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 Part III of your bucket list of the best kid-friendly holiday activities and events in Chicago. (For Part I, click here. For Part II, click here.)
Every winter, Macy’s on State Street transforms its storefront windows into a fantastical holiday world. Combining traditional old-school artistry with gorgeous visual elements, the windows are adorned with intricate and imaginative scenes that fill little ones with wonder. Previous year’s themes have included Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Paddington Bear, The Nutcracker, and beyond.
Tip: Stop for lunch at the historic Walnut Room inside Macy’s to see the 45-foot Great Tree, decorated with over 1,200 ornaments and 25,000 twinkling lights. You might just create a new holiday tradition.
Tucked away in the suburbs just outside of Chicago, Brookfield Zoo is a wondrous place during its long-running Holiday Magic light festival.Be mesmerized by colorful, luminous displays featuring more than two million glittering LED lights, plus a full schedule of live entertainment like ice-carving demonstrations, carolers, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and more.
Wander through an enchanted, illuminated trail during Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden. This special after-dark event transforms a one-mile path into a holiday wonderland, complete with a choir of singing trees, a waterfall of cascading light, a soaring cathedral made of thousands of twinkling bulbs, dazzling light shows, and more.
Each winter, you can find Santa dashing through the city via the city’s elevated train system. The CTA Holiday Train is one of Chicago’s most unique holiday traditions. An entire ‘L’ train, towing Santa and his sleigh, is decked out with twinkling lights, red bows, and more holiday decor. Step on board and you’ll be greeted by elves handing out candy canes. The train runs from late November to late December; check the CTA website for an updated schedule.
Tip: The CTA Holiday Bus brings the same holiday spirit to bus riders as it travels through Chicago’s neighborhoods.
This living outdoor museum hosts a spectacular winter light show each year. Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum features interactive light effects that bring out the natural beauty of the hundreds of towering trees. There are also crackling bonfires with s’mores for the little ones and seasonal drinks for parents. Other family-friendly events include Breakfast with Santa and Supper with St. Nick.
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