8 outdoor winter activities for Chicago families


Turn off Netflix, get out of your pajamas and combat the seasonal blues by venturing out of the house. Chicagoland is full of fun, outdoor activities to celebrate the winter wonderland. We’ve found the coolest (literally) and most unique activities that serve up some snowy fun.


Curl like an Olympian at Gallagher Way.


When: Jan. 21-23


Where: 3637 N. Clark St., Chicago


If the Olympics gave you curling fever, families with children ages 8 and up can learn the ins and out of the sport that’s growing in popularity. Hour-long classes focus on house etiquette before “sweeping” to victory in the ice rink that overlooks the historic Wrigley Field.


Get hooked on ice fishing.


When: Season begins mid-December


Where: Locations vary; call (708) 771-1335 for information


Ice fishing is a great parent-child bonding experience. The sport is permitted during the winter season at 22 designated lakes and sloughs throughout Cook County. During this time of year, young fishers can expect to catch bluegill and crappie. Ice fishers beware: conditions are not monitored by the District, so make sure to check the ice thickness before going out on any frozen body of water.


Go sledding down the best hills.


Grab your plastic sled, rubber tube or school lunch tray and take a ride down some of Chicago’s best sledding hills! From James Park in Evanston, a former landfill with four steep hills, to a single hill with a 33-foot drop for thrill seekers at Soldier Field, there are plenty of sledding options for daredevils and novices alike.


Hit the ice at beautiful skating rinks.


Take a spin around the breathtaking quarter-mile Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, glide through a new eco-friendly rink made of “glice” at Brookfield Zoo, or discover a hidden rink that’s open to the public at one of Chicago’s most famous hotels. Check out of our favorite skating venues.


Learn to ski and snowboard.


When: See website (weather permitting)


Where: 5750 Lakeside Drive, Lisle


Whether you’re an experienced skier or first-time snowboarder, Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports operates on an “anyone can do it” philosophy, offering lessons for littles as young as 4. The facility has mild hills with towropes, making it a popular destination for beginning snow sports enthusiasts. Also, here are some other great places nearby to ski and snowboard.


Play a pick-up game of Pond Hockey.


When: Times vary by location; visit individual park websites


Where: Various locations in the city









For many, pond hockey is a childhood tradition that stirs up memories of playing with friends and neighbors. The Chicago Park District offers pick-up games at seven parks where skaters can feed their nostalgia on the slushy ice, without the structure and rules of a traditional hockey rink (score!). Skaters can also find Stick & Puck classes before and after pond hockey games, so they can hone their stickhandling, skating and shooting skills.


Snowshoe at the Morton Arboretum.


When: See website (weather permitting)


Where: 4100 Illinois Route 43, Lisle


Trek through the 1,700 acres of woodland and other naturally preserved areas at The Morton Arboretum. When four or more inches of snow are on the ground, the ski trails are groomed for snowshoers to take in the scenic sights of snow-capped trees.


Spend the day snow tubing.


Snowtubing brings out the child in all of us! The sport has an all-ages appeal and no skill set is required. Most places that offer snowtubing have parent-child tandem tubes. Here are some of our favorite places to spend a thrilling day on the slopes.


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This story originally published in Dec. 2018. It has been updated with the most recent information. 


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