Family fun in the Midwest is all about embracing the seasons. In the winter, that means embracing the snow, but also knowing when to get out of the house for indoor fun that lets kids stretch their legs (or bounce off energy). We’ve rounded up ideas for keeping the memories warm even as the weather drops and the nights grow long. Here, you’ll find the best sledding hills, where to find tubing adventures, and outdoor rinks for breaking out the ice skates… as well as spots for bowling, bouncing, and other indoor fun. We hope it inspires your family to bundle up and spend some quality time together this winter!
This guide is sponsored by Downtown Naperville.
Downtown Naperville is the place to be this winter!
Whether you’re shopping for the family or looking for a new style for yourself in the new year, you can find what you need at one of Downtown Naperville’s many shops… from local one-of-a-kind boutiques to national favorites!
Take advantage of sizzling deals at The Great Indoor Sidewalk Sales, January 13-16, as participating shops will be cutting winter prices in preparation for the incoming spring fashions! Don’t forget to bring your unused Downtown Naperville gift cards as they are accepted at 150+ merchants!
Your family will love coming to Downtown Naperville for Naperville Restaurant Week, January 20-February 5! From fast casual to fancy dining, each participating restaurant will provide either a prix fixe menu at an appetizing price or discounts on featured menu choices.
The new year brings exciting new merchants added to an already diverse list of businesses in Downtown Naperville! They offer a great mix of locally owned businesses and national brands that everyone will love. See a full list HERE!
Come shop, dine, and explore in Downtown Naperville!
Winter Activities in the Western Suburbs
Bundle Up for Outdoor Fun
Sledding! Grab Your Sled and Head for These Hills
Snow will be here before you know it, so start scoping out places now! Here is a comprehensive list of places to sled in the west suburbs. Don’t forget to check on your gear ahead of time. Sleds are hard to come by once the snow hits the ground, so make sure you’re ready for the first snowfall.
Where to Go Snow Tubing and Tobogganing
With higher peaks, bumps along the course, and some that even have a convenient belt to bring your tube back to the top, your family won’t want to leave these local and destination tubing and toboggan spots.
Winter Hikes, Snowshoe Rentals, and Cross-Country Skiing
Explore your favorite summertime trails while they’re covered in a layer of fresh snow. We also have info on rentals and the best scenic spots.
Ice Skating! Outdoor, Indoor, and Refrigerated Options
Family-friendly indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks with skate rental information, admission fees, and how to find out if the outdoor rinks are ready.
School Closings in Chicagoland and Ideas for a Snow Day
A comprehensive and up-to-date list of school closings, plus creative ways to enjoy a snow day.
Stay Warm at Indoor Winter Activities
Arcades, Laser Tag, and Game Rooms
We’ve rounded up the best local arcades, laser tag and game rooms for kids (or kids at heart) in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Lace up those skates and enjoy some retro fun with the whole family.
Kid-Friendly Bowling Alleys
Get the list of local bowling alleys with helpful info about ramps and bumpers.
Indoor Play Areas
Our play area guide encompasses indoor play gyms, indoor inflatables, indoor playgrounds, and even restaurants with indoor play spaces.
Indoor Pools with Family Swim Times
If these long, cold and dreary days have you and your crew dreaming of summer sunshine, treat your kids to an indoor pool.
Kid-Friendly Nail Salons
Treat yourselves to an afternoon of pampering at these local kid-friendly nail salons.
Our list of escape rooms includes details about difficulty and scariness to help you find one that’s right for you and your family.
Paint-Your-Own Pottery Studios
Create a masterpiece at one a local pottery studio. If you’re gifting your work of art, don’t forget that you’ll need extra time to fire it.
Get some fresh air and enjoy the greenery at these local spots to take a walk and admire the foliage. Annie shared details about a great combo trip to Rehm Park and Oak Park Conservatory.
Local Workout Classes and Ideas for Being Active with Kids
Read this one for ideas to inspire you and your family to get active with local classes and activities that get you moving.
Chicagoland Kids Theater Guide: Fall – Winter
All of the kid-friendly theater for families in the west and southwest suburbs of Chicago. Find performances in this comprehensive guide to theater for kids!
Local Opportunities for Volunteering with Kids
Bringing a little light into the world is a beautiful way to warm up your family’s winter. Many of these opportunities can be done at home or through a virtual connection. Keep an eye out for details about our Kidlist Volunteering Event.
Holiday Fun Guide: Christmas, Hanukkah and More
Kidlist is the headquarters for holiday fun! Find Christmas activities, where to celebrate New Year’s Eve with kids, the best Christmas lights, and more.
Winter Break Camps and Activities in Chicago’s Western Suburbs
Find fabulous ways to spend quality time at home with your family, as well as ways to mix it up with adventures on the go. This guide also includes winter break camps with sports, games, crafts, gymnastics, field trips, art, science, math and more.
How to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Kids
Celebrate and honor the life of the incredible Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with these engaging events and resources.
Ways for Families to Celebrate the Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, and it’s one of China’s biggest celebrations. Find local events and activities for a fun celebration!
Making Valentine’s Day Special for Kids: Local Events and Activity Ideas
Valentine’s day is all about spending time with the one’s you love. So soak up the love with these in-person, virtual, and at-home events and ideas!
We have the best spots to find paczki in time for Fat Tuesday. Be sure to order in time to get your traditional treats!
Food and Where to Eat
Igloos and Dome Dining
Winter does not stop Chicagoans from dining outdoors anymore! We have all the info on where to find igloo dining, group sizes, and details.
Where to Find Hot Cocoa Bombs
Watching a hot cocoa bomb open is quite mesmerizing, and has definitely brought some warm memories for my family this winter!
Best Spots for Pizza in the West Suburbs
Check out this reader recommended list for the best pizza places.
Best Donut Shops
Find out where to get the best donuts in the suburbs! This one has a map so you can mark off the places you’ve been and want to try.
Over the Top Milkshakes and Hot Chocolates
Visit one of these restaurants for a delicious, one-of-a-kind, extreme milkshake or hot chocolate.
Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
Feeding a family can be expensive, especially when dining out. Enjoy a family-friendly meal with a family-friendly price tag at these local spots.
Fish Fry Events
If you observe the Catholic tradition of avoiding meat on Fridays or just love a good ol’ fashioned fish fry, check out this list of options in the west suburbs!
Day Trips and Travel
Locations, Details, Pricing for Skiing and Snowboarding Near Chicago
Where to go skiing with descriptions, lift ticket and equipment rental information to easily plan a fun adventure with your family.
Local Hotels with Pools and Kid-Friendly Chicago Hotel Deals
Take advantage of these awesome packages and beat the winter blues with a mini getaway.
A Visit to the Ice Castles in Lake Geneva and Tips for Your Day Trip
Get inside information about the ice castles at Lake Geneva so you can get tips to plan your trip.
Escape to These Indoor Water Parks Near Chicagoland
We’ve researched all the best options for indoor water parks in and around Chicago for you!
Dress Your Kids for Outdoor Winter Play
We talked with a nature-based preschool to get helpful tips to help all of us get bundled up to stay warm while enjoying the outdoors.
Winter Activities at Home
Don’t forget about adding at-home activities to your winter bucket list! Build a snowman with this adorable kit, have a snowball fight (indoors or outdoors!), make an igloo, bake cookies together (this is our favorite cookie recipe lately), snuggle up and watch a movie together (check out this list of 50 movies all kids should watch before they are 12 from common sense media!), try a new soup recipe, and sit by the fire and play a game.
Not Sure Where to Start?
Free Days at Museums and Zoos
Pay the best price (nothing!) while visiting your favorite museums and zoos. Find information about New Exhibits and other Immersive Experiences throughout the city and suburbs.
Find out about upcoming events before they book up! Local organizations are working hard to create safe options for kids to enjoy.