How to Relax in Chicago This Winter — Locals Share Their Secrets

Where to Get Some R&R in Chicago

With the holidays behind us, it’s officially time to take a deep, long breath. To celebrate this blissful season of R&R, we asked local small business owners to share how they slow their roll.

Scott Friedland, shopkeeper at Timeless Toys in Lincoln Square

“I wake up when I wake up — no alarms allowed — and spend as much time on the couch as possible with my wife and 65-pound lapdog, Mikey.”

Amy Lafontant, owner of The Bottle Shop in Wilmette

“At the end of each day, I have some sparkling wine and remind myself of how lucky I am to be working for myself. And I try to get as much sleep as I can!”

Emily McKenney, owner of Havlan & West in Bucktown

“I like to take care of myself while still supporting other local businesses: a relaxing massage at Asha, a fabulous facial at Penny Kraft & Co., a mani-pedi at ZaZaZoo, and a cocktail — the Oaxaca or a glass of Rack & Riddle — at Presidio’s cozy lounge.”

Karen Rose, owner of City Olive in Andersonville

“I travel to places that have nothing to do with my business. Whether it’s for a long weekend or several weeks, it rejuvenates me to experience other cultures and languages and try different foods.”

Kelly Marie Thompson, owner of Fleur in Logan Square

“I always take a little trip to Wisconsin for a hike and a stay at The Abbey in Lake Geneva. There’s nothing better than sitting in a hot tub and watching the snow fall outside after a long day in the woods.”

As for the Make It Better team, these are the ahh– and om-inducing retreats we have our sights set on this winter:

Bathing Beauty

R&R: AIRE Ancient Baths Chicago
Photo courtesy of AIRE Ancient Baths.

With holiday chaos behind us and midwinter temperatures upon us, the Chicago arrival of AIRE Ancient Baths couldn’t have come at a better time. Dim lights, thousands of candles, and floral aromas are just a few of the ways guests are greeted at the River West relaxation haven, where a handful of thermal pools and menu of specialty massages and body treatments await. It’s the second U.S. location from the Spain-based company, which ensures that each property is created within a restored historic building (including this one, a former factory from the late 19th century complete with original exposed brick, beams, and columns).

Soul Vacation

R&R: Souljourn Yoga
Photo by Jordan Ashley.

Anyone looking to meld the benefits of yoga with the thrill of travel and the bounty of charity work can find it all with Souljourn Yoga, a nonprofit committed to raising awareness and funds for girls’ education in developing countries. The global getaways provide participants with opportunities to explore, practice, and educate through yoga both on and off of the mat and to promote female empowerment to communities in need. Join them on a trek to Nicaragua this month (co-led by Chicago yoga instructor Alison Riazi), or to Morocco (March), Tibet (May), Peru (May), Rwanda (June), or Cambodia (September).


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Nicole Schnitzler

Nicole Schnitzler is a freelance writer who covers​ ​food, drink, ​travel and ​lifestyle. When she is not planning her next adventure​​, she can be found​ ​commuting between bakeries, yoga classes,​ live music shows, and libraries ​in her hometown of ​​Chicago. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Nicole is also the founder of Doors Open Dishes, an initiative committed to keeping the doors open to the group homes and workshops of individuals with special needs by partnering with chefs and restaurants across the city. Follow her on Twitter (@Write_To_Eat) or on Instagram (@WriteToEat).