Friends, we are happy to report that there ARE things to do during Chicago winter! As photographers and residents of Chicago, we know our city inside and out. So, our team compiled a list of fabulous suggestions that will liven up your scenery – even during the gross months like February and March.

(By the way, does anyone else think of a mint-flavored Chex Mix when the weather forecast is “a wintery mix”?! We digress.)

Without further ado, here are our top-rated suggestions!

View of South Loop in Chicago
No matter what you think of the weather, Chicago architecture is ALWAYS in season! Check out this gorgeous view of the South Loop!

Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon is one of the most classic things to do during Chicago winter!

This is one of the most popular things to do during Chicago winter – and for good reason! This unique skating ribbon is located in one of Chicago’s beautiful Maggie Daley Park, and is a place where ice skaters at any skill level can come out to relax, skate, and take in the Chicago skyline. Maggie Daley Park describes it as a “multi-sensory experience” where you can take in the rolling landscape, and then break to sip on a cup of hot chocolate!

Garfield Park Conservatory is a wonderful way to find 75 degree weather all year round.

If you are craving greenery and humidity while in Chicago, the Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the best things to experience during Chicago winter. Over 100 years old, this “landscape art under glass” location is one of the largest conservatories in the country.

Couple at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago
This photograph, by our team at Rebecca Marie Photography, was taken in December in Chicago. But, you would never know from all the tropical plants in the fern room at Garfield Park Conservatory!

Also, it happens to be one of our favorite places to photograph people! Our sister brand, Rebecca Marie Photography, specializes in weddings and engagements. Rebecca and our team members adore the lush walkways, cactus room, and constant 75 degree climate! (If you’d like to see more of our work, check out our @teamrebeccamarie Instagram!)

Couple walking at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago
There is something wonderful about this room housing hundreds of native desert plants.

The Chicago Riverwalk during Chicago winter is absolutely breathtaking.

Truth be told, you might need to walk outside to take in the full length of Chicago’s newly expanded Riverwalk. One of our favorite spots along the Chicago Riverwalk is River Roast, a rustic-meets-modern restaurant with warming comfort foods and a perfect view of the new Riverwalk expansion. 

There are so many places to stop, duck inside, and enjoy a beautiful view of the river. If if suits your fancy, you can grab a warming cocktail or glass of wine.

Table decor at River Roast in Chicago
A cozy ambiance can liven up any room! From Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, to any “just cause” celebration, the Chicago Riverwalk is a wonderful place to celebrates!
Room at River Roast in Chicago
The rustic interior of River Roast walks straight out to a beautiful view of the Chicago Riverwalk.

Speaking of warming cocktails and wine… you should see the outside of:

Bridgeport Art Center where you can escape the cold inside of a cozy globe!

Warming globes at Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago
The team at Venue Logic is responsible for adding these cozy globes to the entryway of Bridgeport Art Center! Just wait ’til you see the inside…

During colder months, this destination will actually construct outdoor warming globes you can sit inside of while enjoying your old fashioned. Truly, the definition of cozy!

And, on the 3rd Friday of the month, Bridgeport Art Center hosts open studios, where you can walk through artists’ studios who have residence in their space.

Inside of warming globes at Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago
Craft bourbon cocktails in a warm, intimate space? Yes, yes, and yes.

Chicago Architectural Boat Tour is one of the top-rated things to do during Chicago winter!

Conference attendees on Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
The views from the top deck of the Chicago Architectural Boat tour are worth it, even if you duck back inside to lounge by a window right afterwards.

On these year-round tours, a knowledgeable guide will describe the history of various buildings in Chicago as you pass them on a double-decker river boat. Don’t worry – you don’t have to sit on the chilly top deck! The lower level interior has cushy seats where you can still see out the window and listen to your guide while sipping a hot drink from the bar.

Group photo on Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
The White Dress Society team took a group photo on the top deck after their retreat!
Panelists at White Dress Society Retreat in Chicago
Panelists at the retreat inspired wedding professionals to incorporate their city’s culture during any season.

We hope you check out The White Dress Society full gallery to see even more from their retreat in Chicago!

The Chicago Music Scene will lift your spirits!

One of our favorite classic Chicago venues is House of Blues! This incredible space hosts numerous musicians each week, and has tiers of seating areas where you can pitch up to see the performance. We photographed the Jordan Kahn Orchestra launch party at House of Blues, and they rocked the house.

Jordan Kahn Orchestra performs at House of Blues Chicago
Jordan Kahn’s launch party was filled with dramatic moments like this! They rocked the stage.

Be sure to check out this Fortune article, featuring Jordan Kahn AND our photography from the House of Blues!

Jordan Kahn Orchestra performing at House of Blues in Chicago
We love the view from the balcony seats at The House of Blues!

If you want to learn more about Jordan Kahn, here’s his rockstar website!

And last, but definitely not least,

Chicago Museums are a great way to experience art and culture in Chicago.

There are so many options here depending on what fascinates your intellect. Everything from The Field Museum (check out Fifth Third’s event among Maximo’s skeleton!], The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Adler Planetarium… each of these institutions contains an archive to satisfy your curiosity. 

Field Museum special event for Fifth Third Bank in Chicago
The Field Museum Special Events team creatively lit the interior during Fifth Third’s event. We think it looked pretty epic.
Field Museum's Maximo in Chicago at Fifth Third Bank event
Maximo, the dino skeleton you see here, is one of the Field Museum’s most recent (and largest!) displays!
Adler Planetarium Cafe corporate event
The cafe at the Adler Planetarium is one of our favorite museum retreats, and a Chicago favorite for corporate events!
Bride and groom at Art Institute Chicago impressionism gallery
Our team at Rebecca Marie Photography captured a wedding at Chicago’s Art Institute – and it was the perfect space.
Chicago wedding at Art Institute Chicago
We love the sweeping staircase in the center of the historic wing of The Art Institute. The building itself is a work of art.
Conference outing at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
The Museum of Science and Industry is wonderfully interactive!
Conference goers at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
Conference attendees from the APA conference at McCormick Place had a chance to take in the multiple exhibits and floors of The Museum of Science and Industry when they came to Chicago.

To wrap up… 

Chicago in the winter might not sound ideal, but there are definitely ways to keep your conference attendees and yourself engaged AND warm! We love the new ideas we see amazing planners come up with. Send us an email! We’d be happy to connect you with our favorite DMC and planning teams here to make sure your next event is amazing no matter the weather!

Reach out if you have any questions about your event photography needs or about things to do during the winter months in Chicago.

In the meantime, we might just be at London House (you should see our Case Study from The Knot Workshop!) sipping a warming winter cocktail ourselves… Cheers!