I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Wintertime in Chicago is long, cold, and includes the most vile phrase in the English language: “wintry mix”. But Chicagoans are a hardy bunch and don’t just survive, but thrive in the winter. From holiday festivals to wintertime only bar and restaurant experiences, winter has become one of the best seasons to be in Chicago! As a native, here’s my list of the top six activities (in no particular order) that help you survive the cold:
1. Visit Christkindlmarkt
A Chicago favorite since 1996, Chriskindlmarkt is an open-air traditional holiday market inspired by the traditions of Nuremburg, Germany. Over one million Chicagoans visit every year to kick off the holidays! I have personally gone almost every year since high school to eat traditional German food like currywurst and potato pancakes, drink warm gluhwein and hot chocolate, and shop for unique gifts from vendors from around the world. Perhaps most importantly, I make sure to acquire each year’s souvenir mug to add to my collection
2. Ice skate at Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park
Right in the Loop exists two fantastic ice-skating rinks: Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink and Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon! With the Chicago skyline or “The Bean” as your backdrop, there’s no better place to get out on the ice with friends or for a romantic winter date (yes, from personal experience). Admission is free and rental skates are only $15 or less depending on the date.
3. Escape to tropical oases
You don’t have to fly away to escape the cold and grey of winter. Experience green topical oases right here in Chicago at the Garfield Park Conservatory or the Lincoln Park Conservatory. You may even find me here relaxing on a bench, doing my class readings, enjoying an afternoon in paradise. Want to enjoy the tropics at night? Check out one of Chicago’s many tiki bars like Lost Lake, named best cocktail bar in America in 2018.
4. Participate in the Polar Bear Plunge
Dare to dive into Lake Michigan in the middle of January? For over 15 years, thousands of Chicagoans have done just that (including Major Rahm Emmanuel)! But it’s not just for the adrenaline, Chicago’s annual Polar Bear Plunge raises tens of thousands of dollars for charities each year.
5. Warm up with Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is the undisputed queen of hot chocolate in Chicago. Get the Mexican hot chocolate, and maybe a dessert while you’re at it. You’ll thank me later.
There you have it! You’re now ready to conquer and thrive during the Chicago winter! Just be careful not to break the rules of “dibs”.
This post was originally posted on The Booth Experience Blog