Our Favorite Outdoor Winter Activities Near the North Side of Chicago
With the winter finally fully upon Chicago after the teases of warm weather in December, people are looking to keep up their fun outdoor activities, weather permitting. Although it may not always seem enticing to leave your apartment when it’s 10 degrees, we can ensure you won’t regret it with the right activity. Brace yourself for the weather, get out your gloves and hats and check out this list of cool outdoor winter adventures on Chicago’s north side.
Chicago may not be known as the center of winter sports, but we are known for some epic ice skating rinks that pop up during the winter months. The best north side spot to spend the evening ice skating is located next to Wrigley Field and easily accessible by public transit. Wrigleyville may be known for its bars but with them going into hibernation until the summer these will be the most popular spots in town. The Rink at Gallagher Way will be up until the end of February and according to timeout.com they will be “offering skate lessons, curling and ice bumper car rides—a new feature that arrives in January 2022.”
Take a Lakefront Walk
Spanning most of the city, the lakefront in the winter is one of the ideal spots to get some incredible outdoor time, as long as it’s over 20 degrees! Take a brisk walk and enjoy some of the same scenes we enjoy all summer long in a new season. The lake looks incredible when it’s cold enough to form ice crystals of all shapes and sizes. Take a peek down at the shore on some of the beaches that look much different this time of year. Timeout.com says “the 18-mile-long Lakefront Trail is a great way to experience the Chicago lakefront. It also serves as a reminder for residents of why our city, edged by sparkling blue water, is a pretty nice place to live.”
Upstairs at the Gwen & Rooftop Terrace
If you’re looking for a more elevated winter experience, the rooftop terrace at the Gwen offers tons of unique and fun outdoor activities that can fill the void of wanting to go out every weekend and not wanting to because of the cold. One of the coolest parts of The Gwen is you can rent a curling lane for you and your friends to enjoy. Exploretock.com describes the experience with – “The rink is non-traditional rink (ie: not made of ice) and measures 8’ x 32’. You can enjoy the game with eight (x8) granite stones and/or eight (x8) “pro” stones, which are smaller and lighter. Make the most out of Winter, and enjoy Curling + Cocktails in the heart of the city!” Located off Michigan ave north of the loop, make your reservations now!
Lincoln Park Zoo
A summer favorite that you may be surprised to find out is also open during the wintertime. In fact, the Lincoln Park Zoo is open 365 days a year is an iconic spot in the winter to spend some time taking a brisk walk, and seeing the winter animals in their habitats outdoors. Choosechicago.com says, “In the colder months, you can watch polar bears, penguins, and snow monkeys play outside. Many of the animals move indoors during the winter, so warm up inside the animal houses, where you can watch penguins, gorillas, and more.”
Eat and Drink in a Rooftop Igloo
Something from last winter that seems to have stuck around for this season is the theme of outdoor igloos that you can dine in. With your own private little area, you can step into the igloo and have your drinks and food while enjoying the skyline and other beautiful views Chicago has to provide. Who said rooftops are only for the summer? According to thesavyglobetrotter.com and a blog article about the best things to do in Chicago this winter, this makes the top of the list. Here are a few places that offer igloo seating, make a reservation before it’s too late!
“Kennedy Rooftop (1551 W North Ave)
I|O at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago (127 West Huron Street)
Joy District (112 West Hubbard Street)”
Orchid Show at Chicago Botanical Gardens
If you’re willing to drive about 20 miles north of the city, the Botanical Gardens are one of the best attractions near the city. From mid-February to late March, they put on the once-a-year orchid show that attracts people from all over. “This year’s Orchid Show: Untamed celebrates the unexpected verve of wild orchids. See what happens when sweeps of orchids take over an old secret garden, twine around abandoned pillars, and breakthrough the whimsical spaces of our imagination.” Enticing, outdoors, and beautiful, it’s a can’t miss of the season. Get your tickets today!