11 Things To Do With Kids in Chicago This Winter

This list of things to do in Chicago, IL will keep you and the kids busy and cabin-fever this Winter!

Winter is tough with kids. I’m sure some of you die hards will disagree, but for me it takes so much more effort to get out of the house: coats, gloves, hats, taking off coats for carseats, defrosting the car. And the list goes on. But I’ve put together a list of kid-friendly things to do around Chicago that will make all the effort worth it! Good luck! 🙂


11 Things to do with Kids in Chicago, IL this Winter:


  1. Visit one of our many illustrious museums! : Many times it’s hard to make the drive into the city from the ‘burbs but if you aren’t taking a vacation this winter break, head down to one of the many museums the city has to offer and check out the latest exhibits!
    • The Museum of Science and Industry is a perfect holiday option with their Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Light experiences!
    • The Field Museum: Check on dates for their Moon Rock Holiday Special! “Members get the rare chance to snap a photo with a rock from the Moon and discover the science behind their favorite science fiction stories, like Star Wars and Alien.
    • The Shedd Aquarium: “The Santa at Shedd package reserves your spot for a meet-and-greet with Kris Kringle himself at our private Beluga Overlook location in the Oceanarium, accompanied by a professional photographer to take multiple digital photos of the experience.
    • Adler Planetarium: Experience another way to see the Chicago sky!
    • Museum of Contemporary Art: Closed Christmas Day but still a great option for before and after!
    • The Art Institute of Chicago: “On view through January 7
      An intricate and theatrical nativity scene featuring over 200 figures, 50 animals, and 41 items of food and drink—all staged in an elaborate Baroque cabinet—the Art Institute’s spectacular 18th-century crèche is one of the few and finest examples of such a work outside of Naples. The crèche can only be on view for a few weeks every year due to the fragility of the silk costumes and embroidery, so don’t miss your chance to revel in Baroque artistry this season!”
  2. Go ice skating! : The city of Chicago offers so many beautiful ice skating options!
    • Millenium Park (a gorgeous setting with Michigan Ave. in front of you, and Cloud Gate behind you.
    • Maggie Daley Park: Experience “alpine in the city” with the city skyline as your backdrop!
    • Navy Pier Xfinity Ice Skating Rink: “Trade the winter chills for thrills at this popular indoor ice skating rink.”
    • The Rink at Gallagher Way: “Skate all winter long underneath the twinkling lights of Winterland at Gallagher Way!”
    • Brookfield Zoo (Chicago Wolves) Rink: Located in the East Mall, The Chicago Wolves Skating Rink is not made of ice, but of a synthetic material known as Glice® – so no water or electricity is required for operation.
    • The Peninsula Sky Rink: “Surrounded by Chicago’s skyscrapers and twinkling lights, the rink is tucked into a pine tree winter wonderland and bathed in festive music and snowflake lighting.”
  3. Tis the season for Christmas lights!
    • Lincoln Park Zoo Lights: “ZooLights features hundreds of luminous displays and incredible seasonal activities, all under the glow of 2.5 million lights.”
    • Brookfield Zoo Lights: “Visit Chicagoland’s largest and longest-running lights festival with over a million twinkling LED lights, a 41-foot-tall talking tree, Chicago Wolves Skating Rink, ice carvers, larger than life LED animal sculptures, zoo chats, and much more!”
    • Mooseheart Holiday Lights: “Holiday Lights at Mooseheart is one of Chicagoland’s largest light displays! The lighted route is approximately 1.8 miles and has more than 80 lighted displays to view.”
    • Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden: “You’ll wander into a festive world of wonder and light. Along a mile-long path, the night comes alive with color, imagination, and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular waterfall of light. At times, you’ll find yourself in the center of it all — stepping inside a cathedral of golden light, walking down an avenue of luminous linden trees, moving through colorful ribbons of light.”
    • Morton Arboretum Illumination: “See trees in a different light at Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. Be surrounded by color as you walk a one-mile paved path amid interactive lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Enjoy seasonal music, marvel at ever-changing, captivating lighting designs, and warm up by a crackling fire with a cozy drink or roast marshmallows for s’mores.”
    • Goebbert’s Winter Wonderland Light Show: “Experience the magic of more than 1.5 million lights illuminating acres of farmland at Goebbert’s Winter Wonderland Light Show. You’ll encounter dazzling displays as you drive through our farm in the comfort of your own vehicle.”
    • Santa’s Rock’n Lights: “Did you know that Santa’s Rock N Lights has over 1,000 moving elements all synchronized to the beat of the music? Come check us out and experience the magic of Christmas from the warmth of your car!”
    •  Naper Lights: “Water Street in downtown Naperville will be converted into a winter wonderland with a combination of holiday displays and music.”
    • Bolingbrooks Festival of Light Show: “250,000 LED lights twinkle, sparkle and dance to more than 20 different Holiday songs. The show will play nightly on the hour 5,6,7,8,9 pm. The last show will be on Dec. 31st. The 60 ft tree sits in the round-a-bout in the middle of the shopping mall.”
    • Aurora Festival of Lights: “One of the largest free outdoor drive-through holiday light displays in Northern Illinois, the Aurora Festival of Lights, returns for its 13th year in 2019 with even more dazzling displays that will delight both adults and children.”
    • Lombard Holiday Lights: Lights are turned on daily in Lilacia Park from 4:30 – 10 pm.
    • Larsen’s Light Show: 42W891 Beith Rd, Campton Hills. “Over one million lights all brilliantly orchestrated to play for a solid 30 mins to the tune of a vast medley of songs.”
    • Holiday Lights in Rosemont: 7 parks in Rosemont light up with holiday lights for the season! They are on display from 4 pm to 1 am.
    • Roscoe Village Holiday Lights: Due to the yearly competition for homeowners ands business owners, this neighborhood goes all out for the holidays!
  4.  Navy Pier Winter Wonderfest: “Find thrills without the chills inside the 19th annual Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, featuring 170,000 square feet of attractions, including indoor ice skating, a festive carousel, inflatable rides, and so much more!”
  5. Christkindlmarket: “Visitors can explore vendors’ products from all around the world and enjoy the unique shopping experience while enjoying international food, beverages and performances at the outdoor market that is always free of admission.”Chicago: November 15th – December 24th
    • Wrigleyville: November 22nd – December 31
  6.  Holiday Performances
    • Joffrey Ballets The Nutcracker
    •  A Christmas Carol
    • Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish
    • Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
    • Twas The Night Before Christmas
    • Corduroy
    • Mrs. Claus. A Holiday Musical
    • Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
    • Merry, Merry Chicago!
  7.  Holiday Train Rides
    • The Union Station Polar Express: “Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ for a magical one-hour trip to meet Santa.”
    • South Elgin Polar Express: “The train will transport you to the “North Pole” where Santa will be waiting. Experience the joy of watching the children’s faces when the train arrives at the North Pole.”
    •  The Christmas City Express, South Egin: “New to the Fox River Trolley this year, The Christmas City Express is the story of a girl’s journey to visit her grandparents for Christmas, when a snowstorm unexpectedly stops the train. Will Christmas be saved?”
    • Allstate CTA Holiday Train: “The Allstate CTA Holiday Train is a holiday tradition unique to Chicago, which, due to popular demand, is now accompanied by the Allstate CTA Elves’ Workshop Train. Two trains provide twice the amount of fun and festivities to make your holiday extra special.”
  8.  Garfield Park Conservatory: “For over 110 years the Conservatory has been celebrating the holiday season with a colorful and inspired display of plants and flowers. This year’s show will feature white birch windchimes, burgundy poinsettias, and deep green conifer trees.”Also a great FREE option and a warm environment when the family is suffering from cabin fever!
  9. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: “Stop by the Nature Museum all winter to warm up in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, enjoy Story Time and Live Animal Feedings, and become butterflies and bats in our newest exhibit Amazing Pollinators! It’s all free with admission.
  10.  Macy’s Walnut Room & Window Shopping: “The iconic window displays at Macy’s on State Street are now open for the 2019 holiday season. Believe in the Wonder, the 52nd annual holiday display, is about feeling the magic that the holidays bring – no matter if you’re young or old. The windows span the entire length of the building and will be on display until January 5, 2020.” – Urban MatterMake eating at The Great Tree Buffet in the Walnut Room at Macy’s a holiday tradition!
  11. Have some fun at one of the many Chicagoland Children’s Museums! (Many of these museums are hosting some fun “Noon” Years Eve events! Get your tickets ASAP!)
    • Chicago Children’s Museum: “There’s nothing quite like celebrating the holidays with play at Chicago Children’s Museum! Choose from our many wintry offerings this month.”
    • Kohls Children Museum: Experience “Flurry Days” through Jan 5th! They’ll have special activities including Polar Express kiddie train rides, character appearances, snowman parades, and Story Strolls through the famous holiday lights in the outdoor Habitat Park.
    • DuPage Children’s Museum: Take play and learning to new heights!
    • KidsWork Children’s Museum: 2 floors of exciting exhibits filled with action and fun! Lots of wintry events going on as well!
    • Oak Lawn Children’s Museum: A fun and education museum with many exciting events going on this winter!
    • Wonder Works: 6400 square feet of fun and exploration.


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