When winter storms and nasty weather hits, it’s good to have options for indoor playgrounds in Chicago for kids, as we covered last time. But if the weather is cold and wintry but not completely awful, you’ll want to have some fun outdoor winter activities on tap for the kids to do as well.
Here are a few outdoor winter activity ideas to choose from:
1. Ice Skating
If you want to get out ice skating, you can head to Warren Park to have a skate at the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Rink, go for a spin at the Lincoln Park Zoo, or enjoy the unique Maggie Daley Park skating ribbon which gives great views of the skyline and a fun and memorable place to skate on its path around the park.
Or take advantage of the free 2-hour Blackhawks Hockey Clinics at Chicago Park District ice rinks that are a treat (literally; it’s free!) and instructed by Hawks coaches, for kids aged 6-9 of any experience level.
2. Hiking and Strolling
Just because it’s cold or snowy out doesn’t mean a hike isn’t still a ton of fun or is any less beautiful than during the warm and sunny summer months. You just have to change your mindset a bit. North Park Nature Center has nice trails, and the Lake Michigan beach stroll is pleasantly serene this time of year (but be sure to bundle up against those lakeshore breezes!).
3. Snow Tubing and Sledding
Tubing is a super fun activity for the kids and family if there is enough snow on the ground. Villa Olivia has an exciting course with a Magic Carpet (think like a conveyor belt) to transport you to the top easily.
Mount Hoy’s tube ride from the top is a fun 800-foot course in the Blackwell Forest Preserve.
Polar Peak in Rosemont is a four-story inner tube slide with four lanes that will speed you down the 260-foot summit, while a fifth lane caters to the little ones and is only half as high and a more mellow slope.
Soldier Field is one of the best hills in Chicago for sledding with plastic sleds.
4. Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
Explore the city lights of downtown Chicago from a horse-drawn carriage for a unique view of the city and a memorable experience with the kids.
5. Skiing and Snowboarding
Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports is only about a 40-minute drive from Chicago and has two bunny slopes, two intermediate inclines, and a terrain park, all accessed by tow ropes.
Villa Olivia, about an hour outside of Chicago, has seven downhill runs and a great place to get started on skis or snowboards.
Raging Buffalo Snowboard Ski Park is also about an hour away and features jumps, half-pipes, boxes, table tops, and more for the adventurous skier or snowboarder – or a beginner’s hill with a magic carpet if your little ones are just getting started on the snow for the first time.
6. Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing
When there are at least 4 inches of snow on the ground, the Morton Arboretum offers cross country skiing and snowshoeing through 1,700 acres of trails, trees, and beautiful landscape.
The open fields in scenic Northerly Island are also great for strapping in and going to explore by snowshoe. This 91-acre peninsula is also a good place for building a snowman or having a snowball fight.