Your Guide to Winter Fun in Lake County: Let it Snow, Let it Snow Let it Snow


We are more than familiar on how IMG_8020 - Copyunpredictable the weather can be during the winter time. Take advantage of what Lake County has in store for you. Here is the first and only guide you need to see when planning on where you will ski through the snow, skate gracefully across the ice or just find the warmest and most cozy venue to rest your loins.

Outdoor Recreation

Cross-Country Ski Areas

Lake County boasts over 130 trails for cross-country skiing. These trails vary to expert skiers down to the novice. Lakewood and Des Plaines River Trail Preserves pave trails for those avid cross-country skiers. Ryerson Conservation Area is also a preserve with extensive cross skiers; however the snow must be above four inches to protect the sanctity of the animal life. Lake County also offers cross-country skiing at…

Captain Daniels Wright Woods
Mettawa, IL
4 miles of trails

Adler Park
Libertyville, IL

Independence Grove Forest Preserve
Libertyville, IL
7 miles of trails

Old School Forest Preserve
Libertyville, IL
3 miles of trails

Have you been to those trails? No worries, Lake County has an array of more trails up our sleeves. For an extensive look other forest preserves and parks read more here.

Sledding and Tubing

There’s no way slide down an incline and without a smile on your face. Plus it’s reminder of the excitement you attain when going down Goliath at Six Flags Great America. Until the summer comes, you can find your thrills in Lake County’s sledding hills.

After a healthy snow fall, Wadsworth Sled Hill Near the Village Hall is one of the premier sled hills that Lake County has to offer.Sled Hill The hill is open from sunrise to 10 pm. Central Park Sled Hill is a three-in-one package. Not only can you sled on this massive hill, but you could also cross-country ski and ice skate. Adler Park in Libertyville and Century Park in Vernon Hills also offers those three features. Would you rather have a larger vessel than a sled, saucer or tube? Steitz’s Toboggan Slide has got you covered as you zip down the chute when Bluff Lake freezes with a toboggan!

Pick up the speed at any one of these slick Lake County hills.

Lake Villa’s Sled Hill at Caboose Park
Lake Villa, IL
5:30 – 10 pm

Paulus Park
Lake Zurich, IL
Closes @ sunset

Round Lake’s Harts Sled Hill
Round Lake, IL
Open till 9 pm

Warren Township Sled Hill
Gurnee Hill, IL
Toboggans and snow boards prohibited

Wilmot Mountain
Wilmot, WI

Blair Park in Lake Bluff
Lake Bluff, IL
Open till 9 pm


Wilmot Mountain
Wilmot, WI


It looks like these kids are having fun. Are you looking for a weekend ski trip filled with family fun, hot cocoa and swift slopes.?Wilmot Mountain is your destination. It’s a hop skip and a leap right over the border in Wisconsin.

In addition to being the premier skiing venue in lake county, you can snowboard, tube, have good ole fashioned family fun and then some more.

When it gets a little nippy out there, be sure to check out the lodge to warm up. Plus if you’re a resident of Lake County, you receive unlimited tubing for a mere $15 per person! Come on out and we’ll meet you on the slopes!

Ice Skating

No matter where you want to find your inner Meryl Davis and Charlie White (the 2014 U.S. Ice Dancing Gold Medalists) or you just want to get a pick-up ice hockey game going, Lake County has the indoor and outdoor ice venues that you desire. Not to mention you could get a little game of broomball going.

Whether you would rather skate inside or outside, Lake County has venues for you to pick your poison.

Indoor Skating

Outdoor Skating

January marks National Skating Month at Rinkside. Come for this free event on January 17 and get some free tips for some of the skating pros that will be in attendance!

Deer Park St. Paddy’s 5K Run/Walk
Sunday, March 14; 8:20 am

Looking for the luck of the Irish to grab first place or are you just hoping to be able to finish? Deer Park will get you in the spirit of St Patrick’s Day as they are hosting the St. Paddy’s 5k Run/Walk. This USATF certified course is going to award the top three finishers with a prize. You better believe that the greener you are the better. They will supply you with green pop, chocolate gold coins and various other Irish treats.

Frosty Footrace in Round Lake
Sunday February 22; 9 am

Run for a cause at
this frosty 5K,Frosty Footrace as Round Lake hosts the Frosty Footrace 5K run/walk. The registration will be donated to Round Lake Area Park District senior fitness programs. Don’t be left behind like the tortoise; sign up today and speed your way to number 1!

Maple Syrup Hikes @ Ryerson Conservation Area
Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15; 12:30-3pm

Who doesn’t like waffles, pancakes or French toast doused in syrup? All throughout March, treat yourself to the sweet sap and sugar maples on a one-hour hike at Ryerson. In this hike, you will learn everything there is to know about how the maple trees supply that sticky substance that you cover your breakfast with. The family won’t be sappy about attending, but maple they’d be enticed!

Winter Festivals and Notable Events in Lake County

When the snow falls, Lake County embraces the winter. That is why there are so many festivals around the county for your enjoyment.

You could marvel at the ice sculptors created at Vernon Hill’s Winter Fest on January 17th. Or what about competing for the gold try to win the snowman making contest at Hawthorn Woods’ Winter Carnival on February 21st. If you’re a daredevil and you are ready to jump in sub-zero water temperatures, March 7th you will get your chance in the Purple Polar Plunge in Lake Zurich.

As you can see, Lake County has your weekends set up for the next three months. Lake County also has these festivals and events rapidly approaching.


Pajama Extravaganza at Viking Park
Friday, January 16; 6-8 pm

Grab your fleece, slippers; favorite stuffed animal and footy pajamas, because Gurnee is throwing a story, craft and activities event. The theme of this event for children four to eight years old is from the late author/illustrator Maurice Sendak who wrote Where the Wild Things Are. Snuggle up with your blanky as Pajama Extravaganza ends with movie and popcorn. 

Antioch’s Winter Wine Walk
Saturday, January 17; 1-4:30 pm

Looking for the best vintner in Lake County? In multiple locations in downtown Antioch for those who are over 21 will have the opportunity to find out at this wine tasting event. Dinner, a bottle of wine and other favors will be provided at this event.

LVVA Sixth Annual Fishing Derby
Saturday, January 31; 7 am

Top of the morning! There’s nothing like waking up to the brisk air and putting up a fight against some Lake County winter fish like bass, crappie, blue gill or perch fish. This tradition of the fishing derby has been going on for over a half decade, and it’s becoming a staple in Wauconda.  Prizes will be awarded to the largest fish in each category!


Fat Tuesday Celebration Key Lime Cove
Tuesday, February 17

Celebrate Key Lime Cove with a little Creole experience at Key Lime Cove in Gurnee! You may not be able to get down the Big Easy and hear that authentic traditional Dixie Land jazz, but this Fat Tuesday celebration can do you one better. DuvalStreetThis celebration includes the Banjo Buddies Dixieland Quartet and the Strolling Magic Show at 5:30 pm. The kids can have grand ole time from 6-8 pm where they can be entertained with face painting, stilt walkers a mime and a juggling show.

What Mardi Gras celebration would it be without a parade. That’s right; the Sunset Festival Mardi Gras Parade will begin at 8 with King Cake to follow immediately. Get out there and Cut a rug at the Energy Productions Dance Party from 9-11 pm. Let’s not forget you can take a dip in the Gulf…or pool if you’re interested as well!

Waukegan’s Annual Mardi Gras Casino Night
Saturday, February 7; 6-10pm

It’s never too early for Mardi Gras. That’s why Waukegan’s Annual Mardi Gras Silent Auction and Casino night is what you’re waiting for. This staple of Waukegan features a Vegas-style casino and $500 cash raffle, a jazz band, dancing and more. The Glen Flora Country Club will have you Soc Au’ Lait in French or Wow!

Gurnee’s Frosty Fest

Friday, February 27

Did you think you missed this fest in early January? This family fun festival was postponed from due to the biting cold and was rescheduled! Bring the whole family around for an evening of family fun in the snow at Bittersweet Golf Course. The Gurnee Park District offers dog sled demonstrations, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice sculpting, music, arts and crafts.

What better way to spend your Friday evening than playing in reindeer games while munching on some S’mores. There’s also no fest in Gurnee without the likes of Frosty the Snowman. Visit with this jolly happy soul. You can help Frosty make Snowman friends with a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal. No pre-registration is required in this snowy affair.


The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden
Saturday, February 14 – Sunday, March 15; Sunday through Saturday 10 am – 4 pm

Craving the beautiful flowers that spring brings? There’s no place like the Chicago Botanic Garden. During the last full month of winter, the Orchid Show comes to town featuring 12,000 of the most brilliant and unusual orchids from all around the globe. These orchids will be showcased in the Regenstein Center. The flowers aren’t the only thing that will make you sing, there’s also music and a lot more as you gaze at this wondrous plant life. There will be a slew of presentations within the greenhouses of Chicago Botanic Garden for you and the family to enjoy!

Reptile Rampage
Sunday, March 8; 10 am – 4 pm

Has the Geico Gecko madeReptile Rampage you yearn to see a real reptile up close and personal? Lake Forest’s Recreation Center has what you’re looking for and then some. Take the family to see 150 unique reptiles in the 2015 version of Reptile Rampage.

In attendance will be the famous American Alligator on hand ‘Bubba.’ Besides Bubba, you will have a chance to receive all of the answers to your questions as local zoo, university museum, nature center and private collection experts will be on hand.

41st Annual Carmel Street Scenes “Superheroes”
Friday and Saturday, March 13-14; 6:30 pm

For nearly half of a century, Street Scenes has owned the reputation as biggest theme party of winter in Lake County. 41st Annual Carmel Street Scenes “Superheros
Twenty live bands, a huge casino, comedy clubs and a student show in Carmel’s auditorium turns this Mundelein high school into a party town. Tickets are sold in advance and attendees must be 21 or older.

Baby it’s Cold Outside: Watch the Arts, Music and Theater of Lake County

Lake County has some of the most talented artists, musicians and actors in the state of Illinois. If you’re looking for a night to get away from the cold to watch some premier cultural arts, then look no further. Lake County has a jammed packed line up before the weather begins to warm up.

Watch these talented individuals display their craft to move your soul, laugh, cry and get up out of your seat and dance!


Every third Saturday of the month; 5-10 pm

ArtWaukThe night is where art comes alive in downtown Waukegan. Come for the monthly ArtWauk event. Not only do you witness the talented brush strokes of your peers, but you also will hear some live music. Don’t go anywhere after the opening act, because                                                              there’s an after party to follow the art!

The Bobolink Proposition Exhibit @ the Brushwood Center
anuary 11-Feburary 26

At Ryerson Woods, painter Kimberly Beck and Sculptor Don Rambadt are displaying their paintings in the Bobolink Proposition Exhibit. Beck and Rambadt are bird enthusiasts and are extremely knowledgeable about the Aves species. Art and Nature lovers alike will appreciate this Riverwoods exhibit.


La Cage Aux Follies @ Marriott Theatre
January 28-March 29

The prestigious Marriott Theatre will perform La Cage Aux Follies; the three-time Tony Award Winner (Best Musical). Since the film adaptation ‘The Birdcage,’ starring Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams, this classic musical comedy will touch you. It is set in a Saint-Tropez nightclub. The middle-aged gay couple starring in the show concurs to hide their relationship when his son returns with hiss fiance. The fiance’s family is uber-conservative and it becomes a wild and crazy ride after that.

Treat yourself to a gem of a performance where the Lincolnshire theatre never ceases to entertain you.

Steven Wright at the Genesee Theatre
Sunday, January 18; 7:30 pm 

Long-time stand-up comedian Steven Wright heads to Genesee Theatre on Saturday January 17. Wright is known for is slow, monotone and witty delivery of jokes. Wright has been in movies such as Reservoir Dogs, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Natural-Born Killers and many more flicks.

Broadway’s Next H!t Musical @ James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts
Friday, March 13; 8 pm

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical

Ready for an evening of music, humor and laughter? Are you even more curious when you find out that every scene is improvised? Come check this James Lumber Center show in Grayslake and with the audience’s help, they will perform a musical for you on the fly!

PM&L Theatre Presents Meet Me in St. Louis
February 6-22; Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 pm, Sundays @ 2:30 pm

Meet me in St. Louis is a legendary movie that starred Judy Garland. The setting is during the time of when the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World Fair is going on in 1904. Even though the holidays are over, this is where the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” was debuted.

Buy your ticket now for this two-week showing at PM&L Theatre. Actors continue to break legs at this venue, and will for this 1940s classic as well.


The Transformation Band @ Austins
Saturday, February 28; 10 pm

Austin’s Fuel Room in Libertyville always puts on stellar performances. Transformation has one of the most diverse genres. Their resume screams rock pop, country, Motown and R&B. This seven piece band tours all through Illinois as well as records
in the studio. Transformation Band refuses to disappoint their audiences time after time.

Chicago Funk Mafia @ Mickey Finns
Saturday, January 24

Funky music is the mantra of Chicago Funk Mafia. The members of this group have explores many different types of experiences throughout music. Their collective knowledge and influence concocted the funky sound that you will hear at Mickey Finns! Enjoy a Mickey Finn Brew and take a trip to funky town!

Wind Ensemble Spring Concert @ James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts
Sunday, March 8; 4 pm

The talented musicians of College of Lake County, along with Lake County community members will perform their Wind Ensemble Spring Concert. It’s not quite spring yet according to the calendar, but Rock Valley Community College Director of Bands Erik Oberg will guest conduct and the CLC Wind Ensemble will take you on a journey with their unique styling.


Winter Brews and Spirits

Let’s Wine About Winter
Saturday February 21; 1-4 pm

Libertyvile wine about winter
Had about enough of winter? Some people are just not overly excited about winter activities that Lake County has to offer. Well now you have a shoulder to lean on in downtown Libertyville’s Let’s Wine About Winter. Merchants will be opening their doors so you can warm your being with a healthy glass. How much fun do we think you’ll have? Hmm…Merlot?

Vernon Hills’ Craft Beer Festival
Saturday February 21; 5-9 pm

Ales, Stouts lagers and more is what this festival features for you. The master brewers of Lake County will come together to showcase their tastiest micro suds. All in attendance must be 21. This second annual festival at the Sullivan Community Center will also include live music and beer-inspired grub.

Tasting Room at North Shore Distillery
Tues-Thurs 12-6pm; Fri-Sat 12-9, Sun 12-6

Tradition never dies, when you are the catalyst of an entire state. Come visit Lake Bluff’s first and best craft distillery in the Land of Lincoln. Tastings and purchases are welcomed Tuesday-Sunday, while the cocktail bar is open Friday-Sunday. Saturday you can receive the grand tour of the entire process. Warm up with a drink and they will provide you with knowledge of the first Illinois distillery!


‘Let me Call You Sweetheart’ Early Valentine’s Day Ideas

Beer Lovers Meet-up at the Lake County Fairgrounds
Saturday February, 14; 4-9 pm

Do you have a Valentine already? Maybe your Valentine is a frosty beer, or maybe you just want to get out there and mingle. Regardless of your relationship status, the Lake County Fairgrounds> This is Lake County’s first Beer Lovers Meet-up and it will be held in the Expo Hall. Besides the craft beers you love or are discovering for the first time, Lake County Fairgrounds will be providing a sample menu, great entertainment, games and much much more. If you want to ditch the predictable Valentine’s Day celebration, you are sure to enjoy this.

10th Annual Valentine’s Dinner & Comedy Show
Saturday, February 14; dinner @ 7pm, show @ 8:30 pm

10th Annual Valentine's Dinner & Comedy ShowLooking to continue that Valentine’s Day tradition. The Holiday INN Gurnee has reached a decade in their Annual Valentine’s Dinner and Comedy Show. They got eats, they got drinks and of course they got the funnies. Tom Kief of 95 WIILROCK will host the event.

In attendance will be comedians Kevin Bozeman and Geoff LaFleur. Bozeman has performed on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend in 2003 and also was a semi-finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing.

LaFleur has toured many comedy clubs and performed at legendary venues like The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles and Zanies in Chicago. LaFleur was the opener for acts such as Dave Chappelle, the late Greg Giraldo, Gilbert Gottfried and Jay Mohr.

Romantic Night Hike at Ryerson Woods
Saturday, February 14; 7:30 pm

I know I would rather set the mood in a secluded area where the moon shines the brightest and the chill brings us close together. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic. A night hike is the perfect way to start the night off for Valentine’s Day. That’s why Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods is hosting a Romantic Night Hike. You could venture on your own with your significant other with cross-country skis or a hike. Also there are guides available to teach the wildlife courtship behaviors. After it’s all said and done, Ryerson invites you in for hot chocolate and s’mores to warm up. Don’t miss this night to remember!

‘Don’t Know Much About History’: Explore Lake County Museum Exhibits

World War I Exhibit @ the Grayslake Heritage Center & Museum
Now till Sunday, May 31

There’s always so much information about World War II. Grayslake Heritage Center & Museum continues to feature the most intriguing facts of  World War I. What’s even more interesting is you take a journey into the lives of Lake County soldiers and sailors as well as stories of local tales from the home front. Letters from veterans and a recreated trench are also featured at this event, plus much more!

Presidents Day Celebration @ Lake Forest Discovery Museum
Monday, February 16; 10 am – 4 pm

With two of our most notable and greatest president’s birthdays being in the month of February (President George Washington and Abraham Lincoln), why wouldn’t we celebrate a day commemorating all of our great presidents? That’s why the Lake Forest Discovery Museum urges the children parents and children to spend the day off from school at the Presidents Day Celebration. This museum in Wauconda will provide various activities, crafts stories and just to scratch the surface!

For more holiday events, recreation and shindigs, be sure to check our Calendar of Events. Bundle up out there and let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!


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