5 Things To Do in Chicagoland This Winter

Ok, it is officially cold. Although I am originally from Michigan and used to the frigid temps, I am still shocked on those days where I step outside and my breath is literally taken away. Not my favorite feeling.

When life gives you lemons, make vodka lemonade, right?

Here are my top 5 things to do in the Chicagoland area this winter to embrace the season and give you an excuse to sip a Peppermint Patty by the fire later.

5 Things To Do in Chicagoland This Winter | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

1. Frozemont

When I was little, we used to go to Hoyt Park in good ol’ Saginaw, Michigan- it was where EVERYONE went when the snow started to fall. It would get so busy that everyone eventually just ran into each other- no helmets, no padding, we just crashed and hoped for the best (yay anti-helicopter parenting!).

Hoyt Park- Saginaw, MI | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

My husband and I have been wondering where to go sledding in the Chicago
area for the past few years. Our kids are finally old enough to not get
totally crushed and truly enjoy it, so we are ready to suit up and take
a run. Turns out Chicago is kinda….flat.

Frozemont | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

Luckily, the fabulous folks at Rosemont have transformed the MB Financial Park into Frozemont– a family-friendly frozen affair. The two main attractions are ice skating on the NHL-sized rink and a 2-story tubing run called Polar Peak. I managed to tie on some skates with my mom and 4 year old (yes, I had to hold BOTH of them up as we skated around the rink…but hey, we made one lap!). Polar Peak delayed opening because of the unseasonably warm temps but I hope to head back with the kids soon. Here are the details:

Polar Peak Times through 1/31; tickets are $3/run:
Wednesday – Friday:                             4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday                                12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Ice Skating Times through 2/28; admission is free, skate rental is $8:
Sundays and holidays only; check website for more info.

2. The Dells

Really? Is the Dells Chicagoland? I don’t care. The drive is a quick jaunt- about as long as it takes to get downtown in crazy traffic sometimes (just over 3 hours, and yes, that has happened).  I love Wilderness Resort- we go there over Valentine’s Weekend every year with another couple and their kids, and it is a weekend we truly look forward to. There is something for everyone- splash pools for the littles, lazy river for the toddlers/preschoolers, waterslides varying in intensity for the elementary & high school crowd, and a whole lotta cocktails for the adults. Like, spring break yard glass type cocktails 🙂

Wisconsin Dells- Wilderness | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

We rent a massive 4 bedroom cabin for the families and have a blast with movie night after we are done with the park for the day. The park does get crowded so if you can go mid-week there are some great deals. Check out Wilderness Resort here!

3. Sleep with the Animals at Lincoln Park Zoo

I have heard of fun places to camp out during the summer, but this one takes place in the chilly months of winter! Grab your sleeping bags and prepare for an educational and exciting evening. Dinner is included, and events include a glimpse of the nighttime routines of animals, games and stories. No tent required. Check out the site for more info and registration.

February 20-21 OR March 12-13; appropriate for kids age 5-12, one adult must accompany

Sleep with the Animals at Lincoln Park Zoo | all dressed up with nothing to drink...
Photo- Lincoln Park Zoo website

4. The World’s Largest Indoor Bar Crawl

I didn’t say that you had to bring the kids to all of these events, did I? Here is something to relive that 20something period of your life. The 10 bars along Navy Pier are hosting a Mardi Gras crawl with live music, games, beads and debauchery (just assuming). The best part? You don’t have to set foot outside- feel free to roam Navy Pier, drink in hand, and never expose your cheeks to the crazy weather. Oh, and from the looks of it…they have a few throwback drinking games (I say throwback, but the majority of the people who attend this event are probably in their early 20s…but who cares!)

Mardi Gras Bar Crawl at Navy Pier | all dressed up with nothing to drink...
Photo- mydrinkon.com

Saturday, February 6th 2pm-8pm
Tickets: $30 + $3.60 fee (group sales available for a discount)

For more information or to purchase tickets, head on over here.

5. Frost Fest Craft Beer Festival 
Yep, this one’s outside!! Under a block long heated tent at Halsted & Waveland, sip samples from 41 local brewers, snack on food truck delights, and dance the cold away. Dress in your fave flanels, Stormy Kromers and snow boots. Wristband includes 15 3-oz. sample pours.

Craft Brew Frost Fest in Chicago | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

Saturday, February 27th; 1pm-4pm OR 6pm-9pm 
Tickets: $35 + $4.66 fee 
Grab tickets in advance here!

BONUS!!! I said five things to do, I lied…here is a 6th I just discovered. 

6.  Good Food Festival

Ok, so you have had your fill of alcoholic beverages, now time to round out with a healthier option. The Good Food Festival is just that- a celebration of Good Food! “What is good food? I think Greektown Gyro is good food…pretty subjective,” I thought when I first read the description. Apparently, Good Food= local, sustainable, humane and fair. Ok, I’m down with that.

Rick Bayless at Good Food Festial | all dressed up with nothing to drink...
Chef Demo by Rick Bayless; photo via goodfoodoneverytable.org

This isn’t just an excuse to eat amazing snacks- this is actually a conference as well which educates, connects, and engages a myriad of people and agencies regarding the Good Food movement. As for the bash, “Localicious” is on Friday night and the Festival is on Saturday. Localicious involves “award-winning Chicago chefs and local artisans using sustainable methods
bring unique food and beverages to the most talked-about party of the
year.” The festival contains more than 150 exhibits where you can eat, shop, and learn as well as sip a few local libations at the Farmhouse Craft Drink Corner.

Saturday, March 26th @ UIC Pavillion
$10 + $1.49 fee for entry into Saturday’s festival; check out the other options for education and networking as well

Any other must-attend events or must do activities? Let’s get through #Chiberia together!



  1. January 14, 2016 / 3:35 am

    Hilarious – was Googling Chiberia and found your post! So which one of these are you going to because I want to tag along!

    • January 14, 2016 / 4:02 am

      LOL too funny!!!! Guess my SEO/tag effort is starting to pay off! I am SO tempted to hit up the Mardi Gras, but feel that I might be insanely out of place because I am not 21…but hey, do I really care if there is an abundance of cocktails and beads?? Will keep you posted 😉

  2. July 23, 2016 / 4:44 am

    The fabled Windy City on the banks of Lake Michigan draws millions of visitors from around the world every year, and for good reason. Chicagoland hospital neighborhood tours are some of the most fascinating in the nation – no matter what you are looking for!

  3. August 25, 2016 / 8:28 am

    Wow, good place for skate and relax in winter