If there's one city that's mastered being able to handle copious amounts of snow while providing plenty of opportunities for fun, it's Chicago. If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago in Winter 2019-2020, check out our list of some of the best holiday activities and attractions to help you plan a fun-filled vacation itinerary.
Save on Winter Attraction Admission
Regular admission to a number of these attractions is included on the Go Chicago pass. Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate. See all available Chicago passes, attractions & prices. Please note, some of these special Winter events may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Chicago pass.
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center - Holiday Bricktacular
- Winter Wonderland in MINILAND covered in snow
- Take part in a scavenger hunt
- LEGO® Santa's Grotto where you can take a picture with a life-size LEGO® Santa and Snowman
- A chance to learn how to make LEGO® ornaments
- A workshop at the Master Model Academy where you can learn how to build a LEGO® gift
Getting in: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center tickets are included with the Go Chicago pass and holiday events and activities are included with admission unless otherwise noted.
Brookfield Zoo - Holiday Magic 2019When: November 30 - December 31 2019 Check out Chicagoland's largest and longest-running lights festival, the Polar Lights Show in its 36th year, with over 1 million lights at the Brookfield Zoo. Other holiday highlights include Wild Encounters, photo ops with the animals (alpaca, llama, reindeer, and Animal Ambassadors), Dolphins in Action, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Singing to the Animals, special Zoo Chats, and more. Getting in: Brookfield Zoo tickets are included with the Go Chicago Card and holiday events and activities are included with admission unless otherwise noted.
Art Institute of Chicago Special Holiday Events
- Holiday Choir Concerts
- Open Lecture: The Neapolitan Crèche
- Member Lecture: Holiday Thorne Rooms
- 36th Annual Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party (December 10, 10:45 am - 2:30 pm)
- Decorate Your Own Gingerbread House (December 16, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm, and other times)
- Holiday Small Plates at the Museum Cafe (Thursday evenings in December, reservations recommended)
Getting in: Art Institute of Chicago tickets are included with the Go Chicago Card. Select holiday events are included with regular admission; consult website for full details.
Ice Skating at McCormick Tribune Ice RinkWhere: Millennium Park When: November 15, 2019 - March 8, 2020 - weather-pending For skating with a view of the Chicago skyline, head to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park. The ice skating rink is a holiday favorite among locals. Its convenient location makes it easy to find and its popularity makes it the place to be in the winter. It's open through March, so if you want to skip the holiday crowds, there's plenty of time to head there after the new year. Getting in: Check online for hours and more information. The rink, which is free and open to the public, draws more than 100,000 skaters each year. Skate rental is available for between $13-15.
Maggie Daley ParkWhen: Mid-November - First Week of March The Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon rink features a skating path that weaves through Maggie Daley Park and features views of the city skyline to make for a unique ice skating experience. The path itself is about twice the length of a lap around a traditional ice-skating rink. You'll also find places to enjoy hot chocolate for when you've finished skating, or for those of you who are just watching. Getting in: Check online for more information.
Lincoln Park Zoo & Zoo Lights
Go to a MuseumWhether you're a fan of the sciences or the art world, Chicago has a world-class museum scene with lots of options for museum-goers to choose from. Head to Chicago's museum campus to check off three famous Chicago museums in one go. Explore marine life at the Shedd Aquarium, head to America's first planetarium to learn about all things space, and then stop by The Field Museum to examine natural phenomenons and Earth's history. For a taste of Chicago's fine arts scene, head to the Art Institute of Chicago, consistently ranked the top museum in America, the Museum of Contemporary Art for a look at art and the industry as a whole, or check out the Chicago Architecture Foundation to get an in-depth look and understanding of Chicago's cutting-edge architecture industry.
Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier
When: December 6, 2019 - January 12, 2020 The much anticipated Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest features endless indoor seasonal winter fun with over 24 rides, slides, and even an indoor skating rink. Along with rides and activities, visitors can also expect lots of live entertainment and festive foods. Attractions at Wonderfest include:
- Arctic Ice Skating Rink: lined with Christmas trees, banners, and white lights, this festive rink attracts visitors throughout the season.
- Extreme Ice Trail Ropes Course: maneuver your way across beams, staircases, and platforms while making your way through a course that stretches 27.5 feet in the air. Remember to dress appropriately--no heels, skirts, or dresses allowed.
- Ferris Wheel: get a view of Winter Wonderfest from the top of the 50-foot high indoor Ferris Wheel.
- Zero Gravity: brave riders will be held to the wall by the force of gravity as the ride spins faster and faster, finally lifting riders into the air at a 45-degree angle as it continues to spin.
- Polar Extreme: race through a frozen tundra to escape via a slide on the other side of this course.
- Ice Peaks Climbing Wall: lace up your gym shoes and test your upper body strength on this interactive climbing wall.
Other popular attractions include the Cliff Hanger, Kringle Carousel, the Snowy Summit Climbing Wall, Lighthouse, the Reindeer Express Train Ride, and several slides and obstacle courses. Getting in: check online for more information and to save on tickets in advance.
Tour the Chicago Theatre
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
So there you have it. Our list of a few things to do in Chicago in the winter, including holiday events, other seasonal activities in December, January, and more. Remember, many of these options are included on the Go Chicago pass, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate. Please note, the Winter events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Chicago pass. We hope you plan to add a few of these fun options to your winter vacation itinerary.