100 Things to Do in Winter

Winter in Lake County

I am not a fan of winter. But I am a fan of lists, so I decided to take on this challenge: come up with 100 things to do in Lake County IN WINTER. I think you know who to thank. Checks are payable to me.*

* in the form of donuts.

things to do in winter, winter in lake county

100 Things to do in Winter

1- Sledding

2- Ice skating

3- Go on a “best hot chocolate” hunt, these are our favorites.

4- Roller skating. See our review of Bella’s Bouncies Skate on Grand.

5- Go to a museum. Chicago isn’t the only place for great museums. Lake County has quite a few to choose from.

6- Gymnastics. Many locations host open gym during the day, evening and weekend hours.

7- Art classes. There are lots of cool places for your kids to make something creative, but here is my daughter’s personal favorite.

8- Bounce houses. What I like to call “get your energy out so you take a nap later” houses, are the perfect idea for winter fun. Especially for little ones who are going stir crazy. Here is our complete list of everything indoor and play. Now if only they could create adult bouncy house places….

9- Indoor soccer. My personal favorite soccer club is AYSO and they offer winter indoor soccer for children at reasonable prices.

10- Go to a movie. Try one of Lake County’s small movie theaters for a change.

11- If you have a little foodie, why not try a food tour. Find Little Lake County’s favorite, independent restaurants in Antioch, Deerfield, Grayslake, Highland Park, and Vernon Hills.

12- Head to the lanes. Bowling lanes, that is. Here is our list of favorite small town bowling alleys.

13- Have a chocolate making party! Don’t forget to invite me.

14- Try some Thai food.

15- Shopping. Head to one of Lake County’s malls this winter to wear your kids out.

16- Cross country skiing.

17- Winter festivals. Our area does not lack for celebrations. There is always something to celebrate, even in winter. Or so they say…

18- Adult indoor soccer. Why should the kids have all the fun?

19- Basketball. Again, open gyms are the way to go to see if your child is the next Michael Jordan. The Round Lake Park District Sports Center has a great open gym. Find open gyms for tots here.

20- Make a snow fort. Then go hide in it until April. Okay….May.

21- Visit your relatives. You’re not busy because it’s winter so stop putting off seeing Uncle Stanley.

22- Take a dance class.

23- Go to a winter concert.

24- Swim indoors, it’s always warm, and sometimes sunny.

25- Starbucks. Seriously, this place saves me in the winter. And all year-long for that matter. But if you find a big enough Starbucks, you can plop your child down with a cake pop and a cup of water and chat about how spring is only a few short months away. Or plan your move to South Carolina.

26- Volo Bog. Yes, they are open in the winter. I’m serious.

27- Chicago Botanic Garden. See things pop up out of the soil or maybe they will have that stinky plant or something. WHAT??

28- Are you still reading?

29- Portillo’s. You need to reward yourself with cake. Lots and lots of cake.

30- Build a snowman. I am not giving you links to do that.

31- Host a playdate.


33- Nature walk. Embrace winter and it will make you appreciate it. No, it won’t but at least it will get you out of the house, and the lit trails at the Lake County Forest Preserve District are so cool.

34- Go to a big city. We are lucky because we are squeezed between two large cities: Chicago and Milwaukee.

35- Make food. If it wasn’t for food, I wouldn’t survive winter. Find great recipes from Little Lake County’s own writer, Heather.

36- Go see other people play sports. The Chicago Wolves is a great way to watch kid-friendly hockey at affordable prices too.

37- Stay home and watch television. You try to come up with 100 things to do in the Winter.

38- Shovel your neighbor’s driveway.

39- Make cookies. If you invite us over, I will bring the ingredients. Try our recipes for Peanut Butter Cocoa No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, or find a new favorite here.

40- Go to my second favorite Mexican restaurant Casa Bonita, or choose another one from this list,  and sit on the heated patio. I DARE YOU. * I won’t tell you my favorite, otherwise it will get busier and the very strong margaritas won’t be very strong anymore. 

41- Give your children $5 each and set them loose in Dollar Tree.

42- Or even better, get a sitter and head to Target where you can sip your latte slowly and walk up and down the aisles as you dream of spring. Actually, no need to dream because I am sure the Easter stuff will already be in the store. Buy some Peeps for me.

43- DONUTS. Make them. Buy them. Eat them. Bathe in them.  However you do it, donuts will save you this winter.

44- Go to lunch at a deli. Burt’s Deli is my all-time Lake County favorite and it will be yours too.

45- Donate your time at a local pet shelter.

46- Adopt a pet at a local pet shelter. Saving a life feels so good. Also, pets give off warmth in the winter.

47- Make a Pinterest inspired craft. Plan ahead with a  favorite craft of mine for Valentine’s Day.

48- Clean your house. It’s really bad, get on that. Better yet, make your kids help with the chores.

49- Donate your kids’ toys after you clean.

50- Halfway to shorts weather! Celebrate with a cupcake!

51- Visit a resale shop. Since you are already there donating your junk, why not buy some new junk? I KNOW I AM DOING IT WRONG.

52- Host a swap party. Get your mind out of the gutter. Head here for the details.

53- Paint like Picasso, get drunk like, I don’t know….someone famous for getting drunk. Adult art parties are the new wave version of Tupperware parties. Schedule one at a local art studio.

54- Make your own donuts. Did I mention donuts was how we were gonna tackle winter?

55- Run away! RUN AWAY! Or get fit for free.

56- Downhill ski. Wilmot is closest but if you go farther north, you can find many other more affordable options.

57- The library is the best place to go in the winter because 1) it’s free 2) it’s warm and 3) it has books. Need I say more.

58- Get some soup. Head here for some Lake County favorites.

59- Plan a winter getaway.  Get the heck out of the Midwest if you can. Seriously, save yourselves.

60- Head to Goodwill and stock up on board games. They have the best prices on used board games especially if you have little ones who like to eat the boards or hide all of the playing pieces. Then have a family board game night in. Serve soup and donuts and I will be there to retrieve the playing pieces. No, I won’t but I will be there anyway because of soup and donuts. 


62- Make jewelry. Maybe a donut necklace for me?

63- Something about fondue speaks winter to me. The closest fondue restaurant to us is in Schaumburg. Make it part of your winter getaway.

64- Start your own snow shoveling business. Might as well make some dough…..

65- Pack meals at Feed My Starving Children.

66- Take a class through your local park district. Find plenty of programs listed on Little Lake County’s Calendar.

67- Indoor swimming.

68- Or if you’re brave, outdoor swimming.

69- Take a yoga class.

70- Or learn yoga in the comfort of your own home, because of #57.

71- Make some homemade vanilla as the pioneers did. Wait, did they make their own vanilla?

72- Drink the leftover vodka. That was an attention check. No, it wasn’t. 

73- Volunteer at Bernie’s Book Bank. My 8-year-old LOVED this.

74- Have a bonfire in the backyard. Invite all of your neighbors for donuts and vodka and tell them about your 10-year old’s burgeoning snow shoveling service.

75- Exercise. Because of donuts, soup, and vodka.

76- Go to a Winter Farmer’s Market. Those crazy kids are still selling their organic stuff in the cold months too. Maybe they will have donuts and vodka. Organic of course.

77- Attend a maple syrup harvest festival.  I just write the articles, I don’t make this stuff up.

78- Snow tubing. Because if strapping a pair of wood pallets on your feet and heading down a hill at 70 mph isn’t your thang, then strapping on a giant air-filled sac and heading down a hill at 45 mph might be.

79- Library. Again.

80- Volunteer at Cradles to Crayons.  It is in Chicago but along a Metra stop, so no driving in snow or sleet.

81- Metra train ride. Two words: black ice.


83- Take a Jelly Belly Factory Tour. There was a nasty rumor that this place was closing but it IS still open. Head just over the border to go on a sweet tour.

84- Go to a bookstore since the librarian is starting to give you the side-eye.

85- Apply to Little Lake County to write next year’s 100 things to do in the winter article.

86- Head to Chocolate Sanctuary and drown your winter sorrows in something chocolate.

87- Donate your old kid’s clothing because of #48. But drop 30 bucks on new to you clothing because who wants a clean house anyway?

88- Go to Home Depot and have your kids build something for free.

89- Go to Michael’s and have your kids make a free craft.

90- Go to Chili’s and get the kids chips and salsa; yourself a margarita in celebration of not spending any money for two kids’ activities in Lake County. HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND.


92- Go to a storytime.

93- Pajama story time. Or what I like to call bedtime.

94- Donuts?

95- Monthly Make Believe at the Kohl Children’s Museum. If they can make me believe it is July, I am all in.

96- Fast food restaurant play area. Because we are desperate for human contact at this point and their immune systems are built up by now anyway.

97- Get a Vitamin B shot because of #96.

98- Behind the Scenes Tour at Temple Lippizans. 

99- Google What are Lippizans?

100- Get a massage. It’s been a long list. I mean winter.

 Did we miss your favorite winter activity on this list? Tell us what it is in the comments section. Maybe it will make the list next year.

Find all the fun at Winter in Lake County.

By Kari
Round Lake

Kari loves to write and take photos, not necessarily in that order. Kari loves making people laugh, being real, and spending time with her husband and two daughters. She also really loves her dog Buddy and fish Lucy. When she is not busy writing or going through the Starbucks drive-thru, you can find her talking to her plants Zoe, Evie, and Albert. She didn’t name Evie. Her nine-year-old did. But she’s totally an Edna so that’s what Kari calls her when her nine-year-old isn’t home.

100 Things to Do in Winter

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