Best Winter Activities and Attractions Near Lake Forest, IL

Winter can often be tough to get through. The cold winds, falling snow, and icy temperatures can make it difficult to want to be outdoors, and there’s only so much you can do to keep the kids entertained indoors. The team here at Pasquesi Sheppard has created this guide to some of the best family-friendly winter activities and attractions near Lake Forest, Illinois. We’re certain you can find an interesting activity to keep both you and the kids entertained for a snowy afternoon.

Roller Skating Rinks

Image via Pixabay by pharaoh_ezypt-3065661

Take a step back in time when you and the kids spend an afternoon at one of the roller rinks near Lake Forest. Bella’s Bouncies Skate on Grand on Grand Ave in Fox Lake, has something for each member of the family. Along with its bright and colorful roller skating rink, Bella’s has an arcade, prize counter, and concessions. If you have teenagers, you can drop them off at a fun yet safe place to spend time with their friends. Prices vary depending on the day, but typically range between $2 and $7. You can rent skates, as well.

Another delightful place to spend a cold winter afternoon or evening is at Xtreme Wheels Roller Skating Center in Crystal Lake. Open skate is available seven days of the week, and both roller skates and you can rent Rollerblades for a minimal fee. At Xtreme, you’ll relive those roller skating memories while skating to a variety of music and dazzling lights. This rink also boasts clean bathrooms and a snack bar full of treats such as pizza, hot dogs, and sweets. 

If your little one has a birthday coming up, plan to hold the party here. Xtreme Wheels takes care of everything, including the food, drinks, and skating. You just need to supply the cake and party members. Xtreme features weekly events such as Disney Skate, Family Skate, and more. Prices vary from $2 to $7 per person or $25 for the entire family.

Sledding Hills

Remember when you used to go sledding as a kid? All you needed was winter clothing, a sled, and a nearby snowy hill, and you were busy for hours. Sledding is still a great way to help your family expend energy after being cooped up indoors. The main two sledding locations near Lake Forest are Lakewood in Wauconda and Old School in Libertyville. Both welcome sleds and snow tubes but ask that you leave snowboards, metal runners, and toboggans at home.

Old School sledding hill is open from 6:30 a.m. until sunset. Lakewood Hill’s sledding area is part of their Winter Sports Area, complete with lighting to allow sledders to stay until 9 p.m.

Indoor Playgrounds

Another way to enjoy a simple afternoon as a family is to visit an indoor playground. Yu Kids Island, at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, will make your little ones happy and give them much-needed exercise during the winter months. This candy-colored playland features revolving palm trees your kiddos can play on, a climbing structure with a slide, and a padded teeter-totter, among several other fun and unique play structures. One of the main focal points is a dancing balloon area where colorful balloons fly through the air and kids hop around trying to catch them.

Yu Kids Island is open for children 48 inches or shorter, making it perfect for young ones. It also features a soft play area for crawlers and toddlers. Admission is $10 per child Monday through Thursday and $12 per child Friday through Sunday. If you plan to visit Yu Kids Island often, consider purchasing a punch pass. A 10-visit pass is only $85, which equals $8.50 for each visit. Plus, the passes are valid any day of the week. Children 12 months and younger get in free.

Discovery Centers

Does your family love to learn about animals? How about planning a day where you can have an up-close encounter with a variety of amazing wildlife? The Wildlife Discovery Center is a living museum at Elawa Farm right here in Lake Forest. The center is home to 85 animal species, including crocodiles, reptiles, bobcats, eagles, raptors, sloths, opossums, and more. 

Stroll through the center to view all the wildlife or take part in an exhibit or program. Watch the raptors during a flight session, or visit Boris the bobcat while he explores his enclosed eco-habitat. Be sure to stop one of the animal keepers and ask questions. They have the privilege of spending time with these animals daily. You can also enjoy supervised interactions with select animals, nature-themed birthday parties for children, feeding demonstrations, and an outdoor interpretive trail.

Admission to the Wildlife Discovery Center is free for individuals or groups of eight or fewer. Donations are appreciated, as the center relies on help from visitors and supporters to care for all the animals.

Movie Theaters

Whether you’re looking for a way to entertain the kids or want to catch a movie on date night, visit one of the many small theaters in Lake County. At these local hometown movie theaters, you don’t have to wait in long lines or pay exorbitant prices for movie tickets or snacks. The films shown here might not be the newest, but you won’t have to fight crowds or walk a mile to find your seat.

You can choose from four theaters in Lake County. The Antioch Downtown Theatre was newly renovated in 2015. It has two theaters and a station where you can add your own butter to your popcorn. Located in Barrington, the Catlow Arts Center shows one movie at a time on its single screen. The Renaissance Place Cinema in Highland Park shows both new films and indie and foreign films on its four screens.

Now that you have a wide selection of both indoor and outdoor activities to choose from, will you add any to your family calendar? If you have a favorite activity or event not mentioned here, we’d love to hear about it. Contact us, and we’ll add it to our list. We’re always looking for local activities to recommend to our clients