What to do over Thanksgiving Break in Chicago

It’s Thanksgiving week! And while I am thankful for some extra one on one time with my boys away from work, I’m also looking for some fun things to do with them. Because let’s get real…and entire week off of school is a looooooong time for ALL of us. Looking for ways to keep busy this week as well? Here are suggestions of What to Do Over Thanksgiving Break in Chicago.


We are so incredibly lucky to have world class museums at our fingertips. But here’s the thing…tourists know this too, and if they are in town for Thanksgiving, they will be headed towards our wonderful museums as well. That’s why I leave MSI and the Shedd for other times and instead visit the off the beaten path museums like the Chicago History Museum and the Swedish American Museum. Both are great spots for learners of all ages. And if you do want to visit some of our popular museums, be sure to visit right when they open because the line that snakes out of the aquarium is pretty darn awful, especially on blustery Chicago days.



This weekend we got our first taste of winter…and I’m not gonna lie…I did NOT like it. But my kids? They didn’t even notice the drop in temperature. So I’m going to bundle all of us up, grab a great cup of coffee, and head to one of our favorite parks to not only tire out my boys, but also get some fresh air during what will undoubtedly be a stressful week (I’m hosting 15 people for dinner—eek!). And if you want to work up a sweat to make room for Thursday’s big feast, check out one of these great hiking trails. Rather stay indoors? Then check out these beautiful conservatories and stay warm!



Thanks to society’s inability to focus on one thing at a time, there are TONS of holiday themed activities to enjoy during Thanksgiving Break in Chicagoland. I recommend checking out Christkindl Markets, Zoo Lights, and Winterland at the Park for some festive fun–maybe even ice skating?!?!


So, let’s get real here. Lots of people are off work this week and will be taking their kids to play spaces. So that means that your favorite low key spot for indoor play is undoubtedly going to become much more crowded. Take my advice and either hold off on your visit until the afternoon when many families leave for nap time, or simply avoid it all together. Instead, visit your favorite book store to explore books and toys and spread some local love in anticipation of “Shop Small Saturday.” Kids don’t like to be cooped up? Then check out the climbing times over at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago. Another great option is to look into the open swim hours for Chicagoland’s indoor waterparks (no one is going to judge you for your hairy legs or post baby tummy…I promise!). The indoor mall play area that you have in mind? STAY AWAY. FAR, FAR AWAY.


I know, I know…Thanksgiving is all about the food so you don’t want to have any other extravagant meals this week. But here’s the thing…you only live once and there is so much delicious food to enjoy in Chicago! I highly recommend visiting one of these pie shops at the beginning of the week so that you can slowly savor a slice of your favorite pie without being in a turkey coma. Is there a restaurant that you’ve really been wanting to try? Then call and see if you can snag a lunch reservation. Going earlier in the day will also make it much more kid friendly and as a result make you more relaxed so you have a much more enjoyable meal. Here are our favorite, family-friendly foodie spots.


Are you really looking forward to lazy days spent in your pajamas avoiding all of the Thanksgiving hoopla? Then check out my suggestions on fun activities to do at home. We will definitely be creating a “drive in movie” night at home and enjoying some classic holiday movies to help us get into the spirit of the season…and so should you!


What are your plans for Thanksgiving week? Do you have any fun traditions? I’d love to hear them!

Check out this page for ALL THINGS Thanksgiving.


Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!


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  1. Melissa Dixon says

    We are heading out there soon so maybe we will do some of the things you suggest that we never did while living there. It’s amazing how much you miss while living nearby but once you move away you think of all of things you wish you had done. That’s what visits are for!

  2. Emma Spellman says

    We have 4 days off! We are going to drive up to Milwaukee and go to a place called Sazs and Leons Frozen Custard. I don’t know I may even stop into Oven Grinders, but it is getting crazy cold so staying home sounds good too! My birthday is the 28th, so I gotta go pick up my free cake from Portillos.

  3. Amanda says

    We will be watching some movies but after a while we need some fresh air, too, which is why I recommend so many of these great Chicagoland spots!

  4. Gabriel says

    I’m always embarassed by how little I’ve done in Chicago, given that I live only a few hours from there and have driven through it literally a hundred times. This can get me started.

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