Most people would probably agree that there’s no reason to visit Chicago in January unless you had to. When I was there for a week last year, the average temperature hovered around -5°F (-20°C) before windchill! However, if you’re willing to fly against the crowd and go somewhere cold while others are heading South, you can save a bundle on airfare and your trip doesn’t have to be any less fun because it’s a little chilly out!
You have the best excuse to drink. What keeps you warm better than alcohol? When I spent a week in Paris in January, my friends and I would “bar crawl” our way home by ducking into bars every few blocks to escape the cold.
It makes getting cultured more fun. I’ll be the first to admit that as much as I enjoy art museums, the last thing I want to do on a gorgeous sunny day is spend it indoors. That’s why winter is the best time to travel for culture! You don’t have to brave cold winds to feel like you’ve left the hotel and done something with your day!
Less people will be out. Have you ever gotten a picture of the Chicago Bean/Cloud Gate when the park is completely empty? This place is packed in the summer. While most people are holed away inside, you can strap on your winter gear and beat the crowds.
I also found out while I was in Chicago in January that the Lincoln Park Zoo stays open in the winter, although many of the animals are moved out for the season (even the polar bears! I mean, you would think winter is their climate…) When you get tired of being outdoors, you can duck into the indoor lion exhibit, or the Lincoln Park Conservatory right next door. Not bad for free admission to both attractions!
Stopping for hot chocolate is always a good idea. With all the extra calories you’re burning from being out in the cold, I like to reward myself with a treat like hot cocoa.
You pay off-season prices. For someone who’s looking for a little more comfort but still wants the value of backpacking, traveling in the winter is a great way to see a new city for cheap. Besides more availability and cheaper prices at hotels, traveling in the off-season means that some hostels may even be underbooked, and there’s a chance your “4-person” dorm will actually be a private room for part or all of your stay!
You appreciate the simple things so much more. While summer is a time to get out and find cool things to do, nothing makes me appreciate spending time indoors more than needing to travel through freezing cold temperatures to get there.