Embrace Winter: Ten ways to enjoy Chicago cold

Embrace Winter: Ten ways to enjoy Chicago cold
Lurie Garden in the winter.

I confess. I am a summer person. I love to go barefoot, soak up the sun and chill out in outdoor cafes. I try to extend the season as long as I can by wearing my flip flops deep into November.

But at some point, I submit. I eat lots of comfort food, read books, do a lot of binge watching and plan other indoor activities while I count the days until spring.

This year, I decided that I don’t want to be that person. I am not going to submit to winter. I’m going to meet it head on and enjoy it.

In order to do this, I am not going to deny that it is cold, by heading out without gloves or a hat wearing a light jacket like I have done in past winters. This year I’m going to dress for winter.

Here’s how: I got a practical, black down coat that goes almost to my ankles with a hood and wind guards in the sleeves. Next I purchased some fun colorful hats–one with ear flaps that I got in the kids department at Target for $3 plus some dressier more grown-up hats when I don’t want to look like a loser. Ugg boots and warm mittens complete the look.

Of course, you’ll dress different for outdoor sports activities–just remember to layer–as you will warm up as you exercise.

When you’re dressed right, the rest is easy.

Here are some of the best spots to enjoy “Winter in Chicago.”

Lurie Garden

Lurie Garden with Lake Michigan as a backdrop is a lovely spot to take a walk and check out the buds on the trees and branches readying themselves for spring.

Maxwell Street Marketrealchicagomaxwellstpolish

Open every Sunday year-round, Maxwell Street Market, is another one of Chicago’s treasures. You’re sure to find some bargains and what could be better than some of Rubi’s iconic tacos to warm you up on a cold day.

Farm at the Zoo

Open year-round, the Farm at the Zoo, adjacent to Lincoln Park Zoo, is a great way to spend a winter day. Farm animals move from the barn to outdoor areas. You can do the same. Visit the animals inside the barn and then head outdoors. Still want more? Head next door to LPZ or to the Lincoln Park Conservatory where you can once again warm up inside and view flowers in full bloom and their tropical fern garden (all free).

Go to a Dog  Parkcaspercoat

You don’t have to have a dog or be a dog to go to a Dog Park. Chicago has a ton of dog parks including a dog park at Montrose Beach. If you have a dog, like I do, who isn’t crazy about the cold, get her/him a coat. It’s surprising how happy they (and you) will be once your dog starts running free instead of putting on pounds hanging around inside.

Sledding Hills

Even if you don’t have kids, borrow one, or just go to one of the area’s many sledding hills with friends.

Northerly Island

Northerly Island, the 91-acre peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan and used to be known as Meigs Field, is an ideal place to go snowshoeing. The Field House is open in the winter on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am. to 4 pm. to warm up. A blizzard of winter activities are on tap for Polar Adventure Days on January 21st and February 25th. 

Go for a run

More and more winter runs are being added to the calendar, including a number of them for New Year’s Day–just in case you want to recover from the night before. Here’s a list of winter runs.

Shovel the sidewalk

Shovel your sidewalk, or just to be nice and shovel your neighbor’s walk. You’ll feel good getting some exercise and doing a good deed. Not to mention, it’s the LAW in Chicago.

Hot Chocolatehotchocolatemittens

Make your own and bring it in a thermos on all of your winter adventures or take a break and head to your favorite Hot Chocolate spot where you can add whipped cream or marshmallows to this winter treat. Click here for a primer on hot chocolate plus some of Chicago’s best–although this list was put together 5 years ago, most are still around.

Ice Skating or Cross Country Skiingmaggiedaleyparkiceskating

Chicago and surrounding areas offer tons of opportunities for ice skating (skating ribbon, pictured above at Maggie Daley Park), cross country skiing and even some downhill skiing and snowboarding. Just Google it and find a location near you.

And enjoy this beautiful season in Chicago.

Click here for perfect in town winter escape at bargain rate.

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