Camping out in your PJ's all winter may sound tempting, but there is a ton to see and do around town! Although Chicago winters are known to be full of polar-vortex madness, Chicago has plenty of family friendly activities that are worth bundling up and venturing outdoors. Grab your kids, zip up your winter jackets, and head on out to brave the cold. From ice skating in Maggie Daley Park to walking through Candy Cane Lane, there is bound to be a winter adventure perfect for you and your family!
Here are 10 places to add to your winter itinerary:
The Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo is a fun, family-oriented, and FREE fest that features magnificent light displays and seasonal activities throughout the zoo. The celebration is active almost every day from 4:30pm to 9:00pm, from November 24 to January 7. Take along your little ones and be sure to get a picture with Santa, eat delicious snacks, make fun crafts, and check out all of the animals. Don't forget to stop by the musical light show at the Winter Wonderlawn, and stroll through Candy Cane Lane!
Are the kids itching for a way to let out their energy? Maggie Daley Park's ice skating ribbon is a perfect way for your kids to have some fun. With the Chicago skyline as the backdrop, the Maggie Daley Park ice skating ribbon provides an experience like no other. Admission is free, with $12 skate rentals Monday-Thursday, and $14 from Friday-Sunday. The skating rink opens on November 17, weather permitting, so get your family and spend the day there before the season ends!
As the nation's largest evening holiday celebration, the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is nothing short of spectacular. Brave the cold weather and watch Mickey and Minnie Mouse parade down Michigan Avenue, lighting the trees on each block they pass. Endless vendors set up their tents and hand out treats so you and your family will walk out with handfuls of free goodies! Make sure to head to the Mag Mile on November 17 and 18!
Known as a German tradition, Christkindlmarket has become a staple of the Chicago holidays. Taking place from November 17 to December 24 in the Chicago Loop, this market offers traditional German food and drinks as well as holiday entertainment. The Kinder Club offers kid-friendly activities such as a scavenger hunt, passport stamping, and a life size advent calendar! Grab a glass of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), and take your kids to get their Kinder Club passports stamped for a chance to win a prize from the sponsors!
The 17th annual Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest returns to Navy Pier on December 1 and stays until January 7, 2018. Take a break from the winter chill and spend the day with your family in Chicago's biggest and best indoor winter playground. The Winter Wonderfest offers 170,000 square feet of kid-friendly rides, an indoor ice skating rink and holiday décor. A day spent at Winter Wonderfest will surely get you into the holiday spirit!
If you or your children are animal lovers, the Lincoln Park Zoo is a perfect match for you. It's so nice we listed it twice! Open 365 days a year and completely free, the zoo is an ideal fit if you are looking for budget friendly fun. Take the whole family to a place that connects wildlife from around the globe to Chicago. Don't forget to stop by and say hi to Kobe, the new 17-year old female polar bear in the Walter Family Arctic Tundra exhibit!
Located at Navy Pier, the Chicago Children's Museum offers something for kids of all ages. The museum is open every day from 10am to 5pm, except Thursdays, where they stay open until 8pm. Members and children under one are free, and it's $14 to enjoy the fun for everyone else. Children can hide in a treehouse, play with water (drying stations located nearby!), build a skyscraper, or be a firefighter for the day! The newly created Very Eric Carle exhibit is bound to be a hit with everyone!
Calling all nature lovers! The Penny Notebaert Nature Museum showcases the beauty of Mother Nature. Located in Lincoln Park, the museum is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and open from Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors (60+), $6 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children under 3 and members. While there are several exhibits that will wow you and your family, the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is a unique way to escape the hustle and bustle of Chicago and truly connect with nature. Visit this exhibit and you will be surrounded by over 1,000 butterflies!
We all know that Chicago winter weather can be unpredictable, so save yourself from the snow and visit the Museum of Science and Industry! As one of the largest science museums in the world, the Museum of Science and Industry offers endless opportunities for children to express their creativity while also learning more about science, technology, medicine, and engineering. Standard admission is $18 for adults and $11 for children ages 3 to 11. Open daily from 9:30am to 4:00pm. Plus don't miss out on the new Robot Revolution and Brick by Brick exhibits!
The Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago's most stunning spectacles during the holiday season. Once the trees are lit and the streets sparkle, the Mag Mile turns into a holiday wonderland. Take your family and stop by the American Girl Doll store or the LEGO store! Treat your family at Dylan's Candy Bar after a long day of walking and you'll be sure to be named the World's Best Mom or Dad (watch out for the sugar rush though!). Don't miss out on the spectacular window displays at the Macy's on State Street, it's a Chicago winter staple! There's more to do along the Mag Mile than snowflakes falling from the sky!
Chicago winters can be a nightmare, but we all know that being cooped up all day can cause you and your family to drive each other nuts. Don’t let the Chicago winter stop the fun! Whether you prefer to stay inside or enjoy the winter chill, Chicago offers plenty of opportunities for fun family-bonding!