Winters in Chicagoland are famous — or infamous, depending on who you ask. While some people dread the months of snow and blustery winds, others look forward to them all year long.
After all, there’s a lot to love about winter, whether your favorite pastime is making snow angels, sledding down hills with the whole family, or simply cozying up with a good book and a warm cup of tea.
From the city to the suburbs, Chicagoland is full of neighborhoods perfect for enjoying all of the great things about wintertime. Here are five Chicagoland communities that serious winter lovers may want to consider calling home:
Nestled a bit north of the Loop, Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is a wonderful place to call home — and, from November to January, this historic community becomes a true winter wonderland.
For one thing, there’s the neighborhood’s namesake park. Covering nearly 1200 acres of land and featuring winding trails, scenic lakes, and plenty of natural areas, Lincoln Park is a great place to go for a winter stroll while taking in some one-of-a-kind views of the Chicago skyline. Meanwhile, the Lincoln Park Zoo hosts free winter-themed events throughout the season, including its festive ZooLights holiday celebration. For anyone looking to escape the cold, the Lincoln Park Conservatory is a convenient way to feel like you’ve been transported to a lush and leafy tropical paradise, without ever leaving the city.
Elsewhere around Lincoln Park, fans of sledding and snowball fights can enjoy the winter weather in Oz Park, known for its impressive statues celebrating the characters of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. And around the neighborhood, you’ll find plenty of spots perfect for settling in on a chilly day, from the wood-paneled rooms of Millie’s Supper Club and Mon Ami Gabi, to the roaring fireplaces of Range and Stella Barra.
Geneva and Batavia
What could be cuter than watching snow pile up around an authentic Dutch-style windmill, right in your own backyard? Batavia is home to one of the country’s only true European-style windmills, the Fabyan Windmill. While this iconic structure is an adorable sight year-round, it really comes to life in the winter months, when locals flock to the surrounding hills for sledding and snow forts.
Nearby, the Fox River is a great spot for enjoying nature during the winter months, and is a popular place for hiking and birdwatching. The Geneva area is also known for its adorable and historic downtown, which includes many charming shops and restaurants tucked into picturesque Victorian-style buildings. For some tasty winter treats, why not try the rich cocoa confections at All Chocolate Kitchen, grab a hot coffee at FreshGround Roasting, or feast on a high end meal in a historic house at Fiora’s Restaurant?
In the mood for sampling some winter libations? Geneva is also home to Penrose Brewing Company, which brews craft beers in a state-of-the-art facility, and Fox River Distillery, which makes spirits that celebrate the history and culture of the Chicagoland region.
Lincoln Square has all the charms and winning features of a small town, conveniently tucked away in the heart of northern Chicago. Full of charming architecture and lots of things to see and do, Lincoln Square is a quaint and cozy spot to while away a winter’s day.
Looking for some ideas to make the most of the cold weather? Why not savor the snowfall by settling in at a restaurant complete with a full fireplace, such as The Grafton or Fountainhead? Or, you could wait out a winter storm in the Davis Theater at Carbon Arc, one of Chicago’s oldest and most famous movie palaces.
Then there’s Giddings Plaza, the adorable center of the Lincoln Square community. Throughout the winter months, this traditional town square is decked out with lights and festive decorations. Giddings is lined with cute stores that can help you stock up on your winter must-haves, from lotions and skin creams, to outdoor gear, to traditional meats and produce perfect for making hearty wintertime meals. The plaza also plays host to a variety of unique, family-friendly winter-themed events all season long.
Looking for places to sled, make snow angels, or let your furry friends enjoy the freshly fallen snow? Lincoln Square also puts you in close proximity to some of Chicago’s prettiest parks, including Winnemac Park, Horner Park, and the sprawling Welles Park — home to a historic and truly Instagram-worthy gazebo.
Just west of Chicago, the Village of Oak Park is a prime place to celebrate all things wintertime!
Outside of tobogganing, there are plenty of other attractions that make Oak Park a winter lover’s dream! Throughout the winter months, downtown Oak Park hosts events including Winterfest, which features a multi-stop Cookie Walk to help visitors get to know local businesses. Downtown Oak Park also throws a “Home for the Holidays” festival, which includes carriage rides, hot cocoa, and movie screenings at the historic Lake Theatre.
Looking for some warm, woodsy decor to make your wintertime design dreams come to life? The Park District of Oak Park hosts a Winter Greens Market at the Oak Park Conservatory, giving shoppers the chance to stock up on winter decor essentials like balsam, fir, boxwood, winter berries, magnolia tips, and spruce tops. The winter months are also a great time to explore some of the area’s most charming greenspaces, including Mills Park and Austin Gardens.
And what could be better than getting the chance to see some of Chicagoland’s most iconic architecture in the wintertime? Oak Park is home to the highest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright homes anywhere in America, as well as the designer’s historic home and studio, which is open for tours year-round.
The South Loop area is home to one of Chicagoland’s most iconic sledding destinations. The Soldier Field sledding hill features a steep vertical drop, and offers visitors sweeping views of the city in all its icy, wintery glory. Even better? The Chicago Parks District makes sure that there’s always fluffy artificial snow available on this popular hill, so you can go sledding even when the weather isn’t quite working on schedule with your winter bucket list.
Of course, there’s also the legendary Soldier Field itself. Home to the Chicago Bears, this world-famous football stadium is a prime place to enjoy winter weather while taking in a game. The South Loop is also home to Museum Campus, which features some of the area’s most significant cultural institutions and attractions, including Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Adler Planetarium.
Looking for other warm spots to get out of the winter chill? The South Loop is the home of Buddy Guy’s Legends. One of Chicago’s biggest blues clubs all year long, Legends really comes to life in the wintertime, when its legendary namesake has been known to host a winter residency.
Living in the South Loop also makes it easy to access to all the winter fun happening downtown — including ice skating in Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, exploring the great indoors at the Art Institute of Chicago, or sipping on hot chocolate at Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop or the Nutella Cafe.
Looking to Live In the Heart of It All?
Looking to find a home in a Chicagoland community where you can fully embrace the beauty of winter? We get you. At Baird & Warner, our agents are hyperlocal experts who can help you find the spot that’s just right, while making the buying process easier, at every step of the way. And with mortgage and title services in-house, our one-stop-shopping approach takes the hassle out of closing on your new home, so you can get back to building fires and counting snowflakes in no time!