Where to Find Hygge in Chicago This Winter

From fun storytimes to cozy Italian dining, here's how to embrace the warmth.

Get ready to embrace your cozy side! We’ve put together a list of family-friendly Chicagoland activities and events that foster hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”), the Danish concept for coziness and contentment. Who doesn’t love that warm, happy feeling that comes with savoring life’s simple pleasures?

With all Chicagoland has to offer, it’s the perfect time to find joy and settle in with the ones you love for a truly hygge experience this winter.

Wear PJs for story time

Fuzzy slippers are optional at Pajama Story Time, held every Wednesday at 6 p.m. beginning Jan. 24 at the Chicago Public Library’s Sulzer Regional Library branch (4455 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago). Caregivers can snuggle up with their children ages birth to 5 years in the library’s first-floor community room and let their imaginations soar.

Dine at a cozy Italian spot

You’ll want to stay all evening at The Village, the classic upstairs dining room of Italian Village (71 W. Monroe St., Chicago). This nearly 100-year-old Chicago institution is known for its northern Italian food and cozy decor. Request a booth under the twinkling lights and hand-painted murals of Tuscany that adorn the walls of the restaurant. If you’re extra lucky, you’ll score a spot in one of the restaurant’s cozy alcove tables that feel miles away from Chicago’s bustling downtown streets outside.

Paint a masterpiece

Each of Pinot’s Palette’s Chicagoland locations (Elmhurst, Naperville, South Barrington, St. Charles, Woodridge and Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood) have different age requirements for its sip and paint programs. Check your nearest location for kid-friendly sessions and cozy painting themes like a sleepy winter sloth, a snowy winter scene or a gnome holding a love note. If a private party is more your style, invite friends to paint a kid-friendly theme of your choice; there are plenty of sweet options to pick from.

Sip on hot cocoa

Hot cocoa and handmade candy are two of winter’s best simple pleasures. Katherine Anne Confections’ two locations in Chicago feature a variety of truffles, caramels and marshmallows made on-site. You and your kids can also snuggle as you enjoy 12 types of amazing hot chocolate with two locations in Chicago.

Watch a candlelight concert

Give your eyes and ears a treat at a concert by candlelight — Swiftie hearts will melt at “Candlelight Aurora: A Tribute to Taylor Swift coming to the New England Congregational Church of Aurora for two shows on Friday, Jan. 26, or catch “Candlelight: A Tribute to Taylor Swift” at the Music Box Theatre of Chicago for one show on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Both tributes, performed by the Listeso String Quartet, are open to kids 8 and up. Kids ages 8-16 must be accompanied by an adult and advance tickets are required starting at $24-$39.

Read with doggos

Kids in grades 1-6 can cuddle up to read with canines from Rainbow Assisted Animal Therapy during 15-minute “Read to the Dogs” time slots at Park Ridge Public Library between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 10 (20 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge). In the western suburbs, kids in grades 1-5 can drop into Geneva Public Library District’s similar “Reading to Rover” program on Monday, Jan. 29 from 4-5 p.m. (227 S. Seventh St., Geneva). There is nothing cozier than reading to a sweet pup on your lap!

Stay at home and make some beet chili

Don’t feel like going out? Warm lighting, hot drinks, yummy treats and soft blankets to snuggle in are hallmarks of the hygge life. We suggest pulling out the candles to dine by candlelight with hot bowls of chili while in your comfiest PJs. You can try making this beet chili. Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 7 small cloves of garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 1 fresno pepper
  • 1 habanero pepper (take seeds out for less spicy)
  • 1 32-ounce can vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans

Directions

  1. Cut onions small and fry onions for 5 minutes or so, or until caramelized if you. Add some salt to your liking.
  2. Add garlic. Fry for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add whole can of vegetable stock. Let that simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Add spices and can of crushed tomatoes. Let everything simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Peel 3 beets. Add olive oil to beets then roast in oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and add beets to pot.
  7. Add tomato paste and let simmer for 30 minutes with cover on pot
  8. Add beans and let simmer for 30 minutes with lid off. Then you’re done, eat up!

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