A Family-Friendly Winter Guide to Chicago

  • 01 of 06

    Family-Friendly Chicago Adventures From Cuisine to Culture

    john g shedd aquarium in chicago entrance
    Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

    Chicago's Navy Pier turns itself into a Winter Wonderfest each holiday season, featuring a number of different attractions, rides and ice skating. The free event is one of the city's top family-focused festivals during the coldest months, but once it's over in mid-January, pickings are slim. So we've compiled a great list of Chicago events and restaurant offerings to keep the entire family occupied so no one suffers from cabin fever.

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  • 02 of 06

    Where to Stay With the Family

    kids play room
    Four Seasons Chicago

    A number of hotels have gotten in on the action and cater to families. From "kiddie clubs" to special packages certain to keep everyone happy, we've put together a Top 10 list of the best family-friendly hotels in Chicago.

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  • 03 of 06

    Where to Dine When Kids Are in Tow

    grilled cheese with meat sandwiches
    RJ Grunts

    You can hit up Cheesecake Factory, McDonald's or a pizza joint in just about any major city, so why not show your kids a bit of Chicago's flavor during your next visit? We've gathered some Chicago favorites guaranteed to make your entire family happy, from a few classic ethnic restaurants to newer attractions.​

    Also take note that Chicago Restaurant Week occurs Jan. 27-Feb. 9, and many restaurants accommodate families. The annual celebration of the city's rich culinary scene takes place at restaurants downtown, in local neighborhoods, and in the suburbs. Prix-fixe menus start at $22 for lunch or brunch, and $33 and/or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, and gratuity).

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  • 04 of 06

    Warm Up With Fun, Indoor Activities

    Lego model
    LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago

    The Chicago Cultural Center lures hundreds of thousands of visitors each year with numerous free events and proximity to tourist mecca Millennium Park. During the winter through spring it features Juicebox for children of various ages. They'll be encouraged to interact with performers during live African percussion shows, hip-hop musicals, theatrical performances and more.

    And over at Pinstripes, a bowling and bocce lounge located near Hyatt Regency Chicago, Loews Chicago Hotel, Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers and W Chicago-Lakeshore, you'll find year-round events for families. From 10 a.m-noon Monday through Friday is "Tots Playtime" when kids can bowl for $3 every hour (with a $3 shoe rental). Parents play for free. There's also family day every Sunday when kids 12 and under eat for half price after 5 p.m.

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  • 05 of 06

    Chill Out With Ice Skating

    people ice skating at Maggie Daley Park
    City of Chicago

    Given Chicago's cold winters, it's no wonder ice skating is a popular outdoor activity. There are several ice rinks set up in the seasonal months near downtown for Chicago travelers. All rinks listed provide skate rental information as well.

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  • 06 of 06

    Share Special Moments at Cultural Institutions

    Chicago Sports Museum entrance and sign
    Harry Caray's Restaurant Group

    Not all local cultural institutions are designed to capture the attention of children, so we've created a list of interactive--and quirky--museums and art galleries determined to be a source of joy as they learn.

    The Chicago Sports Museum, for example, is the first of its type in the city and is comprised of 8,000 square feet and offers an interactive, high-tech experience, unique sports memorabilia (think Sammy Sosa’s corked bat), and an impressive collection of local sports artifacts. The Hall of Legends gallery highlights an array of “play with the legends” baseball, basketball, football and hockey interactive games, such as "defending the goal" with Blackhawks star Patrick Kane. It is adjacent to Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch.