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Chicago Feb 18–24: Snow Day with Wolves & Thousands of Orchids in Bloom

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Polar Adventure Day sledding

Photo courtesy Chicago Parks District

Polar Adventure Day sledding

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True Chicagoans don't let snowy weather keep them down. Quite the opposite: They embrace it, as evidenced by the success of Northerly Island's Polar Adventure Day, which is devoted to snowy fun of all kinds. If you need some indoor reprieve after all the action, there are two hot new restaurant openings in the city to enjoy. And for something a little different, take in the four-hour Der Rosenkavalier opera or escape to the Chicago Botanical Garden to find thousands of colorful orchids in bloom.

AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.

Now through March 13 | Opera
Der Rosenkavalier
Richard Strauss’s extravagant Der Rosenkavalier opera is made all the more dramatic by the voices of international stars like Alice Coote, Sophie Koch, and Amanda Majeski. The four-hour-long production will entertain—it is, after all, a belly-laugh-inducing romantic comedy—as much as it astounds, thanks to a full orchestra and onstage waltzes.
Times vary | Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago | (312) 827-5600 | From $34 | website

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February 20 | Snow day
Polar Adventure Day
Winter won’t stop Chicagoans from having a little outdoor fun. Chicago’s Northerly Island is reserved just for snow fun today—that means Siberian huskies, wolves, and other snow animals will be in attendance. Snowshoes will be available for anyone who wants to walk around winter wonderland. And, of course, you’re encouraged to build a snowman. Once the cold sets in, you’re welcome to sip some hot cocoa, take a selfie, and retreat back to one of the museums: the Field Museum, Aquarium, and Planetarium are just a five-minute Uber ride from Northerly Island.
124 p.m. | Northerly Island Park, 1521 S. Linn White Dr., Chicago | Free | website

February 20–21 | Escape the city
Glencoe, Illinois
It may be chilly, but the orchids are blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden, just 30 minutes outside of downtown Chicago. “The Orchid Show” began February 13, displaying more than 10,000 colorful orchids inside the center’s greenhouses and galleries. In the evening, grab dinner at Guildhall (the mushroom risotto is outstanding) before catching a production of Marjorie Prime at the Writers’ Theatre, which questions the limits of technology when it comes to the complexity of a mind.
Daily, 10 a.m.4 p.m. | 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe | (847) 835-5440 | $10 | website

The Chicago Botanic Garden

Now open | Restaurant
Maple & Ash
Everybody’s clamoring for this new restaurant, which recently opened its doors in the glamorous Gold Coast neighborhood. Its vibe is a little clubby and a lot cool, with dinner daily from 5 p.m. and a downstairs lounge open late. It’s also quite possibly one of the best new steak houses in Chicago, which is saying a lot considering how much the city loves its beef. We have Chef Danny Grant, who also fathered two-Michelin-starred Ria as well as Balsan at the Waldorf Astoria, to thank for that. Come here for steak, but don’t forget to order a crispy deviled egg appetizer and some French onion soup.
8 West Maple St., Chicago | (312) 944-8888 | website

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Now open | Restaurant
Carb Free Cafe
Carbs of every kind are banned at this new Chicago eatery. Owner Robin Miller’s name might sound familiar from her hit Food Network show, Quick Fix Meals. The health food nut has created a menu full of carb-loaded favorites like sandwiches, pastas, and rice bowls—minus the carb part. That means gluten-free Monte Cristos, bagels, and more. This fast casual spot is smack dab in the middle of the Merchandise Mart, where you can wander high-end showrooms and shop wine and apparel once your lunch craving is settled.
222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago | website

Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.

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