If this winter is anything like the past polar vortex insanity, hours-long days at the playground may not be in the forecast. Luckily, Chicago has plenty of other fun activities for kids that are worth bundling up for. We've rounded up everything from classes to exhibits at the city's best museums, and from ice skating to snowshoeing to help you (and your kids) make it through the dreaded winter months.
RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do in Chicago this winter
Winter activities for kids
Each month, the nature museum picks a different theme for family fun. In December, learn about nature observation and participate in experiments, crafts and activities during drop-in hours on Saturday and Sundays. Free with museum admission.
Not only does Lincoln Park Zoo have more than 1,000 animals, but it also has a children's zoo catered to the little ones in your life. The highlight? An uber-modern 21st-century jungle gym, dubbed the Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure, with 36 curvy wooden platforms for curious explorers.
You can't walk on water, but you and the fam can traipse across the snow's surface with the help of some snowshoes at this 1,700-acre West Suburban arboretum. Rentals are available at the visitors center; once you've got those tennis rackets strapped on, head out on the kid-friendly Conifer Collection trail, where benches, restrooms and warming stations make this an enjoyable, whine-free outing for all.
Lil' Kickers classes
Lil' Kickers classes are a noncompetitive introduction to soccer for young athletes who just want to have 50 minutes of fun, and during the winter that fun happens at indoor locations around the city. Warning: Classes have been known to return a smellier, sweatier version of your little superstar. Check the website for dates, times and prices.
This Lincoln Square salon caters to wee ones who need some spiffing up, but they also offer services for grown-ups, too. Try the Mommy & Me mani/pedi ($65), which gets you both some side-by-side pampering. This is not just for girls: Rock Candy's mani-guy gives little boys a soak in "green slime" before cleaning up their nails.
Nothing says winter more than sipping hot chocolate, and Mindy Segal creates some of the best concoctions in town, from classic milk chocolate to black and tan (made with hot fudge), all topped with a housemade marshmallow. Early mornings when the space is empty are especially kid-friendly when the spot is empty.