HOW TO: Holiday Season in Chicago
Halloween is finally out of the way and I can now focus on my FAVORITE time of year, the Holidays! I’ve always loved the Holiday season, but something about spending it in Chicago makes the time even more magical. Whether you live here or you’re planning to visit Chicago in the next couple of months, here are the “must-do’s” - in my humble opinion:
1. Stroll and shop down State Street
State Street is so festive during the Holidays! Between the horns and iconic windows at Macy’s (my next must-do), and all of the holiday decor across the various stores, it’s a perfect place for a day of Christmas shopping and browsing.
2. Wander around the Macy’s on State Street
In my opinion, Macy’s is the premier destination to get your fill of Holiday spirit here in Chicago (I’m sure others may disagree). The exterior is decorated with tinsel, horns and wreaths, and the interior is unbelievable. There’s so much to see that Macy’s actually offers official tours! There’s a 45 ft. tall Christmas tree, and a “Holiday Lane” that makes you feel like you were dropped into the middle of the North Pole. Perhaps the biggest draw of Macy’s during the holidays are the animated windows around the perimeter. They get better each year and are something you have to witness in person.
3. Visit the Christkindlmarket
The Christkindlmarket is a German market with vendors selling some of the cutest handmade holiday trinkets and ornaments I’ve ever seen. It’s also perfect for a date night. There are a few different locations in the area, but my favorite is the one located in Daley Plaza. Make sure you pick up a hot chocolate or apple cider in a signature keepsake mug!
4. Visit the Christmas Tree at Millennium Park
Walking up to this giant tree right off of Michigan Avenue makes me smile every year. The tree is HUGE, and witnessing it along with hundreds of others staring up at it in awe makes it such a special experience!
Millions of Christmas lights AND animals?! YES. The Christmas lights at the free Lincoln Park zoo is a must see. Aside from the lights themselves, there are plenty of other activities for families as well (ice sculpting, a carousel, train rides). Pro Tip: It does get pretty crowded, so I wouldn’t go with a large group - you will get separated!
6. Go Ice Skating
There are a few places to ice skate during the Holidays in Chicago. My favorite is right in front of Cloud Gate (aka, The Bean). It’s free to skate- you’ll just need to bring your own skates or rent them for a few bucks. Another popular spot is the ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley park.
7. Ride on Holiday-Themed Public Transportation
This one is a bit harder to do, but the CTA has extremely decorated trains and buses sprinkled throughout the city during the Holidays. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself on one, make sure you Instagram it up to make the rest of the city super jealous!
BONUS: Attend the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. To be honest, this hasn’t been a “must-do” for me the past couple of years; however, I cannot let this entire post go by and completely skip Thanksgiving! This parade goes down State Street, and brings some pretty massive balloons and floats with it!
These are some of the things that I’m looking forward to doing in Chicago this season before actually heading home to be with family for Christmas. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get my ornaments down from the top shelf of my closet.. :)
What’s your favorite holiday tradition where you live?