For many families, winter break is filled with the excitement of the holidays, as well as slower days spent relaxing at home. After a few days of lounging in pajamas and testing out new cookie recipes, we’re ready to get out and have some fun. Below you’ll 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. Get inspired with our lists for the very best activities to keep your family having fun all winter break long!
Winter Break Fun in Chicago’s West Suburbs
Winter Break 2020-21: Top 20 Out-of-the House Activities
- Enjoy a Holiday Light Show
The light shows this year are incredible, and many continue through the new year. Oak Brook’s Winter Lights is new, free and even running through the end of February! Some tips: Lincoln Park Zoo releases tickets on Sunday afternoons, and while sold out, Morton Arboretum releases more tickets to Illumination on Mondays around lunchtime. Also, check my insider’s guide of 2020 updates for Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo this year.
- Indoor and Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks
Grab your skates (and cocoa for afterwards) and head out for a family skate indoors or outdoors! The Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is now open!
- Go to the Zoo
While the zoos are great places to go for holiday lights, don’t forget to see the animals too. Avoid the crowds of the holiday shows and enjoy an afternoon visiting your favorite animals. Brookfield Zoo has announced they will be closing for January and February 2021, so sneak in a visit soon!
- Best Sledding Hills
If there’s snow on the ground, sledding is always the perfect activity to burn off some energy and make memories!
- Go Skiing/Snowboarding
Pack up the family and hit the slopes for a winter adventure at a cool ski spot!
- Free Nature Centers
Kids can explore and learn about animals, plants, geography and more at an awesome indoor nature center. Call ahead to confirm that these locations are open at this time.
- Holiday Happenings in Downtown Wheaton
Use the map to find the locations of Reindeer on Parade, as well as businesses participating in Holiday Painted Windows. Other holiday and winter walks will be up until January. Happy hunting!
- Take a Swing at Golfing
Top Golf in Naperville and Schaumburg are the perfect spot to test out your swing.
- Volunteer Together
Keep the spirit of the holidays alive and do good with your family by volunteering together!
- Kid-Parent Dates
Start a new tradition over winter break and enjoy some one-on-one time with your kids.
- Indoor Play Spaces
Indoor play spaces are a great place to explore new toys and activities. Nearly all require advanced registration, and some places such as Waterlemon in La Grange are offering families private play sessions.
- Local Libraries to Read Together
Grab some new titles and enjoy an afternoon at home. Here’s a list of some of our favorites. Many libraries are offering winter reading programs to incentivize reading fun.
- Shop Local
While the holiday rush may be over, get lost in the aisles of locally owned toy and book stores. Get ideas from staff, or find inspiration for your next family activity.
- Go for a Hike
If the temperature gets above freezing, we are outside! Get some fresh air and enjoy the sights at a new (to you) forest preserve.
- Have Fun at Winter Break Camp
Find childcare with these daily or weekly camp options.
- Pottery Time
Check out the open pottery time at a studio near you and create something beautiful together for your home. Many locations are offering kits to-go if you’d prefer that option.
- Get Out of Town
This fall, Rachel did a roundup of family-friendly Airbnbs in Illinois. Even a night or two away from home can be a nice reset.
- Visit The Forge: Lemont Quarries
While certain parts of The Forge remain closed, laser tag, guided tower tours, and other activities are up and running! They also have an outdoor skating rink.
- Swim at an Indoor Water Park
Some local indoor water parks are operating at limited capacity. Check individual websites to confirm safety protocols and registration information.
- Go to a Drive-In Movie
Many pop-up drive-in theaters that ran this summer are reopening again to show holiday classics. Make sure to check for reservation information in advance
- BONUS: Observe the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020
Bundle up and look out at the sky around sunset. Saturn and Jupiter have been moving closer to each other, and on December 21, they will be the closest since 2000.
10 Ideas for Fun at Home
- Get Crafty
Check out the Kidlist Pinterest page for extra cool and creative ideas!
- Family Game Day
Get out your family’s favorite games for an indoor game day marathon.
- Reconnect with Family at at Virtual Game Night
Nicole rounded up a list of great ideas for virtual family-fun.
- Build Something
A fort? A LEGO town? Grab your supplies and get to work!
- Get in the Kitchen
Find a new recipe, bake some cookies, or meal plan for the week ahead together. Hot cocoa bombs are all the rage this year!
- Enjoy a Theater Performance from Home
Enjoy the experience of a live show with the family and support these local children’s theaters.
- Try a New Restaurant To-Go
Local restaurants are offering family meals to go. Take a break from cooking and support small businesses. It’s a win-win!
- Snow Day Fun Ideas
Pretend like it’s a snow day and come up with creative ideas for fun all over the house — from scavenger hunts to indoor picnics and dance parties, there’s always something fun to do right at home with the kids.
- Celebrate the New Year!
Many people aren’t sad to see 2020 coming to an end, and these organizations have great kits to ring in the new year in-style.
- Plan Out Your 2021
With all of the chaos that 2020 brought, we’re all looking forward to the new year. Make a list of things to look forward to in 2021.
Winter Break Fun to Consider Next Year!
In the past, we’ve also loved to try new activities such as those listed below. With ever-changing safety guidelines due to COVID-19, many of these aren’t open to families. Keep them on your radar for next year, or call your local businesses to see if they’re allowed to safely open.
- Indoor Skydiving
- Arcade/Game Room Fun
- Escape Rooms
- Indoor Rock Climbing
- Children’s Museum Trip
- Kid-Friendly Bowling
- Afternoon Tea
- Trampoline Parks
- Destination Restaurants for Kids
- Winter WonderFest – Navy Pier
Don’t forget to tag us on social media with your winter break fun using the hashtag #mykidlist