Winter Adventure Day Trips Near Chicago

Getting into the holiday spirit? From ice skating to choosing the perfect tree, we have some day trips that will transport you to a winter wonderland or one tank of gas.

Credit: Cosley Zoo
Credit: Cosley Zoo

Written by Bridgette Outten

The holidays are officially upon us. Here are some ideas for fun trips that won’t take too much out of your seasonal budget. An added bonus? You can get to all these places on one tank of gas—or less.

Cosley Zoo Festival of Lights
1356 N. Gary Ave.
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 665-5534

Why Go? During the holiday season, Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, Ill. promises a “winter wonderland” transformation, complete with 20,000 lights and spectacular displays to admire. You can also take a look at Cosley’s 20 exhibits, housing more than 150 animals that represent more than 60 species.

Insider Tip: Pack a lunch and enjoy it on the picnic grounds; The Coyote Café concession stand is only open April through October.

Must Do: The Zoo also sells Christmas trees during this time, so after you get done taking in the lights and sights, you just may find the perfect tree to take home.

The Fine Print: The Festival of Lights runs through through Dec. 24, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Tree sales are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily until Dec. 24. Admission is free during the Festival of Lights and Tree Sales and donations are appreciated.

Rocket Ice Arena
180 Canterbury Ln.
(630) 679-1700

Why Go? It’s less expensive than a movie and more fun. From skating with Rudolph, Frosty or Santa to simply enjoying a cup of hot chocolate, the Bolingbrook indoor arena offers all sorts of winter fun.

Insider Tip: Parking is available on both the street and in a lot.

Must Do: Go on one of the days that Rudolph or Santa is on the ice...because how often do you get to skate with either one of them?

The Fine Print: Admission is $7 for those ages 12; children 11 and under are $6 and skate rental is $3. The arena is open 9 a.m. - 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. - 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, but you’ll want to check for specific hours when your favorite character will be on the ice. 

Sledding in Chicago's Forest Preserves
Various locations

Why Go? 
The Forest Preserve District offers 10 hills for sledding across Chicagoland. 

Insider Tip: Sledding hills are open when there is a minimum of 3″ of snow and the ground is frozen.

Must Do:
Glide at night. Four hills are lit and open until 9 p.m. Click here for the list.

The Fine Print:
Don't bring pets or booze on the hill with you. Kids under the age of 12 must wear a helmet and be supervised by an adult.


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