s parks and forest preserves. Snowshoeing is another option for exploring the snowy landscapes of Chicago’s parks. And for those looking for an adrenaline rush, snowmobiling is a thrilling winter activity that can be done just outside the city in places like Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.


Chicago offers plenty of exciting winter activities for visitors of all ages. From ice skating at Millennium Park to exploring indoor botanical gardens, there’s no shortage of things to do during the colder months. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking to go sledding or a foodie in search of the perfect cup of hot cocoa, Chicago has something for everyone to enjoy in the winter. Just be sure to bundle up and stay safe while exploring the city’s snowy delights.

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