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What to do in Chicago during the winter?

I've visited once before in the summer, but this time I'm going to Chicago in the winter! Knowing I won't be able to go to the beach this time, what are the best things to do in the city during winter months? I'm up for anything--just don't want to freeze :)

4 Answers

top answer by
Dabs from Chicago

Assume that you are coming in the next couple of months and not around Christmas time?  If that's the case then you may want to spend some time at one of the fabulous museums, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry.  Provided that we are not having totally arctic temperatures (like the rest of this week!), you might try something outdoors, there are lots of places to ice skate and most look to be open until at least the beginning of March.

Check out the Chicago Cultural Center, not only is it a fabulous building with a Tiffany dome, it also houses a tourist information office.

You might be interested in seeing some theater, Blue Man Group is a popular long running show, there's also something going on at Second City, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier has excellent productions and there are a ton of other places.  You can get discounted tickets on Goldstar or at any of the Hottix locations or online.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Art Institute of Chicago (attraction)
  2. Shedd Aquarium (attraction)
  3. Field Museum of Natural History (attraction)
  4. Museum of Science and Industry (attraction)
  5. Chicago Cultural Center (attraction)
  6. Blue Man Group (attraction)
  7. Second City (attraction)
  8. Chicago Shakespeare Theater (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Justin from Phoenix

I'd say go to Slurping Turtle and eat as much of the spicy ramen as possible to stay warm. Then maybe go to the Museum of Science and Industry. I just like walking around in the city from place to place ... even in the cold. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Slurping Turtle (restaurant)
  2. Museum of Science and Industry (attraction)
3 thanks

answered first by
Staci from Cleveland

Camille! Chicago during the winter can still be fun. :) I recommend hitting up the museums to stay inside. You won't be wishing you're out on the Navy Pier enjoying the summer sun and will be able to spend longer amount of time looking at exhibits. Field Museum of Natural History is one of my favorites along with the Shedd AquariumSkydeck Chicago is one of my go-to attractions, but you may not get a great view in the winter.

I recommend using the CityPass when visiting. Get into five of the seven main attractions (including all mentioned here) for a discounted price. What's better than that? If you go to the Adler Planetarium, let me know how it is! 

For some more information on visiting Chicago in the winter, check out my blog post: What to do in Chicago During the Winter Season. Seems like I was destined to see your post! Have a great trip! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Field Museum of Natural History (attraction)
  2. Shedd Aquarium (attraction)
  3. Skydeck Chicago (attraction)
  4. Adler Planetarium (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Melissa from Chicago

Definitely visit The Art Institute of Chicago. It's warm inside and has a great art collection. If the weather isn't in the Artic numbers (over 20 degrees), you can still do some outdoor activities. Just dress warm. Walking along the Lakefront Trail, visiting North Avenue Beach and Lincoln Park Zoo can be surprising pretty in the winter. Plus there are no crowds at the zoo in the winter. And there are plenty of indoor places to get warm. Another option is the Garfield Park Conservatory which can be tropical inside while cold outside. And you can get drinks at Summer House Santa Monica or Three Dots and a Dash for a more summery feeling. Chicago has a great music scene...look up some venues to see who is playing while you are here and catch a show at Lincoln Hall, Schubas or Empty Bottle. Also, Beauty Bar is great for dancing and working up a sweat...and you can get a manicure during any dance breaks :) Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Art Institute of Chicago (attraction)
  2. Lakefront Trail (attraction)
  3. North Avenue Beach (attraction)
  4. Lincoln Park Zoo (attraction)
  5. Garfield Park Conservatory (attraction)
  6. Summer House Santa Monica (restaurant)
  7. Three Dots and a Dash (attraction)
  8. Lincoln Hall (attraction)
  9. Schubas (attraction)
  10. Empty Bottle (attraction)
  11. Beauty Bar (restaurant)
2 thanks

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