There’s lots of wintery magic to embrace in Chicago. The Windy City knows how to do winter on a grand scale, and living here means you get to enjoy all of Chicago’s best winter activities.
With an average annual snowfall of 35 inches from November to April, you’ll watch the city transform with snow, lights, and skating rinks. Read on to discover the magic of Chicago in the winter.
1. The Ice Skating
Chicagoans embrace the cold every year by taking a spin on the ice rinks across downtown. Outdoor skating in the city is a special treat, skating with the famous Chicago skyline in the background. Whether you invest in your own skates or rent them at the rink, you are sure to have a fantastic experience.
The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink on the edge of Millennium Park and adjacent to the famous Cloud Gate or “Bean” sculpture, is one of the best known with its 16,000 square feet of ice. Visit the Windy City on this iconic rink while enjoying the sights and the sounds from all around.
Don’t miss the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon, a winding loop of ice where you can do lap after lap. This rink creates a multi-sensory activity integrated into the landscape. Skaters encounter “alpine in the city” as they lace up their skates and glide along an ice path twice the length of a lap around an ordinary skating rink.
2. Food and Drink
Food is a highlight of Chicago at any time of year, but in winter, it gets even better. Try the warming, spicy huevos rancheros at Parson’s Chicken & Fish at Logan Square and Lincoln Park. Hot empanadas will get you through any winter at 5411 Empanadas with locations across the city.
Hot chocolate is a winter drink that everyone can enjoy, so visit Bar Siena in West Loop or try Katherine Anne Confections in Logan Square.
3. The Conservatories
If you’d like to get out and about but want to explore in the warm, visit Chicago’s two tropical conservatories. Stop by the Garfield Park Conservatory to wander around the 2 acres of palms and hot weather plants under the glass roof.
The Lincoln Park Conservatory has another Victorian glasshouse filled with beautiful plants and flowers throughout winter.
4. The Animals
Chicago’s two noteworthy zoos are both open 365 days a year! It’s an excellent time to see your favorite animals, as some are even more active in the winter months.
Lincoln Park Zoo is just minutes north of Chicago. It’s a wonderful world of wildlife set in the shadows of the city’s skyscrapers. Experience every animal imaginable at this gem in the city. Bonus Tip: Lincoln Park Zoo is free!
Just 20 minutes outside the city is Brookfield Zoo, which is recognized as one of the biggest and best zoos in the U.S. Its many wonderful exhibits include an underwater polar bear viewing area, a dolphin show, as well as an extensive indoor primate area.
Around the holidays, both zoos offer spectacular holiday light shows with added daily attractions like ice sculpting.
5. The Planetarium
The Adler Planetarium is one of the premier planetariums in the country. Experience interesting space exhibits and incredible star and planet shows in The Grainger Sky Theater. Daytime or evening, the planetarium’s patio provides the best spot in the city for Chicago skyline photography.
Winter in Chicago Is Wonderful
Being in this city during the colder months is a very different experience but an exciting and enjoyable one nonetheless. Winter in Chicago is filled with activities and holiday lights making it a perfect place for families.
From ice skating in the park to drinking hot chocolate in a cafe, you’ll be surprised at how easy the winter months are here. If you’re ready to make the move to Chicago and need some help, get in touch with us to talk about our household moving services.