Chicago winters can be tough, but in reality, there's no shortage of fun and exciting activities for kids to enjoy. From ice skating in Millennium Park to exploring holiday markets, the city offers a wide array of winter activities that are sure to delight children of all ages. Below, we'll explore some of the best kids' winter activities near Chicago, including the popular Hot Ground Gym winter break camp. Get ready to bundle up and embrace the winter season with these exciting adventures!
#1. CHICAGO CHRISTMAS TREE IN MILLENNIUM PARK
#2. THE WINTRUST MAGNIFICENT MILE LIGHTS FESTIVAL
Another must-see event that brings holiday joy to children and adults alike is the Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. This annual holiday celebration lights up Chicago's Magnificent Mile with a dazzling display of lights, live performances, and family-friendly activities. Witness the awe-inspiring moment when the lights are turned on, and watch as the city comes alive with holiday magic.
#3. HOLIDAY MAGIC AT BROOKFIELD ZOO
For family fun and an enchanting experience, head to Brookfield Zoo for their Holiday Magic event. This annual celebration transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland that's complete with over one million twinkling lights, live entertainment, and special exhibits. From watching the holiday lights show to marveling at the animal displays, Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo will create lasting memories for the whole family.
#4. HAVE FUN DAYS OFF OR ATTEND WINTER BREAK CAMP
Winter break camps near Chicago include obstacle courses, team-building missions, friendly competitions, games, and more. These fun kid places in Chicago allow children to develop themselves and make new friends and memories. These are especially ideal when the weather is simply too cold!
#5. VISIT YOUR LOCAL CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
The perfect Chicago place to visit in winter is its museums. With so many options available near Michigan Ave, kids and adults won't be disappointed. Some of our favorites are the Museum of Science and Industry, The Field Museum, The Art Institute, the Kohl Children's Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the Navy Pier Children's Museum. As a bonus, some museums offer free or discounted admission to Illinois residents with proof of residency on Illinois Resident Discount Days. You can find more information on the museums' websites.
#6. TAKE IN A LIVE THEATER PERFORMANCE
You can treat your children to something special on Broadway in Chicago, which has an incredible theater scene. Several great children's theaters offer cheaper winter Chicago activities and performances, including Emerald City Theatre, The Marriott Theater for Young Audiences, and Chicago Children's Theatre. All of these attractions are a great day out for kids.
LEARN NEW SKILLS AND MAKE FRIENDS
Winter can be a long and cold season, but it doesn't have to be. Hot Ground Gym's winter camps are the perfect way to stay active and have fun this winter. Sign up your kid today!
#7. SWIM AT AN INDOOR WATER PARK
Don't forget about Chicago indoor activities. Many locals looking for things to do in winter in Chicago will head to Wisconsin Dells to visit one of their numerous indoor water parks. The Water Works, a stand-alone indoor water park in Schaumburg, is also in the greater Chicagoland area.
#8. GO SLEDDING
One of the best things to do in Chicago in February is sledding on a hill when the weather isn't below zero, and there's plenty of snow on the ground. At the nexus of Irving Park and Albany Park is Horner Park. Even though it's mostly flat, some gradual slopes could be fun for small kids to slide down.
#9. ENJOY RETRO FUN
There are several Brunswick bowling alleys throughout the Chicago suburbs and a Lucky Strike bowling alley downtown. Try bocce ball at Pinstripes, a unique bocce, bowling, and dining venue for something different. If you're looking for winter activities in Chicago for your older children, you can also check out Chicago Escape Rooms.
#10. TRY UNIQUE EXPERIENCES
In winter, indoor playgrounds are great places to visit in Chicago to escape the solitude of your home and meet other like-minded parents. Skokie's Exploratorium has a play area, dress-up area, and climbing wall. The Legoland Discovery Center also has several LEGO building areas, a 4-D movie experience, and a couple of rides offering plenty of things to do in Chicago winter.
#11. TRY THE LOCAL LIBRARY
There is a kids' section in the Sulzer Library that offers books, blocks, LEGOs, and puzzles. Various Chicago winter events programs are available, from toddler crafts to family game nights. There are over 20 computers for kids in this warm and inviting environment to keep them entertained.
#12. SHOP LOCAL
Chicago's German Christkindlmarket offers one of the best family-friendly things in Chicago with free admission. There's nothing like the smell of roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst, hot spiced wine, holiday crafts, festive music, and the glimmer of sparkling ornaments, all in a cozy atmosphere - a visit to the market takes all your senses on a journey! Discover vendor products worldwide, participate in special events, and enjoy a unique shopping experience. This is a holiday tradition you'll want to enjoy every year.
#13. GRAB A BIRD'S EYE VIEW
The best place to see the city skyline in Chicago is on the 103rd floor of the city's tallest building. Willis Tower has added the Ledge, which suspends guests 1,353 feet in a glass box that offers the country's best views. The Palmisano Park in Bridgeport - a former limestone quarry turned peaceful park - offers another south-side skyline.
#14. ENJOY FAMILY-FRIENDLY DINING
Superdawg Drive-In, Luella's Southern Kitchen, Old Irving Brewing Co., and Honey Butter Fried Chicken - caregivers with kids who want to try something new to eat should try these restaurants. Some have a children's menu, others are excellent and welcoming or make delightfully good mac ‘n cheese.
CHILL OUT AT WINTER CAMP
Stay warm while playing cool games and activities at Hot Ground Gym's winter camps!
#15. ENJOY A HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOW
Many festive light displays and winter holiday events are going on throughout the new year. The Navy Pier is hosting its annual winter event, Light up the Lake. ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo is free on Mondays and Tuesdays. Visit Santa, enjoy a pop-up holiday bar, sweets of all kinds, and more at one of the best Chicago winter attractions.
#16. ICE SKATING RINKS
Get your skates on and head to the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink in Rosemont or the Gallagher Way rink by Wrigley Field for a family skate. Many park districts offer plenty of Chicago winter things to do and have their own indoor and outdoor rinks.
#17. HAVE FUN IN THE SNOW
Despite Chicago's lack of mountains, you can easily find one a short drive away. There are a variety of runs for skiers and snowboarders of all levels at Wisconsin's Alpine Valley, only a two-hour drive from the city. Wilmot, 90 minutes away, also has a gigantic tubing hill that offers fun family things to do in Illinois in the winter.
#18. A CHRISTMAS CAROL AT THE GOODMAN THEATER
One of the must-see winter activities for kids near Chicago is the timeless holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol," presented at the Goodman Theater. This heartwarming production brings Charles Dickens' beloved story to life on stage, with captivating performances and stunning sets. Watch as Ebenezer Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas through a series of magical encounters. The Goodman Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol" is a cherished tradition that will leave children and adults alike filled with holiday joy and the spirit of giving. This is one of those holiday traditions you'll look forward to every year.
#19. SPORTING EVENTS
Chicago is home to the Blackhawks and the Bulls, but there are many other sports teams to keep your children entertained for much less money. You can take your kids to a Chicago Wolves game if they like hockey. Is basketball their favorite sport? What about watching a game at Northwestern or Loyola? There are plenty of fun things for your sports-loving family to enjoy!
#20. CHECK OUT A FESTIVAL, SPECIAL EVENT, OR PARADE
Some fun Chicago things to do in winter: The Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown is one of Chicago's fun winter festivals featuring lion dancing teams, floats, and marching bands. Other fun winter activities include Chicago's Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade in March - it's one of the largest in the country.
The kids will enjoy the bands and music and see the Chicago River turn green. You can also participate in Chicago's annual Polar Plunge; brave participants jump into the cold waters of Lake Michigan to raise money to support local families in need.
#21. MAKE A DAY OUT IN THE CITY
Wondering what to do in Chicago in February now that the winter holidays are over? Why not spend the day in the city? Water Tower Place is home to American Girl and Lego stores, restaurants, and shopping galore. Once your kids have had their food and toys, take them across the street to the Hershey and Ghirardelli stores to sample some sweets. There are plenty of family-friendly events that you can enjoy.
#22. GO TO PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS
One of the best things to do in Chicago in February is to take the kids to trampoline parks when school is out. Trampoline walls, foam pits, and dodgeball let kids release all their pent-up energy. You can try Xtreme Trampoline Park, Jump America, and Sky High Sports. Even better, if you're local, buy one for your backyard.
#23. HOLIDAY TRAINS IN AND AROUND CHICAGO
If your little ones are train enthusiasts, don't miss the Holiday Trains in and around Chicago. The annual CTA Holiday Train and the Metra Holiday Train are real trains decked out in festive decorations, spreading holiday cheer as they make their way through the city and neighboring suburbs. Hop aboard these holiday-themed trains and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season as you travel through the city.
#24. WINTERLAND AT GALLAGHER WAY
Head to Gallagher Way for Winterland, a family-friendly winter wonderland filled with hot chocolate, ice skating, holiday movies, live music, and festive decorations. Strap on some ice skates and glide across the rink while surrounded by twinkling lights, or snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy a classic holiday film on the big screen.
TIPS FOR VISITING CHICAGO IN WINTER WITH KIDS
Be sure to do the following before embarking on winter activities in Chicago:
- Learn local references: You'll hear a few terms frequently while in Chicago, so you should familiarize yourself with them. The Loop is Chicago's downtown central business district, bordered north and west by the Chicago River. The L is another term for the train;
- Get a Ventra card: This allows you to pay for train and bus tickets online without waiting in line;
- Check the weather: Chicago has a six-month winter and a short summer, so check the weather forecast before you leave. During the day, the weather changes, and you don't want to be caught off-guard by a downpour or drop in temperature.
TRY OUR WINTER CAMP OR WEEKLY CLASSES!
The winter season in Chicago offers a plethora of exciting activities for kids that'll make this time of year unforgettable. From ice skating and holiday markets to winter break camps like Hot Ground Gym, there's something for every child to enjoy. Whether you're exploring the city's winter wonderland over the holiday season or participating in thrilling winter sports, you'll surely create cherished memories with these activities. Contact us today to learn more about the Hot Ground Gym winter break camp and give your child an unforgettable winter experience near Chicago.
CONTACT HOT GROUND GYM TODAY!
Enroll your child today and start their journey towards an active and fulfilling lifestyle.