Ways for Seniors to Stay Active in Chicago During the Winter

November 20, 2017

Winter in Chicago can be a difficult time for residents because of the inclement weather and its effects on the roadways and walkways throughout the city. This can be so discouraging that many people simply stay inside and attempt to wait out the winter. While that may seem like a good idea on particularly bad days, people, unlike bears, are not meant to hibernate. We need exercise and activity to keep our health and spirits up, and there’s not much of that to be found in pajamas on the couch. So, while the weather outside may be frightful, there are still an incredible range of ways seniors can spend the wintertime being active in Chicago.

Old Town School of Folk Music

4544 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60625
(773) 728-6000

One of the best ways to get out and be active during the long Chicago winters is through enrolling in a class on a weekly basis at one of the many schools located throughout the city. You can find a class covering any topic you can conceive of, plus the prices are fair for what is being offered. For example, the Old Town School of Folk Music has an incredible range of classes available to adults of all ages and ability levels. No matter what you’re interested in, the Old Town School has something you will enjoy, and the classes are relatively inexpensive. Their events are always enjoyable affairs, so give them a call or check out their website to see what fits your mood. You’re guaranteed to meet new friends and have fun doing it.

Dabble Chicago

2703 W. Thomas Street #2
Chicago, Illinois 60622
(312) 945-8011

If you’ve never heard of Dabble, don’t feel bad, it’s been a well-kept secret for too long. Dabble is a website that incorporates tons of new and exciting classes in an easy-to-search format. You can find almost anything you’re interested in – from learning to play shuffleboard to making home-churned butter. In fact, you may not even realize you’re interested in something until you see a class and read about what they offer. All of the classes are available to adults of all ages, and the pricing varies depending upon the subject. It’s an excellent resource for days when you have nothing planned, or just get an itch to get out of the house for a while. Winter can’t get you down when you’re learning something new from an expert, so visit the website’s calendar now and again to see what’s coming next.

The next two are grouped together:

Lincoln Park Conservatory

2391 N. Stockton Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60614
(312) 742-7736

Garfield Park Conservatory

300 N. Central Park Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60624
(773) 638-1766

Chicago is fortunate to have more than its fair share of nature conservatories. When winter is at its coldest, there is always a warm, green place to go for a nice long walk. Two of the best, the Garfield Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Conservatory, are open year-round and give visitors the opportunity to forget the snowdrifts outside as they wander through the beautifully manicured gardens and exhibits. Both city treasures offer free admission, and while donations are appreciated, they are by no means mandatory. The beauty and life on display are there to be enjoyed for as long as you care to stay. With the availability of good food and drink nearby, you can make an entire day of a visit to either of these wonders and still want to come back again and again.

Harold Washington Library Center

400 S. State Street
Chicago, Illinois 60605
(312) 747-4300


One of the best destinations for a cold and snowy day is the local public library. While this is true in any city, it is especially true in Chicago where you can find one of the world’s largest public libraries – the Harold Washington Library Center. Filling an entire city block, and containing more than 13 million published works, this is the pinnacle of American library science. Each floor is devoted to another (a different) genre with helpful staff and inviting seating all around. The collection, while amazing, is just one of the attractions you’ll find inside. The space houses an extensive collection of art from more than 50 well-known artists and the building is world-famous as one of the wonders of Chicago architecture. When you visit, be sure to take the elevators up to the Winter Garden on the 9th Floor and take in the city from its majestic views (take in the majestic city views). It’s definitely worth a picture, so bring your camera with you.


Virtual Bulletin Board
550 Montgomery Street, 8th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111

When thinking of ways to stay active during the wintertime, volunteering is the easiest way to get out and get involved. There’s also the added benefit of feeling valued and appreciated for your role in the community. From helping others to making new friends, it’s hard to find a more rewarding way to spend your time than volunteering.  That’s where VolunteerMatch comes in. They have an excellent website that compiles all of the different volunteer opportunities across the city, and provides the details you need to get in touch with the organization of your choice. With causes ranging from the national level to grassroots local, you’re sure to find something that motivates you to get out of the house on those dreary days. Plus, with all of the new people you’ll meet, there are sure to be suggestions for other fun and fulfilling activities you might want to consider. That’s one of the best benefits to volunteering – you become a part of a community that cares, and develop relationships that can last a lifetime. So, find a cause you feel strongly about, and check the website for details about how you can help.

Chicago Senior Centers

Chicago & Suburbs
Map Listing of Centers

While Chicago’s winters may be brutal, they’re nothing new to residents or city government. Early on, Chicagoans recognized the need to build centers throughout the city to cater to its senior population, and provide a resource for people looking to get out of the house on cold, miserable days. This thinking gave rise to the extensive senior center network Chicago boasts today, and that network continues to grow with every passing year. Today, there are more than 20 centers located around the

city with additional regional and satellite centers bringing that number over 50. These centers offer all sorts of activities for seniors, and each one has its own unique selections in addition to the standardized offerings.


You can take swimming lessons in December, or learn to paint in January, and all of it is provided free of charge by the city as a service to its most important citizenry. Wherever you live, there is sure to be a center near you, and if you have trouble with transportation you may even be able to schedule a ride. There’s something for everyone at Chicago’s senior centers, so take some time and find out what’s going on near you.

Chicago Winter Brochure 2017

The City of Chicago takes great pride in offering its seniors as many activities and events specifically aimed at their interests and favored activities. (as many..as possible/ delete as) The schedule of these events is released every year in the city’s Winter Brochure. This document contains all of the planned senior events throughout the city for this winter season, as well as many links to local groups and organizations that cater directly to the senior community. All of the listed information is sourced from the city’s permitting and licensing office, so everything you read about and discover is scheduled and will take place – no matter the weather. This makes it easy to plan in advance, making it an excellent resource for scheduling events with your friends and neighbors. So you can pick an event, pick a date, and begin planning what will surely be a great winter’s day in Chicago!

Though the weather is cold, and the sky may be full of snow, there’s never a bad time to take a walk in Chicago. From Lakeshore Drive to the Magnificent Mile, there are wintertime sights that should not be missed all over Chicago. The Christmas lights in Lincoln Park, the festivities at Navy Pier, or the thousands and thousands of faces on Michigan Avenue, all of these sights are (sights) only there for a short time, during the heart of winter, so it’s really something that every Chicagoan, no matter their age, should get out and appreciate; if only for as long as they can stand the bitter chill. After all, part of living in Chicago is being able to say you can take the wind and the weather when others can’t, so put on a jacket, grab your scarf, and head out amongst the wintry wonderland that is America’s Second City.

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