Whether you’re celebrating the holidays with your family in the Windy City or traveling home from college to your loved ones, there’s plenty to do in Chicago this winter! These 7 Chicago holiday activities are sure to spice up even the most traditional family get-togethers and will give you plenty of reasons to fall in love with this town all over again. If you need more time to plan, check out our list of events in December here.
Once a year, this pop-up market comes to Chicago and brings the Christmas spirit from Bavaria! This has been a family tradition since Stella and I met, and we look forward to creating fun memories each year. The festive music creates a cozy and cheerful atmosphere with gifts and food from Germany and around the world.
We highly recommend getting the rum nuts. Trust us, it’s worth every penny. Grab the themed mug of the year to build up your collection and enjoy the hot chocolate or spiced wine! There are three locations in the Chicagoland area: downtown in the Federal Plaza, Wrigleyville, and Aurora. For more information, go to Christkindlemarket’s website here.
2. Holiday Bar Popups – Santa Baby
T’is the season of the holiday pop-ups, and there are so many to go to! One of the most popular to go to is Santa Baby at Deuce’s in Wrigleyville. Flooded with all sorts of Christmas lights and decorations, you can feel the holiday cheer! This pop-up also has holiday-themed drinks such as Jack Frost and Clausmo and food such as red and green sliders and reindeer wings. Families are welcomed during the day, but after 8 p.m., it’s 21+. It’s super Instagramable, you’ll get some easy likes! To reserve a table and look at the menu, click here!
3. Zoo Lights
Going to a light festival is a great way to get you into the spirit of the holidays. Lincoln Park Zoo hosts Zoo Lights, a festival throughout the zoo where you can see millions of synchronized lights to music. You won’t be able to see most of the animals, though. Admission costs $5, except Mondays, which is free and includes ticketed rides such as the Ferris wheel and special events such as Brewlights and Holidaze, but you will need to purchase a ticket for those events. To purchase tickets, please go to the Lincoln Park Zoo event page here!
4. Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light
It’s always refreshing to see how other cultures celebrate the holidays. The Museum of Science & Industry is hosting its 80th year of the exhibit “Christmas Around the World”. The exhibit includes more than 50 trees that highlight the holiday customs from different cultures and countries. Go see all this holiday joy under one roof soon, this exhibit lasts until January 8, 2023. Tickets are $21.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. Click here to purchase tickets!
5. Go Ice Skating
Winter in Chicago means one thing, the ice rinks are here! Chicago offers many spots to skate around. Each rink offers different scenery of the city to soak in. Personally, we’ll just keep falling on our butts trying to skate, but I’m sure that you would be much better! A couple that we would suggest would be the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon, the McCormick Tribune ice rink, and the Winterland at Gallagher Way, which is inside Cubs Stadium.
6. Walnut Room
If you’re looking to take your special one out on the town and take in the holiday cheer, we suggest checking out the Walnut Room at the Macy’s on State St. The world-famous Walnut Room was the first restaurant to ever open in a department store.
Walking into it is a sight to behold. In the center of the room is a 45-foot tree that actually hangs from the ceiling surrounded by the walnut paneling, hence the name. One of the favorites of the restaurant is Mrs. Hering’s 1890 Chicken Pot Pie filled with creamy chicken and vegetables. They also serve holiday-themed cocktails such as hot whiskey cider and Kris Kringle, an iced coffee with creme liquor, and butternut schnapps.
This restaurant was a trendsetter in its heyday. Go discover the Walnut Room and take in the holiday cheer and history! To make a reservation or to check out the menu, click here!
7. Navy Pier Light Up The Lake Festival
Chicago’s largest indoor lights festival is back for the holiday season! You will get to experience interactive light displays, an ice-skating rink, and a journey through the Winter Wonderland Forest. Admission is $27 for adults and $17 for children. This festival will last until January 7, 2023. For tickets and more information, click here!
This is a small sampling of the exciting things happening around Chicago this holiday, there’s more to discover. Add these events to your date idea list and take in the joy of the holidays. Aaron and Stella wish all a very happy holidays to all and wish for the new year to start off strong!