Diversions: Winter fun in Chicago (get the kids out of the house.)

I live in a neighborhood overrun with strollers in the summertime.  I’m wondering where all the kids are at during the doldrums of winter.  There’s only so many episodes of Dora the Explorer that the kiddies can sit through (and the parents can hear) before going certifiably mad.  We’re over the Christmas high point of the early winter season settling into a long January through March slog before the weather permits some time relaxing outside.

Outside today, only two children were seen playing in the fresh snow: transplants from Lithuania.  Also known as “hearty stock.”  You’d think that native Chicagoans would be used to the weather since most of my neighbors have been in the northern climates for 20 years or more.

Here are some great suggestions for outdoor activities, or activities that get you out of your own doors, at least, from the kid friendly website www.kidwinks.com. Ice Skaters At Millennium Park w/ Smurfit-Stone Building

Ice skating at Millennium Park

From now through mid-March, ice skating in the heart of Millennium Park is free if you have your own skates – just walk up and skate!  Skate rentals are available for $9 if you need them. 

Millennium Park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is FREE.



Polar Adventure Days on Northerly Island

The Chicago Park District is putting on the Fifth Annual Polar Adventure Days from 12-4 p.m. on three Saturdays, Dec. 12, Jan. 23 and Feb. 20, at Northerly Island.  Polar Adventure Days offer families the opportunity to explore Northerly Island and come face-to-face with live animals, engage in winter activities, watch ice sculpture carvings, and create nature-inspired crafts.


Go outside and hug a Huskie!


Check out some of these activities (BRRRRR!)

  • Ice Sculpture transforms blocks of ice into magical creations on site.
  • Various live animals will be on site to discover such as birds of prey.
  • An arctic camping demo.
  • Siberian huskies will be present and adventurers will talk about their Iditarod dog sled race experiences.
  • Live entertainment including storytelling centered around winter tales.
  • Arts and craft tables for making nature-inspired creations.
  • Free snowshoe rental for exploration of the island (if there is snow).

Kids Workshop at Home Depothome-depot-kids-workshop

On the first Saturday of every month, your local Home Depot has a FREE kids workshop (advance registration is requested) where kids can work on a fun project. 

The Home Depot’s Kids Workshops offer useful projects including the creation of toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, as well as more educational projects, such as a window birdhouse, bughouse or Declaration of Independence frame kit.

The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while at the same time helping to instill a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, this fun time allows for quality one-on-one time between adults and children.

In addition to the newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, similar to The Home Depot associates’ aprons, and an achievement pin.

Link to Home Depot here.



More suggestions (not all of these are free)

Sledding hills

Lost Valley Farms exploration program

Indoor play areas

Extreme Trampolines in Carol Stream

Dozin’ with the Dino’s – overnight at the Field Museum