33 Things To Do in Chicago This Winter with Kids

Delight in an outdoor rink across Chicago. The Skating Ribbon is a popular destination. Photo courtesy of Maggie Daley Park
Delight in an outdoor rink across Chicago. The Skating Ribbon is a popular destination. Photo courtesy of Maggie Daley Park
12/24/23 - By Meghan Rose

If the kids are starting to climb the walls and you are already counting the days until spring, it’s time to make a plan to find every last bit of winter fun.

Whether it’s bundling up to enjoy some winter sports (like tubing or skating), hitting up one of the kid-friendly events happening in Chicago, or cocooning at home with some fresh craft projects, we’re here to find things to do in Chicago this winter with kids. To inspire some winter outings and activities, we've compiled a list of more than 30 things to do in Chicago this winter with kids, where they can run, jump, bounce, learn, and create.

And you can always find more fun, seasonal ideas in our At-Home Family Guide or enjoy the great outdoors with the picks in our Chicago Winter Fun Guide.


Kick up some powder with the kids at Grand Geneva Resort. Photo courtesy of the resort

Outdoor Places To Play for Winter Fun in Chicago

1. Hit the local slopes for some family-friendly snow tubing

2. The Cosley Zoo is a great place for kids to see wild animals that aren't just their siblings.

3. You don’t have to venture too far from the city for kids to learn to ski and shred like the pros.

4. As soon as snow hits the ground, it’s time to bundle up and go sledding.

5. One perk of a long, cold Chicago winter is the chance to glide across the ice at rinks throughout the city.

6. Want to eat in an igloo or a greenhouse, or maybe even dine carhop style? We know just where to do that.

7. Wilder Park Conservatory has reopened, and families can enjoy a bloom-filled break from winter.

8. Fend off stir-craziness and winter blues with one of these hikes.

9. Visit the Morton Arboretum, which is open to exploring in the winter and offers classes for kids and families. (Be sure to check the new adjusted hours and reservation requirements before you go.)

10. Discover these 35-plus activities that will keep kids entertained all winter long.

11. Bundle up and take a walk along the Chicago Riverwalk, the Lakefront Trail, or the 606.

12. Explore the winter beauty at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

13. Become a member of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Check out the new lion habitat and more. 

14. Go snowshoeing at Northerly Island Park.

15. Set up a scavenger hunt for your kids; it can take place outside, inside, or both.

RELATED: Skiing, Snowboarding, and Winter Sports Guide for Kids in Chicago

Indoor Places To Play This Winter in Chicago

16. Climb the walls (literally) at Brooklyn Boulders in the West Side.

17. Get tickets to the WNDR Museum for a hands-on immersive experience. 

18. Check out the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg. The epic Lego store is a great escape. Kids love looking at the new Lego sets and already built demos, while they file away ideas for their next birthday.

19. Take a day trip to a nearby indoor water park like Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee or Timber Ridge in Lake Geneva. Wis.

20. Get your swing ready for summer at an indoor batting cage.

21. Shred at the kid-friendly indoor skateboard park Asylum in Skokie.

22. For a taste of what it means to literally fly, kids as young as 4 can try indoor skydiving.

23. Munch your way through the aisles at one of Chicago's great food halls: Revival is a fun place to sample different dishes, while the massive Eataly is HQ for all things Italian.

24. Ride Illinois' largest indoor roller coaster at Safari Land in Villa Park.

25. Take advantage of Illinois resident FREE days at the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History.

26. Sip fancy hot chocolate worth braving the chill and making the trip for at XO Marshmallow Cafe or Katherine Anne Confections.

27. Enjoy slime without all the mess at home at the Sloomoo Institute

RELATED: At-Home Guide: 100s of Activities for Kids and Families

Enjoy "Chicago Mix" popcorn at a family movie night. Photo by Brand X Pictures, courtesy of Canva

At-Home Activities for Winter Fun

28. Dig into a bucket of the "Chicago Mix" at Garrett's popcorn: caramel and cheddar popcorn mixed together. Smells so wrong, tastes so right. Pick some up at a local store’s pick-up window, and bring it home for family movie night.

29. Here are ways to keep them happily entertained when it’s too cold to go outside.

30. Whip up a batch of homemade hot cocoa bombs to enjoy when the flakes start to fly.

31. Build an epic indoor fort and set up shop inside for the day.

32. Pull out the mismatched Lego pieces and try one of these 100 projects.

33. Give your brain a workout with these 64 science experiments that use common, everyday supplies.

34. Discover mug muffins, made in no time without needing the oven, and more in our roundup of easy breakfast ideas you can make at home. 

35. Get cooking with our favorite kid-friendly recipes. Cooking is a great way to get the kids active, practice their measurements, and express their creativity.