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Winter Activities in Illinois

Mar 19, 2024 Outdoors & Regional

Chairlift with snow

It might be frosty outside, or even snowing, but that’s no excuse to stay cooped up inside this winter.

Regardless of the weather, there are adventures to be had from ice climbing to state parks along the Illinois River.

Embrace the chilly temperatures this year by trying some of Illinois' best outdoor winter activities.  We have pulled together some unique winter experiences and nearby accommodations to make the most of the winter weather. 

Ice skating on a frozen lake interior of a room

Go Ice Skating in Springfield, Illinois

Stay at The State House Inn and Glide Across the Ice 

Cozy up at The State House Inn during your stay in Springfield. The hotel’s complimentary breakfast will fuel you up for the day’s adventures, while the pillow-top mattresses and duvet comforters will send you off to blissful sleep. The accommodation is just a few miles away from the Springfield Park District. As soon as the temperatures drop below freezing and the “no skating” signs disappear, break out the ice skates. The lagoons at Lincoln, Washington, and Southwind parks transform into outdoor skating rinks, so you can throw on your ski gloves and show off your Olympic-worthy axels.

Ski lifts at Chestnut Mountain Resort during winter Skiing

Skiing or Snowboarding in Galena, Illinois

Carve Up the Slopes at Chestnut Mountain Resort

Pack your bags for a stay at Chestnut Mountain Resort, a ski-in, ski-out lodge, in Galena. This hotel invites you to warm up in the sauna, grab a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant, and beat the high score in the arcade game room. While you’re visiting, venture outside and carve up the fresh powder on the slopes, which are just feet away from the lodge. Boasting the largest terrain park in the Midwest, the ski resort features more than 25 rails and 19 runs. Pull some tricks and get some air on the ramps or shred down the black diamond trails.  There are dedicated learning areas and slow zones to create the perfect family-friendly ski trip.

Person climbing ice waterfall Ice

Explore Starved Rock in Winter

Get Adventurous at Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center

Stay in the heart of the great outdoors with reservations at Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center. Choose a room in the lodge or go for a cabin, and then sip hot cocoa at the Veranda with a view of the state park. The accommodation also features a café, lounge, and dining room, which are perfect for unwinding after exploring the local trails. During your visit, tap into your adventurous side, and ice climb the waterfalls in the state park. Climbers must sign in and out of the park office and bring their own equipment, though. If the conditions aren’t right for ice climbing, try cross country skiing in the picnic area, winter hiking, or simply check out the frozen waterfalls.

Don’t let a little chill in the air keep you from venturing to Illinois this winter. You know what they say, “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing,” so wrap up tight and get ready for a winter wonderland in the “Prairie State.”

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