Why This US City Is Considered One Of The Top Winter Destinations In The World

Popular destinations for winter travels often involve winter sports like skiing or holiday-related attractions like the Rockefeller Christmas tree in New York City. But there are other places that feature both of these activities. Though it may have quite frigid winters, Chicago is a definite winter wonderland where you can enjoy multiple winter sports and see some beautiful Christmas lights displays, not to mention shopping opportunities.

The Midwest is not known for its mountains, but under a blanket of snow, Chicago's Villa Olivia in Bartlett Park transforms from a golf course into a skiing, snowboarding, and even sledding hotspot. Villa Olivia has rental equipment, ski and snowboard lessons, and a hill for tubing. Ski and snowboard classes fill up quickly and are on a first come, first served basis, as is rental equipment. Villa Olivia is open for winter sports based on weather and artificial snow conditions, so make sure to call ahead before purchasing your slope tickets.

Get a unique view of the Bean while ice skating

Millennium Park in Chicago is famous for "the Bean" and a fun way to get views of this unique Chicago icon and the surrounding skyline is by skating at Millennium Park's McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. This ice rink is free of charge, but spots must be reserved ahead of time. Bring your own skates or rent them onsite. To make the rink extra special, it is located within view of Chicago's massive Christmas tree, a tradition dating back more than 100 years. While the ice rink is open every day from November through March, the official Chicago Christmas tree is on display from the end of November to the first week of January.

Closer to the shores of Lake Michigan is Maggie Daley Park and its unique one quarter of a mile Skating Ribbon. Imagine a lazy river at a water park, but for ice skating. Reserve your spots for the Skating Ribbon online ahead of your visit, especially because its hours are broken down into multiple separate sessions per day. Costs vary depending on day of the week. If skating is not for you, you can still enjoy something tasty from the rink's hot chocolate stands while taking in the Chicago skyline.

Visit German-inspired Christmas markets

Winter brings Christmas markets to the city. Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville takes inspiration from Germany's iconic Christmas markets and is located right outside of Wrigley Field. Vendors here range from bakers to glassblowers to candy makers. Other Christkindlmarkets in Chicago are at the Richard J. Daley Center near City Hall and RiverEdge Park in Aurora.

Rooftop restaurants and bars have found ways to have fun in the cold Chicago winters as well. The I|O Godfrey Roofscape bar and lounge has amazing views of the Chicago skyline and brings out igloos to help guests stay warm during winter and part of the space remains indoors. The luxurious French-inspired Château Carbide has fireplaces and blankets to go along with its city views, seasonal cocktails, and snacks.

For more family-friendly drinks and snacks, indulge in something from the "Hotter Chocolates" menu at BomboBar. Pair it with a bomboloni, an Italian pastry similar to a doughnut, for a wintery sugar high. BomboBar even has dog friendly treats too.