I don’t know about you guys, but winter isn’t necessarily my favorite season. I can deal with autumn — in fact, I really like autumn because of the mid-60’s temps — but winter in Chicago is pretty brutal. To help ease the chilly pain Chicago brings along with it during the cold months, here’s a list of 10 fun (and totally cheap) things to do in a frost-bitten Chicago:
1. Ice Skate at Millennium Park
- Who doesn’t love ice skating? I mean, if it’s cold, you might as well be doing something fun with the cold, right? From November to March, Millennium Park offers free ice skating daily. Bring your family or a couple of friends to good ‘ol Millennium and enjoy a day of gliding (or, in my case, falling) next to a bunch of super cool Chicago monuments.
2. Journey Through the Lincoln Park ZooLights
- Listen, I know Lincoln Park Zoo is next to Lake Michigan and I know that means the wind chill makes the cold that much worse, but ZooLights is worth it. First of all, it’s free, and secondly, you can walk around the Lincoln Park Zoo looking at a bunch of really impressive light sculptures while Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” plays in the background.
3. Visit the Art Institute
- First of all, the Art Institute is indoors and that means warmth, but secondly, it features a bunch of timeless pieces of art from all over the globe. If you haven’t been, it’s a definite must. Dedicate a day to it at least, because you’ll get absorbed in all the artwork pretty quickly. Plus, you can use your Demon Discount here! It’s totally free for DePaul students.
4. Explore the Chicago History Museum
- Like the Art Institute, the Chicago History Museum is indoors and toasty (because that’s the most important part, right? Just kidding… kind of). If artwork isn’t really your thing though, the Chicago History Museum is the place for you. Demon Discounts apply here too — free admission!
5. See the Garfield Park Conservatory
- The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of my favorite places in Chicago, honestly. If you’re constantly seeking some sort of image of thriving vegetation and life, take a day trip here. It’s free and the whole thing’s under huge, beautiful glass greenhouses.
6. Shop Around Water Tower Place
- Water Tower Place is one of those shopping malls you expect to go into for 30 minutes and, in reality, you end up staying for about 3 hours. No shame, though — the place has about 95 attractions (including Food Life which is a definite must).
7. View the Macy’s Window Displays
- The Macy’s Window Displays have, for me, been the quintessential epitome of the holiday season. Even though the holiday’s are over, stop by and check them out. It’s outside, but with the months of hard work that goes into them, totally worth it.
8. Catch a Movie at AMC Theaters
- Going to the movies is, without a doubt, my favorite thing. Food, comfy chairs, and a giant movie screen all in one place? Yes, please. Best part? Demon Discounts apply at AMC Theaters too. Also, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out right now and if you haven’t seen it you really, really need to. It’s amazing.
9. See a Show at The Second City
- I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like laughing and really funny people. Fortunately, Second City provides both of those things, and it’s accessible via Demon Discounts. Enjoy a night full of giggling and stop by to see some of Chicago’s funniest.
10. Grab a Cup of Hot Cocoa at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
- Ok, I’m a bit of a hot chocolate aficionado, and Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is some of the best I’ve ever had, ever. Guys, there’s 9 different types of hot chocolate (I didn’t even know that was possible?!); from the classic Old-Fashioned to Eggnog to Affogato (which has this coffee cocoa ice cream that I literally dream about on a daily basis). Plus, getting a nice, warm cup of hot cocoa is great way to end a day full of activities.
Sure, Chicago’s cold weather isn’t something to get super excited about, but the activities provided by the city during its colder months are, without a doubt, some of the best. Get out there and enjoy it!