Outdoor Winter Activities for Chicago Families

These are the coolest places to enjoy some snowy fun.

Turn off Netflix, get out of your pajamas and combat the seasonal blues by venturing out of the house. Even when it’s cold, Chicagoland is full of exciting outdoor activities to celebrate the winter wonderland.

We’ve found the coolest (literally) and most unique activities that serve up some snowy fun. From curling like an Olympian pro or snowshoeing through nature, here are some winter adventures to try with your family.

Note: We’re updating our website as quickly as we can, but changes may occur due to COVID-19. Please double check before heading out for the most updated information on safety precautions, vaccine requirements and any last-minute cancellations. Also, some of these activities are weather permitting. 

Curl at Gallagher Way

For select days in February, families with children ages 8 and older can learn the ins and out of the sport that’s growing in popularity. Gallagher Way’s hour-long classes focus on house etiquette before “sweeping” to victory in the ice rink that overlooks the historic Wrigley Field. 

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.

Get hooked on ice fishing

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

Feel like a figure skater

Take a spin around the breathtaking quarter-mile Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, glide through the rink at Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont, 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.

Spend a day skiing, snowboading or snow tubing

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. Here are other attractions with thrilling winter sports.

Play a pick-up game of pond hockey

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 a few 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. Participating ice rinks offering hockey games include McKinley Park, Mount Greenwood Park, Warren Park and Wentworth Park.

Snowshoe at the Morton Arboretum

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.

Cross ski across snowy trails at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center

Traverse some snowy paths at the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, where you can rent skis, then explore four miles of carefully tended trails as a family from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Not feeling your cross-country cred quite yet? Lessons for ages 12 and up are offered by reservation on select days.

Take a drive to luge like a daredevil

You might not be able to defy death here in Illinois, but our friendly neighbor to the East has you covered. Just three-and-a-half hours away is the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, where anyone 8 and up can fly down the icy chute known as the luge. The 850-foot track was designed by a former Olympian, so you know it’s legit.


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