35 winter activities for families in Chicagoland

 

When the winter weather really hits Chicago, it’s tempting to sit at home and hibernate. But there’s plenty to explore with your family in Chicagoland! From ice skating and new exhibits to holiday celebrations, here are the best things to do in Chicago this winter.

 

Jump around.

 

Have the kids burn their energy by jumping around at these trampoline parks. Fingers crossed, they fall asleep on the way home!

 

Learn about the culture of dragons.

 

Dragons Alive! The Science and Culture of Reptiles opens on Feb. 1 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Included with general admission, the new exhibit will also feature 10 species of reptiles with dragon-like features.

 

Drink all the hot chocolate.

 

Stay warm this winter by grabbing a cup (or two) of hot chocolate at these local places. Some of our favorites include XO Marshmallow, Firecakes and BomboBar.

 

Go ice skating.

 

This classic seasonal activity is a can’t-miss for your Chicago winter bucket list. We’ve rounded up the best outdoor skating rinks for your family.

 

Watch monsters truck live!

 

If your kiddos are obsessed with Hot Wheels Monster Trucks, then watch the trucks come to life. The thrilling show returns to Sears Centre Arena on Feb. 15-16.

What Does It Mean Dr King? at Chicago Children’s Museum, Photo Credit: Eliza Poznanski

 

Visit an indoor farmers market.

 

You can still shop for fresh produce, treats and more at these indoor farmers markets in Chicagoland.

 

Build forts.

 

FORTS! Build Your Own Adventure is back at Filament Theatre through Feb. 23. Want to have fun without the kids? Try out their Forts: Adults Nights (and it’s BYOB).

 

Eat all the chocolate.

 

Homewood’s Hometown Chocolate Fest on Feb. 22 feeds our love for chocolate. While you’re there, check out other family-friendly things to do in this south suburban town.

 

Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

 

These family-friendly events in Chicagoland will honor the civil rights crusader. Plus, here are other things to do with kids on Jan. 20.

 

Celebrate The Year of Chicago Music.

 

Did you know 2020 is The Year of Chicago Music? Here are some fun ideas to celebrate with your family all year long.

Try out snowshoeing.

 

The next time Chicagoland gets covered with a blanket of snow, head to Morton Arboretum to try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

 

Jump into Lake Michigan.

 

On March 1, the whole family can take the 2020 Chicago Polar Plunge to help raise money for Special Olympics Chicago.

 

Step into Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

 

The DuSable Museum of African American History will premiere a new exhibit with TIME called The March and it’s a virtual reality experience you don’t want to miss.

 

Celebrate the Lunar New Year.

 

Chicagoland is filled with family-friendly events celebrating The Year of the Rat. Save the date for Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Parade on Feb. 2.

 

Splash around at an indoor water park.

 

If you’re tired of winter in Chicago, pretend it’s summer at one of these nearby indoor water parks.

Plan a winter getaway.

 

When you need a weekend to escape the city, here are some affordable winter getaways near Chicago.

 

Pet Siberian huskies.

 

Polar Adventure Days (Jan. 25 & Feb. 29) are free family events filled with winter activities taking place on Northerly Island indoors and outdoors. If there’s snow, you can even explore the island on snowshoes!

 

Explore nature indoors.

 

Avoid the cold and spend time at these indoor nature centers in Chicagoland.

 

Enjoy Winter on the Green.

 

Frankfort will provide a variety of winter-themed events at Breidert Green Park on select Sundays through Feb. 16. Some of the events will include a winter carnival, winter sports and a chili cook-off.

 

Dance with your favorite Nickelodeon characters.

 

Nick Jr. Live! Move to the Music will be at The Chicago Theatre from Feb. 29 to March 1 where you’ll see your favorite characters from Dora, PAW Patrol pups and Bubble Guppies dancing along with the crowd. Enter for your chance to win tickets (giveaway ends Feb. 2)!

Head to Engineering Fest.

 

At Chicago Architecture Center, the two-day Engineering Fest (Feb. 22-23) invites families to build and learn, while meeting engineers in the field.

 

Spend time at an indoor play place.

 

Indoor play spaces always come to the rescue when it’s freezing out! Here are some new ones in the Chicagoland area: Playroom Cafe Two (Naperville) and Urban Air (Mokena)

 

Learn about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

 

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center on Feb. 9. Kids of all ages can learn more about Justice Ginsburg’s story and even take a seat on the Supreme Court bench (dressed in a robe and jabot, of course).

 

Explore the Chicago Auto Show.

 

Returning to McCormick Place on Feb. 8-17, The Chicago Auto Show brings auto-related exhibits, vehicles and interactive displays the whole family will love. Enter for your chance to win tickets (giveaway ends Jan. 26)!

 

Try out winter sports.

 

When it’s the perfect winter day, hit some slopes! You’ll be surprised how many resorts near Chicagoland offer skiing, snowboarding and tubing.

Photo Credit: Chicago Botanic Garden

 

Watch an enchanted railroad.

 

The Enchanted Railroad returns to Morton Arboretum on Jan. 17-Feb. 23 where your train-obsessed kiddos can obsess over 10+ model trains at their eye level.

 

Play some mini golf.

 

You can enjoy mini golf at any time of the year thanks to these indoor mini golf courses in Chicagoland. And some of them have a glow-in-the-dark theme!

 

Go to the movies.

 

There are so many exciting family movies coming out in 2020! This winter, you can watch DolittleSonic the Hedgehog and Onward.

 

Escape the cold.

 

Pretend that spring is already here by seeing more than 10,000 gorgeous blooms at Chicago Botanic Garden’s The Orchid Show from Feb. 8 to March 22.

 

See some theater on a budget.

 

Chicago Theatre Week is back on Feb. 13-23 with many great options for families. Here are some to check out: Bunny’s Book Club, Brooklyn Bridge and The Princess and the Pea.

Watch some basketball.

 

Enjoy a Chicago Bulls game with the kids by purchasing their family ticket packs. The $25 pack includes one ticket, a jumbo hot dog, potato chips and a drink. Or check out all the best in the game when the NBA All-Star weekend comes to town Feb. 14-16.

 

Go sledding!

 

When it snows in Chicago, don’t think twice about sliding down these big sledding hills in Chicagoland.

 

Play at the mall.

 

After doing some shopping, treat the kids to these free indoor mall playgrounds.

 

See how ice sculptures are created.

 

The Downers Grove Ice Fest on Feb. 7-8 will showcase live carving demonstrations. The ice sculptures will be on a display all weekend long!

 

Visit your favorite museum for free.

 

Illinois residents can enjoy plenty of free museum days during the winter season. Also, The Field Museum will offer free admission for the entire month of February.

 


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