Chicago becomes a winter wonderland over the holidays, offering dazzling displays of holiday lights, exciting sledding hills, live entertainment, and, of course, ice skating. These classic and iconic holiday pastimes are on full display, including a full-fledged holiday extravaganza at the town public square, where you can catch public screenings of holiday films and certainly get a visit from Santa Claus. You can catch live musical performances, go to visit polar bears and other winter animals, or just grab your favourite tube, toboggan, or sleigh and hit the slopes. Check out some of the best things to do in Chicago during the winter.

    1

    Midway Plaisance Ice Rink

    Go skating in Hyde Park

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    Midway Plaisance Ice Rink is located in Hyde Park and offers a family-friendly skating rink with skating lessons, pickup games of hockey, and special events all season long. This stretch of park is on the campus of the University of Chicago, on the exact spot where the first-ever Ferris wheel stood at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. In addition to the ice rink, the park offers a warming centre. Here, you can duck inside to escape from the cold for a while and get warm again before heading back out for some more wintry fun on the skating rink.

    Vieta: 1130 Midway Plaisance, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

    Telefonas: +1 312-745-2470

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    2

    The Peninsula Sky Rink

    Enjoy an ice rink above Michigan Avenue

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    The Peninsula Sky Rink is situated atop a 4-star hotel in the heart of city centre along Michigan Avenue and offers breathtaking views of the skyline surrounded by elegant lights. The rink itself is on the fourth-floor terrace and features displays of snowflake lights and trees aglow with holiday spirit. The rink isn't the only attraction here, however; besides skating and looking down upon the bustling city streets, you can head for an outdoor chalet that offers comfort food like beignets and mulled cider. Skate rental is included in the cost, and the admission benefits local charities for kids.

    Vieta: 108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

    Telefonas: +1 312-337-2888

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    3

    Soldier Field Sledding Hill

    Race down the hill next to the iconic stadium

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    Soldier Field Sledding Hill is on the parkland surrounding Soldier Field and offers a 33-foot, lightning-fast slope that's ideal for thrill-seeking sleigh riders. Even on days when it's warmer out and the rest of the city is thawed, the park service uses snow machines to ensure that the hill is always properly covered. From the top of the hill, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Michigan before you roar down the slopes at pulse-pounding speeds. Since it's so close to Soldier Field, that means there's also plenty of nearby shopping, dining, and indoor spots to warm up.

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    4

    Chicago Park District

    Explore holiday activities all over the city

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    The Chicago Park District controls all the city parks, more than 8,800 acres of public space, and oversees all of the winter events that take place in these spaces. Amongst the most popular winter activities in the Chicago parks are the ice-skating rinks, and there are a number of these from which to choose. Other events include intro to ballet workshops, holiday craft-project workshops, wreath-making courses, winter drawing courses, and other arts-and-crafts classes to appeal to all ages. Even Santa gets into the fun with hosted breakfasts, bingo with Santa, storytime sessions, and others.

    Vieta: 541 N Fairbanks Ct, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

    Darbo laikas: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 5 pm (closed Saturday–Sunday)

    Telefonas: +1 312-742-7529

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    5

    Northerly Island

    Walk nature trails and learn to make winter crafts

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    Northerly Island is a man-made peninsula on Lake Michigan, just to the east of Soldier Field, that offers special holiday events and snowshoeing along nature trails. Hikers can get out into the wilderness and engage in winter bird- and wildlife viewing while snapping photos of the Chicago skyline in the distance. Of course, during the Polar Adventure Days events, visitors can learn to make winter crafts inspired by nature and get up close and personal to wolves, huskies, and raptors. Best of all, Polar Adventure Days are completely free, making it a great option for family fun.

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    6

    Lincoln Park Conservatory

    See exotic flowers and timeless sculptures in a Victorian park

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    The Lincoln Park Conservatory is a botanical garden that's open all year long inside an elegant and historic Victorian glasshouse where you can see colourful exotic plants. The plants on display here are from all over the world, and not only does this offer a splash of brightness in the winter, but it's also a welcome escape from the cold. The Conservatory is located in Lincoln Park and is one of the oldest public gardens in the city, having opened in the 1870s. Outside the glasshouse, you can see timeless sculptures like the Schiller Monument and the Eli Bates Fountain.

    Vieta: 2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

    Telefonas: +1 312-742-7736

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    Nuotraukos autorius: Alanscottwalker (CC BY-SA 3.0) Pakeista

    7

    Lincoln Park ZooLights Festival

    See wild and brilliant displays of flashing LED Lights

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    The Lincoln Park Zoolights Festival is held between the end of November and early January in Lincoln Park and offers dazzling displays of light and a wealth of animal exhibits. The zoo covers 35 acres and is decked out with tunnels and displays of LED lights in every colour and includes hundreds of other displays. As you walk the displays of brilliant holiday lights, you'll also see all the animals of the zoo, from lions and tigers to reptiles, penguins, and birds. Even better, the zoo offers free admission, so it's a budget- and family-friendly way to celebrate the holidays.

    Vieta: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

    Darbo laikas: Daily from 4 pm to 10 pm

    Telefonas: +1 312-742-2000

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    8

    Brookfield Zoo

    Walk through a zoo filled with light sculptures and fun activities

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    The Brookfield Zoo offers a Holiday Magic festival every year from late November through the end of December that's filled with over a million coloured LED lights. The show is amongst the largest in Chicagoland, and the main attraction is a 600-foot tunnel with lights synchronised to music. Other features of the light display include a 20-foot orb that's popular amongst selfie-takers, gigantic sculptures of animals formed of lights, and a huge holiday tree that rises over 40 feet high. The whole zoo is decked out for the holidays, and events like scavenger hunts and workshops make it a memorable activity.

    Vieta: 8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL 60513, USA

    Darbo laikas: Monday–Tuesday from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday–Sunday from 3 pm to 9 pm

    Telefonas: +1 708-688-8000

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    9

    Lakefront Trail

    Take a stroll along the shores of Lake Michigan

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    The Lakefront Trail offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with over 18 miles of path along Lake Michigan for biking, walking, and recreation. The trail is paved and easy to navigate — no snowshoes necessary. If you're looking for a bit of peace and quiet when the city gets crowded with shoppers, this could be a good option. Water fountains and bathrooms are positioned along the trail for convenience. The trail also separates the bike trail from the pedestrian one, so you won't have to worry about getting in someone's way.

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    10

    Winterland at Gallagher Way

    Visit a holiday village inside Wrigley Field

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    Winterland at Gallagher Way turns the iconic Wrigley Field into a massive wonderland of holiday activities, from an 8,000-square-foot ice rink to classic holiday film presentations. Santa Claus puts in appearances and hosts breakfasts to bring more family fun to the table, and you can also take curling or skating lessons. Of course, no wonderland is complete without a market, and the Christkindlmarket offers dozens of speciality shops where you can find that perfect handmade, one-of-a-kind gift for your loved one. Speaking of crafts, you can take a wreath-making workshop to decorate your own wonderland.

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    Vieta: 3635 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613, USA

    Telefonas: +1 773-388-8260

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    Nuotraukos autorius: Jay Clark (CC BY 2.0) Pakeista

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