BEST Things to Do in Chicago in January (From a Local!)

Wandering what to do in Chicago this January? Here are the best things to do in Chicago in January (from a local) – from fun outdoor winter activities to the best indoor attractions.

January is an interesting month to visit Chicago. In the beginning of the month many holiday activities and events are still taking place and they are less likely to be crowded after Christmas. As the month goes on, there are fewer things to do, but there are still plenty of things to do in Chicago in January both indoors and outdoors. If you are willing to brave the cold and snow, January is still a good time to visit Chicago as attractions are less crowded and accommodation is more affordable.

I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I plan to update it regularly with any new information or updates.

Things to Do in Chicago in January

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Enjoy Warm Temperatures Inside the Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most stunning botanical conservatories in the US. Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” the Garfield Park Conservatory showcases thousands of plant species from around the world throughout eight indoor display gardens.  Even if it is cold outside, you can enjoy the lush flora and tropical temperatures indoors! Their Winter Flower Show, Serenity ends January 9, 2022.

Where: 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624

Hours: Wednesday 10am-8pm (last entry at 6:30pm); Thursday – Sunday 10am-5pm (last entry at 3:30pm); Closed Monday and Tuesday. Click here to make reservations online in advance.

Cost: FREE (suggested donation)

See the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

From the creators of the blockbuster show at Atelier des Lumières seen by over 2 million visitors in Paris and Toronto and featured in Emily in Paris (one of my favorite travel shows on Netflix), the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, is a massive indoor digital presentation of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. There are also yoga sessions which include a 35 minute Yoga class + 45 minutes thereafter to enjoy the exhibit. This show was supposed to end months ago but was extended by popular demand through February 14, 2022.

Where: Lighthouse ArtSpace at Germania Place, 108 W. Germania Pl, Chicago, IL

Cost:  Tickets start at $39.99 plus fees for off peak times. See for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.

Go Sledding

Snow is in the forecast for New Year’s Day. There are several sledding hills in parks and forest preserves in Chicago that are fun for kids or kids at heart.

Where: Various. See Best Sledding Hills in Chicago.

Cost:  Free

Go Outdoor Ice Skating

people ice skating in Millenium Park in Chicago in January
There are many outdoor ice skating rinks in Chicago open in January. 

One of the best and instaworthy places to go ice skating in downtown Chicago is the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink right in front of The Bean. 

Skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago

Another picture perfect spot is the nearby skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park which has a path twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating rink. 

READ: Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks in Chicago for more of the best places to go ice skating in Chicago and the suburbs in January

Drive Ice Bumper Cars at Gallagher Way

The Rink at Gallagher Way is back this year with an 8,000-square-foot ice rink for skaters of all skill levels to skate on their own, participate in skating lessons and learn to curl. They are introducing ice bumper cars for the first time in January, 2022.

When: January 3-30, 2022.

Where: Gallagher Way, 3635 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613

Hours: Monday through Thursday from 5-9 p.m., Saturdays from 5-9 p.m. and Sundays from 3-7 p.m. Closed Fridays.

Cost: $15 for a 10-minute ride.

Outdoor Curling


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Curling is a winter sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice or a lane towards a target.  Below is a list of places offering outdoor curling (along with drinks):

Upstairs at The Gwen, 521 North Rush Street
Kennedy Rooftop, 1551 W North Ave
Harry Caray’s Tavern – Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave

Have Dinner or Drinks in an Igloo


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Having dinner and drinks in an outdoor igloo has been trendy for a few years. Here are some of the best outdoor igloos in Chicago open this winter.

Kennedy Rooftop: 1551 W North Ave
I|O at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago: 127 West Huron Street

Admire Famous Works at The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States and is frequently found on lists of the top museums in the world. 

Where: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Hours: Monday and Thursday–Sunday from 11 a.m.– 5 p.m. (10–11 a.m. for members only). Closed on Tuesday–Wednesday. 

Cost:  $25 for adults, $19 for seniors, students and teens (14-17); members and children under 14 are always free. Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines. Admission will be free for Illinois residents on weekdays (Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays) all month.


Visit the Field Museum

The Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Inside the museum you will see Maximo, the Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur that ever lived. (Click here to purchase an Early Access VIP Tour if you want to avoid crowds).

Where: Chicago’s Museum Campus, 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605 (detailed directions and parking information is available here)

When: Open daily 9am to 5pm (last admission at 4pm)

Cost:  Price varies. Illinois residents get free admission on January 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2022.

Visit the Shedd Aquarium

You can visit Shedd Aquarium for unforgettable encounters with belugas and bluegills, stingrays and sturgeons.

When: Advance purchase of timed tickets is required.

Where: 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605 (detailed directions and parking information is available here)

Cost: Admission is $39.95 ($19.95 for Chicago residents) for adults; $29.95 ($14.95 for Chicago residents) for children (3–11)

Tip:  If you are visiting a few museums and indoor attractions, consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card to save money on entrance fees.


Buddy Guy’s January Residency at Buddy Guy’s Legends

Looking for something different to do in Chicago at night? January is the only month of the year when you can find blues icon, Buddy Guy, performing in his namesake blues club. 

When:  Thursdays through Sundays

Where: Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Cost:  Tickets start at $65 per person for standing room

Hold and Feed a Bunny

Looking for a unique thing to do in Chicago? Visit the Cuddle Bunny in Chicago, where visitors can pet and feed bunnies.  Cuddle Bunny also hosts special events like yoga and story time.

When: Open daily from 10:00 am – 08:00 pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Activities and bunny interaction after 6pm are by reservation ONLY.

Where: Cuddle Bunny, 2901 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657

Cost:  Price varies.

READ: Best Indoor Things to Do in Chicago on a Cold Day for more indoor Chicago attractions.

January Events

In addition to the activities mentioned above, other January events include: Betty White Centennial Celebration (in Oak Park) , Chicago Ale Fest – Winter Edition, Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown, Chicago Polar Plunge and Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

As you can see there are many things to do in Chicago in January.

Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries: