Explore winter at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden
Explore winter at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

30+ Things To Do in Chicago This Winter with Kids

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 help. To inspire some winter outings and activities, we've compiled a list of over 30 awesome spots for Chicago 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.

Editor's note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining an appropriate distance. If you arrive at a venue that appears too crowded, try using the “nearby” search feature on our Event Calendar to find something else to do. Keep in mind, many indoor attractions now require advance ticket purchases or timed-entry reservations, so plan accordingly.

ice skating at the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon Chicago winter activities for kids
Hit the ice at the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon. Photo courtesy of Maggie Daley Park

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 now open, and kids can see some other wild animals (not 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 all over 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 the stir-craziness and winter blues with one of these hikes.

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

10. Discover over 35 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.

Even in the cold there is plenty to do and see at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy of the Garden

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

13. Become a zoo member! Lincoln Park Zoo is closed until March 4. But for members only, it’ll be open for one weekend in February.

14. Go snowshoeing at Northerly Island.

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

RELATED: Skiing, Snowboarding, and Winter Sports Guide

girl indoor rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago winter activities for kids
Brooklyn Boulders Chicago provides an outlet to keep kids active and engaged in these unprecedented times. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Boulders 

Indoor Places To Play This Winter in Chicago (They're Open!)

16. Climb the walls (literally) at Brooklyn Boulders in the West Side—it’s open now for youth programming only.

17. Get tickets to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, opening February 11. They are selling out fast!

18. While the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg remains closed, the epic Lego store there is open, and is a great escape. Kids love looking at the new Lego sets and already built demos, while they file away ideas for next birthday.

19. Take a day trip to a nearby indoor water park like Great Wolf in Gurnee (reopens January 25) or Timber Ridge in Lake Geneva.

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

21. Shred at 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's largest indoor roller coaster at Safari Land in Villa Park, reopening to the public on January 22.

25. Take advantage of Illinois resident FREE days at the Shedd Aquarium, which is reopening to the public on January 27 and the Field Museum which opens to the general public on January 23!

26. Sip fancy hot chocolate worth braving the chill and making the trip for (to go, for now) at XO Marshmallow Cafe or Katherine Anne Confections.

27. Get cuddles with your cocoa at a cat cafe, just don’t forget to make a reservation first.

RELATED: At-Home Guide: 100s of Activities for Families On Pause

Hot Cocoa Bombs Chicago Winter Activities
These trendy hot chocolate bombs are the perfect antidote to cold winter adventures and stay-at-home orders. Photo by Ally Noel

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.

RELATED: 25 Exercise Games and Activities to Get Kids Moving


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