10 Must-See Christmas Attractions in Chicago

Chicago in the wintertime is a magical and picturesque sight to behold. The city is blanketed in a layer of snow, with icicles hanging from the rooftops and trees. The air is crisp and cold, and the sky is often a beautiful shade of blue. The famous Chicago River, which runs through the heart of the city, freezes over, creating a stunning spectacle. The city's iconic skyline is even more breathtaking when it's shrouded in snow and glistening in the winter sun. The holiday season brings even more excitement, with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and ice skating rinks popping up all over the city. Despite the cold weather, Chicagoans embrace the winter season and find joy in the city's many winter activities.

As the days grow shorter and the temperature starts to drop, Chicagoans know that Christmas is just around the corner. The city comes alive with festive decorations, special events, and of course, endless shopping opportunities. If you're looking for a winter getaway that will get you in the Christmas spirit, here are 10 attractions you won't want to miss.

  • Magnificent Mile Lights Festival: The annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is a Chicago tradition featuring a parade with illuminated floats and a dazzling fireworks display over the Chicago River.
  • Christkindlmarket: Located in Daley Plaza, the Christkindlmarket is a traditional German-style Christmas market that draws thousands of visitors each year. Stop by to buy unique gifts and enjoy traditional German food and drinks, like hot mulled wine.
  • ZooLights: One of the city's most popular winter attractions is the free light show at Lincoln Park Zoo. Stroll through a magical wonderland of twinkling lights, explore holiday-themed activities, and get a photo with Santa.
  • Museum of Science and Industry: Spend the day exploring more than 35,000 artifacts at the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. The Museum also hosts special holiday events like train rides around a four-story tree and Tiffany-style stained-glass demonstrations.
  • Spirit of Chicago Cruise: Enjoy a festive cruise around the city, complete with holiday decorations and delicious seasonal menus. Sing along to carols as you sail past iconic skyline landmarks like the Willis Tower.
  • Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker: Spend an evening enjoying the timeless classic ballet performed by Chicago's legendary dance company at the Auditorium Theatre on the campus of Roosevelt University.
  • Macy's Holiday Windows: Take a tour through the iconic State Street storefronts to view the famous holiday window displays, which have been delighting Chicagoans since 1897.
  • Ice Skating at Millennium Park: Lace up your skates and glide around one of the largest ice rinks in the world. Located in downtown Chicago, Millennium Park is home to a free ice rink that's open daily from November through March.
  • John Hancock Observatory: Take in stunning views of the city from 94 floors up at the John Hancock Observatory. On clear days, you can see four states and 50 miles away!
  • Christmas Around the World: Explore holiday traditions from around the world at the Museum of Science and Industry. Each year, more than 50 brilliantly decorated trees and displays showcase diverse cultures from all over the globe. From German nativity scenes to Chinese paper lanterns, there is something here for everyone!

Now that you know what to do in Chicago let's see how you should prepare for your Chicago winter trip. Scroll down for our best-detailed tips:

  • Dress in Layers: Chicago can get pretty chilly, so make sure you pack plenty of layers. Pack a mix of tights, sweaters, and coats to ensure that you stay warm during your visit.
  • Invest in Snow Gear: If you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, consider investing in a good pair of waterproof boots and snow pants. This will help keep you warm and dry during your city adventures.
  • Bring a Hat and Scarf: To protect yourself from the cold, be sure to pack a cozy hat and scarf. Choose items made with natural fabrics like wool or cashmere for maximum warmth and comfort.
  • Book a Professional Car Service: Public transportation can be tricky in the winter, so plan on renting a car if possible. This will make getting around town much easier and more reliable.
  • Choose Hotels Wisely: If you’re staying overnight, choose hotels that are centrally located and close to most of the attractions. This will save you time and money when traveling around town.
  • Avoid Outdoor Activities During Snowstorms: Chicago can be amazingly beautiful during snowstorms, but make sure to avoid outdoor activities while the snow is falling. This will help keep you safe and prevent any accidents from occurring.
  • Remember Your Winter Essentials: Don’t forget to pack all your winter essentials, like gloves, a hat, and a scarf. Even if you don’t plan on being outside for long periods of time, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Now that you know what to do in Chicago during the winter and how best to prepare for your trip, you’re ready to enjoy the Windy City in all its winter glory! Happy travels and have fun!

Posted on Dec 15 2022