Beat the Freeze: Winning Ways to Warm Up in the Windy City

Aire Ancient Baths in Chicago, Illinois

It’s no secret that Chicago can get cold — really cold. But if there’s one thing Chicagoans are known for, it’s toughing it out through less-than-ideal weather. After all, cold temperatures don’t have to get in the way of a good time, and there’s plenty to do around the city all year long.

If you need a little help taking your mind off of the frigid temperatures, warm up with these fun local-approved activities. All indoors, of course.


Dream of warmer days with a tropical cocktail

Time flies when you’re having rum. While a flight to Waikiki may not be in the cards, a taste of the tropics can be found at any of Chicago’s excellent tiki bars. Whether you make your way to Three Dots and a Dash (only a ten minute drive from Ambassador Chicago) or to Logan Square’s Lost Lake, you’ll be met with festive bites and libations in speakeasy-like surroundings.

The creative cocktails on the menu prove there’s more to island-inspired sips than Mai Tais, and photogenic arrays of cheeky glasses and mugs make for endless Instagram opportunities. From the drinks to the décor, nearly every detail pays homage to the bright spirit of Polynesia.

Lost Lake Bar in Chicago, Illinois

Photo: Lost Lake via Clayton Hauck


Take the plunge in a thermal bath

Packing for a winter trip to Chicago? Don’t forget your bathing suit (seriously). Even when the polar vortex is alive and well outside, warm up at the Aire Ancient Baths in River West with a soak in their thermal pools. Housed in a stunning restored factory building from 1902, Aire — which celebrates Roman, Greek, and Ottoman bathing rituals — allows you to choose your own adventure with a self-guided session starting at 90 minutes ($84).

There are six co-ed thermal baths to take a dip in (including hot, iced, jetted, and saltwater pools), along with unique relaxation areas and steam rooms. You can also indulge in add-on massages and body therapies.


Get your game on with indoor shuffleboard

Rock your best Floridian flare and head to Royal Palms Shuffleboard in Bucktown, where striped indoor cabanas and flamingo wallpaper will take you on a mental vacation to sunnier locales. If you’re not familiar with the deck game, two to four people push a “biscuit” (aka a disc) down a 39-foot lane using a “tang” (aka a cue) — and it’s more entertaining than you might think.

This low-impact activity provides high-level enjoyment, especially when fruity cocktails are in the mix. And your appetite for fun isn’t the only thing easily sated at Royal Palms, thanks to a revolving line-up of food trucks that pull up lane-side to a large take-out window. During the warmer months, the fun continues at its rooftop bar, Lido Deck.

People play shuffleboard at Royal Palms Chicago Shuffleboard in Chicago, Illinois

Photo: Teddy Waffles


Swing for the fences at an indoor batting cage

As the threat of snow at Wrigley Field looms and the Cubs gear up at spring training, you can still get a taste of America’s greatest pastime at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar in Wrigleyville. Hone your home run-hitting skills at the indoor batting cages inside this multi-level sports bar, where you can adjust the pitching speed from hardball to softball to fast- and slow-pitch.

You can also get your game on with pop-a-shot basketball, Skee-Ball, air hockey, or their full spate of video games. Follow up your friendly competition by singing along to some tunes during Sluggers’ famous dueling pianos nights.


Featured Photo: Aire Ancient Baths 


  • Story by Cristina De Oliveira

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