The holidays are a magical time in the city, especially with little ones in tow. There are so many fun things to do with kids in Chicago, and each one is an opportunity to make a lasting holiday memory. The whole family will be awed by the city’s massive Christmas tree, historic zoo covered in millions of lights, and whimsical holiday parade starring both Santa and Mickey Mouse. Here’s your bucket list of the best kid-friendly holiday activities and events in Chicago.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is a can’t-miss holiday occasion. The nation’s largest evening holiday celebration, the cherished annual event includes family-friendly activities, live performances, and a spectacular fireworks display over the Chicago River. The main event is the magical evening parade with festive floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, celebrities, musical performances, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, and more. It all leads up to the dazzling moment when more than one million bulbs illuminate the trees along iconic Michigan Avenue.
In the winter, the historic Lincoln Park Zoo is covered in more than two million twinkling lights for a breathtaking holiday display. ZooLights is a beloved annual spectacle that covers the lakefront zoo in moving light displays choreographed to festive music. The family-favorite event also includes holiday crafts, pictures with Santa, snacks, live ice carving, animal encounters, train rides, a carousel, and so much more. Make sure to get your tickets in advance.
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light is an annual holiday celebration at the Museum of Science and Industry. The exhibit features the spectacular Grand Tree, surrounded by more than 50 decorated trees representing Chicago’s diverse international communities and their holiday traditions. You’ll even be showered in indoor “snow.”
Tip: The Museum of Science and Industry is a treasure trove of hands-on, kid-friendly exhibits, so leave plenty of time to explore.
Chicago’s iconic Millennium Park is a winter wonderland for families, with two unique ice rinks on the lakefront park’s grounds. First, twirl around on the city’s iconic Millennium Park ice skating rink, nestled right below the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (aka “The Bean”). You’ll enjoy views of the city skyline covered in snow. Next, head to Maggie Daley Park to glide along the whimsical Skating Ribbon that meanders through frosty pine trees.
Come back tomorrow for Part II.