Enjoy the Winter Outdoors
Invigorating expeditions across wintery landscapes perk up your spirits and energize the body. Explore diverse and marvelous views from deep woods to lakeside beach paths. Gawk at towering metal sculptures or hunt for tiny fairy houses. Chicago’s North Shore has lots of open spaces, self-guided walks and plenty of food stops to fuel your adventures, too. See more exciting seasonal Things to Do on the North Shore.
EMILY OAKS NATURE CENTER
The Grove National Historic Landmark, Glenview
4650 Brummel St., Skokie
Come for a stroll any day through Skokie's thirteen-acre savanna and nature center, an oasis of native wildflowers, grasses, oak trees, a two-acre pond and trails. Sign up for some of the fun wintertime activites such as bonfires and festivals available at the center. Check out their events calendar to see the full schedule of happenings . Grab breakfast after in nearby Downtown Skokie.
CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN: SELF-GUIDED WOODS WALK
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe
Sundays 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Jan. through Feb.
Celebrate the beauty of winter in the woods with a peaceful, self-guided walk. First, swing by the McDonald Woods shelter to learn a bit about winter woodland flora and fauna. Then set off on a self-guided trail through the 100-acre woods, a site of critical scientific research on endangered species and habitat restoration. Before or after your walk, warm up by the fire at the shelter and swing by charming Downtown Glencoe for a late lunch or refreshments.
GREEN BAY TRAIL
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
Nine miles of Green Bay Trail run parallel along the North branch of Chicago's Metra line. Stretching through North Shore towns such as Glencoe and Winnetka, most of the rail trail is paved (except for one section in crushed stone). Because the trail extends generally all within a mile of Lake Michigan, take any number of on-road side trips for beachfront views. Flanked by restaurants, shops, community parks and beautiful homes, the multi-purpose trail is a beautiful example of the healthy intersection of nature and culture.
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: SELF-GUIDED CAMPUS WALKING TOUR
With its mix of traditional university Gothic and modern steel and glass architecture, Northwestern shows off campus highlights in this DIY walking tour. Check out the stunning Alice S. Millar Chapel, the secluded Shakespeare Garden and the lakeside path situated between two beaches of Lake Michigan. Carry-out from Downtown Evanston eateries and shopping stops are all right next door.
THE GROVE NATURE TRAILS
Northwestern University, Evanston
1421 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview
A National Historic Landmark, The Grove trail weaves you through through mature oak forests, stride past wetland pools and watch for deer and birds that are easier to spot this time of year. For a fun and magical outdoor activity, join the Fairy Quest! Download the app “The Grove Glenview” and follow clues to spot local fairies and their homes. Celebrate your finds with a stop The Glen Town Center in Glenview for sustenance and gifts.
SKOKIE NORTHSHORE SCULPTURE PARK
McCormick Blvd. between Touhy St. & Dempster St., Skokie
Open year-round for strolling, running, and biking, this two-mile strip displays more than 60 sculptures by local and internationally-renown artists. The world-class sculpture exhibition compliments any jaunt in the open air where you can catch views of the Chicago River and the herons, cranes and more. Check out their Self-Guided Tour. Free parking in three accessible adjacent lots. Fuel your excursion at a nearby Skokie restaurant or coffee shop.
TECHNY PRAIRIE PARK AND FIELDS
Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, Skokie
1750 Techny Rd., Northbrook
Just blocks from downtown Northbrook and the restaurants along Shermer Road, Techny Prairie Park and Fields combines the beauty of nature with the excitement of ball fields and sports activities. The park contains ponds, a 22,000-square-foot skate park, educational and recreational trails, a lighted sled hill, walking/jogging paths (including a 5k race course) and more. Travel back in history along the West Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River on the 14-acre Trail Through Time and discover how early settlers developed a relationship with the land.
FOREST PRESERVES OF COOK COUNTY
Scout the 1.7-mile River Trail Nature Center grounds on three walking trails. Or extend your trek on the larger, unpaved Des Plaines Trail System as it follows its namesake river winding through more than a dozen forest preserves, like Alison Woods near Northbrook and Dam No. 1 Woods-East near Wheeling. Enjoy a casual stroll, full-day adventure, and anything in between. Visit Wheeling’s famed Restaurant Row for a pick-me-up almost any time of day.
River Trail Nature Center, Northbrook
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