Christmas in Chicago Bucket List

Christmas truly is the most magical time of year in Chicago.  Twinkly lights are everywhere, good tidings abound, the temperatures aren’t too chilly yet, and there are so many fun things to do as a family.  So take advantage of this amazing time of year and tackle some of the adventures on my Christmas in Chicago Bucket List

Check out the window displays at Macy’s on State Street. Even better, sign up for the few dinner slots they have left for dinner in the Walnut Room with Santa.

Drive around and see some of the most spectacular Christmas light displays in the area.  My favorites?  The private homes in both Park Ridge and Sauganash.

Visit the light displays at Chicagoland’s fabulous zoos, including Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, and Cosley Zoo.

Check out the “Trees Around the World” display at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Enjoy a delicious and unique Breakfast with Santa experience.  Our favorite?  Brunch and Bowling with Santa at Pinstripes!

Check out the CTA Holiday Train, but use this tip: either meet the train at the beginning of the line, or simply hang out at the platform to see Santa go by (the trains are extremely crowded if you actually get on which totally stresses out most kids—and moms).

Visit the Wonderland Express train display at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Go ice skating at one of the outdoor rinks in the area.  My favorites are in Rosemont and the ribbon at Maggie Daley Park.

Visit the Morton Arboretum’s unique light display “Illumination.”

Call Santa!  The phone number is 915-262-3062.

Ride the AUTHENTIC and OFFICIAL Polar Express out of Union Station.

Enjoy some donuts, potato pancakes, and drinks from a boot at a Christkindle market. If you can manage it, try to make a date out of it (it gets pretty crowded for the wee ones). Our favorite is the market set up at the Winterland at Wrigley!

Enjoy a day of fun and adventure at Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest.

Visit the “Home Alone” house in Winnetka and then go home, pop some popcorn, and enjoy a movie viewing!

Slip and slide (and take amazing selfies) at the Ice Castles exhibit at Lake Geneva!

Tell me, what are YOUR favorite Christmas activities to do as a family?


Looking for other Christmas fun in Chicagoland?  Then this page is for you.

Merry Christmas!



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  1. Grace Hodgin says

    You have inspired me and I really need to do some research and see what is available here in my location to see and experience the magic of Christmas. I need to put more effort in this area and I am sure I can find some places to go to enjoy the decorations and the special events. Chicago’s events look fantastic.

  2. Felicita Moncada says

    What so many awesome things to do in Chicagoland! We have a few different events happening in our city as well – we just had our Holiday parade this week. It kicks off all the festivities for the rest of the weeks leading up to Christmas. Lots of fun stuff!

  3. kita says

    I love this and this is the first Christmas bucket list that I have seen so this is very nice. I think every city should do some of these things with the attractions

  4. Tammilee Tips says

    I had not realized that there was so much to do in Chicago. I love that cities always have so many different Christmas function to go to and attend. The zoo lights are always a favorite of mine to go to.

  5. Lashawn says

    I didn’t know there was so much to do in Chicago at Christmas! I love how different cities have so many things to do this time of year! If I ever get to Chicago at Christmas, I will be sure to check these out!

  6. Brittany Bly says

    This sounds like so much fun. I love that you included links for all of the cool things to do that you mention. I’ll be clicking around here for a while. LOL! Can you please give me my day back??

  7. Amanda @ Adorkablii says

    I normally head out to the Christmas Village. I didn’t this year but I still have time if I choose to. It’s such a magical place and such an amazing time for the kids. Packed filled with lights and displays. Great atmosphere for sure! Something I truly enjoy is the atmosphere.. All the smiles and happy families just enjoying the moment. Leaving all their worries behind.

  8. Crystal Lopez says

    I have never visited Chicago but it sounds like a prime location for holiday travel! There are so many things to do as a family there. The trains would be a huge hit for my kids!

  9. Chelsie says

    What a great bucket list! We are going to visit the Zoo Lights at the Phoenix zoo this coming weekend and I’m super excited! I’ve never been to a Zoo Lights event before, but I hear they are pretty dang magical!

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