Are you ready for winter? Chicago is! Whether you're hoping for snow-filled getaways or warm indoor escapes, this Chicago winter guide has all the essentials. So don't countdown until spring, celebrate the season now.

Here are a few things on our Chicago winter wish list: 


A skating rink... or two!

Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon

Chicago's newly-dubbed downtown "Winter Campus" offers a 2-for-1 deal for those who want to lace up: the classic oval ice rink in Millennium Park and the twisting-and-turning skating ribbon at adjacent Maggie Dalely Park.


A cozy fireplace to warm up to

Drumbar Chicago

Three to try: The cocktail-focused Gold Coast speakeasy lounge Drumbar, River North restaurant Tortoise Club with its sophisticated supper-club scene and live jazz music, or the perfect morning/noon/night option The Drawing Room at Chicago Athletic Association where three historic hearths offer warmth whether you have a coffee, cocktail or laptop at hand.


A big, hot bowl of soup

Dove's Luncheonette Chicago

From the Pozole Rojo (braised pork shoulder in a guajillo chile broth topped with cilantro, avocado and all the delicious toppings) at Dove's Luncheonette to the bubbly French Onion Soup at Mon Ami Gabi, or the Japanese noodle bowls at Ramen-San to the Egg Drop Soup at Chinatown favorite MingHin Cuisine — the soup scene is surely covered.


A big-ticket theater show

Oriental Theatre Chicago

Take a seat for Broadway in Chicago megahits like The Lion King (catch it only through January 17) and Cabaret (February 9-21); see a soul-stirring tribute to Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack when Black Ensemble Theatre presents Dynamite Divas (now until January 24); or plan your trip during Chicago Theatre Week (February 11-21) for over 100 productions priced at only $15/$30.


An outdoor adventure with skyline views

Northerly Island Chicago

Try snowshoes as a slower-paced alternative to ice skates! Snowtrek across Northerly Island for Polar Adventure Days (January 23, February 20) and during the Winter Bonfire (February 14).


A mug of handcrafted hot cocoa to heat back up 

Mindy's HotChocolate

Settle into some rich, hot chocolate at the appropriately-named Mindy's HotChocolate in Bucktown, pair it with churros at XOCO or stick with a Mag Mile classic at Ghirardelli.


A jolt of color to shock the system

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Brash, colorful and playful, the Museum of Contemporary Art showcases the works of artists and designers (Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Charles Eames, Ed Paschke & more) with two companion exhibits — Pop Art Design, and The Street, the Store, and the Silver Screen: Pop Art from the MCA Collection (both on display through March 27). Bonus: The New Contemporary at the Art Institute of Chicago just made its debut in December with the largest gift in museum history — 44 masterpieces — making this collection the strongest of any encyclopedic art museum in the world.


A rooftop escape with views shielded from the cold

J. Parker Chicago

Think full size snow globe! Look out from within a rooftop bar like J. Parker, I|O Godfrey or Roof at theWit, which take the party year-round with retractable glass roofs that showcase the snowfall.


A light-filled tropical escape 

Solarise at Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago

Garfield Park Conservatory is a perennial winter favorite — in part because it's always FREE — but in the chilly months its also the balmy temps that beckon. The stunning art installation on display now, solarise: a sea of all colors, adds another colorful reason to head here.


A tiki concoction to conjure up warm vibes

Three Dots and a Dash Chicago

Slip into a tropical mentality with sips from the underground hideaway (follow the tiki torch lamps in the alley) known as Three Dots and a Dash. Other good bets? The Broken Shaker, at the hip hostel Freehand, and Lost Lake in Logan Square.


A heaping helping of mac n' cheese

Bull & Bear Chicago

Go the truffle route at Bull & Bear, try the Pitmaster version with Pig Powder Rub at Chicago Q, throw in some decadent lobster chunks at GT Fish & Oyster, or have it all with the Multiple Choice Mac & Cheese at Public House

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