12 Holiday Things to Do with Kids in Chicago

There’s nothing more magical than Christmas through the eyes of a child, but Christmas in Chicago will have your kids bursting with holiday happiness. Here are some fun events for your entire family to enjoy.

1. Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

Packed with wall-to-wall family fun, Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest features 170,000 square feet of giant slides, carnival rides, an indoor ice skating rink, and tons of holiday activities. The festivities go until January 6. You can read more about the activities happening at Winter WonderFest and get your tickets here.

Photo By: Navy Pier

2. ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

The outdoor temperature may be frightful and many of the animals have headed indoors, but Lincoln Park Zoo has transformed into a delightful forest of twinkling bulbs. ZooLights runs until Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, with a special Zoo Year’s Eve celebration taking place on December 31. If walking through a world of sparking bulbs and adorable animals wasn’t enough, entrance into the zoo is free to the public!

3. Winterland at Gallagher Way

Wrigleyville’s Gallagher Way, formerly known as Wrigley Park, has transformed into a winter wonderland. Guests are able to participate in a number of winter events including ice skating, a chimes display, Santa’s workshop, holiday movies, a teddy bear tea, and breakfast with Santa. Click here for more details.

Photo By: Gallagher Way Chicago

4. Santa Baby Christmas Bar

Deuce’s & the Diamond Club got it right with their jaw-dropping Christmas pop up bar. The establishment is typically known to be 21 years and over, but Santa Baby Bar admits those under 21 until 11PM. The entire building is decked out in twinkling bulbs, parachuting Santas, and flying reindeer. Even the food takes a holiday twist as milkshakes appear as green as the Grinch with toasted marshmallows and Rice Krispie treats to top them off. If the holiday cheer wasn’t bursting at the seams already, Santa Baby Bar comes with a packed events calendar including Santa Claus appearances, holiday movies, canvas painting, gingerbread house building contests, karaoke, and weekend brunches. Also, admission to Santa Baby Bar is free for all ages on December 24! Check out more photos of Santa Baby Christmas Bar and get your tickets here.

5. Christmas Around the World — Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibit runs through Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. The festive display features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holidays and traditions from cultures around the globe. Live performances may be enjoyed on the weekends, and indoor snow falls every 30 minutes for the entire run of the Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lights exhibit.

Photo By: Museum of Science and Industry

6. Ice Skating at Millennium Park

Skate under the Chicago skyline while gazing up at the City of Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park’s ice skating rink. Weather permitting, the rink will remain open until Sunday, Mar. 10, 2019. Admission to the outdoor rink is free, but if you don’t own a pair of skates, you’ll have to pay to rent a pair. If your skating skills aren’t up to par, take advantage of free skating lessons on Fridays at 11AM and Saturdays and Sunday at 9AM.

7. The Great Tree at Macy’s Walnut Room

The wait to get a table near The Great Tree at Macy’s Walnut Room is lengthy, but worth it. Not only is The Walnut Room restaurant one of Chicago’s greatest brunch spots, but the holiday season brings the centerpiece of the room, The Great Tree, a 45-foot-tall tree festooned with over 3,000 ornaments and 6,000 LED lights. The tree can also be viewed from outside of the restaurant, which means you won’t have to splurge on a meal to soak in all of its glimmering wonder.

Photo By: Macy’s

8. Macy’s Holiday Window Exhibit

Since the early 1870s, Macy’s has stunned spectators with its famous holiday window displays, and this year is no different. Thanks to the dedicated and talented team of painters, welders, costume-makers engineers, visual artists and carpenters, the Macy’s Holiday Window Exhibit on State Street is shining bright as figurines of Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves prepare for their busiest night of the year. The holiday window exhibit will be open until January 5.

9. Holiday Tea with American Girl

American Girl’s Holiday Tea takes place throughout the month of December! Guests of any age will enjoy the delicious treats and tasty drinks served at the magical event. Children can enjoy a festive “silly sweaters” craft and a build-your-own hot chocolate station where they concoct a unique creation to take home. Check out all of the holiday festivities taking place at American Girl and make your reservation here.

Photo By: Kid 101

10. CTA Holiday Train

A unique Chicago tradition, the Chicago Transit Authority decorates one of its trains, inside and out, with festive decorations and sparkling lights. Santa and his sleigh lead the train on an open-air flatcar, waving to boarding passengers as they pull into each station and riders are serenaded by elves between stops. Because of popular demand, the CTA Holiday Train now has a counterpart, The Elves’ Workshop Train. The Elves’ Workshop Train is six cars of festive magic, following behind the Holiday Train at every stop. Both trains operate on specific schedules to ensure the Christmas cheer is felt throughout all of Chicago. Find when both trains will be riding the rails nearest you here.

11. Breakfast with Santa at Shedd Aquarium

Join all of your favorite marine animals for a holiday breakfast at the Shedd! Guests can enjoy a meet-and-greet with Santa as well as The Polar Express 4-D Experience. Throughout the event, visitors can explore the Shedd’s children’s exhibit, Polar Play Zone, and reserve seats at the aquatic presentations. Get your tickets here!

Photo By: Shedd Aquarium

12. Skating Ribbon – Maggie Daley Park

With the city skyline as the backdrop, skate on a ribbon of ice in the heart of downtown Chicago at Maggie Daley Park. Admission is free, but you’ll need to rent a pair of skates if you do not have your own. When taking a break from the ice, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at one of the nearby snack stands! The skating ribbon will have extended holiday hours from 10:00AM until 10:00PM from December 21 to January 6.

Photo By: Pinterest

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