Chicago is a great town but it has some of the toughest winters in the continental U.S. Between the icy streets, infamous wind, and cloudy skies, it can be a real challenge to stay warm in Chi-town. Thankfully, there are some delightful and delicious ways to keep Jack Frost off your back. Here are some local favorites.
1. Hot Chocolate in the Park
The ice skating rink at Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s top winter attractions, but it’s also one of the city’s coldest. When you need a break from the rink, there are two excellent nearby options for hot chocolate and other warming treats. The Park Cafe has famous (and affordable) hot cocoa with a floor of convenient rubber mats so skaters don’t have to change into shoes to enjoy their drinks. For those who are ready to call it a day, the Park Grill gets you indoors with some amazing hot chocolate on the menu.
2. Mexican Treats
Speaking of hot chocolate, local chain xocoatl serves up authentic Mexican versions of this most popular winter drink, plus fresh baked goods like cinnamon-dusted churros. It’s a bit more of a grown-up experience to take your hot cocoa original-style with the Spice Mexican, or delve into the creamy goodness of a White Chocolate cocoa. There are many other great flavors on the menu that do something special with a timeless classic. For something a little more upscale, Xoco Restaurant makes a fine Mexican sipping chocolate, as well as several other stone-ground confections and fresh craft cocktails.
3. Spice Up Your Life
For those who are more into the savory side of things, nobody does hot and spicy like the no-nonsense Thai restaurant, Pho’s Hot and Spicy. Part Northern Thai street food emporium and part challenge for your taste buds, Pho’s serves up some of Chicago’s hottest eats (literally), including the hearty noodle soup of its namesake and sweet, spicy chicken wings.
Pro Tip: if you’re a “five stars every time” kind of eater, ask your servers to make your food “Thai spicy.” You’ll be treated to some heat that’s off the charts.
4. Find Your Layers on the Magnificent Mile
Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in Chicago can tell you that the secret to winter survival is layers. That means outfitting yourself from head to toe in the right pants, shirts, jackets, scarves and even long undies so the cold never touches you. There’s no better place in town to find the clothes you need for winter than the Magnificent Mile. It’s the stretch of North Michigan Avenue that’s lined with shops and high-rise malls with everything from designer labels to seasonal sales. There are also plenty of great hotels on or near Miracle Mile. Check out sites like Gogobot to get a great deal on a room that’s just a short walk to all the shops.
It may be a challenge to stay warm in the middle of a Chicago winter, but places like these make it a bit easier. Remember to wrap up, watch for ice, and keep an eye out for the best Chicago has to offer.