Chicago Snow Day Activities

Here in the Windy City, winter is already upon us with the season’s first snowfall already well behind us. For many, the early cold snap means it’s time to go into hibernation, but we’d like to remind you that snowfall and lower temps do not mean that the good times are over.  Quite the opposite in fact!  

Don’t resign yourself to hunkering down in your home all season long.  There are so many exciting snow day activities you can do all across Chicagoland, from skating and sledding, to light displays and winter festivals.  So, grab your thermal layers, bundle up, and take advantage of all that the winter season has to offer. Here are some of our favorite snow day activities to add to your bucket list. 

Winter Activities in Chicago

  • Ice Skating – Ice skating under the open sky on a clear day after a good snow is one of those Chicago winter activities you absolutely must do at least once.  Fortunately, there are rinks located all across the city. So, find one in your local area by checking out the list on Chicago Park District’s outdoor ice skating rinks website.  You can rent skates at each location.  And, if you’re looking for a warmer way to skate this season, check out Morgan Park Sports Center and McFetridge Sports Center for indoor ice rinks. 
  • Sledding – With all of the snow that our city sees, you can’t miss the opportunity to go sledding!  There are actually sledding hills right here in the city and many great spots just a quick drive outside city center.  Some local favorites include Montgomery Ward Park, Dan Ryan Woods, Caldwell Woods, Humboldt Park, Soldier Field, Oz Park, Warren Park, and Horner Park.  
  • Hiking – Believe it or not, you can take a lovely winter hike in the snow right in the middle of the city!  There’s a nice hiking path at the North Park Village Nature Center. And, even in winter, you may still see some deer roaming the path foraging for snacks under the blanketed landscape.  
  • Holiday Light Displays –  Nothing pairs better with a winter wonderland than magical twinkling holiday lights.  So, put on your coziest clothes, and explore the beautiful displays downtown, at the Lincoln Park Zoo, or at Morton Arboretum, among many other locations.  It’s a chance to walk among the city and nature as it transforms into a colorful, magical experience for all.  
  • Garfield Park Conservatory – If you’re looking to get out on a snow day but want to stay toasty warm, then head over to the Garfield Park Conservatory.  It’s a nice little tropical escape from the harsh weather. They also have seasonal exhibits to check out, so be sure to look at their website to see what discoveries are on the horizon!  
  • WonderFest – There’s no better place to stay warm and have fun than at Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest.  Considered Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground, WonderFest decks the halls for the holidays and features an indoor ice rink, giant slides, and all kinds of fun rides.     
  • Christkindlmarket – A seasonal favorite, a Chicago winter isn’t complete without a visit to Christkindlmarket. This beloved tradition is a perfect way to spend a light, snowy afternoon, as you explore and shop.  The market is made up of their signature wooden cabins with festive holiday striped canopies. Each cabin features local and sourced handmade gifts, as well as food and drinks.  There’s also free entertainment perfect for getting you in the holiday spirit!

The snow may be falling, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack it in.  Chicagoans know how to make the most of their magical winter wonderland. So, take advantage of all that the season has to offer, and stay warm out there!  

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