50+ inches of snow predicted for Chicago: Ten fun in town escapes to help survive the winter of 2017

50+ inches of snow predicted for Chicago: Ten fun in town escapes to help survive the winter of 2017
Stranded cars on Lake Shore Drive. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Are you ready Chicago?

Wind chills, arctic air, polar vortex, below zero temperatures and 50 plus inches of snow is what lies ahead for Chicago this winter, if you believe the Farmers’ Almanac.

The Almanac has been predicting weather for over 225 years using what they call a top-secret formula, involving a complicated mathematical system along with looking at things commonly found on a farm, like persimmon seeds, a pig spleen and wooly bear caterpillars with an accuracy rate of 80%.

This winter, according to the Almanac, is going to be a tough one for Chicago--describing it as "numbing cold and snowy."

Just how cold and how snowy, we must wait and see but the word frigid keeps popping up right along with predictions of 50 plus inches of snow that easily tops our average of 37.1" and last winter's paltry 31.2".winter2017_us_farmersalmanac_mediamap_winter-3600x2400-1024x683

Fifty plus inches of snow can pile up fast in Chicago as you may remember from only three years ago when we had 82 inches of the white stuff that quickly turned gray and then black.

You have to go all the way back to the winter of 1978-1979 to beat that one when we received our all-time record of 89.7 inches.

Talk about going way back, you have to go back nearly a century to 1920-1921 when we had 9.8 inches of snow followed by 11.2 the following year to find our record low snowfalls.

Talk about the good old days.

Being optimistic by nature I don’t believe that this winter is going to be that bad. And I could be right.

Back in the winter of 2012, the Farmers Almanac predicted extreme cold and snow but it turned out to be the fourth warmest winter on record for Chicago bringing us a delightful 19.8 inches of snow.

But just in case--unless you are ready to bail and head to Florida (even Florida is looking cool), California, Hawaii or Mexico, you need to devise a plan.beachvacation

Severe cold can be serious, Chicago offers warming centers, an emergency help line at 311 and more...but just for fun, Show Me Chicago has put together our list of fun winter escapes:

1. Take a free trip to the tropics at Lincoln Park Conservatory, Garfield Park Conservatory or the Chicago Botanic Gardens. All have tropical greenhouses with Lincoln and Garfield Park offering a winter flower show opening November 25 and running through early January and the Chicago Botanic Garden holding their annual orchid show this February and March. 

2. Eat fatty and comfort foods. You need a little extra weight to keep warm in the winter so feel free to pig out guilt-free. Here are some of our favorites--but remember to check before heading to restaurants listed as some including Table 52 (now Blue Door Kitchen) are no longer in business.

3. Exercise. Sure its easy to pull up the covers and sleep in or binge watch tv but we guarantee you will feel better--and warmer with exercise. With all that snow, it should be easy to find a place to cross country ski or snowshoe. Northerly Island even offers rentals as do many parks and forest preserves. Then there's the city and suburbs downtown and neighborhood ice rinks. 

4. Visit a spa. Chicago is home to a host of spas from pricey spaces including the Peninsula, the Langham's Chuan Spa and Trump Spa that offers services for guest as well as day visitors.

Trump Health Club offers a lineup of fitness classes including yoga, dance classes, Pilates, strength and conditioning and more. Passes are available for $30 per hotel guest for unlimited classes during their stay or $40 per local guest to enjoy a drop-in fitness class experience.

Those with limited funds can check out local YMCA's and park district fitness centers.

The pool at Trump

The pool at Trump

5. Staycations. Guys, girls, or couples getaways are a good way to forget about the cold. The ACME Hotel has something for everyone including this getaway for guys that includes beer, food and poker. The $650 package offers tours of  three local breweries or taproom beer tastings and 4 guest rooms for up to six guests--not too bad when you split it six ways.

6. The Travel and Adventure Show coming to Donald E. Stephens Convention Center January 21 & 22 is the place to dream about getting away or make some serious plans.

7. Change your routine. Sometimes just changing your routine and getting out of the office or house helps. An easy and free option is The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts at Chicago's magnificent Cultural Center (78 E. Washington). The Wednesday concerts held at 12:15 pm. feature solo and ensemble performances of classical music showcasing emerging performers. The concerts, a Chicago favorite since 1977, are held under the spectacular Tiffany-domed ceiling in Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center. No tickets or reservations are necessary.

8. Visit a museum. Chicago's many museums are always a great place to hang out but for a real taste of summer on a cold winter day head to the Butterfly Haven at Peggy Notebaret Nature Museum. The haven is home to over 40 species of exotic butterflies along with some bird species from the Southern hemisphere. The space features pools of water, flowers, tropical trees and 1,000 butterflies.

9. Navy Pier. Navy Pier can be a peaceful destination in the winter compared to the summertime crowds. There's a host of indoor activities for all ages including the IMAX Theater, the Chicago Children's Museum, restaurants, shopping, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and the heated outside Ferris Wheel. For a taste of summer head upstairs to the Crystal Gardens and take a seat among the tropical trees and waters.wintergarden

10. The Winter Garden. Head up to the 9th floor of the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State) to see this hidden gem, pictured at the left, open to the public during library hours--unless closed for a private function.

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