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Getting Out and About in Chicago in 2021

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Chicago is fully entrenched in winter and most indoor attractions and establishments remain closed, but there’s no need to hibernate. There are a handful of ways to get out and enjoy activities that don’t involve you having to stay planted on your couch. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Ice skating

Always a wintertime favorite, ice skating rinks are adapting quite well this year. Many already had capacity limits to preserve ice conditions and avoid overcrowding, so lowering those a bit for COVID has been no sweat. But lowered capacity does mean reservations could be more important than ever, depending on the rink, so make sure to plan ahead. Skate rentals are typically less than $10, while admission isn’t even charged at some rinks. Check out rinks in many suburban locations run by both private operators and park districts. In the city, consider looking beyond the popular Maggie Daley Park downtown, where getting a reservation has been a challenge. A handful of more relaxed rinks can be found here.



A sunny winter day with the appropriate amount of layers, gloves, etc can be ideal hiking conditions. Why not make this the year you actually explore those trails you’ve heard of, but haven’t gotten around to hiking yourself? Some of the usual suspects include the Fermilab trail in Batavia, Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Lemont, the Lakefront Trail, 606, and Lincoln Park in the city, and Starved Rock State Park if you’re willing to drive an hour or two. If trees and nature aren’t your speed, make it a neighborhood hike! The underrated option of exploring neighborhoods–observing beautiful homes, parks, and local establishments that bring communities together–is good in all seasons.



Even with more formats than ever to consume shows and movies, many of us have come to realize how much we miss the experience of watching movies in a theater. A drive-in isn’t exactly the same, but it’s pretty close! And the drive-in experience offered at Rock Island Public House, in Blue Island, is purely awesome. Drive-in movies each weekend complete with full dinner and drink service in your car. See the upcoming schedule here. ChiTown Movies also hosts regular showings in Pilsen on weekends, which can be found here.


Fire & Ice

Running now through the end of January, Fulton Market bar Recess is offering a rare outdoor experience you’ll need to experience. Your ticket gains you access to their fire and ice popup, which you’ll find on their enormous back patio. You’ll find many impressive ice sculptures and winter aesthetics perfect for photos. After that, you’ll retire to a warm fire pit table with a s’mores kit, pretzel stick, and one specialty cocktail for adults, all of which is included in the ticket price. Kids will receive a snowflake crafting kit, so this is guaranteed fun for the whole family. Make sure to get your reservations here ASAP.