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The Prairie State offers an abundance of diverse winter activities that will put a smile on any Midwesterner’s face. Winter in Illinois can be brutally cold. Nevertheless, residents and tourists alike are warmed up by the thought of participating in any of these top 10 winter activities.

Visitors to the state might be startled by the severe cold at the height of Illinois winters. Even day temperatures in January drop to below freezing. Lake effect snow lends to the dramatic landscape, while giving Illinoisans a chance to make an event out of the fluffy accumulations.

Snowfalls in February in the northern parts of Illinois average six to 10 inches. Blizzards deposit even larger amounts of snow—but, after the storms are over, Illinoisans make good use out of the mountains of snow. Though winters are dominated by overcast skies, Illinoisans make their own sunshine.


Ice Skating is a great way to spend your afternoon

1. Ice Skate at Millennium Park

Chicagoans flock to Millennium Park to ice skate beneath the world-famous Cloud Gate sculpture at the McCormick Tribute Ice Rink. Visitors who have never had a turn on the ice will enjoy the free skating lessons. The rink returns for its 20th anniversary season, making skating here a Chicago tradition.

The rink is open annually November through March. Entry is free, but skate rentals range from $13 to $15. Reservations are a must, as session capacity is limited. After a round of ice skating, visitors can head next door to the Momentum Coffee shop for delicious snacks and hot drinks.

2. See the Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Animals are not the only mesmerizing attraction at Lincoln Park Zoo in the winter. The zoo holds its annual ZooLights between November and January. Several structures are illuminated with over two million dazzling lights, turning the zoo into a winter wonderland for young and old.

Winter adventurers flock to ZooLights each year. As a result, the event has limited capacity, and $5 tickets are required. Families, however, can attend the event for free Monday and Tuesday nights. Enjoy photos with Santa, holiday snacks, gift shopping and special events.

3. Go Tubing in the Suburbs

All that Illinois winter snow prepares the hills for tubing. Illinoisans grab an inflatable rubber tube at any of several area tubing lanes and slide down the snow-packed hills for hours of fun. Families, friends and individuals have the once-in-a-season chance to speed down the wintry slopes.

4. Go Cross-Country Skiing

Visitors to the suburbs can go cross country skiing, too. Ski rentals and instruction are offered at area clubs, such as the Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton. Glide along the snow-packed ground, while burning calories, taking in the sights and having a memorable time.

5. Visit a National Park

The less adventurous can drive out to Starved Rock National Park or Matthiessen State Park to witness the captivating sights of winter. In the middle of winter, waterfalls transform into frozen pillars of ice, some even spanning 80 feet in length. Be sure to capture the breathtaking sights digitally.

6. Search for Bald Eagles

Flying the skies at Starved Rock National Park is the country’s national bird: the bald eagle. The majestic winged creatures hunt for fish in the Illinois River. Eagle Trolley Tours guide the inexperienced bird watchers, while the physically strong can hike to the top of Starved Rock for incredible views.

7. See a Snow Sculpting Competition

For some, building snowmen as children led to the art of snow sculpting as adults. The Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition is held annually in Rockford, and draws tens of thousands of art admirers from far and near. Winners of the state competition test their skills at the national level.


Snowshoes are specialized outdoor gear for walking over snow

8. Spend an Afternoon Snowshoeing

Accumulations of snowfall are not always an inconvenience. Rather, at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, four inches of snow are just enough to give visitors the opportunity to rent snowshoes and trek through the winding nature paths. Dwell in the serenity of nature while getting a healthy dose of exercise.

9. Be Awed by Spectacularly Lit Trees

While at the Morton Arboretum, buy tickets for its ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum. Ticket holders meander through 50 acres of trees in combination with lights, color and sound. Roast s’mores along the route or stop by nearby tents for snacks and drinks.

10. Take the Polar Plunge

Most people will resist dipping themselves into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan in the midst of winter. But a few brave souls choose to do just that in efforts to support the Special Olympics. After the Polar Plunge charity event, participants and spectators celebrate with drinks, music, and food.

The winter season in Chicago brings exciting events and attractions. While many make merry when the snow falls, some encounter disastrous water damage problems. Subfreezing outdoor temperatures can wreak havoc on residential pipes, causing them to freeze and, possibly, rupture.

Home and business owners who are faced with a water damage emergency are advised to immediately call a local water damage restoration service, like ServiceMaster of Aurora. We are a reputable company with teams of experienced technicians who will return your property to its pre-loss condition.

ServiceMaster of Aurora specializes in disaster restoration and cleaning. Whether your water damage disaster is due to plumbing issues or inclement weather, our technicians will extract the excess water, repair the water source, and clean the property so that it is safe to inhabit again.

Any extent of water damage can quickly lead to mold infestations. ServiceMaster of Aurora mold remediation specialists also provide quality mold removal services. Plus, our specialists are qualified experts in residential cleaning, commercial floor cleaning, and disinfection and cleaning services.

When you need a reliable disaster restoration specialist, count on ServiceMaster of Aurora. We are available for emergency services 24 hours a day. Keep your property safe, dry and clean this winter and every other season by calling us for prompt and professional restoration services.

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