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And just like that, our tropical December has ended. (So, it wasn’t Jamaica. But we miss those 40-degree days.) It’s officially boots-scarves-and-a-prayer weather, which means we’re looking to warm up fast. Here’s where to catch a break from the cold--while grabbing some drinks, eats and relaxation, of course.



The bar perched on top of the Raffaello Hotel may be the coziest in the land. Settle into a tufted leather seat near the fireplace in its front lounge--which has homey trappings like stacks of books--and order up something stiff. The pineapple daiquiri should do nicely, if you want to imagine you’re on an isle somewhere.


201 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-933-4805 or



New to North Center, Kick specializes in dishes that have, um, a little kick. That means you’ll sample spicy flavors from around the world, including Sriracha salmon, steaming noodle bowls and green-chili pork stew. Cocktails even come garnished with chili peppers. Can you handle a little more heat? The interior--replete with fire ribbons--is designed to look like a volcano.

1943 W. Byron St.; 773-236-8886 or


The Chicago Botanic Garden

In the summer, there?s nothing lovelier than traipsing through that English Walled Garden in a sundress. Sigh. But in the wintertime, the garden?s greenhouse is warm and fragrant. And February brings the Orchid Show, when 10,000 of the elegant flowers will bloom. So close your eyes, inhale deeply and repeat: ?I am in Hawaii.?

1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; 847-835-5440 or chicagobotanic.comThe Orchid Show runs from February 13 to March 13; tickets.



Probably not shocking: Another SoulCycle is opening. (It’s coming to Southport later this month.) But, listen: This is probably the coziest workout you can sign up for all winter. The indoor cycling takes place in dim, candlelit rooms. And the 45-minute workouts--said to burn 500 to 700 calories--will definitely warm you up.

3423 N. Southport Ave.;


King Spa & Sauna

In Niles, Illinois, the Korean-style King Spa & Sauna has nine sauna rooms. One is shaped like a pyramid. Another is called the “Fire Sudatorium.” There’s also an “Amethyst Room,” whirlpools infused with jasmine and weirdly good organic fried chicken. It’s all a little strange, perhaps. But is it worth a daytrip to an obscure Chicago suburb? Absolutely.

809 Civic Center Dr., Niles; 847-972-2540 or

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